The Fire Quenched
A/N: For those wondering where I've been, all I will say is that the last eighteen months have been both personally and professionally very trying and I have had little time and less inclination to write with – this short piece is to hopefully break a little writers' block and keep me in the loop on the site. I'm not sure when my schedule will clear but it's unlikely to be for a while yet – in addition, people have said it might be good to clear headspace by finishing older projects first, so I may try to finish shorter projects off before I get back to Naruto full time, but we'll have to wait and see overall – I've got too much going on right now to think about it now.
Until next time, enjoy.
This time; the flare within the clay bowl of his pipe was nothing to the sudden inferno that erupted in his breast at the dishevelled sight before him; you have gone far too far!;
"Kakashi," at his name the jounin slouched slightly further upright, ingrained respect slightly winning out against excess alcohol consumption, "explain yourself, now."
The Hokage didn't shout; he rarely had to; but the younger mans' answer of soft, self-depreciating laughter was almost enough to break that taboo – he, and the rest of the ninja force to a greater or lesser degree, gave Kakashi some leeway given his tragic past but this latest catastrophe was too far even for him. Still the old leader allowed the current subject of his wrath his moment of levity – the way the jounin was carrying on it was all rope to hang him with,
"I'm a failure," the words weren't completely unexpected but the tone was – somehow Kakashi seemed to be both numb and elated, though either of those could have been the rotgut sake talking,
"Indeed," Sarutobi agreed icily, making a show of looking through the report on his desk, "as are Team Seven – Boar, who went looking for you six hours ago, reported seeing two of them on the training field where you left them to go on your bender, the third has yet to be found…"
"Boar won't find him," Kakashi cut in tonelessly, as though it were all a joke only he knew the punch line to, "none of us will. He's gone, and we deserve it."
In cold, brutal honesty Sarutobi could see the jounin's point; of all the former Academy graduates the missing one was, if not the biggest flight risk, then certainly tied for the position and had the most practice in evasion. However Sarutobi was Hokage and therefore thrust his conscience to the side for the good of the village as he had countless times before,
"Be that as it may one of the students entrusted to you is currently missing while you were dragged out of the…" the Hokage leaned over the parchment on his desk, making sure he was getting the name scrupulously correct, "…Budding Blossoms an hour ago. Drunkenness, dereliction of duty, non-professionalism, lechery and abandonment of your own damned code, leaving comrades behind on the field," the old man sat back, once more the God of Shinobi as he glowered volcanically at the other man, "damning crimes all Kakashi."
"I'm already damned," the jounin replied, tone unchanging, "we all are, and we deserve all that will come to us."
"And what is that? I understand Uzumaki Naruto is missing but that…"
Even the impact that re-broke three of his ribs as he slammed into the closed door from Sarutobi's thunderous punch couldn't stop him; as frothy blood bubbled into his mask and spasms of pain grated his chest Kakashi still laughed, dancing on the precipice of full insanity as the Hokage loomed over him, expression malevolent. To his credit, however, rather than unleash the fury he was feeling at this wretch of a human being Sarutobi was patient, holding in his ire as the jounin's pain eventually overcame his hysteria and he fell silent, clutching his broken ribs.
"On your feet," at his command Kakashi rose slowly, towering over the older man despite the instinctive hunch to protect his now vulnerable side, "report Hakate; what happened during Team Sevens' final exam and where is Uzumaki Naruto?"
"Uzumaki Naruto," the mask twitched but Kakashi was able to hold in either mirth or misery, Sarutobi couldn't really tell anymore, "Uzumaki Naruto, fooled us all."
"You're quite the odd one aren't you?"
Few truer words, in Kakashi's mind, had ever been spoken; while the other two had at least tried to vanish, his third student remained where he was, those eyes that reminded him so much of his former sensei regarding him. According to his former sensei's, those without their minds clouded by hate for what he contained at least, Uzumaki Naruto had been something of an enigma throughout his Academy career. Initially bright and boisterous, the first few weeks or so had cooled his heels somewhat, leading him to become something of a grey man for the entire curriculum. He never spoke a word that wasn't asked for and seemed to shrug off the fact people didn't like him, preferring his own company and that of reading materials to while away the time, but for all that Iruka-san, perhaps the only person in Konoha who knew Uzumaki Naruto at all, had let slip some interesting snippets after Kakashi had infiltrated his treatment room and slightly tweaked the dosage on his intravenous anaesthesia drip before asking a few questions.
Unethical maybe, but he was a ninja.
Baked-Iruka had been an informative (and amusing) source of information – for a start it appeared the official story regarding the Forbidden Scroll incident had been either wildly exaggerated or deliberately falsified. Rather than the horde of shadow clones Kakashi had heard of, Iruka had clearly seen his student accept the S-ranked secret Mizuki had maliciously shared with him and then crippled the traitor, clinically, using only a standard kunai to slice apart the tendons in his opponents' wrists, elbows, knees and jaw. The latter of these had intrigued the jounin; disabling the jaw in such a manner was an ANBU technique designed to stop import targets terminating themselves by biting their tongues; so he had pressed further, unravelling a knot of information concealed by the initial reports he'd skimmed over regarding his potential future genin cell.
Naruto's file had been all but blank, stating he was a calm, collected child content to watch the world pass – Iruka, however, told a slightly different story. There had been times, he said, glimpses snatched from the corner of the eye, where the mask seemed to have crumbled slightly, where the boy in orange had sighed in wistful regret, his eyes had hardened after hearing some slight or his shoulders slumped after another day where his compatriots were taken away by their families, leaving him to walk to his apartment alone. Iruka had tried, he half-drunkenly assured his interrogator, to peel back that shell but been politely but firmly rebuffed, Naruto keeping to his own company, though the teacher had never been the victim of the nastiness that had infected the Academy throughout Naruto's last years there. More than one of the teachers had fallen victim to potentially lethal traps; spring-loaded senbon in drawers laced with diuretics, floorboards weakened to the point an adults' weight would break them but a childs would not; all leading to injuries to the staff – hell the former Academy head had been driven to breakdown by the pineapples.
Kakashi, naturally, had wanted to know more about this and the resultant story was as amusing as it was sinister; somehow, everywhere the headmaster went, pineapples were left waiting for him; they were found on his desk, his kitchen table, even propped up in his bed, and no method of detection could find the culprit or how he was getting the wretched fruit to its location. Originally laughing it off as a comment about his diet, within a week the headmaster had become irritated, within a month he was outright paranoid and by the time the med-nins were called in he was a broken shell, dragged away barely lucid with the juice of the last pineapple matting his hands and he'd smashed it against the wall. Despite investigations nothing could be found or proven though Iruka was sure, he would swear before Kami that when the news had come that Gouja-sama would not be returning he had seen for a split-second a smile, or a smirk, ghost across the Uzumaki's face. He had said nothing; honestly, what could he say that wouldn't be taken the wrong way the med-nins, who were now taking a very close look at the teaching staff; but he had never quite been able to see the small blonde the same after that. When Naruto had failed to graduate (which was in and of itself unusual, being the first Academy test he hadn't passed) he had been resigned to another year of vague unease; the battlefield promotion, he had confided in his new best friend, had been as much about getting the Uzumaki out of his classroom as it had rewarding him for apprehending a traitor and saving his life.
All this passed through Kakashi's mind as he mirrored the genins' stare-down before with a sigh Naruto broke it, shaking his head as though… disappointed?
"Something wrong Naruto-chan?" The jounin's tone and eye-smile was only half-fake and he paid close attention to the boy's answer, immediately trying to puzzle out what,
"Many things, far too many," meant before putting it aside for later,
"Well, one step at a time," he advised, flicking open his favourite book, "and you've not got long left to get a bell." The boy regarded him curiously, a strange smile quirking his lips; for a minute Kakashi was sure he was going to say something about his Icha Icha but instead he signed again,
"No," he adopted a textbook Academy stance, "I suppose not."
"Glad to hear it; so, lesson one, taijutsu, the art of…"
His words and his book were lost together, agonising pain sheeting up his side as ribs gave way beneath crushing force and forced his air out in a gasp. He slumped forwards, caught himself wildly as past and present all but fused but even as he sought to separate reality from memories he felt himself suddenly compressed, squeezed into an infinitesimally small space for an eternity and an eye-blink. Disorientated, he was left unprepared as eternity suddenly failed and there was stone beneath his boots, the impact making his knees give way and jostling his fractures again. The sting drenched everything in red but also gave him a tangible focus, something to grip in this world gone mad – instinct reasserted itself and he span carefully but quickly, minimising his hurt at the same time as working out where he was and how he was brought here. He saw jagged outcrops, a vague smear of industry below him and that combined with his earlier experience told him, impossible as it was, exactly how it he had come to stand upon the Hokage monument…
"Kakashi," Sarutobi said slowly, realising perhaps belatedly that the jounin had snapped and was now potentially dangerous, "what you are saying is impossible." To his surprise, the jounin nodded,
"That was what I thought too," he agreed, swaying only slightly from a combination of alcohol, adrenaline and pain from the Hokages' punch, "in all honesty Hokage-sama it's why Boar found me in the Blossoms – I knew you'd never believe me if I reported this sober."
"I fail to see how being drunk would make your… report more believable."
"There's no alcohol in the Nations strong enough for that," the jounin snorted before looking down, "but maybe it'll let me forget this when I'm done."
"Forget what? Your forthcoming charges, your disgraceful dereliction of duty or your inane babbling that Uzumaki Naruto took you from your training ground to the top of the Hokage monument via use of the Hirashin?"
"All of the above Hokage-sama, but it wasn't Naruto who did that, he didn't do anything, he can't have."
"But he was…"
"No he wasn't," Kakashi re-iterated slowly, as though his village leader had failed to grasp an important concept, "Uzumaki Naruto does not know the Hirashin, he has never attended the Konoha Academy and will never be a ninja of Konoha, because Uzumaki Naruto has never existed."
It was the eyes, it was always the eyes.
Before them in the past Kakashi had always felt himself in the presence of a fool, albeit one blessed with near-kage powers – only the sacrifice of another fool had let him know how wrong he had been to consider softness a weakness for a ninja. Now though, now as those same eyes, hard as sapphires, glared up at him imperiously Kakashi felt the same terror that had been the last thing to pass through the minds of hundreds of Konohas' enemies, the knowledge that should the being regarding him decide his existence was worthless he was going to die, and there would be nothing he could do to prevent it. His mouth was dry; he swallowed harsh air trying to speak,
"Do not," the voice was different but the jounin held his breath at the implied command, "call me sensei Kakashi," perhaps there was a mote of humour as the child with the eyes of a kage folded his arms and gave a grim smile, "times, amongst other things, have changed."
There was a long silence, perhaps too long, as all else faded into the background; Kakashi felt neither pain nor elation, not even realising as his long-ingrained instincts had his hands summon medical chakra to patch up his broken ribs – it would need proper attention later, but it would keep an ANBU in a fight. Man and boy regarded each other for a long, long time until eventually, the silence was broken,
"M…" Kakashi could scarcely bring himself to say the name, it seemed jagged, scraping against his throat, "Minato," the boy barely had to nod and Kakashi's knees almost gave way as he beheld his former teacher, somehow re-incarnated within the flesh of his son, "how…?"
"I summoned a deity Kakashi," the former Yondaime spoke, tone hard as old memories flickered behind his eyes, "the Shinigami required only my soul for the sacrifice – all else was put to… better use."
"Better?" The jounin parroted, regarding the smaller form that somehow, impossibly held one the greatest ninja Konoha had or would ever know, "Minato-sens…" the sudden glare made him hastily reconsider his words, "Minato-san, what did you do?" The former kage lowered his head, pain in his voice as he recalled the true price he had paid that night,
"I did what was necessary," Kakashi wasn't sure if Minato (for it was not Naruto; had it ever been Naruto?) was speaking to himself or him as he went on, "the masked man who released Kyuubi, I wounded him and broke his contract but he said he would return, that the fox would be his. I believed him, and the fox was rampaging though the village I was supposed to cherish and protect. And my son," a small fist was clenched over the heart of the orange jumpsuit as Minato looked down, seeing himself as though for the first time, "Kushina was fading, she would never survive; was I to seal the beast into him, to leave him alone and unprotected with a madman after him, unable to protect himself? He was innocent, my little Naruto-chan, born pure into this world of ninja; I could not force this burden onto him," Minato looked up and his eyes were wet, "so I made my choice, pledged my soul to the Shinigami to seal the bijuu and begged the reaper a final boon. Naruto-chan passed with his mother and is buried beside her in the Hokage vault; I am shinobi, I endure; my mind within the body of my son."
Kakashi for a long moment said nothing, conscious only of the gnawing pain of his slowly-knitting ribs and the splashes of tears on the ground as his sensei, perhaps for the first time in eleven years, wept for his losses, the cost of preserving his village,
"All this time…?"
"Since the first day," Minato assured him, wiping his eyes and blinking up at him, "my mind was transferred by the Shinigami's power, intact and whole in my infant son's body. I had to watch everything, trapped within little Naru-chan's body, seeing all that went on around me, knowing of the monster within the shadows, the man who had killed my wife and forced me to… end my son to be ready for him. I prepared, as much as I could, and the more I did, the longer I was within the village the more I realised how wrong I had been." Cold sweat froze on the back of Kakashi's neck and he moistened dry lips, his last words a croak despite his best effort,
"Wrong in, what way?" The blue glare hardened again, piercing through the jounin and spreading beyond him, a horrible cold clawing its way up Kakashi's spine as his teacher, the fabled Yellow Flash of the Leaf village looked over his former land in condemnation,
"I should not have sealed the Kyuubi."
In mounting despair Kakashi realised why the boy's gaze had been so cold and a horrified moan filtered through his mask – first in his father, now in his teacher the Will of Fire had been extinguished. Minato did not look angry; in all the time the Hatake had known him, he had seen the Yellow Flash irate on less than a handful of occasions, something Obito used to joke his girlfriend made up for; but in truth he would have taken fury over the solemn, judgemental gaze that had been scythed over the village that had so disrespected his legacy. And worst of all such judgement was not undeserved; Kakashi had not heard much of his sensei's son during his years in ANBU but there had been rumours, unsettling ones at that, regarding the Kyuubi jinchuuriki's treatment within the village. How much of that was true Kakashi didn't know but he was aware of his sensei's final wish, or at least what the Sandaime had claimed was his final wish, that Naruto been seen as a hero but had it been tarnished that badly, enough to make even a former kage lose his hope in his people? It seemed so, the sight of Minato in his son's body reaching up to undo a knot of black fabric enough to fracture Kakashi's vision, sparing him at least the sight of having to see his teacher and adoptive father remove his symbol of allegiance,
"They are fools and they are cruel, most of them – I should have let the bijuu go free and rebuilt in the aftermath," the boy-kage said softly, unaware or uncaring that his former student had his head bowed and tears flooding from his eyes, "but I did not and for that I lived as Naru-chan would have lived. Eleven years of spite and hatred to an innocent boy – I was right to spare him that much, and when my time here is done my mind will join my soul in the Shinigami's damnation where it belongs. I'm done with this place," Kakashi head the clink of metal on rock and shuddered, "you'll not find me, so don't look. I will travel and train, regain my old skills, perhaps make peace with Kyuubi if I can, then hunt down and kill the man who took my family. Jiraiya said once I was the child of prophecy, who could bring peace to the ninja world," there was a scoff, Kakashi sensing the other chakra presence moving away but unable to think of anything to say or do to stop him, "peace has no place here, perhaps it never did. I leave the Leaf to its stupidity and the broken fools who propagate it."
With that and a final flash of yellow Kakashi was left alone atop the mountain, staring down at the abandoned headband.
A long time after that, he stooped down, pocketed the item and decided to find somewhere he could get very, very drunk.
For a long moment nothing was said between the jounin and his current kage, Sarutobi occupied only by turned the burnished metal plate in his hands over and over, like it was an hourglass that could turn back tome he could use to speak to Naruto again. Or, as it is, Minato; he closed his eyes, the weight of his robes now heavier than ever before as he realised how deeply he had brought into the lie – the little boy who had fiercely declared he would one day inherit his throne and hat was no more real than a genjutsu, a mask a much older, more careworn shinobi had used to observe the village unimpeded; and he had every reason to hate what he saw;
"So then," Sarutobi's voice was agued, much like his spirit, "he is gone?"
"Yes," Kakashi confirmed, "hirashin markers never fade, he could be anywhere in the Elemental Nations now."
"And he will grow stronger," Sarutobi muttered, half to himself only for Kakashi to bring some welcome relief from his blackest predictions,
"I don't think he'll attack Konoha," the jounin put in, remembering his last words with his teacher despite the pain, "he wasn't angry, more just… disappointed, like he'd had enough."
"And few would blame him," Sarutobi stated heavily, slumping against his desk, "I should have done more."
"As should I, and Jiraiya-sama, the orphanage and all the rest," Kakashi agreed with a dark chuckle before regarding the kage once more, "Minato never made that decree after the sealing did he, about Naruto?"
"No, he was lifeless when I reached him," the Third confirmed with a shake of his head, "there was no time to disguise the scene and any ninja with rudimentary fuuinjutsu knowledge could have put the pieces together. I thought it best to tell the whole village rather than risk a game of whispers – perhaps I was wrong, I don't know."
"And the best person to ask now isn't here," the last Hatake said, his tone suddenly more business-like as he regarded the other man squarely, "with your permission Hokage-sama I am going to get blitzed out my mind for at least the next few days, then I will report back to you at the end of the week." Caught off-guard, the Hokage could only look up puzzled,
"Report? What do you…?"
Sarutobi tailed off, seeing in the jounins' face precisely who, or rather what, would be reporting; already the lines were starting to harden, the eyes beginning to glaze as the younger man spoke,
"I would never have been a good teacher," even his voice, conversational as it was, was starting to recede, slough off the pleasantness that had cloaked the sharpened edge, "and now we are weakened further with the loss of Kyuubi and, worse, Minato-sama, thrown away by ignorance and rot from within. You need every blade honed Hokage-sama; I must return to the shadows."
"But…" even as the word left his lips he bit it in half, an ancient predator recognising a newcomer showing deference and, in his own way mirroring that respect, "…so be it, your genin cell can be recycled. Do what you must, then report back; I will deal with the council," a worrying smile crossed the Sandaimes' lips, "you may be having some new recruits soon joining you."
"I look forwards to it," Kakashi said tonelessly before bowing, "by your leave Hokage-sama?"
Before Sarutobi had finished the nod the jounin was already gone.
Unlike Kakashi, forever late and uncaring, the shinobi who returned to the Hokage's office later that week did so a day early. There was no fanfare, no lanterns lit as a legend returned, the village leader now re-incarnated as the God of Shinobi sparing the newcomer just three words as he reached for the bundled black uniform and white mask that sat proudly atop it,
"Welcome back Hound."
The ANBU nodded and was gone, leaving his leader alone to stand and look out the window behind him, casting his eyes carefully over the carved mountain at his back, but not all of it. Too old, I said – too old and too lacking in strength; the thought of that weakness and the knowledge of what indulging it has cost caught light in the old mans' chest, his gaze steely as he pierced the rock simulacrum opposite him; no more. Minato-san was right to abandon this place; the fire burnt cold, his will now steel rather than velvet as he heard a distant tapping from just outside the door, coming closer as the first of his mistakes to be rectified approached; but by all who've come before me and all who are yet to come, I will rekindle what we have lost and make it a place he would be proud to return to, no matter how many dead leaves are consumed in the blaze!
Omake 1: Feeling the Heat
It would have been a perfect eavesdropping; honestly, he hadn't felt the camouflage genjutsu – if it hadn't been for his medical knowledge allowing him to pick up the electrical signals of living beings nearby, it was highly likely this whole charade would have been undone. As it was, however, with training from his master Kabuto merely raised a hand and cut a nick in both his and Baki's hand, the Suna-nin regarding him seriously until he realised the pain had dispelled the influence of chakra on his brain,
"I see," the jounin stated, stepping back slightly, "with that settled, shall I deal with the little mouse?" Almost without meaning to he heard the slightest scrape of stone on sandal and was gone in a shunshin in an instant, the displacement untraceable thanks to his wind nature. There was a rasp of metal and the jounin smiled as he recognised his opponent,
"Ah, from the preliminaries?"
"You plan treason against the Leaf," the sickly man stated, half an eye on where Kabuto, having caught up, now regarded the fight with the lazy ease of an escaped Tora, "why would you break your alliance?"
"What alliance is there when you bleed us dry," Baki spat back, husbanding his power and waiting for the Konoha-nin to make the first move. Hayate, if that was his name, didn't disappoint, moving in near-silence in a series of swipes and parries even the veteran jounin was hard-pressed to dodge. There's a reason they are first amongst the five; he thought before suddenly shifting his position, noticing the jounin's sword was a basic katana rather than chakra-conductive metal; but not for long. At his twist the sword bit into his shoulder guard hard enough to draw blood but no more; as his wind blade flickered into life in his off-hand, the Suna jounin smiled at his opponent,
"A good blade, but a…"
He got no further, everything seizing up at Hayate's training, beaten into him, as it had all jounin, for the past several months by a cadre of ANBU overseen by the remorseless Hound, was unleashed through the bare metal pommel of his blade. As lighting chakra overrode his nervous system and dispersed his wind blade Baki seized up and then was seized, prevented from falling by a sudden presence at his back; they knew! From the corner of his watering eye he watched Kabuto disappear with black shapes at his heels, the spy's' identity fatally compromised, then a warm hand pressed down almost gently into the top of the jounins' head and he knew no more.
Only later, when he was released under terms of armistice with the blood of over a dozen of his countrymen on his Yamanaka-puppeteered hands and dozens more on his conscience, did he discover himself a pariah in his own land. Konoha had scoped the invasion from the start and his information had been key in undoing it, directing Suna-nin to the strongest points in the Leafs' defences; now a vengeful village bereft its kage, a significant percentage of its ninja force and with its jinchuuriki held by a rival village sought a scapegoat, history repeating itself in Sand as it had in Fire.
And as the cycle of hatred had concluded before, so did it do so again, a name held apart from the memorials in disgrace, cherished by but a few who might know the whole story.
Omake 2 – Fate of Foes.
Uchiha Sasuke was an angry young man.
A gifted young ninja traumatised by his past, anger perhaps not the most unhealthy emotion he could have displayed but being forced to return to the Academy because of some dobe he'd never shared a word with in all the time they'd been there was the final straw. The failure had known what was good for him and not returned but for Sasuke it was more time lost, more precious moments he could have been training to get strong enough to avenge his clan and destroy his brother eaten up with useless lessons on things with no importance. There had been a few different lessons though, especially on the taijutsu side, and he had learned a few new jutsu, but nothing there was strong enough to make Itachi pay attention.
Because of this, when during the month between the second and third test of the chunin exam (and exam he should have been participating in!) he found himself bound to a tree by ninja wire by four strangers, he was more inclined to listen to their offers of power than was perhaps wise.
"He can offer you power," the boy, or was it a girl; with the lipstick Sasuke couldn't decide, "far more than you can accrue here. Look at you," he stepped back and the Uchiha glowered – he hated being looked down on, "still in the Academy; your brother was leading ANBU by now."
"What do you know of Itachi?" Sasuke snarled, straining against his bonds as another of the strangers, this one definitely a girl, snorted,
"Orochimaru-sama knows all faggot; you should be grateful he's wasting any time on someone as weak as…"
Something hot and wet splashed Sasukes' cheek; for a second he thought she'd spat on him, only when he looked up to see the largest of the group collapse with a glowing white blade through his neck did he realise what had happened. Time seemed to freeze, then everything froze for the Uchiha as a suffocating blanket of abject terror smothered him, the black figure that appeared in the midst of his would-be kidnappers the only thing unaffected as its blade tore through the fat neck and opened the back of the girly-man at the same time. Finally the four, now three, reacted to their enemy but too slowly; the one with six arms dived away to higher ground but even as he moved the white mask snapped towards him and he collapsed out the air, screaming and clawing at his own flesh, his fingers red with blood as he tried to excise the demons implanted into his psyche gorily,
"Crap!" The girl leapt away, snatching for something at her belt at the same time as somehow, another person lunged out the wounded back of the kidnapper squad leader and grappled their assailant. Sasuke watched, could do nothing but watch as his body fought to breathe and remain conscious; he was dimly aware of a flicker of movement in his vision before a sudden bright glare forced his eyes shut, a pig-like squeal of pain tearing at his ears as the sickly stench of roasted flesh filled his nostrils, making him retch uncontrollably, the fluid spattering the ground at his feet as the strobing died from his vision and his sight returned.
The first thing he saw was flame, tiny flickers of fire dancing across the clothes and flesh of the dead leader, a half-man still extended from his spine but blackened to a crisp but grappling the lightning clone, his grotesque mother likewise charred with fat sputtering in the heat. Of the white-masked man there was no sign, at least not until Sasuke recovered his guts enough to look away from where the six-armed man had skinned himself in his terror, still twitching as his brain began to shut down from the abuse to where his female companion lay, her red hair the only thing moving as she dropped into a crumpled heap by their vanquisher. Sasuke did nothing, not even breathe, as the silent ANBU casually beheaded the last of the team in a mercy kill, then he caught his breath as the expression mask face him, the same intent of death pressing in on his as a small flicker of electricity sparked around one figure. Nerves bleached with a terror he hadn't felt since that night, Sasuke didn't even cry out as the finger pressed through the wires binding him, the intense heat melting them to nothing at the same time as conducting the heat to him, raising a ribbed pattern of burn scars on his closest arm.
Suddenly the wires parted and on the tree he was leant against prevented the last Uchiha from collapsing into the mess he'd made as the ANBU leant forwards, the blank sockets where his eyes should be paralysing the Uchiha as surely as his brothers Sharinghan had. A second passed, then another, until finally the storm and silence broke together as a toneless voice intoned,
"So end all enemies of Konoha".
He was gone so swiftly only the corpses left in his wake proved he'd been there at all; catching himself again, Sasuke let out a gasp and staggered forwards, avoiding the spreading bloodstains and flakes of carbonised skin more by luck than judgement. Pulse pounding in his head the Uchiha began to slowly track his way home, watching the shadows with a wary new respect as even his frightened mind processed the very simple lesson the ANBU had written in corpses far more effectively than any Academy teacher could have done in chalk.
Do not make an enemy of the Leaf village.
Omake 3 – The Greatest Disappointment
"It will be time to move soon."
"I expected this," the would-be deity, a boy playing with gifted power answered through his resurrected mouthpiece, "but we must yet wait."
"Indeed," Uchiha Madara agreed, idly toying with the ring on his thumb, "three more years or so while the pieces gather. Kiri is ours already but the snakes' attack on the Leaf was unexpected; that Sarutobi took the Ichibi I did not foresee."
"It would make sense; Zetsu has not sensed the Kyuubi within the Leaf for some time."
"He would not go rogue, they wouldn't allow it," the eldest Uchiha stated, "that old warhawk Danzo would have him tracked down and replaced before he got ten paces outside the walls. He's likely training with that old letch Jiraiya."
"He should be taken before he grows too powerful," Pein stated, old memories resurfacing in spite of his godhood, "the Toad Sage is strong."
"Strong but a fool; the Kyuubi cannot…"
There was a flash of golden light; Pein had just enough time to realise the protective rain of his country had been breached before there was a cry of surprise and pain in equal measure and Madara fell before the figure in front of him, a figure the Akatsuki leader recognised in shock. The child regarded the fallen Uchiha for a moment before reaching down, recognising company only at the last moment and turning cold blue eyes towards the Deva path,
"This is personal," Uzumaki Naruto said coldly, though his voice was that of much older, more worn soul as he lashed down and grabbed the seemingly-helpless Uchiha by the throat, "do not interfere."
Before the Rin'negan wielder could truly react with a jutsu that wouldn't also hit Madara, or that could undo whatever had been done to the ancient Uchiha, there was another flash of light and the Ame leader was left alone in the rain feeling, for the first time since Hanzos' death suddenly, less secure in his divinity.
Even before he had truly landed Obito attempted to come to his feet only for his knees to be kicked out, sending him sprawling before a white-hot weal of pain was opened at the back of his heel, crippling one of his legs by slashing the tendon there. Rolling over and trying to summon his chakra, the Uchiha was rewarded with the feeling of shin on shin, his coming off the worse as he finally beheld his assailant,
"You! But you're…"
"I'm going to kill you," the last Uzumaki assured him, and there was such low hatred and contempt in that voice that Obito believed him, "for my wife and my son, I am going to undo everything you've tried to build."
"Wife? But, but even in wartime you'd be too young to marry?!"
"I have no wife, thanks to you," the kunai rose, edge stained with his blood and at its shape the last of Team Seven felt his heart contract,
"The tags never fade Obito," the Uzumaki said quietly, a slight smile playing on his lips as he looked down on his enemy in the same way a butcher might a fresh carcass, "I believe I told all three of you that."
"All three of… what? How do you know of me, did Kakashi-ba…"
He was cut off but the foot that shattered the bottom of his mask, driving splinters into his lips and nose as the Uzumaki withdrew, breathing slightly harder,
"You have no right to speak his name, you lost that long along," a slow realisation began creeping down Obito's mind like a blanket of jagged nails but for now he held it off, refusing to believe such a wild theory, "just as you lost the right to mine and Konoha's mercy when you ripped Kurama from my wife and left her to die while you destroyed the village that raised you."
"Your, wife," the renegade parroted, almost struck dumb as he realised he could put off the knowledge no more, "Minato-sens…" Another kick broke that chain of thought,
"You lost the right to call me that as well," the Yellow Flash told him, watching the wretch before him spit blood, "you are a traitor Uchiha, though I no longer wear the Leaf, and you are a murderer to those who treated you as kin – you are lower than scum." The tri-bladed kunai rose, Obito left to gasp a last,
"How?" Before it fell and carved a long, shallow gash down his sternum, forcing him to grit his teeth as his former sensei stepped back within the small cabin he had created and spoke in a voice of ice,
"Now tell me," he flicked blood off his blade and impaled the Uchiha with his frigid gaze again, "what is Akatsuki?"
A/N: As said above, short piece to break a bit of block and relieve some stresses; not sure when I'll be able to write again but, until then, I'll see you around.
P.S. Regarding the pineapples, Minato-as-Naruto always knew Hirashin and his other techniques, he just couldn't use them until he got his control down well enough (what he was doing during the Academy). He also knew Jiraiya's cloaking jutsu, so was using that to psychologically mess with the Academy head who didn't like him by leaving pineapples for the man to find everywhere!