Summary: 32-year old Uzumaki Naruto is a very different person from when he was 12. Death has made his life different. What will he do when he gets thrown back into the past with two of his last friends?
Warnings: May have blood and violence.
Disclaimers: I don't own Naruto.
Author's Notes: Naruto in this fic is strong and pretty much merciless. He's seen a lot and that changed him. Don't be mean to him.
And also, I will shift between Naruto - Shiroi, Gaara - Akai and Shikamaru - Kuroi just so you know. But their real names are Naruto, Gaara and Shikamaru don't worry about that.
Will also refer Naruto as: disguised man (when he is in Henge as his child form), boy or child. It's easier to call him boy or child when it's Kakashi or someone else thinking about him.
Enju is Shikamaru in boy-disguise.
Jidan is Gaara in disguise.
An early Christmas-gift for you all, I give you the ending chapter of Another Chance!
Gaara was shaking Naruto's body but the blonde didn't move. The redhead felt his body grow cold, and a tear dropped down on Naruto's cheek. Even as he cried for his lost friend Gaara could sense the rage growing inside of him. Shikamaru was practically twitching beside him. Blackness began to enter his eyes. The hair was turning black too, and the redhead could hear the shadow demon's whispers.
"I'm gonna kill him," Shikamaru whispered. By now the souls of Itachi and Kisame stood behind them. They hadn't disappeared. Naruto must have made sure if he died they could still remain. "I'm gonna kill that man."
"Don't let me out of that," Gaara said and gently laid Naruto down on the ground. "We'll kill him… for Naruto."
"We'll come too," Itachi said. "Our attacks aren't as good as when we were alive, but I'll do anything." His fists clenched at the mere sight of the blonde. "I'll give it my all."
Gaara looked at Naruto again. No change. Nothing. Gaara felt more tears come and shook them away. Later. When Madara was dead. Only then. Until then, he wouldn't cry. Naruto would've scolded him for that.
You can cry when it's all over, dumbass!
Yeah, Naruto would say something like that.
"We'll finish the job," Gaara whispered to the blonde. "You've done well. We'll take over from here."
He only wished Naruto would grin at that, he longed to hear the reply:
"I owe you one."
Owing someone something meant you had to be alive until you could repay it. But there was no repaying this time. No 'I owe you one'.
There was nothing.
Kyuubi was running at full speed. He wasn't sure which direction, he was just running. He was in human form now, and hadn't thought about changing back. It would probably be more noticeable if he changed back to his normal form, as he wouldn't have the forest to hide in. So for now he was just running, even if his instinct told him to turn back. He hated his instinct. Every nerve in his body begged him to go back. He hated his nerves too.
Naruto had told him to run, right? He should keep doing that, run so he would remain free.
He thought that constantly. Let it repeat itself in his head.
Despite that, he didn't feel at ease.
Rather he felt sickened.
Coming to a stop the demon thought, hands on his knees, eyes staring at the earth. Since when did he listen to that brat? And since when he had he been willing to risk his life for a human?
Because he had mentioned he could try return into Naruto's body after being taken out. There was a high possibility he would just die along with the Jinchuuriki. So why had he told Naruto that, and meant it?
Was he really that attached to the blonde?
Kyuubi cursed, tightened his grip on his knees before cursing louder, turning around and beginning to run back.
You damn brat!
The world slowly came back. He wasn't dead yet. It had felt like he had gone but apparently not quite yet. The body was numb. He felt cold. His eyes blinked, at first it was only white and then he saw the sky before the headache crashed into him.
Naruto's vision turned near black. He just about managed to turn himself to his stomach. Blood more or less poured out of his mouth and his body was so empty. It felt cold. Useless. Without Kyuubi he really turned into a nobody, a wreck and useless being. Or well, his own chakra was enough to let him fight pretty strong people but having a demon pulled out of him took quite a toll on his body.
He reached for the scroll. Itachi and Kisame were probably still fighting. They would survive even without him. He had just sealed their souls into the scroll. Shikamaru or Gaara could seal them again, or let them go. He wasn't sure he really cared in this moment. Normally that would worry him but right now he was too tired.
Grasping the scroll he dragged it closer. Their warmth was there. He held the scroll close to his chest, coughs shaking his whole body.
His eyes closed.
"Oi, Naruto, are you sleeping?"
Naruto opened one eye and Uchiha Sasuke's face was hovering above his.
"Che, you still got blood on your face," Sasuke said and wiped it off with his thumb. "You're hopeless… dumbass."
"Not a dumbass."
Sasuke sat down next to him. Naruto was sprawled out on the ground, staring up at the sky. Dead enemies lay around them.
"It's hard being just two," Naruto commented.
"Well, we ain't getting Sakura back," Sasuke said and looked up as well. "You know she's striving to become like Tsunade. She's spending day and night at the library and at the hospital nowadays."
"I'm not saying I miss her," the blonde replied. "Just sayin' it's harder when it's just two."
"They were gonna check around if anyone wanted to team up with us."
Naruto was silent. The three teams that had become known as the Rookie nine… not many was left. Shino and Kiba had died shortly after each other. Ino had been permanently damaged and was hardly able to walk. Chouji was gone. Shikamaru had gone and taken that shadow demon right before Chouji had died, in order not to loose him. He still had. Naruto hoped the brunette was okay. If this mission hadn't come up, Naruto would've gone to him. No one had seen Shikamaru for two weeks now. Hopefully he was still alive.
"We should go back."
Sasuke glanced down at Naruto.
"You don't really want to go back, do you?" the black-haired man asked.
"No… not really."
They were only in their early twenties but Naruto was sick of this life already. Then again, he didn't know anything else. He sat up.
Naruto and Sasuke stared at her.
Hyuuga Hinata stared right back. She was dressed for battle with baggy black pants, a tight black top and a grey jacket over that with her long hair securely in a braid. She wore black sandals on her feet and a pouch with weapons in her belt.
"You volunteered to team up with us?" Naruto asked.
"Yes," she said. "I know Shino-kun and Kiba-kun wouldn't want me to give up."
"But you're the heir to the Hyuuga clan," Sasuke said.
"And you are the heir to the Uchiha clan," Hinata said, "and I'm sure there's an Uzumaki clan that Naruto-san is heir of. It doesn't matter if you're heir or not; you still fight. How can I be an heir if I sit inside all day long?"
And so it turned out that they became a team that in the end wouldn't be forgotten anytime soon.
"I don't want to hear it!"
Hinata giggled softly at Naruto's moan and Sasuke raised an eyebrow as the blonde let his head fall on the table.
"Hey, don't get your dirty hair in my soup," the Uchiha complained and kicked the blonde's leg under the table.
"Are they still saying it?" Naruto asked.
"No, they're gone."
The man sat up again and looked around. Quickly the others in the restaurant looked away. That didn't stop the blonde from glaring before he said:
"That… was annoying."
"Well, we can't stop it."
"Can't we stop the nickname?" Naruto begged.
"What's so bad being called the second generation Sannins?" Sasuke said as he took a sip of his soup. "It sounds kind of cool."
"I don't want to be called that," Naruto groaned and his head fell down again.
"Hey, keep your hair away from my soup, damnit!"
Just as he had gotten freaking used to being called second generation Sannin, Tsunade just had to bring it up?
Sasuke and Hinata noticed his foul mood the moment he came to their meeting spot.
"Sit," Sasuke ordered and pointed at the spot in front of him.
To their surprise, he obeyed, getting down Indian-style. He glared at the side, hands on knees, frustration rolling off him.
"Alright," the Uchiha said. "Get it off your chest."
"What are you, my therapist?"
"Don't worry, I won't charge you for anything," Sasuke said.
Naruto looked at them both, then at his lap and finally said:
"Tsunade wants me to become the next Hokage."
"What?" Hinata exclaimed. "And you're angry over that?"
"I don't want to be Hokage."
"You used to want to," Sasuke said. "You practically shouted that at me five times a day. What happened?"
"Naruto. Answer. Now."
"I hate Konoha."
The two got silent as they watched Naruto carefully. He wasn't lying.
"I mean, I like some of the people," he continued, "but fuck, I'm so sick of the rest. And the whole city is just like a big, never-ending nightmare. I can't even get a proper night's sleep in this place."
"So that's why you don't want to be the Hokage?"
"Yeah," Naruto said and looked at them. "Come on, give Konohamaru a few more years and he'll be the one."
For a long time he had wanted to become Hokage. When had that changed? When had he started looking forward to the missions that brought him away from Konoha? He took his time gazing at his teammates.
He shouldn't wish for missions. They both were important to the village. They both were heirs to their clans. Naruto had no family left alive. No one would miss him. Technically Sasuke had no family either but he had a name that mattered. The blonde didn't. Not at least that he knew of.
A hand landed on Naruto's head, hard.
"Stop thinking depressing thoughts," Sasuke ordered. "Any higher and we would've heard them, idiot."
"You're such a cruel person," Naruto said and rubbed his head.
"Hn. Whatever you think of this cruel person, let me just tell you I have no intention of leaving you alone," the Uchiha said. "When we return after having killed Madara-"
"If we return," Naruto said gloomily.
"Shut up!" Once more the hand landed on his head. "Did I ask you to add something so unnecessary?"
"That's right. As I said, when we return after having killed Madara, you'll come live with me."
Naruto and Hinata both stared at him. Thanks to his super-Uchiha skills, Sasuke didn't blush. He did raise an eyebrow at them.
"I meant in a non-romantic way," he supplied which was the first sign he was uncomfortable with their staring.
"Should we really trust that?" Naruto asked Hinata.
"Hmm…" She seemed to give it some serious thought.
"You two aren't serious are you?"
"Then what's wrong with us being serious?" the blonde asked.
"You're reading too much into it. Just accept it," Sasuke said, leaning closer and staring at his face.
"Whoa. That's the Uchiha Sasuke I know and… erm, yeah, I kind of love you in the friendship-way."
"I'm so flattered. So you're going to move in?"
"How can he say that with such a serious face?" Naruto moaned to Hinata who only laughed.
He actually looked forward a little to it. He had spent a lot of time at Sasuke's place, and knew his way around.
But he didn't know what would happen.
He didn't know.
They must have been fighting Madara for at least an hour. Mostly dodging him and trying to find the perfect place to bring him down. Their options were dwindling quickly. They had one technique saved up, but whenever Sasuke or Hinata had mentioned it before Naruto would yell at them despite it made him almost hyperventilate afterwards.
But he knew they didn't have much choice left. The two were looking at him, pleading with him to do it. He didn't want to, he hadn't thought of this possibility. He should never have taught them the technique. He should never have even told them.
A nod, and Sasuke and Hinata looked relieved. He felt sick. But none of them were strong enough to take on Madara head on. Had he been given a little more time, he could have figured something out. He didn't care if it had killed him killing Madara. Just if they stayed safe…
Madara looked around as they stopped. He turned to Naruto and said:
"Are you planning something, Naruto-kun?"
Naruto raised his right hand, palm facing the sky. Sasuke and Hinata repeated, they slammed their left feet into the ground and screamed:
"Three Edge Seal!"
Madara swung around as chakra exploded up from the ground in a perfect triangle around him. Chakra roared through their bodies, ripped up from the deep foundations within them and he turned back to Naruto.
"What is this?" he asked.
"It's a technique that kills anything within the triangle," Naruto said. His eyes were closed, his head bowed down. Slowly he lifted it and opened his eyes. He had a sad smile on his lips. "However… the strength required doing this technique is beyond humans."
Madara's eye widened behind the mask. Before he had a chance to turn around to Sasuke and Hinata the technique activated. He screamed.
They blew away as the technique was cancelled. Toppled along the ground in the open space, Sasuke's body roused up a lot of dust until he slid to a stop. He didn't move.
Hinata yelped as her arm broke under her weight, rolled a few more times before coming to a stop, panting harshly and blood dripping out of her mouth.
Naruto felt exhausted. But he was alive. The demon kept him alive. Tears were already stinging at his eyes and he nearly didn't want to look up. He nearly didn't even want to have the demon to keep him alive. His right shoulder was throbbing around the branch and he thought dizzily he really shouldn't make a habit of letting himself being impaled.
Hinata. Everything was sort of blurry but then there she was, pale in the darkness, and there was blood coming from her mouth and all of a sudden she was painfully clear. She looked at him, eyes wide, tears falling down, then they drew to the side, her lips trembling. Naruto moved his head.
His eyes grew wide. The throbbing in his shoulder vanished and was replaced by a throbbing in his heart. Kyuubi was saying something but the blonde wasn't paying attention.
Sasuke didn't move. He lay on his back, head slightly tilted, eyes open but vacant and there had been blood rushing out of his mouth. His clothes were a bit dusty and so was his hair. He looked relaxed and both Naruto and Hinata knew he was dead.
"Sasuke!" Hinata shrieked. "Sasuke!" She tried to get up only to have more blood dribbling out of her mouth.
Kyuubi was screaming at Naruto but he didn't care as he practically ripped his shoulder from the branch. The pain didn't register to him; he got up on his feet and ran over to his friend. He was still in blissful denial, got Sasuke up and he could feel the absence of chakra, the Uchiha's body was completely devoid of chakra and he buried his head into Sasuke's shoulder.
Hinata had gotten over to them and she was crying, slumping against Naruto and holding his head with one hand, the other cradling Sasuke's. The blonde could feel the faint remaining chakra in Hinata and he cried harder.
She wouldn't have long left.
The next day his life in Konoha came to an end. He was summoned to the Hyuuga house and followed behind one of the Hyuugas who led him to Hinata's room despite knowing the way there. He slid the door open and the Hyuuga left.
Hinata turned her head towards him. She was dressed in a simple kimono and her face was white. She was sitting but it took much of her strength to do it.
The woman watched Naruto sit down. His left eye was still slightly bruised but to her relief the wound on his shoulder was gone. He didn't look as happy as she and she knew why.
"Naruto-san…" she said. "I'm sorry for doing this to you."
"I can't believe I let you do it," Naruto whispered. "You both knew you would never survive it. Did Sasuke tell me all those things to give me false hope?"
"No, he didn't. He wanted to live," Hinata said, "and he wanted you happy. But sometimes things don't work out the way you want it to."
"Try my whole life," the blonde said with jaws clenched.
She smiled a bit, and then coughed. He looked up and saw blood trickling out. He took a cloth and cleaned it away, laying a hand on her trembling back as she continued to cough.
"Naruto… san," she wheezed.
"Where… did you… bury Sasuke-san?"
The blonde swallowed. "Outside of Konoha," he whispered. "Sasuke didn't want to be buried where he could be found."
"Can you please… take me there?"
Her eyes were pleading. She was going to die. He couldn't deny her now.
Naruto jumped down and set Hinata down. It wouldn't take the Hyuugas long to figure out Hinata was missing but by then it would already be too late.
Hinata looked at the stone and the newly dug ground.
"Bury me here," she said.
"Okay," he said. "I'll be alone after this."
Hinata began to say something but started to cough instead and Naruto fell to his knees next to her. She grabbed a hold of his shirt and he sat down on the ground, holding her.
"Go…" she said, exhausted. "Go to… Gaara-san."
His eyes widened.
"Gaara?" he said.
"Yes. He is the… only one who deserves… your kindness…" She began to cough again, harder this time. Naruto held her closer. Blood sprayed her lips faintly.
"Not even Tsunade-sama has earned it," she said and touched his cheek. "Maybe we didn't either. We just took… and never gave anything back… yet you remained with us, Naruto-san… you stayed with us…"
He clutched her shoulder and tears spilled down onto her hand even as he moved his own up to hold it.
"You did that to Sasuke-san, didn't you?" she asked and he looked at her. Finally he nodded. "Do it to me too, Naruto-san… so that we can… once more… stay by your side…"
Her head began to fall backwards, her eyes slipping close, tears falling from them. A trickle of blood made its way down her cheek.
Afterwards he closed up one of the scrolls, it reeking of chakra and he stood up. Two stones stood next to each other and he had made sure the ground looked untouched. Konoha would probably have a hard time forgiving him for doing this, burying two important people in the middle of nowhere.
He didn't write their names on the stones.
He alone would ever know where Uchiha Sasuke and Hyuuga Hinata were buried.
Naruto rolled up the scroll and moved his hand over the two seals with the names Sasuke and Hinata on them. It had been of desperation he had taken their souls with him. As long as their souls were there, he wasn't completely alone.
Now he was dying too.
He had one thing left to do though. Years later after their deaths he had found it out. One last option to defeat your enemy.
"Stay with me," he breathed and he felt Sasuke and Hinata hum in response through the scroll, into his hand. It prickled along his skin.
He closed his eyes, and focused.
It was only one Akatsuki standing yet they were having so much trouble. He had been hurt yes, but he still had a lot of chakra left and now younger shinobis had gotten close.
One was Uchiha Sasuke and he stared as he caught sight of not one but two Itachi. He wasn't sure whether to get angry or be confused or feel strangely happy to finally see a family member again.
"Little Sasuke," Madara whispered as he spotted the boy. "What do you say, Itachi? Should I get him to my side instead? Hmm?"
"You're not taking anyone!" Tsunade screamed. She was tired but she had plenty left to give. She wouldn't stop until Madara was down, even if it meant she had to die.
With a flash both Itachi was in front of Sasuke and both were ready to fight.
"You will not touch him," the younger, living Itachi said.
"Oh, I won't?" the man said with a laugh.
Gaara had crouched down during their talk and now pulled his hand up that he had placed on the ground. Madara went down; the redhead had created a hand that had grabbed a hold of Madara's ankle and now had pulled him down on the ground.
Madara was about to get up when he happened to look to the side, beyond the others and saw something that made his eye widen. He wasn't sure if he was seeing what he thought he saw. Turning back to the others he saw they hadn't noticed. He laughed weakly.
"I've heard things like you know when it's a Jinchuuriki and so on," he said shakily as he got up on his feet again. Tsunade seethed, thinking he was talking about Gaara. Then to their confusion he turned his head to the side and continued, "I mean, they say they look like demons. But you… you look just fine without yours, Naruto-san."
Their eyes widened, the shock hung in the air and they turned to where he was looking to see what the hell he was talking about.
It was Naruto. Yet it wasn't.
His skin was so pale. His hair purely white. The eyes nearly translucent. The clothes blended in with his looks now. There wasn't a mark on his body, not a speck of blood. It was all just gone. The only colour on him was the slight reddening around his eyes.
"Just what the hell did you just do?" Madara screamed. His shock had given way, and he wanted an explanation as to why the man wasn't dead now.
Naruto grinned and replied:
"I drew out the chakra in my body."
"I have tried doing that," Madara said with a snort. "I don't get like that."
"You haven't. No one has drawn out all of their chakra."
"If they open all the gates-!" Gai shouted. He wasn't sure where he got his voice from but he managed to get that out.
"Not even then," Naruto interrupted. He placed a hand on his chest. "But if you draw out the chakra that makes your heart beat… your lungs breathe… your organs functioning, hell, even the chakra that makes your blood flow… then you definitely die but for a little while… you get to know the feeling what it's like to be a god."
He moved one hand out, and it was as if Madara was caught by an invisible arm and thrown away.
"I've been… thinking a lot about the past today," Naruto said as he walked closer. The chakra was tearing up the ground where he was walking, and it was starting to swirl around his body. "Last time I killed you, I lost two friends because of that. Because I wasn't strong enough. I couldn't keep them alive."
Madara fought his way up. The strength behind the hit, or whatever it was, had taken his breath away. He focused on Naruto again.
"So what if you couldn't keep them alive? It's got nothing to do with me," he said.
Naruto's eyes widened and then he vanished, appearing again above Madara and with a kick to the top of the man's head, brought him down to the ground.
"Wrong," Naruto hissed. Old hatred began to boil inside of him. "It's got everything to do with you, and with me. I wasn't strong enough, yes, but you weren't smart enough."
"Weren't smart enough?"
"You're an idiot," the blonde informed and used another kick to send the man off. "If you hadn't been an idiot Sasuke and Hinata wouldn't have died!"
It was the first time he ever spoke of them out loud since they died. He had never mentioned it to Shikamaru and Gaara.
"If you hadn't lived, we wouldn't have had to use that technique!" Naruto brought a fist to the man's stomach, making him gasp. The anger that had been bottled up for so long was coming out. "They didn't have to die! They shouldn't have died! If I only had known about this back then… then only I had to die!"
"Why you?" Madara asked even as Naruto dragged him up. His powers felt suppressed. Whenever he tried something Naruto choked it with the chakra. How could this chakra be so much stronger? Was it because in its grasp it held life itself? "Why do you say that only you had to die?"
"Sasuke and Hinata were important," Naruto said. "They were the future. I was just Konoha's monster."
There was sadness in the former blonde's eyes that made it hard for Madara to look him in the eyes.
"Sasuke wanted me to live with him," Naruto said as he reached out with one hand. A blackish shape came out from his hand and slowly shaped the familiar scythe. Normally he had to bring it out from a scroll. Gaara stared at the scythe. Naruto had summoned it through sheer will. Naruto raised it even as he continued, "He didn't want me to be alone. He wanted me to feel safe. For the first time in my life, I looked forward to something. And then… then he died. Because I wasn't strong enough."
"You think I'll feel sorry for you if you tell me this?" Madara asked. He tried to ignore the scythe and get loose. Naruto's hand tightened around his throat and the man emitted a choking sound.
"No, I don't expect you to," Naruto said. "Actually I would've been surprised. I just wanted to say it. Once I just wanted to say it. Hinata and Sasuke were my future. When they died, I lost it. And now I'm going to loose it again. Only this time… I won't regret it."
The scythe made a wide swing, and for a moment Madara thought Naruto had missed. Then there was a rush of the most powerful chakra he had ever felt and someone screamed as Madara's lower body split from his upper and blood just practically poured out. The man gurgled and felt blood choking him a little before he let it trickle out of his mouth even as he saw the world began to blacken.
His enemy lowered him to the ground, the scythe apparently gone. When looking at Naruto now, in the blurriness he looked like a sort of angel. A scary, powerful and blood-drenched one.
"How does it feel… being god?" Madara whispered.
"Yes." He wanted to hear the answer before it was all over.
Naruto's mouth formed to a sad smile, and he replied:
"It feels lonely."
That was the last thing Uchiha Madara heard.
Gaara was kind of shell-shocked. That was why he couldn't react until Naruto actually fell down himself. Everything went overdrive after that and Shukaku might have been screaming at him to stop acting like an idiot.
He wasn't even aware how quickly he got to Naruto; he just fell down on his knees and turned him over. This time Naruto's eyes looked at him. They were probably scary for someone who wasn't used to demon-like appearances but for Gaara it didn't matter.
"Heh… I'm sorry…" Naruto coughed and blood came up. It slid down his cheeks, dark against his pale skin. "Looks like… the chakra's leaving…"
"Yes, it is. You… take care, ya know? You and… Shikamaru…"
"Naruto!" Shikamaru dropped to his knees next to Naruto and looked at Gaara who shook his head. "No…"
"Hey, it's okay… I guess."
"You guess? You… you idiot!" Shikamaru shouted. "How the fuck are we supposed to think it's okay?"
"I'm sorry," the man said again. "I didn't want this… to happen again… to anyone… so I'm kinda just… tryin' to be light about it…"
"Well, stop with that!" Shikamaru said. "We don't feel any relieved because of it! Tell the truth instead!"
The truth? Naruto tried to think about the truth. Formulate his truth into words.
"I'm… tired," he began. "Sometimes I feel like… I just want to go home. Even though I don't have any home." He coughed again, and Gaara lifted him a little so it became easier to breathe. "But right now… right now… I don't want to die."
There. He said it. It was the horrible truth. He had thought about death so many times, either by his own hand or someone else's. But now, when it was really happening, he didn't want to. He knew Sasuke and Hinata didn't want that. He could feel their warmth again through the scroll where they were sealed, and it felt like they were embracing him. If he truly was going, he knew they would follow.
A sharp presence stopped his thoughts though. The others hadn't noticed. How could they not have? He was about as strong as a kitten and he felt it. Looking to the side, his eyes widened at the sight. It was not what he had expected. It was like the last time he had expected, but it kind of warmed his heart seeing the being.
The chuckle was a surprise, and Gaara looked down to see blood falling from Naruto's mouth even as he smiled. His eyes were still cast sideways.
"You're…" the man began and gasped, then coughed a few times. "You're really… an idiot… Kyuubi."
They all turned.
A redheaded man in red armour stood not far away. His eyes were red as well, and the pupils slit. He was radiating of chakra.
"Stupid brat," Kyuubi replied, his voice echoing around them. He came closer. "I thought I could just run… but then your face showed up… that damn Hokage sure knew what he was doing sealing me into you."
With one great swipe of his arm, Kyuubi threw the people aside, Gaara included. Naruto fell to the ground with a thud and grimaced. The demon walked over, a shield holding others away.
"Don't you fucking touch him!" Tsunade screamed. "Haven't you hurt him enough?"
Kyuubi ignored her and crouched down, placing a hand on Naruto's stomach. Gaara and Shikamaru stared at the demon, waiting his next move. No one ever knew with the great Biju, with the slight exception of Naruto. He usually knew what the demon was up to but apparently he was still clueless about this course of action. He had been prepared to die. He hadn't been prepared to see Kyuubi having returned for him.
Gaara's eyes widened. Surely the demon wasn't going to…?
"You don't get to die until I say so."
The demon's chakra exploded outwards, all around them, heavy and searing hot, flying so forcefully they had to shield their faces, then Naruto felt a boiling heat as Kyuubi forced his way back in.
And then it all turned black.
When he woke up he felt surprisingly well. And there was this deep humming that signalled that Kyuubi had gone against all common sense and actually gotten back in and made them both survive it.
Yes, I'm here you stupid brat. You better open your eyes, your friends' are worried.
Naruto furrowed his brow, his eyes slowly blinking open.
Gaara stared down at him. Shikamaru also stared down at him. He blinked but they didn't seem to do it.
"What?" he rasped out irritably.
Gaara actually lost his footing and the blonde blinked again as the redhead went down. Shikamaru started laughing hysterically. Tsunade tore into the room howling what the hell was going on, and Naruto wondered exactly why he should have opened his eyes.
The woman nearly didn't allow him up from the bed until she realized he was quite fine.
"No lasting damage?" she asked.
"I don't know," Naruto said. He didn't remember much after Kyuubi had torn back inside. "I could always ask him."
"Him?" she repeated.
"Kyuubi you know." Naruto's eyes slid to the side suddenly, then darted back. "And he claims there's no lasting damage, I'm an idiot and will be tormented by him forever."
"Sounds like Kyuubi," Shikamaru said.
Naruto was kind of amazed there was no lasting damage. He had used up the chakra that kept his organs functioning and yet he felt fine now. Kyuubi wasn't really giving him much detail about what he had done to keep the blonde alive.
Or rather, former blonde.
He wouldn't get his old looks back. Apparently it had been too late for that. He didn't really care.
After a while he was left alone with Gaara and Shikamaru. They both sat on either side of the bed. He had never been in such a large hospital room but rather enjoyed it. The others were usually too cramped and they were always shared with someone else.
"We talked to Tsunade already," Shikamaru said. "Telling her about us, how we came here, you know all that stuff we told Sandaime."
"And the rest of the village knows now," Gaara continued. "Even the younger ones too. Your old team for an example."
"What of Itachi and Kisame? The alive ones, I already know the soul ones are back in the scroll."
"They're here," the redhead informed. "Itachi and Sandaime told Sasuke the truth."
"The boy seems to be handling it well. He even allowed Itachi and Kisame to stay in the Uchiha house."
Naruto nodded but stayed silent. The two watched him. Gaara was kind of twitchy and Shikamaru gnawed on one of his fingernails.
"Are you thinking about leaving?" Gaara finally asked.
"I was thinking about that too," Shikamaru said and they looked at him. "I don't know, everyone's been kind of looking at me weirdly since they found out who we were. Plus someone called me monster too."
"Who?" both Jinchuurikis said.
"It doesn't matter."
They glared at him.
"I'm not telling because you're gonna kill that person then!" Shikamaru protested. "Anyway… when are we leaving?"
"As soon as we can," Naruto said. "I know where I'm going after this." Kyuubi had told him something, and he wanted to set some things right. "You guys want to tag along?"
The three looked at each other.
"We've been together a couple of years now," Shikamaru said. "I was the lazy, depressed bastard sitting inside but we're kinda a team. I'm going where you go."
"I'll go with you," Gaara said quietly.
"Then when I get out of here, we're leaving."
Sarutobi stood beside one of the gates and looked up at the sky. Tsunade looked strangely at her mentor; shouldn't he be at his home?
It had been three weeks since the attack, two days since Uzumaki Naruto had awoken once more and things were starting to return back to normal. Konoha was now known as the village that destroyed the Akatsuki and had earned some reluctant respect from various villages around the shinobi world.
"Sarutobi-sensei?" Jiraiya said uncertainly.
"I'm just waiting," the man said with a wave of his hand.
"Waiting for what?" Tsunade said.
"Guess we can't leave unnoticed?"
Tsunade turned where she heard Naruto's voice. He was dressed in one of his normal outfits, now looking startlingly white. With him were Gaara and Shikamaru and all three looked prepared to leave. Sarutobi smiled and said:
"I had a feeling you would leave. Any idea where you're going?"
"We're going to say hello to someone," Naruto said and looked back at the two.
"Is that so?" the former Hokage asked. "Who?"
"Kyuubi told me where to find this time's Naruto."
A few weeks later
It had taken time. Shinobis didn't move around much in this part of the world, and so they were an unusual sight. People looked at them curiously. Naruto could get used to this. No sneers, no knowing looks, no people saying he was a monster and that they knew what he was.
Here no one knew he carried a demon. That all of them carried demons inside. They just looked curiously at them.
Naruto didn't know about the other two but it had been surprisingly easy leaving Konoha. He hadn't missed it at all. Maybe he would, at some point but now he was happy and free. He didn't even feel guilty about it.
"So where is he at?" Shikamaru asked. He was enjoying tramping through the snow. The brunette hadn't been around much snow and he was having a little fun.
"Just up ahead."
Kyuubi had described a small house to him. In there the boy lived alone. Naruto hoped he had been accepted as the demon had refused to tell how the younger Naruto ended up so far away from Konoha.
Stepping up a gentle hill that had the small house upon, Naruto walked up to the door and knocked on the door. Gaara and Shikamaru came to a stop slightly behind him. No one approached them. People minded their own business around here apparently. The former blonde seriously considered moving in here and then the door opened. He looked down and stared right at the boy.
The blue eyes were bright, both in colour and in emotions. This child didn't remember the hardships so therefore he didn't know of the pain. That was good. Naruto didn't want him to. The marks on the boy's cheeks were still there, and the hair was unruly but still looked golden in the afternoon light.
The man let the boy examine his face, then said:
Thirteen-year old Uzumaki Naruto smiled at him. He wasn't scared of the man's looks, his nearly translucent eyes or white hair, or pale skin. Did people just openly trust strangers around here or what?
"Hi," the boy replied.
"You don't know me," the older Naruto said as the woman walked out, leaving them alone, "but I know you."
"You do?" The boy perked up, bright blue eyes sparkling.
"I do," the man said and he was invited in along with Gaara and Shikamaru. The room wasn't big but comfortable and surprisingly well equipped. The boy invited them to sit down and so they did. The younger Naruto sat down next to the older one who continued, "I know about your father, and your mother, where you are from, and why you are here."
The blue eyes widened, brightened. A new smile formed. The older blonde took off his trench-coat and continued:
"This is going to be a long story. You up for it?"
The boy nodded quickly. Shikamaru grinned and moved to a comfortable position while Gaara leaned back against the wall with the gourd resting beside him.
Naruto himself grinned at the sight. So young and innocent. "Alright. Let me tell you about the culprit of your situation first. His name is Kyuubi."
Who the hell are you calling culprit?
'Yeah,' Naruto thought as his younger self listened attentively, 'this is going to take a hell of a long time.'
But he didn't really mind that.
He had all the time in the world.
Oh. It's the end.
It's ended. Finished. I'm feeling quite surprised about it. Then again, I feel this way every time I finished a multi-chapter story.
Time to say goodbye to my Naruto, Gaara and Shikamaru and let's hope they live a good life after this!
Until another time,