Author's Note: *Rubs back of head*. Yes, I know I have four other stories on the go... but what can I say... when a plot bunny hits? xD. This story is going to be more serious than "A New Era," and came into being when reviewer SuperiorShortness gave me the idea. The shinobi not liking the Seireitei... It'll feature a much larger cast of Naruto characters than "A New Era," but I'm only really going to focus on a set. Think of it as squads xD. It's gonna be a lot more serious and dark, too. Note on pairings at the bottom. Enjoy!

Disclaimer: I don't own this

WARNING: this fic is AU, it will include some screwing about with the Naruto/Bleach timeline and character histories, as well as contain spoilers for the latest Anime/Manga (of both series). Character death. Swearing. Rating may change. Sporadic updates...

Published: 06 February 2010

Chapter 1: Obituary

Hiruzen Sarutobi was an old man. He had seen many things- had achieved many things, but in the end he had died to one of his biggest regrets. Orochimaru's face twisting in agony had been the last snapshot of life he had been gifted with before he succumbed to the pull and his world plunged into darkness.


"Sandaime-sama... it's been a while... I can't say I'm not happy to see you, but... You don't belong here. It's time for you to leave now... maybe I'll see you again one day..."


Hiruzen Sarutobi really had seen a lot in his long life. And he had always held a strong belief that there was some sort of afterlife. After all, the Shiki Fuujin was meant to damn one's soul to be spent in the Great Shinigami's stomach, forever locked in combat with your enemy.

What he hadn't counted on was opening his eyes to find himself feeling weak and hungry in a street that looked like it was made out of matchsticks. He could hear swearing and screaming and even the clash of metal on metal as people somewhere were fighting. And as he sat up fighting a wave a nausea that hit him as the world spun, confusion hit him deeper. Children and adults, all dressed in variations of the same stained white clothes hustled passed him, whispering and keeping their heads low.

Where on earth was he?

"Is that who I think it is?" He heard a voice ask in vague amusement from somewhere behind him.

"It seems so..."

A shadow fell over him and as the shock of white hair and his smiling partner came into focus, Hiruzen Sarutobi felt himself lucky to be seated on the (uncomfortable) floor.

"It's been a long time, Saru," smiled Tobirama Senju, squatting down to Sarutobi's level. And as Tobirama opened his mouth to speak again, Hiruzen Sarutobi did the only thing that he could do in such circumstances.

He fainted.

The true measure of a shinobi is not how he lives, but how he dies. As Jiraiya's eyes opened to the afterlife, he wondered how that saying would now apply.

"Sorry Sasuke... this is the last time," Itachi had murmured as the last of his strength seeped out of his injuries and he collapsed.

Itachi had believed that life after death was a fairy tale made for people who tried to comfort themselves from fear of the unknown. After the sham that was his life he would welcome eternal darkness with open arms and little regrets. He had done what he needed.

Sasuke had looked terrified.

Itachi hadn't known that it was not the last time they would meet. Or that the next time they would meet, Sasuke would gift his elder brother with a broken nose.

Kakashi had just been unofficially appointed to the position of Rokudaime when he had died. Naruto had been in turmoil about Sasuke and Sakura and how screwed up life had gotten, and the grey haired man had left his sensei's legacy in Yamato's capable hands. He had gone along with an ink clone of Sai's to bring back Sakura, because as strong as she had gotten, she was no match for Sasuke and Kakashi had no wish to bury one of his students. It was a failure he wouldn't allow to happen. He had caught up with her and her cell of Kiba, Lee and the real Sai. And he had succeeded in persuading her to go home. It had taken a while and some harsh truths, but a few spent tears were better than a wasted loss of life.

And then as they were turning back to head for Konoha, a meeting that Kakashi hadn't even factored was sprung on top of them. Madara Uchiha and his newest protégée Sasuke had stepped out from the dense undergrowth. Kakashi had taken one look at Sasuke, torn, tired, bloody and full of hate, and had made a decision. Sasuke was not his student anymore.

As his first (and last) official order as Rokudaime Hokage, he had ordered the retreat of his accompanying forces.

Sakura had refused of course, but Sai had taken matters into his own hands and rendered her unconscious by applying pressure on a certain pressure point. Kakashi had felled to Madara Uchiha's Sharingan not long after as Sasuke had watched with dead eyes. His last failure. But before his death not only had he gathered sufficient information on both Sasuke and Madara's powers to help Konoha form a defence, and he had brought Konoha the precious time that they had needed, and for that he was glad.

Thanks to Kakashi's sacrifice, Konoha survived another battle, and the Uchiha duo had been forced to retreat empty handed.

Sakura found it hard to look herself in the eye for months after.

Madara Uchiha had thought it funny to throw the shinobi world into chaos. A small part of it had been vindictiveness and a larger part sadism, but it had still had long lasting effects.

Yamato had been the second member of Team Seven to fall, closely followed by Sai. The two of them had been the last ninja on a battalion sent by the five nations to slow down the advance of Nanabi no Kabutomushi, the seven tailed horned beetle. Konoha's elders had sent Yamato in the hopes that he would be able to restrain it with his Mokuton techniques.

But Yamato was not Hashirama Senju.

He had succeeded in binding the Bijuu, but had succumbed to intense chakra depletion as soon as he was sure the task had been completed. Sai had been run through with Sasuke sword not five minutes after as he had tried to drag Yamato's body back to Konoha for a proper burial. Sai had died with a smile of pity for the Uchiha on his face.

Their bodies were left on Konoha's doorstep with a note attached.

Naruto had locked himself in his apartment for days. When he had finally emerged, his eyes had lost some of their shine. Hinata had looked on worriedly.

When Tsunade had awoken on the streets of Rukongai to find Jiraiya leering and reaching towards her, she had delivered a swift uppercut to his jaw that had sent him flying high into the air.

And that had been without chakra.

A minute later she had crawled over to his half-conscious form, hugged him, and begun bawling her eyes out.

Jiraiya had thought the concussion Tsunade had just given him was giving him hallucinations.

Team Gai had fallen in one fell swoop. There wasn't much you could do when your enemy could phase through your physical attacks.

Though witnessing the raw power of the Eight Gates released by both Gai and Lee had certainly been a sight to behold. Susanoo had shattered under the strain

Kankuro had been the first of the Sand Siblings to fall. Strangely enough, it had been Gaara who had taken the loss the hardest. Temari had been a pillar of strength and it had become common knowledge that when she had died, Suna's beloved Godaime Kazekage had... given up.

Gaara had died protecting the newly appointed Nanadaime, Naruto Uzumaki, his one true friend.

Like Shikamaru after her, Hinata had been the last of her team to fall. One of the last casualties before the end of the war, despite having a heavy heart from losses that she could barely comprehend, there was a shining light that always kept her going.

Never had she dreamed that Naruto would grow to return her feelings. Or that he would lean on her for strength once the losses started piling up. But in the end she couldn't even help as both she and Sakura were struck down. Naruto had taken their losses the hardest.

The war had ended not too long after as Sasuke betrayed Madara and joined Naruto in his efforts to bring the man down. Naruto had been left alone to rule over a broken Konoha. Sasuke had refused to come home, unable to forgive either Konoha or himself. He had decided to live in a mixture of self disgust, pity and self loathing.

Three years later Naruto and Sasuke met for a last time. Kabuto had emerged from the woodwork to bring yet another terror down on the world. Orochimaru's influence was worse than ever and he had somehow gotten a hold of Gedo Mazo and was threatening to unleash the remaining demons on humanity.

Sasuke and Naruto had sacrificed their lives to put an end to the madness and peace finally reigned in the shinobi world.

And thus the story of their afterlife begins.

Authors Note: Nope, that's not everyone's death, but I wanted to paint a brief picture. Next chapter is first impressions. And you'll see who else is present, too!

Pairings: Not really a main focus, but outside of Naruto x Hinata, Shikamaru x Temari and Neji x Tenten, I don't have much of a clue. Most of it will be implied, and I may throw Tsunade x Jiraiya in for the fun of it... because I love them both.

Powers: As chakra is the energy of the living, and Reiatsu is the energy of the dead, the shinobi will have reiatsu. But because I've seen people in Bleach use hand-signs (be it filler or canon, I don't actually remember...), Jutsu aren't going to be affected. They'll just use reiatsu instead of chakra, but still function the same.

Please R&R