The Red Mirror
A Naruto Fanfiction by Andrew J. Talon
Disclaimer: Naruto is the property of Shonen Jump, Viz, and other companies, and it's creator is Kishimoto Masashi. I am not writing this for profit.
Take a concept from one manga, and take it for a spin and twist in another…
- - - - - - -
Lightning and wind were cousin forces. The energy from the storm could only be brought about by changes in air pressure, which resulted in wind, and the power of wind could kick up great amounts of static. It is no surprise that joined together, wind and lightning would result in violence. It is altogether fitting that a battle between former best friends, one trying to save the brother he never had, the other trying to push away the brother he wished he'd had, would have lightning and wind meeting together in a tumultuous climax.
Against the background of falling water, kitsune and ogre met, the elemental forces at their command struggling, crackling, screaming against eachother as the attack bearing their power were called out.
The energy release of two such powerful weapons meeting was immense, blanketing the surrounding area in light and storm. The overcast sky seemed to grow even dimmer in the light of the primordial forces meeting.
Naruto Uzumaki snarled.
Sasuke Uchiha roared.
The attacks gave up, and the two adversaries were catapulted towards eachother in an endless moment, neither finding the heart to kill their friend.
There was only a hard knock to the back of his head as the shadow of his friend faded, and Naruto knew nothing more.
The world returned, and Naruto opened his eyes. The sky remained overcast, yet without the angry storm clouds of before, testament to his struggle. Equally unfamiliar was the silence that filled the air. The waterfall was gone, so too was the river.
He rose from the ground, blue eyes looking around. They grew wider, the scene before the blonde at once familiar... And foreign.
Ichiraku's? He thought, the ramen stand in plain sight. He rose to his feet, sandals providing unsure traction to his suddenly weak legs.
"How... How'd I get here?"
Looming out of fog above him stood the four carved faces of the former Hokage, silent sentinels to an equally silent Konohagakure. Naruto looked everywhere, ears keen to the slightest sound. There was nothing, the mists giving away only shadows of the village.
"What the hell is going on?" Naruto called out.
"Who's there?! Show yourself!" The blonde shouted defiantly. Footsteps signaled the approach of someone from behind, and Naruto turned to meet the observer.
Through the dense fog that covered every part of the village as far as he could see, Naruto made out a familiar figure. He stared in disbelief as he came close enough to be identified.
Naruto stared, and in turn received a grin back from himself. Though like Konoha, his double was not quite right. The smile he wore was predatory, canines gleaming in the dim light.
"What the... What's going on?"
"I don't blame you for being confused," the other Naruto said. "After all, a few knocks to the head will make anyone confused. Especially you."
"Yeah... Hey!" Naruto scowled. "What's that supposed to mean?"
"Just what I said, Naruto," the other said.
"Look, just cut the bullshit, where are we?" Naruto demanded.
"Don't recognize it? I have to admit, there's been some... Remodeling," the other Naruto said. He pointed to the north, away from the Hokage Monument. "Look over there."
Naruto turned and gazed where his double indicated, eyes squinting. Through the fog, he could just make out a vague series of shapes, all column like and stretching high into the clouds above. In the center was a huge sign, an unquestionably familiar symbol upon it.
"The... The seal...?" He asked. The other Naruto nodded.
"Yep... How do you like my recreation of Konoha? I like it. Kind of dreary right now, but I intend to change that," the other Naruto said.
Naruto couldn't help but hear the ominous note in his double's voice, and he stared intently at him.
The other Naruto grinned, teeth becoming sharper and more pronounced. His eyes turned blood scarlet, and his whisker marks more deeply defined. Naruto gaped, one word coming to his mind.
"Sort of," the Other said. He snickered. "It's funny really... It wouldn't have gotten to this point, if you didn't suck so hard."
"What?!" Naruto growled. "I do not suck!"
"Oh please," the Other snorted. "We could spend all day counting the ways you suck, but I want to get this out of the way as fast as I can." His grin widened. "But! I guess I owe ya a little, Idiot."
The Other Naruto dashed forward, slamming a punch into Naruto's stomach before he could react. Doubled over, Naruto gasped for breath just in time for the back of the Other's hand to collide with his face, sending him sprawling.
"Just relax, Idiot," the Other said cheerfully. "I'm taking over so you don't have to worry about anything!"
"Oh yeah?!" Naruto shouted, throwing a salvo of kunai at his double. The Other dodged easily and leaped up into the air, sending a flurry of shuriken right back. Naruto rolled, avoiding the projectiles before being forced to block his double's kunai.
"Yeah! I can't be too powerful though! Your body can't handle it! So, I've only got as much chakra as you do," the Other explained, forced into the defensive as Naruto got back up and began striking furiously. He kept up his grin as he blocked the blue eyed blonde's attack.
"Ha! Then that means I'm going to kick your ass!" Naruto shouted back, lashing out with a fist for the Other's cheek.
His punch was caught, and the Other just shook his head.
"You really don't get it, do ya Naruto?"
A knee to Naruto's gut followed, and a harsh uppercut to his jaw. Naruto slammed back first onto the ground with a groan, as his double calmly smirked.
"You're not going to win this," the Other said.
"The hell I won't!" Naruto growled back and lunged back to his feet. The Other smirked and eagerly greeted his opponent's kunai stabs with quick blocks.
"Then I'll enjoy showing ya just why you're wrong!"
- - - - - - -
There was only the sound of the falls, and the falling rain. Even with these disruptions, Sasuke could feel the weight of the silence.
He stared down at Naruto's unconscious form, the cool rain a sharp contrast to the burning chakra he'd felt within and without. But he paid it no mind, intent upon the silent boy laying on the sandbar.
The Uchiha survivor closed his eyes and slowly, carefully stood up. His hia'te was left lying on Naruto's chest-His other arm could not hold it, and Sasuke couldn't carry it.
He limped, using what little chakra he had left to stay above water, slowly making his way to the far shore. He was confident Konoha would find Naruto-He had a feeling Kakashi wasn't too far away.
That was all he could do for Naruto, now.
That power... He had wondered, for so long, and yet the answer had been painfully obvious. He hadn't put much thought into it, into how a deadlast like Naruto could keep up with him. Maybe he hadn't wanted to see...
All thoughts of Naruto, of Sakura, of anything... He put them away. They would do his revenge no good.
Sasuke froze. His chakra senses had been taxed by the battle, but even they could not ignore a feeling so terrible, so familiar.
No, he thought, turning around on the shore to stare. There, in the middle of the river... It's not possible!
The orange-clad figure was rising, the taste of the Kyuubi's power in the air. Yet, unlike the red energy Naruto had employed in the battle, the chakra that rose from him was black. The same feeling of menace filled the air, and only became worse when the demon's vessel turned his head to stare at Sasuke.
"Naruto...?" Sasuke whispered. The blonde grinned back, his eyes burning like an inferno.
"REEEEEEAAAARRRRGGGHHHHH!" Naruto screamed so loudly it seemed as though the whole forest would shake apart. Sasuke stumbled back, acutely aware of the sheer power his adversary was generating, how it seemed to steal the life out of the air itself.
His awareness calmly pointed out, against a rising flood of panic, how pitifully low and weak his own chakra was. How broken and tired his body was.
Naruto leaped forward, covering the distance between the sandbar and the shore in less than a second. Sasuke had no time to move, no time to defend himself. All he could do was stare at this new form of his former friend, gaze into eyes full of rage, and know that despite all of Orochimaru's promises and his own quest for vengeance... Even cutting all ties with Konoha and trying to kill his former best friend was just not enough.
Not enough, he thought as the claws came raking down.
- - - - - - -
How is this happening...?!
Every punch, every kick, every use of his weapons-The Other Naruto anticipated, trapped, blocked or avoided. All with that goddamned grin on his face. Frankly, it was beginning to piss Naruto off-And this day, more than any other, had provided fuel for his anger already.
"YAH!" Naruto bellow, feinting a punch at the Other's face. The Other avoided it and slammed his head into Naruto's. The original blonde's head jerked back, stunned just long enough for his enemy to grab his wrists and crouch down.
"YAH!" The Other Naruto cried, his jump carrying him up above the nearby buildings. He threw his legs back, sending both Narutos into a fast spin. At just the right moment, the Other released Naruto, sending him flying for the roof of a nearby apartment complex.
Naruto slammed through the ceiling of a living room, crashing to the floor in a heap. He groaned and struggled to stand up, body aching from the blunt impact among pieces of furniture and knick knacks.
"How was that, Naruto?"
The original looked up. His double grinned down, crouching at the lip of the hole.
"Seemed to work pretty well on the Uchiha bastard, so I thought I'd give it a shot. What'd you think?"
"Bastard," Naruto growled. "How'd you do that?!" He got back to his feet and leaped up at his foe, two kunai brandished in his hands. His double grabbed his wrists and leaned back, back slamming into the roof. His feet met Naruto's stomach in the same movement, sending him flying off the building and crashing into the dirt road below.
The Other laughed heartily as he grinned down at the original, who once more got back to his feet and glared defiantly back.
"Haven't you figured it out yet?" The other taunted. "Never were too quick, were you?"
"Go to hell, you bastard!" Naruto growled. He formed his fingers into a cross. "Kage bunshin no jutsu!"
Two dozen blondes joined him, and Naruto's Other cracked his neck. He smirked.
"Onto ninjutsu then huh? All right..." He made his own hand seal. "Kage Bunshin no jutsu."
An equal number of the Other's clones formed. Naruto threw a fist forward.
"GET 'EM!" His clones shouted in the affirmative, and as one they leaped up. The Other simply pointed up, and his clones jumped up even higher above the attacking clones.
"HENGE!" They cried in unison, and in a burst of smoke dozens of kunai were raining down upon Naruto and his troops.
"Shit!" The original blonde cried, barely managing to replace himself with a barrel as his clones were slaughtered. His Other's laughter followed him, and grew closer.
"You bastard! How the hell did you do that?!" Naruto shouted as his enemy came into view, landing on a nearer rooftop across the street. The Other smirked.
"What? I just made some clones and had them turn into weapons. Even you were able to do that, weren't ya?!" Two clones poofed into existence on either side of the Other, and he held out his hands.
"Henge," they said, and two Windmill Shuriken took the place of the clones. With a broad grin, the Other threw them, twin weapons whistling loudly through the air right for Naruto.
Naruto once more substituted himself, vanishing in a burst of smoke. He reappeared on a nearby roof, right out in the open. The Other Naruto grinned.
"Tajuu Kage Bunshin," he called as he leaped high into the air. Dozens of Narutos appeared around him, just in time for Naruto to look up and see them with widening eyes.
"Henge," they called as one, and suddenly it was raining kunai, so many they blotted out the sky. Then, they fell in a hail of steel, a rain Naruto barely dodged by leaping off the roof of the building. He turned and formed another handseal.
"Kage Bunshin no jutsu!" He called, and with his clone army he charged for the building where his double had landed. Fanning out, they attacked from all sides, a veritable wave of orange descending upon the lone red eyed blonde that had landed there. He just smirked.
"Really think it's that easy, Naruto?" He asked. Naruto pointed his finger at his double as his troops leaped forward.
"Che! I'm betting your clones can't turn back into clones after they turn into kunai!" He smirked. "Now I've got you!"
The Other opened his jacket and revealed several explosive tags. Naruto's eyes widened.
The explosion blew the building apart, sending clones flying and bursting into smoke across the village skyline. Naruto himself slammed into the ground on his feet, sliding and trying to stop himself. A punch to the back of his head sent him tumbling, all the way through a shop window with a loud crash.
The Other laughed again, loud and grating. "Hahahahahaha! Oh c'mon Naruto, surely you can do better than that!" He grinned. "I haven't even hit you with anything 'super awesome' yet, and I'm still-!"
He leaped up and threw three kunai at a nearby alley. Three explosive tags tied to them lit up, blasting apart Naruto's hiding place. With a curse, the original blonde slammed into a wall, the partial Rasengan he was forming evaporating with the death of the clone that was helping to form it.
"-kicking your ass," the Other finished. He smirked. "But, if you're moving onto that so soon..." He formed his own clone just as Naruto began to get up. The original blonde snarled angrily at his double, and grew even angrier when the sound of a fully formed, perfect Rasengan filled the air.
"You fucking...!" He stared at the Rasengan the Other held. What the-He formed it that fast?!
The Other Naruto smirked. "Since you've failed to figure it out, Naruto, I'll let you in on a little secret..." He poofed into smoke, replaced with one of his clones. The buzzing of the Rasengan filled Naruto's ears, and the original blonde turned just in time to see the Other racing for him down the street, the Yondaime's most famous jutsu headed for his chest.
"Everything you do, I do BETTER!"
- - - - - - -
Sasuke had never died before, but (courtesy of Haku), he was fairly certain he'd been given a preview of it. Darkness, the sensation of fading away into nothing...
He was therefore quite sure that he wasn't dead. He based that on the sensations he felt: somebody holding him tightly against their body, with a hand around his mouth. Set against the backdrop of the rain falling and the thing that had been Naruto roaring loudly nearby.
"Shut up," whispered a haggard girl's voice. "It's coming..."
That Sound girl, he thought. A tree was uprooted nearby and sent flying, lit by a flash of lightning. It crashed near their hiding place, and was followed by a loud crash of thunder and another of Naruto's roars.
"All right shithead," Tayuya murmured. "Let's get moving... Slowly..."
That's the best I can manage, he thought irritably. The Sound kunoichi grabbed him tightly around the waist and began pulling him along, much faster than he would've liked. Another spike of the Kyuubi's killing intent made this small complaint go totally silent.
"Why...?" Sasuke mumbled.
"Can't show up at Orochimaru's empty handed," Tayuya groaned. "As much as I'd like to ditch you..." She trailed off and shook her head. Now that he got a look at her, even in the darkness of the storm she was nearly as badly injured as he was. Was this how strong the Cursed Seal made her devotion?
"He wants ya, I'm getting ya," she concluded. Another crash sounded through the forest, and the killing intent grew worse.
"Shit," Tayuya mumbled. "What the fuck is that thing?"
She received an answer of sorts, when a burning figure blasted it's way through a nearby stand of trees. It's eyes found them, and a hideous grin came across it's face, two jet black tails waving behind it.
"Naruto..." Sasuke muttered. The monster screamed in response, and slammed a claw down onto the ground. A wave of earth and flames rose up, and it took all of Sasuke's remaining strength to send them out of the way.
"GAH!" Tayuya cried. "FUCK!"
Naruto leered and raised his claws again. Sasuke was sprawled on the ground, Tayuya on top of him. There was no escape.
He found himself without energy to rage or curse his fate-Only a numb acceptance as his death approached, the demon's claws getting closer to the ground... Closer...
An eruption of earth and chakra occurred around the monster's feet, sending him flying skyward. Naruto bellowed in rage as he crashed into the forest further away. Through the stifling killer intent, Sasuke made out an all too familiar chakra signature. He raised his eyes and stared at the gray haired figure in the trees nearby.
Kakashi stared back, unmoving... Before turning and rushing where Naruto had landed. Another roar rocked the forest, and Sasuke found everything disconnected. From the horrible chakra smothering the forest, to the insistent yanking on his arm by Tayuya.
"C'mon, let's go you fucking idiot!" She hissed. "Do you want to die?!"
Pain brought him back to the now, and with a wince he managed to follow her. He didn't know what would happen to either Naruto or Kakashi, but self-preservation as well as revenge pushed him away.
... No matter how much the strange urge to turn back loomed in the shadows of his mind.
- - - - - - - -
Like the trained and experienced shinobi Kakashi was, he put away any distracting emotions that loomed the moment he came upon the Valley of the End. The sight of Sasuke with that Sound kunoichi, well… There was guilt, he could admit that much. Unfortunately he didn't have the luxury of letting any emotions interfere with the crisis developing right now.
Sasuke going to Orochimaru? Bad. Very bad.
The Kyuubi no Youko staging a breakout from Naruto? An unnatural disaster in the making.
He pulled up his hia'te and flashed through handseals, so quickly anyone below jounin level couldn't see the movement of his fingers. He slammed his hand down, and with a poof of smoke two dogs appeared.
"Pakkun, follow Sasuke," Kakashi quickly ordered. "Akino, get Jiraiya here."
Both dogs took off without a word, and Kakashi charged through the trees after Naruto, chakra pushing his muscles to sprint as fast as he could. It was only a second later he caught sight of the possessed genin, already back on his feet and swinging one of his tails.
A massive blast of wind and fire resulted, forcing Kakashi to replace himself. Wasting no time, he flashed through handseals and slammed his hand onto the ground.
"Doton: Tenchuu no jutsu!" Another tower of rock and earth appeared underneath Naruto, sending him roaring skyward into a low arc. Kakashi ran underneath him, Sharingan eye furiously scanning his airborne target.
The seal… It's not broken… It was blazing on Naruto's bared stomach like flames against his dark, chakra cloaked skin, but remained intact. So the Kyuubi wasn't breaking free.
That raised the question of what, exactly, was going on. Kakashi had studied plenty of sealing, especially that done by his sensei on Naruto. He was no Jiraiya, but he knew the very basics of Namikaze Minato's brilliant design. He also knew that this was certainly out of the ordinary, even for such a complex seal.
Naruto managed to get control of his descent and landed on the ground, hard. The earth cracked and splintered, and the trees surrounding him caught on fire from the blazing heat of the chakra he was emitting. Kakashi grimaced.
So, he's not entirely mindless in this form… That required a change in tactics. A flurry of handseals sent a powerful jutsu at Naruto, blasting him back off his feet.
"REEEEAAARRRRGGHHHHH!" The possessed genin screamed, physically uprooting a tree with one hand and throwing it at Kakashi. "RAAARRGGGHHHH!"
Once more, Kakashi was saved by his replacement jutsu. He allowed himself to feel a little bit of shock as a good acre of forest had been demolished.
This is bizarre… The amount of chakra he has at his disposal keeps changing… That burst right there was strong enough to level a city block, but now it's only slightly higher than mine…
"REEEARRRRGGHHHH!" A massive blast of chakra-laced flames sought Kakashi out, and once more, the jounin was able to dodge.
Lots of power, but no real focus. A cautious hope emerged. If I can get him to the river…!
"Doton: Doryū Taiga!" Kakashi unleashed a blast of mud, adding Earth and Water elemental chakras into the mix and using the force of the blast to drive Naruto back.
"REEEAAARRRGGHHHH!" Naruto's bellow blasted the mud away, drying it all instantly, but the high level jutsu was merely a distraction. Another use of the Earth Release: Pillar of Heaven technique sent Naruto flying, and this time, he landed in the river. Kakashi was at the shore in an instant.
"Suiton: Suiryūdan no Jutsu!" Water elemental chakra sped up the formation of the jutsu considerably, to the point Kakashi just managed to finish before Naruto blasted out of the river, ascending high above the water. Kakashi's dragon rose to meet him, and captured the berserk genin in its jaws.
"RRRAARRGGGHHHH-!" The Water Dragon dove even as the heat of the demonic chakra was rendering it steam. Still, it provided just enough momentum to send Naruto underneath the falls and into the cliff face below the rushing water.
Kakashi rushed up to the top of the falls as Naruto began to break free. He could already feel the strain on his body from the Sharingan and from using several powerful jutsu in such quick succession. There was little choice though.
Naruto, Sasuke… Just what on Earth did you do? He thought while preparing another jutsu to keep Naruto down. He didn't know how long it would take Jiraiya to get here, but considering that none of his jutsus had even scratched his berserk genin, well… He could only hope it was soon.
"Just have to buy some time…"
- - - - - - -
Naruto groaned and managed to sit up. As quick as he could, he pushed himself back to his feet, eyes already scanning the dust and debris around him for any sign of his enemy.
At the last possible moment, he'd managed to get the partial Rasengan in his hand spinning again, and slammed it up against the real deal wielded by the Other. Naruto had no idea what was going to happen, but he'd figured it couldn't hurt.
"Except it did," he mumbled. He cleared his head and looked around. Damnit... Where'd he go? He could pop out of anywhere!
The worst part though, was that he was fighting somebody who seemed to know everything he did. That might not be so bad if he thought just like Naruto, but... This guy... He comes at it from a completely different perspective...
A kunai shot out from the smoke near a damaged shop, and Naruto dodged. He growled and charged the location, quickly forming additional clones to flank the position.
"I've got you now, you bastard!" He growled, clones leaping as one through the smoke. What they were immediately confronted with though, was not the Other.
"N-Naruto-kun?" Hesitantly asked Hyuuga Hinata. Naruto blinked.
A blue blast of chakra erupted from her hand, which had found it's way to his chest. Naruto staggered back, feeling his internal muscles burning as though microwaved.
"Sorry Naruto-kun," "Hinata" spoke, her blush as cute as the real one. "But you can't keep doing this."
"Katon: Goukakyuu No Jutsu," called another voice. Naruto and his clones scattered, just as a huge fireball blasted apart the spot they were surrounding a mere moment ago. Naruto slammed into the road face first, and groaned as he pushed himself back up as quickly as he could.
"Che... Still as slow as ever, Deadlast," that same voice continued. Naruto looked up and saw Sasuke walking up, posture exactly as it was in the real world.
"This isn't real," Naruto growled, holding his chest. "You're not them!"
"But we're real enough for you, aren't we Naruto?" Asked another damnably familiar voice. Naruto looked over his shoulder. Sakura walked up, Hinata timidly following.
"You hesitated," Sakura said flatly.
"Y-You fell for it," Hinata added.
"You failed," Sasuke stated.
"What?! I didn't fail!" Naruto snarled.
The Other Naruto laughed, and emerged from the smoke to Naruto's left.
"But then, that's nothing new, is it?"
"Bastard... What the hell is the point of this?" Naruto gasped out. The burn of the fake Hinata's strike made it hard to breath.
"Why Naruto... Isn't a ninja supposed to use anything he can against his enemy?" The Other asked. "All his brains, all his courage, all his skills and resources? I'm just using the only source I have... And that's your knowledge."
"Bastard... When did I learn the Jyuken? Or any of Sasuke's jutsu?" Naruto snarled.
"Che," the other Naruto snorted. "Anybody can release a blast of chakra into another person's body-We just can't do it with the same precision as a Hyuuga. And any idiot who's watched that broody bastard as much as we have, would've figured out the handseals. Which brings me to my whole point, Naruto."
"What? You're gonna take over my body and do whatever you want?" Naruto said.
"No Naruto, I'm going to take over your body and make it so I win and survive," the Other said. He grinned and began to spin a kunai on his finger.
"Tell me Naruto... What's the difference between a king and his... Nah, that doesn't work... Eh, fuck the metaphors," the Other Naruto said. "Here's the thing, Naruto-Everytime you've gotten into a battle, or into a fight for your life, you've had to call on the Kyuubi's chakra."
"What?! That's not true!" Naruto protested. "I beat Mizuki without the Kyuubi's chakra! I beat up Kiba! I took down Kabuto!"
"You beat an incompetent chuunin, with Iruka-sensei around to take a blow for you, an Inuzuka with a fart, and you only survived against that medic thanks to Tsunade," the Other Naruto snorted. "I'm talking about the real battles. Haku, Neji, Gaara, and Sasuke. Where everything was on the line without any real help to be found. What happened in those battles?" He grinned.
"I'll tell you what happened... You couldn't find the will to defeat them!"
"What?!" Naruto snarled. "That's not what happened at all! I have plenty of will!"
"But not the right kind," the Other sneered. "The root of your fighting ability comes from one thought: 'How do I beat up my enemy so I can move onto my next goal?' When you're supposed to think 'How do I crush, slice, and destroy my enemy?'"
Red Naruto flipped the kunai to his other hand, and spun it around his finger as he continued to speak.
"You never take the battles seriously-You fight like a superhero! Good will triumph because you're the good guy, and they never lose!" He stopped spinning his weapon and grasped it tightly, pointing it at Naruto. Naruto growled back.
"I do not! I fight with everything I have! All my energy!"
"But not using the right weapon," 'Sasuke' snorted.
"N-Neji-nii-san would've killed you, and you would've broken your promise to me without the Kyuubi's power," 'Hinata' spoke.
"It's not a matter of power, you idiot, it's how you use it!" 'Sakura' said. "Just like you never change your approach to me, you never change your approach to fighting!"
"You're not a fucking superhero, Naruto," the Other Naruto said, looking deadly serious. "You're not invincible, the villain does not always get his due. You fight the same damn way against every foe, and never think about the next step! And it doesn't work! The Kyuubi has to step in to win FOR YOU!"
Red Naruto grinned and stuck his free hand in his pocket.
"So, since you're going to be relying on him to win for you, I might as well take over if you're not going to take this seriously," with that, he threw the kunai as hard as he could, the projectile screaming for Naruto's heart.
- - - - - - - -
The furious bellows of rage, the roar of the falls... They seemed quiet compared to the sound of his heart beating in his ears.
His tactic of keeping Naruto beneath the raging water of the river seemed to be working. The demon-possessed genin would rise with a blast of power, and try to kill him. Kakashi would have a jutsu prepared to counter, slamming his student back into the water. As far as keeping him in one place, there were few plans that could've been worse.
Ultimately though, it was doomed to failure. Naruto got further up the falls each time, his most recent attempt bringing him three fourths up the way, in the same time it had taken him to get a quarter of the way up before. It was taking precious extra seconds to knock him back down, too, as Naruto had figured out how to dodge.
The Sharingan's glimpses of Naruto gave Kakashi more information to work with. From what he could tell, the chakra inside Naruto's body was fusing with the chakra of the Kyuubi. It was as if the demon was trying to replace it's host's chakra with a combination of Naruto's and it's own. The result was a black, ominous chakra-Not as powerful as the Kyuubi's own, but from the looks of it, easier for Naruto's body to handle.
However, it seemed to have the side-effect of reducing Naruto to a purely instinctive level of reasoning. His chakra control was lousy; thanks to the fact that his power level was continuing to fluctuate from beyond the level of a Sannin, down to a little higher than his own. He was entirely focused on Kakashi as a threat to destroy.
The bottom of the falls exploded, the bases of the two statues, already in a bad way from the previous battle, cracking and splintering apart. Much of the water flashed into steam, adding to the vast fog already enveloping the valley.
"REEEAAAAAARRRGGGGHHHH!" Naruto appeared again, flying up the waterfall, twin tails waving violently behind him. Kakashi formed handseals, water around him being summoned up.
"Suiton: Suiryuudan no Jutsu!" He cried. Yet another great dragon was formed of the river, and it rose to dash down towards Naruto. The possessed genin, however, took on a new feature-His glowing mouth twisted into a grin, and he held out a hand.
What in the...?
"RASENGAAAAAANNNN!" The monster bellowed, slamming a red and black version of the Yondaime's famous jutsu down the throat of the water dragon. The burning sphere reduced the jutsu to a cloud of steam, which was summarily parted by the possessed genin and his Rasengan.
How?! Kakashi narrowly avoided being struck by the jutsu himself, a water clone suffering what would have been a horrible demise. Naruto looked around, holding the black Rasengan in his clawed hand, still grinning that terrible smile.
Not instinctive... Kakashi scanned Naruto with the Sharingan, furiously. Yes... There was consciousness emerging underneath the confused internal war of chakras. There was conscious control over some of his chakra-Enough to form a Rasengan.
The jutsu vanished, and Naruto subsequently roared, eagerly looking around for him. Kakashi grimaced. None of this made any sense! The seal wasn't breaking, so why was Naruto using the Kyuubi's chakra? Lashing out mindlessly one moment, and using jutsu the next?
The only conclusion he could draw was that Naruto was fighting against the Kyuubi's takeover. At the moment, the odds did not seem in the genin's favor.
Kakashi thought furiously. He could still not sense Jiraiya. He didn't even know if his dog had found him. While Naruto was in a berserker state, he could contain him for a moderately long period of time, but if he was going to start pulling jutsu and countering his attacks, that time period shrank to a bare fraction.
Naruto's gleaming eyes looked right at him, and the demon-possessed ninja's grin grew. Kakashi frowned back.
He had two real options: Try to keep Naruto's attention on him and wait for Jiraiya, a suicidal proposition at best...
Or kill his student.
Kakashi flared his chakra briefly, enticingly. Naruto leaped high into the air and shot down for his position like a shooting star. Kakashi replaced himself, barely evading a massive blast of earth and fire that erupted from the impact point.
Kakashi flared his chakra again, and Naruto eagerly followed, tearing the forest apart in his pursuit. Kakashi allowed himself a black smile, as he circled around back towards the falls.
- - - - - - - -
Red Naruto smirked, as he stared into the surprised eyes of Sasuke. The shadow clone's expression (along with the rest of him) dissolved into smoke, leaving the kunai to hit the ground with a soft thump.
A massive burst of chakra cleared away any lingering smoke to the right, and the Other looked at Naruto, furiously performing handseals.
The two locked eyes briefly, before, with a snarl, Naruto knelt down and slammed his hand onto the ground.
"KUCHIYOSE NO JUTSU!"
The devastation was immense. At least an entire city block was completely annihilated, as Gamabunta himself appeared in the middle of Konoha. Red Naruto reappeared on top of a building some distance away, one of his clones sacrificing itself for his creator.
"You think I don't… Take this seriously?!" Naruto bellowed down from the top of the Toad Boss. Red Naruto grinned back, and bit his finger.
"If you did," he called back, also forming handseals. "I'd have been dead the moment we first met." He slammed his palm against the roof.
"Kuchiyose no jutsu," he hissed. An explosion of smoke obscured Naruto's enemy. When it cleared, a mirror copy of the Toad Boss stood there, staring back at the originals.
"Huh?!" Naruto shouted. "How…?"
"I did say I know everything you do, Naruto," Red Naruto called back. He grinned. "And how fair would it be for me to just drop Gamabunta on your head?"
Naruto snorted back. "Fair?! I thought you wanted to win!"
"I am going to win," Red Naruto called back. He smirked. "But it's so much more fun to piss you off and show you up."
"We'll see about that!" Naruto shouted. "Get him, Boss!"
"Suiton: Teppōdama!" Naruto's Gamabunta called, firing a salvo of water bullets at the copy. The Other Gamabunta leaped high into the air, evading the blasts (which subsequently leveled the Chuunin stadium in the distance).
Naruto felt a flare of chakra high above him, like a jutsu being released, and loud boom. His Gamabunta hopped away closer to the middle of Konoha, keenly searching for a trap.
"Uh, Boss…? Are you the real Boss?" Naruto managed to ask.
"I'm the Boss Toad as you imagine him," Gamabunta spoke. "As is the other."
"So, wait… You're just figments of my imagination?" Naruto asked. Gamabunta huffed.
"We're real enough here, in your mind… Focus! Here he comes!"
The Other Gamabunta landed nearby, making the ground shake. He had his sword out, and with a single hop he covered the distance between them and slashed his sword for the 'original'. Gamabunta drew his own toad blade and blocked, the force of the strike driving him back through several residential areas.
"Ungh… He's strong…!" Gamabunta growled. The other opened it's mouth, and a blast of oil hit Naruto's Gamabunta right in the face.
"Katon: Goukakyuu No Jutsu!" Cried the Red Naruto, and a fireball from him ignited the oil covering Gamabunta's face.
"GYAAH!" The Toad Boss roared in agony. Naruto gasped and fell back from the flames. He formed the ram seal, causing dozens of clones to appear.
"Put it out! Put it-YAAAHH!"
Naruto yelped as a massive toad sword rammed through Gamabunta's back. Naruto stared back as a second Other Gamabunta stood there, twisting his blade deep into his summon's body.
"How?! That's not-!"
Too late, he turned back at the sound of a familiar whistle. His eyes widened as Red Naruto filled his vision, Rasengan spinning in his palm, and killing intent in his grin.
"Rasengan," Red Naruto whispered, as the jutsu made contact with Naruto's chest. The jutsu expanded, stealing the breath from Naruto's lungs. He felt himself get thrown off Gamabunta's back, falling, falling… As the spiraling power of the jutsu consumed him.
His vision, the entire world seemed to turn black… Before he awakened to the sound of footsteps.
"Ungh…" His entire body ached. Parts he'd never even felt before hurt. His hands lay at his sides. Weakly, every muscle in his neck protesting, he managed to lift his head and look down.
Red Naruto casually walked up, not a care in the world. All three Gamabunta were gone.
"Well… I'd say I've wasted just enough time, wouldn't you?" Red Naruto asked with a smirk. "Really… Here I am, preaching about killing enemies quickly, but I took so long with you. Still, you have to admit, it wasn't for lack of trying…"
Naruto managed to bare his teeth in a silent snarl. Red Naruto laughed and stood over him.
"Okay… The copies of people who you care about thing… I'll admit, I was fucking around there. I blame you for that. I felt the need to showboat a bit. But really… You do suck." He produced a kunai and spun it around his fingers.
"Face it Naruto, I'm the one who should be running things. I'm the one who should be in charge, because clearly, you don't have a fucking clue how to save our life or defend the people we care about without the Fox stepping in."
The Other laughed.
"And the best part is the reason I won isn't because of how powerful I am! It's not a total and complete change of who and what you are! I'm just a tiny little upgrade to who and what we are. Just that much allowed me to completely and totally kick your ass." He grinned as Naruto twitched and struggled, trying to get back up. He knelt down, resting a knee against his chest.
"I can't break you… You're still fighting against the inevitable, even now. But defeating you is just as good. After all… I'm getting that from you. So thank you for that, Naruto." He held the kunai handle tightly, and lifted it up.
Naruto stared back… And then grinned.
"Sayonara… Yourself," he hissed, ever so subtly glancing behind Red Naruto. The Other cocked his head, ready to defend against whatever trap Naruto had laid-
He turned back in shock. Naruto's grin had widened, just a little. Red Naruto looked down, and stared at the kunai plunged into his gut, the blood pouring from his wound. Naruto slashed upward, driving the weapon up between his enemy's ribs and into his heart.
"Hurk...!" Red Naruto stared at Naruto's face now… Before a small smirk emerged on his face.
"Well… No use crying about it, I suppose…"
Naruto pushed himself up, slowly, to a sitting position. It was then he noticed that the Other's blood was spreading out much further, and faster than blood should. Wherever it touched and whatever it touched, rusty, dirty metal appeared.
"What… What is this…?" Naruto managed. Red Naruto sighed.
"Everything I wanted… Everything we care about," the Other said. Naruto stared at his double. His smirk was gone, his eyes… So empty. So… lonely.
"What… What'll happen to you?" Naruto asked. Red Naruto didn't look at him.
"Don't know… Disappear, I guess… Cast back into Hell, like all beaten demons…"
The towers of Konoha, the intact ones, began to fade into walls of a sewer-like room. Naruto recognized it easily as the room he'd been in when he'd first met the Kyuubi. He caught himself staring as the Hokage Monument was swallowed up… And out of the corner of his eye, he saw the Other staring too.
"… There's gotta be something… Something I can do," Naruto said quietly.
"Nothing doing… My only shot was to take you over. Now…?" Red Naruto closed his eyes.
"H-Hey… if you're me… You're not supposed to give up… Ever," Naruto growled. Red Naruto glanced up at him.
"We've also had to see others die… And not be able to do anything about it," he said quietly. Naruto growled and grabbed onto Red Naruto's shoulders.
"Damnit… Stop that!"
"I'm your enemy… No matter how you feel, I tried to take you over…"
"For the same reasons I fought against it!" Naruto growled back. "Can't we work together?!"
"IT HAS FAILED… IT IS USELESS…"
Naruto winced and turned to look at the vast door, the seal pinned to it. Behind the bars, the Kyuubi's eyes glowed.
"You… You made him, and now you're just going to abandon him?!" Naruto snarled.
"WHAT USE DO I HAVE FOR A FAILURE? " The demon growled. Naruto's grip on his double tightened.
"Yeah… But… He was right about some things… And you! You made him… To get out, right?"
"IT IS INTOLERABLE TO BE WITHIN SUCH A PATHETIC, VULNERABLE, IDIOTIC MONKEY OF A SHELL! " The Kyuubi roared. Naruto stared back… And then grinned.
The Kyuubi stared in disbelief at Naruto, before roaring in rage, making the whole chamber shake.
"INSOLENT BUG! PITIFUL INSECT! HOW DARE YOU! I AM THE KYUUBI NO YOUKO! THE GREATEST DEMON TO WALK THE WORLD! I FEAR NOTHING! "
"Except death," Naruto said. The Kyuubi snarled, but said nothing more.
"You made him… Because you were afraid to die," Naruto taunted. "Afraid I'm not strong enough! Well… You know what? You're right."
Red Naruto managed to stare at his double. Naruto's grin grew.
"I need to learn more, and train more to survive… And this guy knows how to use what I know better than I do. So… I want you to figure out a way to let him out."
"AND WHY SHOULD I DO THAT? " Kyuubi snarled.
"If you do, I'll be better able to keep myself… And you… Alive," Naruto challenged. "I'd say… That's worth it, isn't it?"
The Kyuubi stared back in silence… Before making a strange sound. It took Naruto a moment to realize it was laughing.
"VERY WELL, BRAT. I WILL SEND MY USELESS TOOL OUT… HIS FATE AND MINE ARE LINKED TO YOURS. SO GET STRONG, PATHETIC BUG. BECAUSE NEXT TIME… YOU WILL NOT WIN. "
Naruto grinned, before he vanished, his conscious mind returning to take hold of his body.
The Red Naruto looked up at his creator… And snorted.
"Took your damn time, didn't you?"
"THE ARRANGEMENTS ARE MADE, " the demon growled. "IT TOOK LONGER THAN ANTICIPATED…"
"But… Definitely worth it," Red Naruto said with a smirk.
"JUST REMEMBER, BRAT… I MADE YOU FOR ONE REASON. FULFILL IT, AND YOU WILL RULE BY MY SIDE. FAIL-"
"Fail, and you're stuck here," Red Naruto smirked. The Kyuubi growled angrily, which only caused the Other to laugh.
"Face it, 'Dad', you've put yourself at my complete mercy! It's entirely up to me whether you stay inside the idiot, or get loose." His smirk grew into a sadistic grin.
"You truly are desperate, aren't you?"
The Kyuubi's silence said it all. Red Naruto laughed.
"Fortunately for you… I'm a nice guy. And I don't go back on my promises. I'll let you out… But it'll be on my terms, Fox. Don't you forget it."
"… GET OUT, BRAT…" The Kyuubi rumbled. With a final smirk, Red Naruto vanished as well, leaving the great demon to contemplate how far he had fallen… And the lengths to which he'd go to pull himself back into the light.
- - - - - - - -
The genin blinked. He then blinked again, as if unsure if what he'd come out of was real. First off... Kakashi looked terrible, as though he'd gotten into a fight with a forest and lost. Secondly, he was being held up by his collar by Naruto's fist. Thirdly, Naruto's other fist was held back, as though ready to punch his sensei's head off.
Finally... He was naked. And it was very, very cold.
Naruto dropped his sensei, and wobbled a little. He could still feel the edge of the Kyuubi's chakra, boiling just underneath the surface of his regular energy. From it came a simple thought, and his fingers moved to form the ram seal.
"Kage Bunshin no jutsuuuu..." The energy faded, and Naruto was left with a exhaustion he'd never felt before. His energy completely gone, he collapsed without another sound into a heap.
Kakashi was left staring at two Narutos-One unconscious, the other...
"Che... Fucking Fox," the Other stated, looking down at his lack of attire. "Burned everything off, huh? Asshole. Henge!" Now adorned in his usual clothing, the other Naruto looked at Kakashi with scarlet eyes.
"Who are you?"
"Naruto," the Other said. He pointed at the original on the ground. "He's also Naruto. It's complicated. I'll explain when my lesser half isn't badly injured, naked and freezing in the rain."
Kakashi slowly blinked, and then nodded.
"Now, are you going to get him back to Konoha, or have your Icha Icha Books been the yaoi edition all along?"
Brat, Kakashi thought, as he hefted Naruto over his shoulder. "What will you be doing then?"
The Other Naruto cracked his knuckles, and grinned.
"Finishing the mission, of course..." He scowled at Kakashi. "Hello?! Naked! Freezing! Injured! Get going already!"
Kakashi shook his head, and took off. Once out of sight, he created a Shadow Clone with what little chakra he had left and handed Naruto off to him (though not before wrapping him tightly in a survival blanket). That done, he rushed back and soon caught up with the Other Naruto, who was tree hopping in the same direction Sasuke and the Sound kunoichi had fled.
"See, this is why I'm gonna become Hokage," he muttered, just loud enough for Kakashi to hear. "Everybody else is a fricking moron..."
Kakashi's eyebrow twitched... Only slightly. He had seen weirder things before...
- - - - - - -
"Ungh... C-C'mon, you bastard... Hurry up..."
"Hngh..." Sasuke groaned. "Going... Fast as I can..."
"Not fast enough," Tayuya growled back.
Sasuke tried to brace himself against her, but he was just so very tired. So very weak. The terrifying feeling of the Kyuubi's chakra could only provide so much motivation to escape.
"Sh-Shithead," Tayuya muttered, putting more of her weight on the improvised walking stick she'd made. She could improve her chances of getting back to base if she just stopped talking, but in all honesty, if Orochimaru couldn't clean up her language, not even the shittiest day ever could.
At last though, the horrific killing intent that had been chasing them for the last hour dissipated, and Tayuya was even more pleased when a pair of Sound nin found them, landing on the ground before the two survivors.
"Tayuya-san, what has happened to the others?" One of them asked.
"Didn't fucking make it," she sneered.
A faint chakra signature made itself known behind her, and Tayuya turned her head ot look over her shoulder. Sasuke did the same.
"... You live?" Sasuke asked, as the pale, bloodied form of Kimimaro slowly staggered out of the shadows.
"Kimimaro," one of the Sound Nin said. The Shikotsumyaku user stumbled, but managed to keep going.
"As long as... Orochimaru-sama desires it... I do," he said, coming out as barely more than a faint whisper. "I have... A problem though..." He fell to his knees barely two meters away from Tayuya and Sasuke, and the two Sound ninja moved to check on him. After all, returning both of Orochimaru's favorite pet projects, alive, would surely have a great reward.
"What problem, Kimimaro-san?" Asked one of the ninja. Kimimaro's arms dropped to his sides... Before slashing quickly across the throats of the two ninja. Sasuke's eyes widened at this act, and even further when "Kimimaro" smirked, and then vanished in a poof of smoke. An all-too-familiar figure stood up, twirling two kunai around his fingers.
"Problem solved," Naruto said with a grin.
"What the fuck?!" Tayuya gaped. Naruto glanced over at the two survivors and his grin widened.
"Picked up another fangirl, huh Sasuke? Or rather, she's picking you up," he snickered. "Well, what the hell, might as well bring her along too, right?"
Sasuke and Tayuya went down, hard, from a single punch each to the back of their heads. Two of Naruto's Kage Bunshin smirked behind them, and their creator gave them a thumbs up.
"Mission accomplished... Damn, you guys are awesome!"
"No way! You're awesome!" His clones said. Red Naruto smirked.
"Let's just agree that we're awesome in general. Now, grab them and let's get going."
Hidden in the trees above, Kakashi watched this all in silence, and followed the Other Naruto as he headed back towards Konoha. His one visible eye narrowed.
The mission was accomplished, albeit after some severe setbacks and strange developments. Kakashi didn't know just what was going on, but one way or another, they'd find out.
For now… He had a couple of wayward students to get home.
- - - - - - -
Allright kids, ya got me. In order to prevent PTS from coming into existence, I'm writing a slight change. Some things you might expect, some things you might not. Either way, it's going to be an interesting ride. So sit back, relax, and pretend the high explosives going off are fireworks.