In which Konoha was still destroyed by the Kyuubi, though the beast was still bound to Naruto.
Seventeen years later, descendants of the survivors begin to gather as their parents (or their last words) begin to come to light, speaking of a prophecy about rebirth, and giving instructions to each of them to gather near/in the ruins of Konohagakure.
Pairings featured: Naruto/Undecided- possibly small harem, or both Hinata and Sakura, or just one, or something. Shikamaru/Temari. Sasuke/Ino. Choji/OC (or Shina(o) Aburame). Neji/Tenten. Lee/OC, Kiba/OC, minor pairings: Kaka/Anko (maybe), Tsunade/Jirayia, (probably not 'romantic'), Iruka/Ayame, or Iruka/Shizune, Gai and... someone. Maybe. Could be an OC. Asuma/Kurenai, Hints of Kushina/Minato (they're dead, but people have memories) Possibly Hiashi/OC. For no particular reason.
Plans: Fairly long, want to tell a version of the story including the aftermath of the most recent Great Shinobi War, up through Akatsuki, at the least.
This is a NEW fic, but will not be worked on extensively until all other current projects of mine are finished. (Because it's a BIG project I have planned)
Chap. 1 Approaching Thunder
It was raining
again as the two men slogged down the muddy trail, and in the
distance, thunder rumbled frequently, though the lightning was never
seen through the thick trees and darkness overhead. Even through
hundreds of feet of dense canopy, the water dripped incessantly onto
the pair's heads and shoulders, the sheer ferocity of the downpour
above breaking through the leafy barrier with ease.
"It's almost time," the older said, causing the younger to grunt.
For a time, nothing more was said, and only the rain and thunder accompanied their breathing and the slurping of their boots in the mud.
"What's it like, Ojou-san?" The younger man's voice was a bit hoarse, as if he'd been running for a long time, or his throat was dry, despite the rain.
The answer was a long time coming. "It's... not like I remember, I know that much. But you want me to tell you again? You've heard it a hundred times."
"Don't bullshit me, Pops. Every time I ask you say that- but you've only ever talked about it when you're drunk." Despite the harshness of the words, the easy smile and quirk of eyebrows would have shown even a casual observer that the pair, despite the obvious difference in their ages, were closer than almost any other father and son.
"Tch. Kids these days, no respect for the elderly. Is it my fault if I can't remember petty details like that? I have big, important things on my mind. I can't be remembering little things like that."
The younger man gave a chuckle, "Right. Because you're just so ancient. Are you sure you don't want me to carry you, Ojii-sama? Your old bones must be going through hell right now, with the rain and the walk."
In a blur, the older man's right arm lashed out to deliver a cuff to the younger's head. It would have been a killing blow to a normal man- if it had connected. With reflexes born of constant practice and training, if not fighting for his very survival, the young man leapt away, still smiling, and growled, "Oh, so the old man wants to have some fun? Maybe I should show him why the younger generation always wins in the end?" He assumed a fighting stance a few paces away from his senior, but the old man simply laughed out loud in response.
"Ha, Naruto! The younger ones win because the older ones get old... but time is a fight no one can win. Not even you!"
The older man had continued his leisurely pace while he talked, forcing the younger to run a bit to catch up after he relaxed his pose.
"So, Ojou-san... what's it like?"
With a sigh, the older man took another long breath and looked up into the rain and trees before he began to speak.
"Konoha... the Konoha I knew, anyway, was a beautiful place. There are trees, and buildings, and long, winding, straight roads... the mountain of the Hokage rises above the village, their monuments both stern and loving. When it rains, it's never hard, but always a pleasant, soothing amount. Enough to wet tongues, fill reservoirs, and keep the abundant plant life green and lush almost all year long. Even the winters are pretty mild, it only snows for about a month a year, and more than a few inches on the ground at a time is rare.
"But it's the people that I always loved. Even at their worst, Konoha's people are kind, generous, and loving... there are exceptions. I can't deny that... but overall, the civilians and shinobi alike were the best of what humanity had to offer. The women were beautiful, every single one of them. The men handsome, strong, and kind to their friends. Merciful to their enemies. Most of the time, anyway.
"But why do you want me to tell you all of this, anyway? You know it's all different."
Once again, the younger man waited a time before answering, long enough that the older could hear the rain above slowly lessening. Good, I'd hate to arrive and not be able to see anything.
"Because Konoha... hearing about it from you. It reminds me of Kaa-san, and Sakura-chan, and Shizune-nee-chan, and... it reminds me of home."
The old man smiled, a gentle, quiet thing, but said nothing. Good boy, Naruto. Seventeen years old, and wiser than most old farts I know. It's those little things that made Konoha worth fighting for. You hold on to that- and hold on to the ladies in your life. They're all beautiful, sure, but there's so much more than that...
For another hour, the two plodded along while the sound of rain above lessened to a stop, and the rain around them, drizzling from the leaves, finally began to decrease as well.
It was as the light truly began to fade from beneath the canopy, that Naruto gave a shout of pure joy. "Ojou-san! Ojou-san, look! It's there, it's there! Home!" Without another word, and ignoring his companions' half-hearted cries to slow down and wait for him, and that their destination wasn't going anywhere, the blond teen tore down the road, flinging mud up behind him.
Tears came to the old man's eyes when he rounded the last bend in the trail. Home indeed. It's not a place, Naruto... it's the people who live there.
Twenty yards or so ahead, on the stoop of the cottage set in the exact center of the clearing, a slender, pink-haired girl around Naruto's age, and an older, but no less beautiful despite her more common features, brunette were sobbing into one each of Naruto's shoulders, his own arms wrapped tightly around them as well.
It was the figure behind them, though, that drew his eyes- in more
ways than one. Taller than any of the other three, as tall, in fact,
as himself, the one true love of his life stood. Her bearing unbowed
by age and worry as his had begun to be, she looked on the three with
stern eyes, though he knew in his heart she was overflowing with the
same joy the younger generation felt.
After all, it wasn't every day that one of your children- by blood or no- came home from a seven-year-journey.
old man stopped a few feet away from the hugging youngsters, his eyes
set firmly on Tsunade's ample cleavage. I won't look up. I
won't look up. I won't look-
"Jiraiya, you old toad, how long are you going to ignore me?"
beady eyes flew from his second-favorite feature to his first at
once. Damn it!
"'hime," he breathed, unable to help himself. For a moment, he allowed himself to think she wouldn't hear over the quieting sobs of the trio between them, but the instant tightening of her lips suggested otherwise.
"Uh... Hi, Tsunade-hime?"
One of her eyebrows quirked.
despite himself, Jirayia started glancing around casually, looking
for an escape route from her wrath, when the older blonde's 'hmph'
brought his attention back to hers like a deer caught in
To his shock, though, he found not her disapproval, but her arms open, and a small grin on her lips. "Come here, ya old fart. I think I can let you cop a feel once- it has been seven years that you've been on your best behavior. Right?"
Overjoyed, but worried all the same, the white-haired man sputtered,
"Uh-of-... of course, Tsunade! I'm always on my best behavior!"
he said, slowly walking forward. On the one hand, being offered a hug
from Tsunade was rare in the extreme for anyone but Naruto. As well,
it was one of his fondest dreams to be held in her arms... but on the
"Has he really been good, Naruto?"
Like his companion, the blonde teen looked upwards at the other woman's eyes, and found himself unable to look away as he stammered, "Uh, y... yeah, for su... well... m- mostly?"
But it was too late. Tsunade had timed it all too well- Jirayia had just taken the last step into her waiting arms, finally allowed himself to believe it was really real, when her superhuman strength began crushing the life out of him. "'Mostly' good?" she whispered dangerously into his ears.
"Uh... um, y- yeah, of course, Tsu- Tsunade-hime! I'm always good when I think of y- ow... Tsunade, it's getting hard to..."
But the other woman, long used to doing this sort of thing, didn't let up or release him until he was completely unconscious. Then, though, with another faint smile, she held him in a relaxed fashion, holding him as one old friend holds another after a long absence.
"Okaa-sama," the pink-haired girl spoke up, the trio having witnessed the last of this encounter, "if you don't leave Jirayia-sama alone next time, I think you're really going to kill him. He's not as young as you are, you know."
* * *
Wind howled through the ruins, just as it had done for seventeen years. The changes in temperature caused by the sun's path across the sky caused a near-constant flow of wind through the valley that occupied the space where a massive stone monument once stood.
Here or there, voles and other nocturnal rodents were chased by a wild dog or cat. The man shivered, but not due to the cold. No, it was instead the mounting weight he could feel on his shoulders- the weight of destiny.
He stood slowly, stretching his aching muscles. Tonight.
Tonight is the night my destiny begins. The others will be arriving
soon. That fire may be one of them, and then, we when are gathered,
the survivors and descendants will once again have Fate on our
Retribution. Vengeance. Death to those who destroy. Destruction to those who bring death.
A stronger gust caused the black hair behind him to sway along with his older brother's beside him. "Onii-san," he spoke, his voice calm and controlled despite the tension mounting in him, "Am I right? Is that...?"
The older brother gave a faint nod, his face as impassive as always, "It is our progenitor line, returned at last. The Uchiha are returning to the land of our heritage, Sasuke."
"So it's true, then," the younger replied, "the Prophecy is coming true... and Konoha will return. The prophesied child is here."
Itachi nodded once again, not bothering to correct his younger brother's implied assumption. It is not you, Sasuke, though it could have been. No, the Prophecy speaks of another.
The siblings stood in silence for perhaps an hour longer, their sharp, red eyes able to pick out the details of the gathering crowd by the distant fire. And then, at some unspoken and unheard sign, they turned as one and began walking up the slope towards the decimated monument the pair had used as a home since the destruction of their parent's home seventeen years before. Indeed, it was the only home the younger of the two had ever known.
* * *
The caravan continued as it had since it's creation, following it's migratory path from Kusagakure, the Village Hidden in the Grass, to Amegakure, the Rain Village, and from there to the ninja village of the Land of Wind, Sunagakure, to the smaller village of Hoshi, curving back eastward to Ame, then north to Iwa, east to Takigakure, the only major city in the land of Waterfalls, even continuing on to the land of one of Konoha's former enemies, Otogakure, before curving back south to skirt along- and just inside- the dangerous, lawless area that was once the Land of Fire.
Without it's Ninja Village to protect it, the once-powerful nation had fallen inside a year, to treachery, betrayal, and outright war. Stone, Cloud, Grass, the newly-formed Sound, Rain, and even their former ally, Wind, had launched major campaigns, each carving out a major part of the country, until what was left had collapsed under it's own weight.
What was left, now, was controlled by bandit kings and a few of the most powerful families, descendants of Fire's old daimyo. But even those islands of relative peace and security shrank rapidly, day by day. It was only a matter of time, the leader of the caravan new, before all traces of the once-mighty nation were gone. Except for us, and a few others. Whispers and rumors, back-ally talk... to think our Clan, once the strongest in Konoha, would be reduced to shady dealings and smuggling to survive... but survive we have, and our time is nigh.
"Form up!" the order came from his mouth without a thought, long ingrained into his psyche, just as it was for his children, who had grown up in the then-new caravan, knew little else, aside from their history. That, though, had been drilled into each of their generation- how the Hyuuga had once practically controlled, or at least influenced, every aspect of life in their former home, how their techniques were second-to-none in unarmed combat, and the wealth they had hidden somewhere in the catacombs underneath their former dwelling. If any of it remains after seventeen years of occupation by thieves... but unless they have the Byakugan, it would be difficult to even see the signs. Maybe some remains.
Another man, nearly identical to himself, walked up from behind him, and said in a voice only slightly different from his own, "Hiashi, the caravan is ready. But... I have doubts."
The older twin gave a curt nod, before calling out, "Move out!" and then in a softer voice, modulated so that only his younger brother could hear, "I understand, Hizashi. I do, as well. But we must trust in the Prophecy- it's the only hope we have."
His brother gave another nod, then slowed his pace without another word to drop back and bring up the rear of the group.
By noon, the wagons, people, and their horses and oxen had forded two streams and one river, even had to barter for passage on a barge across a bay, but were finally nearing their second-to-last destination, a small village named, aptly, Tent Town. If there were ever people more needy of help then the survivors of Konoha... it is these, Hiashi thought as they neared the outskirts of the gigantic tent city. Already, cries were echoing through the 'streets', as word began to spread that the caravan was nearly there.
"I don't know how to thank you," the old man said to Hiashi, "for everything you've done for us. All of us here, every single one, owe our lives to you and your Clan. The supplies and food you bring... it's all that has kept us afloat for these nine years. The nine years since that bastard Gatoh..."
Hiashi held up a hand, firmly but subtly instructing the older man to be silent, then said in a low voice, just over a whisper, "Things change, Tazuna-san. This is our last trip through, our last circuit."
At first, the older man couldn't shake the stunned expression on his face. Before too long, however, he began to stammer, "But- But- is it Gatoh? Do you need help with guards? Bandits? We-"
Hiashi shook his head once, and replied, "Neither. We have been happy to help, but our priorities have changed, that is all. It is time for us to cease our wandering, and return home."
Tazuna gave the younger man a puzzled look that swiftly changed into one of understanding, "Ah, yes... home. So has the secret of your kekkei-genkai become known? That your Warrior-Monks are, in fact, trained ninja of the Hyuuga?"
The other shook his head again, "Not to our knowledge. It is simply time. I cannot tell you any more just now, but... I pray for your safety over the next year. Perhaps, when the supplies are running low, we will be able to send word, if not aid. It has been a pleasure doing business with you, Tazuna-san, and a pleasure to know you."
The older man gave a deep bow, even deeper than that the clan patriarch and merchant prince had given him, and replied, his voice shaking with repressed feeling, "And you, Hiashi-sama. Your family will always be welcome in our town."
AN: There you have it, the first, preview-ish chapter for One Hour. Like all my fics, I don't abandon things- but don't get your hopes set on reading more of this too soon, I have a lot to catch up on now that I'm back to writing. :)
CORRECTION: I don't normally do this, since I rarely make a mistake like this, but... those of who you noticed the XXXXXXXXXXXXXX in the caravan's route haven't said anything yet. Oddly enough, I caught it right off the bat, but forgot to fix it. It was never intended to be like that, of course, so I had to fix it for that alone. However, it bears mentioning that the route, while not super important, IS worth having in there- it may bear some relevance to some mysteries or some similar things in the future.
Also, a bit of news: Chapter 2 is in the works. Not too many new characters in this one, but more of a personality introduction for the ones we've already seen, since they are/can be markedly different from the canon storyline- if for no other reason than they're 3 years older (2 for "Team Ten") than they are in Shippuden. Also, bear in mind- Naruto, while essentially still the same, will have a big change in personality and power- not that I'll make him Super Naruto- simply because he has been well trained for his entire life. He was never abandoned, never been beaten by an angry mob... sure, he still has some social issues- he was brought up by the likes of Jiraiya and Tsunade, after all- but they did raise him, so he will be different from that as well. If that kind of thing turns you off, then I ask that you turn away now and find another fic to read.
However, if, like me, you find a well-written, and well-reasoned change in personality to your liking, then forge ahead. I like to think I'm good at that sort of thing, and strike a good balance between canon and new versions of the character. As in Naruto's case... Trickster? Certainly. Goof-oof? Oh, yes. Bratty, ill-tempered? Yes- sometimes. But impatient? Not this one. He's had to work, and wait, for a long time to get where he is. As a result, he's learned that you can't just yell and scream to get what you want. That behavior is typical of foster/orphans, anyway, and while Naruto certainly knows Jiraiya and Tsunade aren't his parents, he's never felt that they weren't. But enough about that... You're probably waiting for chapter two!