Great Sun Jester

By ______

Naruto groaned into consciousness as light from beyond his darkened cell shone onto his face. He clenched his eyes shut in pain soon after, his exposure to light having been so minimal that even the dim torches scattered along the corridor hurt to look at. For three long years he'd been locked in near total darkness as the door was designed to resist attempts to escape and attempts to kill held prisoners before their knowledge was extracted. Should someone gas the prison, those in cells were more likely to survive than any ANBU guards outside.

"Grab him Kisame. We need to get out of here." A calm voice commanded, followed by an explosion and incoherent cries of pain.

"Seesh, look at all these chains. Gaki must be pretty dangerous, eh Itachi?" A gruffer, more menacing voice said from inside the doorway.

There was a metal sound and a whoosh of air as the blond felt his arms go slack from their restraints before toppling forward, finally able to fall out of the kneeling pose he'd been confined in.

"Thanks." Naruto croaked wearily, slowly rising to his feet against the stiffness and pain as numerous bones popped noisily back into working joints.

"Phef, after all that trouble with the eight tails this is a disappointment. This brat really contains the greatest biju?"

Blue eyes opened slowly, seeing only blurred shadows. Before he knew it he was hoisted up and bodily dragged beyond the entrance of his cell, promptly recovering as the cold drain on his chakra vanished, replaced with the blazing heat of extremely rapid regeneration.

Naruto's now focused eyes turned their attention to the man holding him aloft by the collar of his rags. "Thanks again."

"Heh. Don't mention it brat, we're only dragging you off to kill you." The sharkman grinned sadistically while eviscerating an ANBU with his oversized sword.

The former prisoner shrugged, unconcerned, before donning a sly grin. "Don't have much to live for anyway. Being locked in a cell for years will do that to you."

The sharkman looked dissatisfied, smashing another Konoha-nin between the flat of his blade and the wall, messily shaving away layers of flesh as he pulled his weapon back. "Well after we kill you, we'll use the power we get from the kyuubi to decimate everyone until we're the unopposed rulers of the world."

"Good for you." The blond told him enthusiastically, grin not fading in the least as he wrest himself free from the blue-gray fingers holding him and landed acrobatically on the floor in a bow. "You wouldn't happen to need any help getting out of here, would you?"

"Dammit, gaki, we're going to destroy everything you hold dear."

"Kisame." The calmer voice commanded softly, making the larger Akatsuki agent flinch.

"What? I missed out on the Hachibi, why shouldn't I see what this brat can do?" The fishman shouted back, killing the last ANBU in reach.

"Oh, you can't do that. They're already dead." Naruto squinted, tilting his head and holding his fingertips in front of his grinning lips, looking incredibly disturbing. "The guards made sure I knew how Iruka-sensei, Ayame-nee-chan and Ichiraku-jiji died. It was how they tortured me since they weren't sure my death would release the kyuubi or not. As for Hokage-jiji, his death let them lock me up in the first place." His smirk dimmed slightly before being replaced with a radiant, joyous smile. "But it's okay now because I can join them when I die too! So if you need to kill me in a certain place or something, well... I've waited months since Iruka-sensei died, what's a few more days? I owe you at least that."

Kisame shuddered and Itachi inclined his head oddly, their momentarily distraction allowing a flaming dragon to appear at the end of the hall, its fiery body licking the walls as it soared towards them. As the Uchiha and Hoshigaki prepared handsigns, Naruto stepped forward and tossed his hand in a flippant dismissal, a tiny, pale blue flame appearing before him and flying into the jutsu. The dragon immediately burst, the fire composing it guttering out as a trail of ghostly blue flames sped down and through the chakra within in like a line of gasoline, ending at the jutsu caster.

The ANBU screamed as his coil and chakra network ignited, roasting his body from within while wreathes of dark blue flame guttered and died trying to consume the rest of him.

The Akatsuki were stunned into silence.

"Foxfire." Naruto noted simply, sly grin and narrow eyed squint in place once more. "Burns really hot but only chakra will fuel it. Now come on, hurry. The sooner we leave the sooner I get to see jiji and Iruka again!" The smirking ex-prisoner took the two nuke-nins by their arms and dashed towards the exit with them in tow.

It had started with the henge no jutsu, back in Naruto's first attempt to graduate from the academy. The jutsu had been easy and it almost seemed that within a few weeks of learning it he'd been able to perform it without handsigns.

From there he'd wondered what else he could do, still a bit naive about the way chakra worked thanks to lackluster teachers. The end result, created just before his first failure, had been foxfire.

Much of Konohagakure soon found itself plagued by pale blue flames that darted in and out of the edges of a person's vision.

The council roared possession and soon took steps to see the demon-brat killed. After the jounin burned to death from the inside out trying to fulfill his orders, the Hokage had quelled them.

Killing one of his attackers had left the boy sullen and shaken, though also turned his tormentors away from actively displaying their hatred.

As their shunning attempts grew more determined, so did his attempts to get their attention he became little more than a bright, brash clown.

By the time he'd failed a third time he'd lost interest in being a ninja. After learning kage bunshin and of the kyuubi he saw no reason to try and earn respect from the blind civilians and set off to try and find a way to live among people who didn't know him.

As it turned out, street performers who willing used ninja skills as part of their act were a novelty. Within a little under two months he was something of a famous traveling act, between his clones and his transformation abilities he could and did perform in any venue all by himself.

As the second month ended news of the disaster in Konoha was spreading and soon the council, unimpeded by a kage, kidnapped him and quietly locked him away. The new Hokage never even knew to look.

"The guards have doubtlessly alerted the rest of the ANBU. We will need to create a distraction and..." Itachi trailed off as he felt a familiar presence approach.

"Itachi." Jiraiya stood tall, almost boastfully so, as he led the Hokageand a squad of elite jounin into the smaller group's hiding place. "You know we can't let you leave with him."

"So this brat's the kyuubi, huh?" The blond, busty and unusually sober leader of Konoha asked tactlessly, stepping up to stand side by side with her fellow sennin.

Considering that the one they were trying to 'rescue' had been tortured and abused for untold years just because people always equated him with said demon, it turned out to be the wrong thing to say.

"Why yes, I am the kyuubi. Did you not recognize me without my..." An explosion of red chakra burst through the room as the jinchuriki's skin started peeling off and burning, four tails of crimson and black unfurling behind him. "Tails?"

Laughing maniacally, the never-was-a-ninja lashed out with both claws, failing to capture either target. It was a minor consolation that some of the elite shinobiwere poisoned by proximity even if he never did quite connect.

"Dammit Jiraiya, you said he'd be on our side!" The second greatest kunoichi alive shouted. (1)

"And I told you he wasn't the kyuubi!" The absolute greatest pervert in several millennium in either direction yelled back, landing on another nearby roof by now.

"Kage bunshin." Hundreds of blond, naked, skinless clones appeared and immediately started causing as much pandemonium as two rival ninja theater troupes competing for the same venue. In the exact same manner.

"Urk." All while the Hokage fainted, leaving herself defenseless among a swarm of enemies and therefore the priority to those ninja not dying slow, painful deaths from demon-chakra poisoning. Oh, if only she had been in some sort of situation that made her get over that ridiculous hemophobia she'd still be conscious after seeing skinless Narutos.

"Have at the, knave!" Generic western play extra shouted, a quick henge putting him in an instant and complete costume.

"Hn!" Generic kabuki play hero replied, doing the same.

Original Naruto whipped off the kyuubi-cloak and turned to his companions. "There, distraction. Oh! This too!" A dozen fake throws later and thousands of little will-o-wisps scattered themselves through the streets of Konohagakure, tracking and attaching themselves to whatever source of chakra they could find. Seeing his kidnappers stare, he started dragging them off again.

Somewhere in the distance a ninja screamed and a blue flame flared and died.

"We're not gonna get to fight anyone, are we?" Kisame grumbled.

It was panic in the village.

Famous characters from numerous plays and films were rampaging through the streets, reciting lines while dueling each other with ninja tricks that never quite worked on their 'target', instead striking whatever poor bystander had the misfortune of being nearby. On top of this, the cursed fox fire of the kyuubi had appeared en mass, quickly consuming any shinobi or kunoichi who dared tried to stop the actors.

But Hinata didn't care about that. What mattered to her was that she recognized the chakra of those clones and their presence could only mean one thing. He was back! Naruto had returned!

With everything that was happening, it was pretty obvious he would be leaving again soon, so she had to hurry. After years of stalking, the way he'd leave was axiomatic to her and if she wanted to catch up to him, she needed to hurry!

The end of her sprint saw her arrive just a three figures were about to leave the village perimeter. "Naruto!"

The middle figure startled, dropping the other two as he turned around in a single, smooth sweep. And stared, curious but not alarmed. "Do I know you?"

"It's me. I-I'm Hinata. Hinata Hyuga, we had c,classes together..." Between panting from exertion and inborn stuttering the girls still managed to be mostly coherent.

"Oh, a ninja. I'm sorry, but I've already told these two they can kill me, so you'll have to tell the Hokage and all her little pet ANBU they already had their chance and if they can't kill someone they've locked up in a cell they can't be counted on to reliably kill them once freed, can they?" The blond cheerfully told the pale-eyed girl, eliciting a gasp.

"T, the Hokage has had you locked up? B,but that c,can't be right, she's sent so many missions to look for you..." The young kunoichi trialed off, already seeing the kind of political game that could create this situation.

"Well clearly she was sending the wrong ninja to assassinate me then, though in their defense every hallway did look the same."

"She wasn't trying to assassinate you!"

"Are you done? We really need to get moving you know, and I don't see this conversation amounting to much beyond this."

"B,but- I... I l,lo... I love you!" Hinata confessed, desperate that somehow saying it would make things better.

"Phef, no you don't, you don't even know me." Naruto turned to leave, glad that the other two had collected themselves.

"Y,yes I do! You're Naruto Uzumaki, you like ramen and training and sitting on the Yondaime's head. Your favorite place in the village is Ichiraku's ramen stand and you hate how Sasuke always gets praised even when he doesn't deserve it. You enjoy gardening and spending time with Sandaime-sama in his office. You're sad because everyone in the village ignores you and thinks you're the kyuubi!"

Kisame moved to grab their target and run, but Itachi stilled him with a hand gesture, apparently enraptured by this confession.

"Heh heh. You knew the old Naruto pretty well. I suppose you also knew the one thing he wanted most in the world?"

"A f,friend."

"Yes, that's right. A friend. One person to be there for him. Ichiraku and Jiji were always busy, Ayame wavered between a girl annoyed by his immaturity and an older sister, so he'd never know if he could talk to her that day or not and Iruka-sensei hated him until he decided to leave. Right up until he knew about the kyuubi he pined away at the very thought, ready to accept anyone who offered..." Naruto trailed off almost fondly. "You knew this and yet you let him be alone. Knew he'd take anyone and still refused to extend your hand. You let him become me. After failing him like that, can you honestly claim what you feel is love?"

"I, I was weak then. Weak and afraid. But I c,changed. I'm not the girl who let that happen anymore!"

"That doesn't matter, I'm not the boy you loved anymore. Locked in the dark, I became the monster this village fears. But, happily for us both, that monster's wandering off to die." Naruto concluded blissfully, turning to leave.

"I won't let you!" Hinata shouted, adopting the Jyuuken stance. "I failed you once and won't do it again!"

Naruto turned, eyes squinted shut and lips curved in a smirk. "So you're going to stop me from being with the only people who made me happy in the next life?"

"I won't let you kill yourself! If it means hurting you, or even making you hate me to keep you alive... I,I'll do it."

"Hinata." The jinchuriki said easily, sliding towards her with his arms apart, unarmed.

"N,Naruto..."

It was like something out of Hinata's dreams. Naruto flowed up to her and embraced her, pressing his lips against hers. With a struggle she managed to limit her reaction to a bright red face and nosebleed instead of passing out. There were still two powerful nuke-nin standing mere feet away and... And as she gazed into her love's mischievous blue eyes she knew she'd be able to die happy fighting at his side.

One of his hands reached up to playfully flick her nose, sparking into a ball of fox fire that latched greedily onto the large quantity of chakra gathered in the Hyuga's eyes. She collapsed, dead in his arms before she even realized what was going on. Naruto lovingly cradled her body and gently laid it out on the ground, kissing her forehead before he rose to follow his escorts. "If it's meant to be we'll make it work next time, okay?"

"That was cold gaki. I think I'm starting to like you." Kisame said with a fangy grin.

"Oh? But she wanted to be with me right? And if I'm going to die, she has to be dead to be with me, so everyone's happy this way." The prankster replied, smiling and squinting again.

"We are wasting time. Come, Kisame." Itachi broke in suddenly, leading the other two away.

"Hmph. Weren't that eager to leave a few minutes ago were ya Itachi?" The sharkman snorted, following after his partner.

The group got in three or four leaps before...

"Itachi!" A young man's voice cried, accompanied by some kind of mini-Itachi jumping at normal-Itachi with a screeching blue blot in his hand. How the hell had this guy sneaked up on them?

"Sasuke." Big-Itachi acknowledged, brushing the attack aside and walloping his miniature with a palm strike to the forehead. "I'm busy at the moment."

"Hold it right there, Itachi." A new voice commanded as a few squads worth of ninja descended on their location.

"Ano? That was fast. Are you guys just ignoring the fact that your village is getting destroyed to deal with us?" Naruto questioned, head tilted to one side.

"Even if Konoha is destroyed, better that than Akatsuki extracting the kyuubi." A pineapple haired jounin stated as the blond girl and fat guy beside him moved into flanking positions.

"Even if you were annoying, we'll still rescue you." A pink-haired kunoichion the team opposite the pineapple haired one's commented as the three others with her spread out.

"So someone broke jiji's law... And why does everyone think I want to be rescued?" The blond not-a-ninja asked as the two super shinobi beside him tensed for battle.

"It's not that hard to guess actually. They tracked down eight other biju and then came here to kidnap you? There can be only one reason at this point." Pineapple-head muttered aloud, hands adopting an odd sign. "I can't think of any motive for you joining them, though."

"He's under a genjutsu." The silver-haired jounin with the pink-haired kunoichi suggested, tugging up his hitai-ite to reveal another red, tomoe encircled eye. Why the hell were there so many of those laying around? "Hmm. Maybe not."

"So? Come on then, who thinks they can take down the kyuubi?" Naruto offered, turning his squinted eyes from one ninja to another.

"You... you're just like that monster, Gaara." The pinkette shivered even as she said that.

Naruto simply turned a pointed look at Itachi. "The Ichibi's jinchuriki." Was the deadpan response as the Uchiha gauged his foes.

The last jinchuriki tilted his head at that. "...I suppose a tanuki is kind of like a kitsune..." He acknowledged after a moment's thought.

The other team was suddenly attacking, a shadow and a giant fist flying towards the Uchiha and the Hoshigaki respectively. Naruto zoned out briefly as the blond kunoichi collapsed, but the kyuubi swallowed the mind-jumper before she could actually take control. As a result, when the silver-haired jounin moved to collect his body and flee, he received a ball of fox-fire to the face, burning his Sharingan first before reverse engineering the implanted lines into his proper chakra network and setting the rest of him alight.

Seeing what appeared to be his former ANBU captain grab the target while he kept just ahead of a flowing shadow, Itachi shouted to his partner. "Kisame, we are outnumbered. We will have to try again later."

Kisame grunted in frustrated acceptance, his blade shaving thick slabs of flesh away from his enemy's enlarged arm, but not doing enough damage to actually stop him.

"Right, let's fall back." Naruto agreed, Kakashi's smoldering corpse falling away from him.

"S,sensei..." The pinkette murmured in shock as pale blue flames scattered from what she thought was an annoying classmate from years ago.

Shikamaru startled as the one of the flames caught on his shadow, trailing back towards him. Thinking quickly he launched all the chakra he could spare at it, stopping the flame in a silent, dark blue explosion and burning out some of the tenketsu in his extremities. He fell onto his back, panting in exhaustion. "Dammit Ino, what happened?" He quietly asked his teammate's fallen form.

"You better not steal this one, gaki!" Kisame shouted, dodging an enormous hand.

"He's not throwing around any chakra." The jinchuriki replied, watching.

"Tsukuyomi." Itachi intoned, disabling what appeared to be the last capable enemy not engaged in life and death combat with Kisame.

"I expected more for some reason." Kisame gloated, a massive wave washing into the Akimichi, allowing the shark ninja to slash open his throat and topple him.

"Dynamic entry!" A green blur shot into the clearing, smashing into Kisame's forehead and sending him reeling before Gai landed in his typical stance.

"You jinxed it." Naruto noted, stepping a bit farther from the battle field.

A rain of pointy implements crashed against Samehada, dealing no damage but minorly inconveniencing its wielder.

"Tsukuyomi." And off to one side Itachi proved the sheer superiority of the Sharingan by putting a Byakugan user into a genjutsu coma. 'See through any genjutsu' apparently didn't count on a slightly frustrated Sharingan user.

"Hmm. They don't seem to be using any chakra outside their bodies... All yours, Kisame!" The jester mocked, moving closer to Itachi's position.

"I'll gut you, you green bastard!" The sharkman roared, though if it was a response to Naruto or simply a declaration of intent to Gai remained to be seen.

Naruto yawned, watching the former Kiri-nin unleash another suiton jutsu. The green guy and his chunin support managed to hold their own, though honestly he thought Kisame was holding back to prolong the battle. "Can we just go already? I'm sure sharky can catch up."

"Shh."

"Oh come on." The fox-holder smirked thinly with squinted eyes again. "At the least, you should help him clear them out faster."

"Itachi!" Mini-Itachi, regaining his footing and activating his own Sharingan.

The elder Uchiha inclined his head, but made no other move as the kid version of him charged.

And fell to the side, his head blackened as his kekkei genkai was exposed to the pale blue flames littering the area.

"That's just sad." Naruto noted, only partially interested.

In contrast the older brother froze, swaying as though he were about to fall to his knees in shock.

With a splash the other Akatsuki-nin defeated his foes. "Heh heh. That green bastard was barely even... oi, Itachi, you alright?" The proud sharkman stumbled, totally unused to the killing intent permeating the air around his partner.

"I see. So all this time has been wasted. But even then, I cannot allow Madarato be victorious..." Itachi turned to face his partner.

"Heh heh. Once a traitor, always a traitor eh? So that's why you were stalling..." The shark leveled his weapon, already knowing he was dead.

"And guided us to those meant to change his mind, and disabled those ninja I could." The Sharingan warped and spun, emitting a tiny black spark before its wielder. "Amaterasu."

The shark lunged, heedless of his own demise burning towards him, and sliced through the Uchiha's armor and cloak, splaying a wave of blood through the air as black flames disintegrated his body.

"I suppose you expect me to quietly go back to my cage now, huh?" Naruto quipped at the dying Sharingan user.

"No. That would be... foolish." The fox smirked at the unspoken admission. "Instead..." The Mangekyo Sharingan spun ominously as its user expired. "...Kamui..."

"Wha..." A whirling shift of time and space threw itself into Naruto's body as the world went black.

Narutostumbled onto his feet as everything flashed a blinding white and he reappeared on a paved road encroached by towering structures of glass and metal. "...t?" The jester looked around himself and came to a profound conclusion upon seeing his dead body lying on the ground and the utter lack of reincarnation. That bastard had sent him to a different after life!

Absently setting a white masked creature alight with his fox fire, the never was a ninja thought about what he'd do now.

#Author's Notes#

Inspired by Blue Oyster Cult song 'Great Sun Jester' on the album Mirrors.

1 – What, you thought she was greater than the Mizukage? Get real, this version still has too many issues.

Fangy – Toothy, but with fangs instead of teeth.

Hitai-Ite – Ninja headband thing.