9/6/11 Revision. I apologize to everyone. It has been SSDD for me and until now, I haven't found the motivation to write, although Naruto was always in the back of my mind. I'm surprised people are still interested in the story, so I will do my best to compensate for it as a writing major. Reading back on this now, I realize how horrible my writing was (I don't think it's much better, though I will read over everything more precisely). I plan to revise a bit, get the plot going and such.

This is angst. Be warned.


"N-Naruto!"

Shikamaru Nara, head of the Nara clan and sole survivor of the Hokage's personal unit, ran towards his Hokage, despair clawing through his heart. He had managed to fight off the last few intruders, but not before Naruto was badly, and hopefully, not fatally injured. And once again, in his cursed luck, Shikamaru had gotten out alive, but this time... "H-Hokage-sama!" In his haste, he had forgotten to address the Rokudaime properly the first time.

Shikamaru bent down besides the battered and beaten body of the Hokage. His hands shaking like a leaf in the wind, he reached towards Naruto's wrist for a pulse. Relieved to find a pulse, he gently touched the Hokage's shoulder once more. "Na-Naruto-sama…" he whispered urgently. "We must move on. We can't stay here, or else..." His voice trailed off as there was no response.

There was a long moment of silence. Then barely audibly: "…Shikamaru? Is that you?" Two blue and glazed eyes opened to meet Shikamaru's dark eyes. Naruto laughed weakly, his hand coming up slowly to pat Shikamaru on the shoulder.

Shikamaru shook his head at Naruto's laugh, his body shaking with the effort to keep his tears back. The Rokudaime looked so pitiful now - a crumpled individual compared to the enthusiastic man he had seen so many years ago, when Naruto first took on the position with pride and confidence. Who were the ones that had dared do this to his precious Hokage?

"Hokage-sama," Shikamaru tried again. "We must leave now. Please get up. We'll go and rest somewhere, then come back and save Kono-"

Naruto raised a bruised hand to stop him. "Konoha is no more. I might as well say I've failed in my duty as Hokage."

Shikamaru shook his head desperately. "You didn't, Hokage-sama, you didn't…"

Naruto sighed deeply - a sigh of hidden pain and loss. He struggled to sit up, and with Shikamaru's help, managed to reach within the folds of his robes to extract a small scroll.

"Shikamaru," he said. "This is one of the Hokage's personal treasures." He thrust it out to Shikamaru. The ANBU remained motionless, unwilling to accept such a precious item.

"It's to be used in an emergency," Naruto continued. "The Yondaime created it many years ago. It's a Hokage secret."

"And why are you telling me this?" Shikamaru questioned. "Keep it for yourself. We may have to end up using it."

Naruto stared at Shikamaru, an incredulous look on his face. "We? Oh, Shikamaru, so naive..." He reached out with his other hand, taking Shikamaru's arm and placing the scroll into the ANBU's arm. "I want you to take this. It is a Time Travel Scroll."

"Time...travel?" Shikamaru repeated, wondering at such an impossible jutsu.

"Correct." Naruto lay back on the ground, groaning in pain. "I hope you can-" The Hokage suddenly choked on his words as fresh blood began pouring out of his mouth, running over his body and Konoha attire.

Shikamaru quickly ripped off a part of his jacket, dabbing at the corners of Naruto's mouth. "Naruto-sama," he said urgently. "Please stop talking, I need you to rest..."

"Stop, Shikamaru." Naruto coughed again. "Let me finish. I had let the other Villages take advantage of me and they trashed up Konoha. That scroll will take you back to a time before all this. Hopefully, you'll be able to correct all my mistakes...and prevent Konoha's destruction."

Shikamaru shook his head, ancient, buried tears slowly forcing their way to the surface.

"Shikamaru." Naruto continued. "This is my final request as your ex-Hokage. Go back in time and prevent this from ever happening. I don't want to die knowing Konoha will be in ruins forever. Its former glory…all gone." Naruto smiled warmly as he weakly patted Shikamaru's hand one last time. "I know you can do it, dear friend..." With that, the Hokage breathed one last time as the light from his eyes faded and he sank back onto the ground, never to move again.

Completely stunned, it took a few moments for the Rokudaime's death to dawn upon him. And with that and all the deaths before, the hard-trained ANBU finally snapped. Letting out a chilling cry full of anger and sorrow, Shikamaru broke out in a loud sob, burying his face in Naruto's robes.

So many people had died. His friends, his family, his sensei… but until now, he took the deaths the way an ANBU did every time: Silent and accepting. One by one, the people around him passed away from his life. And he'd been the last…the cursed last. He'd be willing die in the place of his Hokage. After all, he'd serve Naruto for many years; the jinchuuriki had been a strong and wise Hokage, forever encouraging others and guiding Konoha through its tough times. But it was his good heart that lead to his failure. Shikamaru gripped the Hokage's clothes tightly. I should have died instead of you, Hokage-sama...

Standing up, he briefly took off his ANBU mask, wiping his tears away. Then Shikamaru bowed respectfully before the body of the Rokudaime. "I won't let you die this way, Hokage-sama...I promise…"

The ANBU stood silent for a long moment, wishing Naruto a good trip to the after-life. Then he unfurled the Time Travel scroll, glancing down on the foreign writings as he formed a single handsign.

"Goodbye, Naruto-sama." He let his gaze linger on Naruto a bit longer before speaking one word. "Kai."

The surroundings around him began to fade away, and Shikamaru felt a sense of nostalgia as everything whirled before him. He found himself stumbling about in a dizzy manner as images began to become clearer. A forest materialized into view along with several dozen young kids, all chattering excitedly around him.

"An ANBU?" A feminine voice asked besides him.

Shikamaru stepped back in shock as he studied the person before him. Anko Mitarashi?

"So what's your report? Make it quick! I'm busy right now!" she barked.

Shikamaru stared at Anko. "Oh…um, sorry about this. I came in the wrong way." He held up a hand sign and teleported away from the scene to a treetop. He studied the people before him; it all seemed so familiar to him. His eyes widened as he realized where he suddenly was.

The forest of death? He thought to himself. It's…it's the Chunin exams! From within the crowd, his trained ANBU eyes picked out Neji, Hinata, Shino…all of his friends and teams. He pushed away the painful memories of each of their deaths and continued to search below. He saw his own team standing a couple of feet below him. I see Chouji, Ino…What the…it's ME. Shikamaru exhaled heavily. Now this creates major problems. How would people react if they see TWO Shikamarus running all over the place? What if someone catches me?

"All right!" Anko's loud voice interrupted Shikamaru from his thoughts. "Everyone's set…get ready, and GO!" The gates to the Forest of the Death opened and the genin Teams disappeared inside.

Shikamaru sighed out loud. He wasn't quite sure what to do now. He had landed in a time era far off from Naruto's time. Surveying Konoha was probably the best thing to do. It'd been at least two years since Shikamaru saw the village in such a relaxed state. When the War started with the other Villages, Konoha's economy was fully dedicated to the war and many people either became a ninja or moved away. But his heart was running again, and there was only one to calm his mental state...

Utilizing his Shadow jutsu, Shikamaru disappeared into the ground and became one with his shadow. This was his more cautious way of traveling: jumping from shadow to shadow undetected. He didn't stop until he reached a familiar site. Emerging from his shadow, Shikamaru was almost relieved to see the memorial stone standing there. He ran his hand over it, letting his eyes sweep over the many names carved on there. Also many people passed out of his life, their memories remained as names were engraved on the stone - and it here that Shikamaru allowed his mind to wander, his habit being to stop by it daily to briefly breathe a word or two to his sensei, Chouji, or even Kakashi.

And so engrossed was the ANBU in his thoughts that he failed to notice several individuals approach him from behind. Before he knew it, two ANBUs had pinned him against the memorial stone, the edges of their kunai on Shikamaru's neck. He dimly felt a chakra seal being slammed into his side.

"Hold him tight – don't let him escape!" The ANBU's captain emerged from behind them.

At that order, Shikamaru's eyes widened. The voice was so similar…and that mask! It was the one he was wearing now; the ANBU mask Shikaku handed him before he died. He could see his father's eyes narrow behind his ANBU mask.

"You can use Shadow jutsu as fluently as I. And that mask…who are you?" Shikaku drew his kunai.

ANBU Deer stared at ANBU Deer. Shikamaru remained silent, afraid his voice was going to give him away. You fool, he said to himself. They already caught you.

"Take off his mask," Shikaku ordered.

No – not the mask! I can't be seen! Shikamaru struggled to release himself from the ANBUs grip, but the chakra seal prevented him from doing anything.

A moment later, he felt his mask being forcefully torn off.


Very much revised, and I feel a bit better. Any typos mentioned would be greatly appreciated. I do plan on, once again, working hard on this story. Again, I apologize for the long hiatus and I will compensate for it as best I can. Revision should come tomorrow since it is already very late here. I also will need to revise Chapter 3 as I have something completely written out for it...

~Tenzo