There go the neighborhoods
Part One: Naruto
Naruto smiled weakly, as he looked at Sasuke. Who simply stared back, a slight frown on his face.
"Told you," Naruto coughed wetly, "we would both die."
One of Sasuke's eyes twitched. He didn't give any other indication that he heard Naruto.
Naruto wondered why he didn't hear Sakura, who had been watching the fight. Usually she would be screaming bloody murder at them...
"Well, not quite how I planned it, but well within my contingency plans." Madara said, casually strolling towards the young men, who had their fists embedded in each other.
Naruto struggled weakly, desperately trying to face the new threat. Sasuke, on the other hand, smiled darkly. A bloody chuckle escaping his lips.
"You see Naruto," Madara continued. "I don't need you to be, strictly speaking, alive. A state of suspended animation, on the edge of death works just fine. Better even." The man smiled behind his mask, Naruto could just tell.
"The fact that Sasuke died with you? Quite the bonus really. He did become somewhat annoying. But he played his part admirably."
Naruto growled at Madara, how dare he?
Sasuke chuckled again.
"You..." He coughed up blood all over Naruto. "You... think... I didn't plan this?" He rasped out.
"What?" Madara and Naruto both asked, and looked at Sasuke., who had his Sharingan spinning wildly.
"You were just as guilty as Konoha Madara." He chuckled. "You think I would let you win?"
And suddenly Naruto and Sasuke stood before the Kyuubi, still mortally wounded, still too weak to move, but Sasuke didn't seem bother by it at all.
"Hey fox. You want to live?" He asked, the rasp gone, even though the chest-wound remained.
"What do you think Uchiha?" The fox growled.
"Got a way for you to escape then. You remember Kakashi's kamui?" Sasuke asked.
"What the hell are you doing bastard?" Naruto interrupted the two of them, but neither bothered to answer him.
"Yeah... you want to use that eh?" The fox watched the young man in front of him.
"I need your power for it though. Ripping a hole into reality... not easy. Not easy at all." Sasuke answered. Naruto struggled uselessly. He couldn't move at all, the sharingan keeping him in place.
"Hahahaha." The fox grinned with far too many teeth at the Uchiha. "It would destroy vast tracks of land, that plan of yours. Ripping a hole into reality... and this close to Konoha..."
Sasuke shrugged. "All part of the plan."
"Very well, I agree. Send me away, maybe I'll even be free of the brat then!"
Sasuke nodded, as the Kyuubi's evil chakra rushed him.
"No! What the hell are you doing?" Naruto demanded, finally wrenching himself free from Sasuke's mental hold.
But Sasuke didn't answer, instead he looked at the Kyuubi. His eyes spinning, bleeding freely now, and totally red.
"Sasuke!" Naruto screamed, as he jumped between his rival and the Kyuubi.
Then Sasuke released whatever technique he was using and everything went black.
Sasuke gasped, as he fell backwards, away from Naruto's corpse, which also fell backwards. In between them, a black sphere had opened, energy seemed to seep from it like blood from a wound.
"What did you do Sasuke." Madara whispered, staring at the sphere in horror.
"Destroyed your plans, you and Konoha." Sasuke whispered, before the hole in reality erupted in a shock-wave, washing over the remains of Konoha, ripping any living or nonliving thing apart.
Naruto gasped as he woke up. He frantically looked around, but Sasuke was nowhere to be seen...
In fact, he appeared to be in his bedroom... if an exploding tag had hit it.
"What? What happened?" He muttered, slowly, wobbly getting out of his bed.
His gaze fell on the calender, where a red cross marked the day as: "Today! Genin Exams! Gonna Kick Ass!"
Naruto starred at it for a few seconds, then ran to the window, to stare at the Hokage Monument.
The Monument with only four heads, instead of five.
"No way, no way, no way, no way..." He repeated over and over again, falling backwards.
Part Two: Sasuke
Sasuke stood against Madara, flanked by Naruto and Sakura. All three of them were bleeding profoundly, however Madara was at the end of his rope as well. He was breathing heavy and his clothes were torn in various places, displaying wounds that would have killed lesser men.
"Give up Madara. There's no way you can win against us." Sasuke taunted. "The Hokage is cleaning up your little war. The other villages have brought your precious statue under their control."
He charged the madman in front of him. Punctuating his next words with punches and kicks. "And we will. Beat. You!"
Sakura and Naruto were holding back, only helping when necessary, this was his battle, his ancestor, that had tried again and again, to bring the Uchiha down and to destroy Konoha.
From the moment he send the Kyuubi out to attack Konoha, in the hopes that the Uchiha would be blamed.
They would have too, if Sasuke's father hadn't sacrificed himself and Sasuke, in order to bring the Uchiha closer to Konoha and bridge whatever gaps Madara had managed to create with his scheming.
Sasuke called on the power of the Kyuubi. With his eyes, he had incredible control over it, even with the Kyuubi uncooperative.
He could see Madara's eye widen, as he tore out one of his arms.
Sasuke hated the fact that, even with his amazing control he still enjoyed the violence and bloodshed. But that was the price for this kind of power.
"You will die now Madara!" He screamed, ripping into Madara again and again.
Until he heard a chuckle from behind.
"You think it would be that easy?" Madara growled. Most of the wounds he had a few seconds ago were present. However, none Sasuke had caused in the last few seconds were.
"You may have beaten me Sasuke. You may have stopped my plans." Madara spat, Sasuke's eyes widened in horror.
"But don't think it didn't come at a price!" Madara shook the corpses of Sakura and Naruto.
"How?" Sasuke muttered, as the fox coat dissipated into nothingness.
"How could you?"
Madara fell to his knees. "If you are willing to die brat, you can accomplish the greatest of deeds."
And Madara's Sharingan sprang back into full force, sending a wave of pitch black fire at Sasuke.
Sasuke could see Madara fall over, slack and lifeless. Before the fire coated him in agony.
He found himself in the dungeons that represented his mind. The Kyuubi safely behind the bars of it's prison.
"Well brat. Seems we are going to die, just like your little friends." It chuckled. "All that power you stole from me, only to die like that. Pathetic."
Sasuke didn't rise to the bait. He simply slumped to the ground in despair. Naruto and Sakura were death. How would he explain that to Hinata? Or Sakura's mother? He promised he would keep them save! He promised!
"Brat!" The Kyuubi rumbled. "I have no intention of dying."
Sasuke didn't react, at all.
"Bah, then die. I'm sure your friends won't hold it against you, failing to save them that is."
Sasuke looked up sharply. "What do you mean?"
"Hehehe, though that would catch your attention." The fox rattled in his chains, attempting to strech a claw out of his prison.
"Those eyes of yours, they have some control over time and space, don't they?" He asked.
Sasuke nodded numbly. With Itachi's and the Hokage's help he had gained quite a bit of control over both his eyes and time space ninjutsu.
"Well, if I give you all of my power, all at once... I think we can return to the past with your eyes."
"We can? You really think we can?" Sasuke, knew that there had to be a catch. But then again, the Kyuubi had always professed that it would live to be free of it's cage one day. If he died now though... and it was a chance to save his friends. To prevent Madara from killing them.
If he had just paid a little bit more attention. If he had been a little bit more careful.
"Of course I can brat. I'm more than powerful enough to power a simple jutsu like that. The only question is whether you can pull it off fast enough. We are currently burning alive after all. And what would your friends say if they knew you failed to save them because you were too slow?"
Sasuke glared at the fox as his sharingan flared to life, the tomoe spinning madly. "I'm ready bastard. Just give me your chakra!" He growled.
"Fine, here it is!" The fox somehow managed to shrug. As a gigantic wave of chakra slammed into Sasuke.
Sasuke screamed in agony as the chakra burned through his veins and the fire of Amaterasu, suddenly made itself known, now that the buffer of his mind-scape disappeared.
Still he persevered, forming the chakra, even through the black haze, miraculously his eyes hadn't been touched by the fire that had reduced most of his skin to ash already.
In a last agonizing push he released the jutsu, pushing through the boundary only he could see.
It shattered, and for the split second that he was aware of it, he felt that something had gone quite catastrophically wrong.
Sasuke opened his eyes and looked around.
He was alone, in a small spartan apartment.
Nothing at all like his home in the clan compound.
His eyes fell on a calendar, a small mark indicated that today... or yesterday, he wasn't entirely sure, was the genin entrance exam.
Slowly he got up and walked around the room, searching for any hint on what was going on or where he ended up.
"Dammit fox, what did you do to me?" He muttered to himself.
Part Three: Sakura
Sakura smiled at the little dog as it sniffed around the dusty floor of the building.
"Come here little doggie, come here." She cooed.
The dog turned it's head to the side and regarded her for a second. It backed off, when it heard a low growl coming from Sakura's direction, before it continued to sniff the ground.
Sakura frowned, then shook her head ruefully. "Oh well, not as if it matters." Sakura muttered, before flinging a kunai at the dog, severing it's spine from the head.
"Dinner time!" She crowed, scampering over to collect her prize.
Madara brooded over several scrolls, his plan nearly complete. All he had to do was wait, and hope Haruno managed to collect what he send her out to get.
A second later the door to his lab flew open and the smell of burned meat invaded his nose.
He turned around, Haruno Sakura strode in, a bottle of some sort of alcoholic beverage in one hand, the burnt remains of some animal, Madara narrowed his eyes, dog apparently, in the other.
Haruno noticed his stare and narrowed her eyes in return. "That's my meat, go catch your own." She growled like an animal.
Madara decided to ignore his own empty stomach. If she had what he send her for it would be over in a few minutes anyway.
"Was that all you caught? Or did you bring me what I send you for." He asked exasperated. Not that he believed she didn't have it. No matter how much of a drunken bitch she was, she did finish her missions.
Sakura rolled her eyes, which did interesting things to her face, it highlighted her scars quite nicely, if he had still been affected by things like that, he probably would have thrown up.
"Of course I have it asshole." She ripped a piece of meat of the carcass and washed it down with a swig of... whatever the bottle contained. Maybe paint thinner. If she found some somewhere.
Then she put the bottle down and threw him a few vials of a murky red liquid.
"There, that was all I could find in Orochimaru's labs."
He looked at the bottles wearily. It should be enough, over the years he had improved his chakra control beyond anything he once thought possible.
"Good, then everything is ready. Just sit down here, while I prepare the jutsu." He took a deep breath, almost immediately regretting it. It had been said, before the last war, when there where still people alive to work with, or attack Haruno, that her breath should count as a weapon. And that she didn't need any chakra for the grand fireball technique.
In close proximity Madara was inclined to agree. He figured the only reason Haruno didn't keel over, from alcohol poisoning, was the fact that the alcohol preserved her. Like a brain in one of Orochimaru's jars or something.
He opened the vials Haruno had brought. And quickly downed them. The vials were killing him, even as they supplied him with chakra equal to one of the tailed beast... well the 4 tails at least.
Not that it mattered if he lived or died, if he succeeded he would be killed from the backlash of punching a hole into reality. If not... well there wasn't really anything left to live for, so no loss there as well.
Haruno just sat in the circle, munching her meat, drinking her... alcohol. Not saying a word.
Some would have found her disgusting. Madara found her admirable. Even know, after three major ninja wars, loosing every person she ever called a friend, or cared for. Having watched Uzumaki Naruto and Sasuke Uchiha kill each other in the event that triggered the first of the last three ninja wars...
She still managed to maintain a thin layer of humanity. A very thin layer admittedly but she did maintain it.
His single sharingan flared to life, for the briefest of seconds. After it closed again he couldn't see the black eclipse that occupied the space Haruno's head had occupied a second ago.
He didn't notice it expand and reduce the underground fortress and his lab to ash, as well as the wasteland that stretched for several thousand miles above it.
Haruno Sakura woke up and came to a realization. She was sober.
The shakes set in almost immediately. As well as the memories. Faces, voices, screams... she forced the cacophony down, and brought the shakes under control. It was just till she managed to find a bar, she woodenly made her way to the window.
And a smile, the first one that wasn't a carefully faked mask in over 10 years, crept on her face.
"Booze," She whispered. "Real booze. Not the bloody tainted stuff I have to make from... well garbage and... stuff."
She looked around, pinpointing the wallet that belonged to the previous inhabitant of this body... or was that herself... eh who cared, the body was hers now.
She stopped in front of the full body mirror and watched herself for a second. A weak, frail child stared back. No rings under her eyes, no scars ripping her face in half, no repeatedly broken nose.
She was pretty!
She nearly laughed at the thought. As if it mattered.
Still she had money, she slammed her hands into the seals for henge and a twenty something woman had replaced the frail girl.
She appeared to be an adult. And, most importantly, she had several bars with decent alcohol available. And she supposed a body with zero alcohol-tolerance. Well she would just have to work on that, the medical jutsu to limit the effects of alcohol on the body should still work, they only required chakra control, and a slight drain on her reserves. It would be good training, certainly.
Part Four: Kyuubi
The fox growled at the intruder. The intruder, who had suddenly appeared out of nowhere in his cell.
The appearing out of nowhere didn't faze the fox, this wasn't the real world after all. And even there...
But the fact that somebody would dare to appear in reach of his paws? It almost made him want to smile.
"Kehkehkeh, looks like a tasty..." He whirled around, another presence had just appeared, feeling exactly like the last one. And both had something achingly familiar about them.
"Well, blast. Seems I'm still trapped in this prison." One of the newcomers muttered to himself. And what a handsome and dashing self it was...
The fox roared in a furry. "How dare you take on my body?" He swiped his claws at the imposter, but the other fox lazily raised his own paw and blocked the attack.
"Eh that was kinda disappointing." He smirked at the original. "I expected a bit more from myself. Oh well, I suppose being trapped in a weak brat with no escape does limit your capabilities somewhat."
The original found that, for the first time he could remember he felt empathy with the lesser beings he destroyed so casually. He shook his head, and roared again. He would show whoever was in front of him what it meant to anger the Kyuubi.
He reared back his paw, claws drawn. But another set of claws slammed into his neck, severing his head from his body, dissipating him! Whoever they were, killed...
The Kyuubi lazily watched the original inhabitant of this prison fade, he didn't bother collecting the memories. He could gather what he needed to know from the host.
Instead he focused his attention on the other Kyuubi in this cage.
"Well, well, well." This one drawled. "It seems our host decided to leave suddenly." A maddened grin spread over it's lips, making it look like the most handsome and noble demon to ever walk the earth, sowing death and destruction.
"Only one left to kill then." The Kyuubi agreed.
"Yes." And without warning the second Kyuubi attacked, a vicious slash, followed by a snap for his throat. Easily deflected of course.
One didn't reach his level of power without learning a thing or two about fighting. Ok that was a lie, the only way to reach his divine perfection was by being born with it.
He dodged another swipe and brought his own claws down in a slash that should have taken the enemy's head clear off. Instead the handsome specimen of demonic magnificence managed to dodge easily.
"Kuhkuhkuh." It chuckled. "We seem to be at an impasse here. Neither of us will be able to beat the other, we are too similar."
He chuckled at that, the other him had it right.
"True. Maybe we should call a truce. Together we should be able to burn the seal to tinder and escape this rotten prison."
Both demons smiled at each other, as they crept closer.
"Yes, so a truce." The other one whispered, looking at him, admiration filling it's eyes.
He nodded, preparing to snap his head up and rip the throat out of the fool who had let him come so close.
He realized his folly when the other snapped it's jaw around his neck and bit.
The Kyuubi laughed deeply as it savored the taste of the defeated mind. Now it alone had dominion over this sewer. And nobody, no matter how close to it's perfection they came... especially if they came close to it's perfection, would dare challenge it.
Footsteps alerted it to somebody arriving. It turned it's head, expecting the Uchiha brat to storm in and demand to know what was going on. But the brat would be...
"What did he do?" The blond that stood in front of him demanded angrily. "Where are we? What happened?"
Maybe collecting the memory of the other two would have been prudent? Oh well.
"Why should I tell you brat?" He asked. "Maybe if you released me from this prison."
Well worth a try. He had nothing if not time.
"Then get out. I won't talk." He grinned at the human, it always managed to intimidate the Uchiha... somewhat at least.
Didn't work so well on this one though.
His entire face twitched in barely suppressed rage. Quite amusing really.
"I will find out what you did. And I will stop whatever plan you or Sasuke hatched!" He growled, before disappearing.
If only he had a plan, beyond escape and hope for the best. He faded into the background. Oh well, opportunities would present themselves soon enough. Until then he would just have to wait.
Part Five: Humble Beginnings
Naruto growled as he walked through the streets of Konoha, whole and undamaged.
He didn't pay attention to the people who first glared, then backed off. If this was indeed the past. And he had no idea how the Uchiha had managed it, if it was. Then it was to be expected that people hated him. No big deal, he could win them over again.
No what bothered him was the Kyuubi. Specifically what it hoped to gain by doing this. It had been trapped still, so what... he shook his head.
He should stop over-thinking. Sasuke had offered a way to escape certain dead or worse to the Kyuubi and it took the chance.
He had briefly thought about this being a genjutsu by Sasuke, but almost immediately dismissed the idea. It just wasn't Sasuke's style. He might torture you if it gained him a clear advantage, but he preferred to simply kill his enemies.
Sasuke... he would be here too. Maybe even the one from his world.
He growled again and noticed in amusement that people backed off, whispering fearfully.
He took a deep breath. If he wanted them to accept him, he would have to stop brooding... he could end up like Sasuke that way.
So he forced the angry frown off his face and replaced it with his easy smile.
People almost immediately regarded him with... well the same hate, but also relief and maybe a bit of respect. Ok, he was imagining that last one, but he was allowed to dream right?
He entered the academy, ignored everybody who smirked at him, oh so sure he would fail again.
He had to fight his own demented smirk down at the thought of that. There was just no way he would fail. Mizuki be damned.
As he reached for the door to his classroom he hesitated. He would see Sasuke again. The same man who had killed him not even an hour ago.
Killed him and send him here, whenever here was.
He shook his head, no he wouldn't see that man. He would see the boy that one day might become that man.
"Naruto!" A hauntingly familiar voice screamed. A bit more high pitched than an hour ago. But unmistakeably Sasuke.
Naruto whirled around, reaching for a kunai. If he had followed him to finish him off...
He was tackled hugged by a wide eyed Uchiha, tears flowing freely from his eyes. "Oh god I thought you were dead, and the fox said I could save you, and I was burning and Madara killed you and Sakura and my clan is gone, just gone nobody around at all..."
Naruto's thoughts ground to a halt... he had a hysterical Uchiha hanging from his chest! What. The. Hell?
Sasuke looked up, his face locked in a mixture of hope, terror and relief. A lot of students were staring at the two of them in utter confusion.
Naruto knew how they felt.
He couldn't help but glare down at the boy... luckily he was kinda hanging off him, otherwise that would have been very difficult. God he hated his height as a kid.
"Madara didn't kill me, you did." He growled at the boy, who most definitely wasn't the Sasuke from this time, that left only the Sasuke from his own time.
Sasuke shrank back as if hit. "No! I didn't... I couldn't. I'm sorry I wasn't fast enough!" He sobbed, sobbed!
Ok new working theory. That's what you were supposed to do when your first theory didn't hold up right?
This wasn't any Sasuke he knew, because no Sasuke he knew, young or old would ever let himself be caught crying.
"Err, ok maybe you didn't." He tried to placate the sobbing wreck, that at least in the minds of everybody around should be the strongest and most stoic student this year.
"No, I know I did. If I had been faster, just a little bit faster I could have saved you and Sakura. I promised Hinata that I would keep you safe! But... but..." Naruto had the distinct feeling that Sasuke would start hurting himself soon if he didn't do anything. Maybe let the fangirls loose on him. Maybe he would consider it appropriate punishment.
Naruto briefly wondered why he was taking this all so calmly. But then he always rolled with the punches and besides, he was in shock, yeah, that probably was it, shock. Once he had time to assess the situation...
"There was nothing you could do." He placed a hand on the Uchiha's shoulder, who looked up at him with red eyes, not form the Sharingan but form crying. "And hey second chance right?"
At least if his second theory proofed correct. The only explanation he could think of for the complete shift of personality was that this wasn't his Sasuke at all. And since he had traveled back in time... maybe somebody else could as well.
But how would this Sasuke be so different then?
Ok he had no idea what was going on, but it seemed his words had calmed Sasuke.
"You are right, this time I'll be stronger." Sasuke looked down. "But I... I don't have the Kyuubi anymore." He whispered. Looking around to make sure nobody had heard.
Naruto's eyes widened. Sasuke had the Kyuubi... ok he was officially freaked out.
"Err..." He also couldn't come up with a reply.
"I don't know where it is, anybody could have it now. And I couldn't go to your father... not after I got you killed..."
His father... how the hell could Sasuke go to his father?
"Anyway, let's find Sakura! We can think of a plan together then!" Sasuke seemed to cheer right up at announcing his plan.
"No need." The voice chilled Naruto to the bones. That could just be the killing intent though. The last time he faced killing intent like that... shit he had never felt killing intent like that.
It wasn't like Sasuke or Orochimaru, they had a cold kind of killing intent, kinda like ice freezing you to death.
This killing intent burned you to the core. Kinda like the Kyuubi actually, just human, frighteningly human.
He turned around, Sakura stood there, a bottle in her left hand, a kunai in the other and glaring death and damnation at him.
"I advise you to keep away from me Uchiha, Uzumaki. Or I might just decide to end your miserable lives right here, right now." She spat at them.
"Now out of my way."
Both boys practically jumped away from the door, giving her ample room to pass them.
Once the door closed behind her, with a loud bang as she slammed it shut, Naruto dared to breath again.
"That... that was..." He said.
"Yeah." Sasuke stuttered.
The few boys and girls around them, that could still stand that is, looked as if the world had gone horribly horribly wrong. And Naruto was inclined to agree with them. He had absolutely no idea what the hell was going on. At all.
"You go first." Sasuke pushed him to the door.
"Me? Why don't you go first, she likes you!" Naruto switched positions with the reluctant Uchiha.
"Are you kidding? She wanted to kill me just now!" Sasuke somehow managed to worm his way around Naruto and push him to the door.
"Yeah well, me too? I'm too young to die! Again!" Naruto punched the Uchiha in the head and forced him to the front again.
"And I'm not?" Sasuke abandoned any attempt to force Naruto to open the door. Instead he tried to beat the shit out of Naruto.
Naruto grinned wildly, finally something that made sense!
"Sasuke!" He growled, charging.
"Naruto!" Sasuke replied, rearing back his fist.
"What the hell you two?" Iruka shouted, grabbing both of them. "What the hell do you think you are doing in the middle of the hall? You scarred the other kids shi... err you scarred them spit-less."
Naruto looked at some of the quivering wrecks Sakura's little display had left. "No I'm very sure they are scarred shit-less Iruka." He replied with raised eyebrow.
Iruka followed his gaze, then glared at him. "What did you do?" He asked.
"Nothing! It was Sakura!" Sasuke interjected.
Iruka stared at the boy, disbelieve etched onto his face. "Sakura Haruno? Did this?" He waved at the terrified students.
"Yes?" Naruto ventured carefully.
"You expect me to believe that?" Iruka glared at the boys.
"Yes?" Sasuke asked doubtfully.
"Detention! Both of you!" Iruka shouted.
Sakura glowered at everybody in the classroom, who so much as dared to look her way.
Damn, seeing those two utter bastards pissed her off. And just after she had a pleasant buzz going.
She looked at the beer in her hand. The perfect starter for a body that hadn't yet gotten used to alcohol. Easy to flush the worst of the poison out of the system and leave only the parts that impaired her brain.
After all, she had just survived a world gone to hell and back, because Uzumaki and Uchiha couldn't make up their minds on who would rule the world.
"What the hell forehead? Why did you bang the door like that? Realized you are too ugly for oof..."
Ino's rant was interrupted by a well executed tackle hug from Sakura.
"Ino! Oh god I mis..." Sakura looked at the girl beneath her, who looked at her as if she had a second head.
"Err I mean..." Shit, seeing Ino alive again. She should have been prepared for it. But her thoughts had circled only around the delicious, delicious beer. And sake, and all the other yummy stuff in the bar.
She was certain that Madara had killed her. And despite everything she went to heaven. Apparently even massive slaughter could be forgiven.
"Sakura? Is there a reason you are straddling me?" Ino growled, trying to pry Sakura off her.
"Of course there is... Ino baby." Sakura purred.
Ino's eyes widened first in surprise, then horror, as her attempts to dislodge Sakura turned frantic.
"Ohh yeah touch me more." Sakura encouraged the blond girl beneath her. Before she pulled a new bottle from one of her pouches.
Ino stopped moving almost immediately, pale like a ghost.
"Aww, why did you stop Ino? I was having soo much fun." Sakura blew Ino a kiss.
Ino didn't even twitch.
Laughing Sakura got up. She couldn't remember a time when Ino could be flustered so easily.
"Come on Ino. Up you go." She hauled Ino to her feet, and led her to a desk. Ino followed unresisting.
"Honestly! Expecting me to believe that Sakura scared those kids like that." Iruka entered the room, shaking his head. "I know you only have one day left of the academy. But don't think that means I can't give you detention. Now stay here while I get the test papers!"
Sakura growled in his direction. The two greatest murderers to be and she didn't dare do anything. But she could wait, if they slept... no Sarutobi would keep a watch on his precious Jinchuriku. Never mind Danzo, there was no way in hell root would dare risk Uzumaki.
Same with the goddamn Uchiha. If she didn't want to die painfully tortured, she would have to be smart about this. Maybe on a mission... yeah, that could work. She could kill them on a mission.
"Sasuke!" Ino tackled the boy and positioned him between her and Sakura. "Save me!" She begged.
"Wha? Save you from who?" He asked, clueless.
"Sakura! She was molesting me!" Ino screeched.
Oh what sweet music.
The Uchiha and Uzumaki duo stared, first at Ino then at Sakura. She glared at them and ran her hand over her throat.
Sasuke looked at Ino, then at Sakura again. Sakura licked her lips suggestively, rubbing her stomach. He would probably taste good with the right sauce.
The Uchiha paled and hid behind Ino.
"Sorry, she wants to kill me. No way am I getting between you and her. No matter how beautiful you are." He smiled at Ino for the briefest of seconds.
Sakura's vision turned red. That little shit wouldn't take Ino away to do his sick and twisted bidding.
She strode towards the little waste of flesh who was backing away from her rapidly. Ino had simply fainted in terror upon feeling Sakura's killing intent.
Uzumaki had hid somewhere, she could smell him. And Iruka, he had nearly reached the room again.
"Keep your dirty hands off Ino Uchiha, otherwise I'll make sure you can't even touch yourself anymore." She growled at him.
Sasuke nodded frantically, terror written all over his face.
Satisfied Sakura grabbed Ino and returned to her place, as far away from Sasuke and Naruto as possible.
The door opened just as she had set Ino down again.
Iruka had a stack of papers under his arm and a slight smile on his face.
The smile slipped the second he saw the terrified and unconscious children all over the room.
He almost immediately rounded on Sasuke and Naruto, the only ones who seemed relatively unaffected...
Sakura blinked through the tirade. Why were they unaffected anyway? Her killing intent was far more potent than even Orochimaru's had been in the forest of death. And that had shaken both of them badly.
This? Sasuke hadn't been scarred by the killing intend, he had been scarred of her.
She frowned and looked at them again, they were the same little brats she remembered... no not quite. Sasuke carried himself with... with a sort of peace... with a peace she didn't remember him having.
Naruto on the other hand had enough confidence, if you could harness confidence he could probably power an entire bijuu incubator battery by himself.
And not just the false bravado kind of confidence, he possessed the real deal, the one you worked an entire lifetime for if you weren't a genius like the Uchiha, or him.
Damn, she would have to interact with them... well she would have anyway, once they were assigned the same team, but still...
"Sakura! Are you listening?" Iruka glared at her form across the room.
"Yes sensei?" She took a gulp from her bottle. While sweet and soft, the beer just didn't quite pack the punch she needed. She would have to upgrade to sake soon.
"Were you responsible for... whatever happened here?" He asked.
"Of course not." She replied, she wouldn't take the blame for Uchiha's and Uzumaki's mess.
"It's their fault!" She pointed at the boys. "They had to start trouble." Poor innocent Ino, nearly seduced into the clutches of these monsters.
"Actually..." A brave boy raised his hands and Iruka turned to him.
Briefly Sakura met the eyes of the boy. He gulped, loosing all color.
"Actually they totally started it sensei." He shivered.
Iruka blinked, then nodded and rounded on Sasuke and Naruto, who looked at Sakura as if she had grown a second head.
She for her part pulled Ino closer to her. She had to protect the girl, no way would she allow her to die again. At least not before herself.
Sasuke didn't understand why Sakura apparently hated him... and Naruto, even if she had ample reason to hate him, she had none to hate Naruto for. He didn't fail to protect her... well actually if she died first...
Well that explained that. And she probably wouldn't just forgive and forget like Naruto. She could hold a grudge.
Still, his charms would win her over, hopefully. Especially the way she held Ino, if she suddenly admitted to her other leanings bedtime fun had just gotten so much more interesting.
He grinned lecherously. That is till Iruka started lecturing him again. Tuning him out was easy though, so all he had to do was nod every now and again and say yes Iruka sensei. Like a woman really.
Only women tended to beat the shit out of you if they noticed, so not...
Iruka's fist connected firmly with Sasuke's head.
Ok exactly like a woman. Maybe he should mention that to Naruto.
"Sasuke are you listening at all?" Iruka screamed at him.
The rest of the class looked at Sasuke as if he was insane or something. Only Naruto and Sakura didn't look like that.
Naruto frowned, obviously thinking and Sakura glared, groping Ino.
And what a beautiful image that presented. He knew he should listen to Iruka, but he couldn't stop his mind from wandering.
"I give up. Here's your test paper Sasuke, you have three hours detention after class." Iruka muttered, shaking his head.
"Wonder what the hell is wrong with him... and if this is actually an improvement." Sasuke heard Iruka whisper to himself, while walking away and handing out the papers to the other students.
Sasuke flew over the questions. Easy enough, with Sakura's help he had aced them the first time. Even Naruto had managed a decent grade.
He looked at his two friends... hopefully still friends. Well, Naruto had already started to forgive him. Probably because they had a second chance now. And even Sakura couldn't stay angry forever... right?
He had to suppress a snort, as he watched their faces. Both looked at their papers with disdain. However the source of their disdain couldn't be more diverse.
Naruto simply hated the paperwork itself. He always considered it a waste of his time. Probably because his father spend as much time complaining about the paperwork as he did.
Sakura on the other hand would consider the questions on the paper as beneath her notice.
He noticed that Ino had regained consciousness and escaped from Sakura's area of influence. Pity that.
He sighed as he focused his attention on the paper again. He might not know what happened, or why he had been granted this second chance. However he would do his best to keep his friends save and to make his clan proud.
Naruto glared at the paper. Not because the question were particularly hard, or because it would waste precious time, he glared because he had no idea what to do.
On the one hand, he could ace the test, easy. He had gained more than enough knowledge in his years on the road to pass this test with ease. On the other if he did that he may not end up on Team 7.
Then there was Mizuki. And, more importantly, Naruto learning Shadow clones. He could probably fake his way through the test. If he filled out a few questions at random. But at some point he would have to explain where he learned the dangerous technique.
He glanced at Sakura, who took another drag from the bottle she carried with her, then resumed glaring at her paper.
A second later she started writing, fast and furious with a lot of anger.
He looked around the class, people were still trembling from her earlier display of killing intent.
And he didn't blame them, only S-Class missing Nin gave off as much killing intent. And only the fox managed to give off more.
No wonder they couldn't just shake it off.
His attention wandered to Sasuke. What did he mean, when he said the fox wasn't in him anymore?
Naruto sighed and looked at the paper. He would have to ask the Uchiha. There was a silver-lining however. Sasuke seemed to regard him as a friend. A good one too and one he had failed, not by killing, but by not protecting him enough.
That decided it, he would do just well enough to pass... scratch that, he would fail, it would be easier to explain where he knew the shadowclones from and he could bag Mizuki in the process.
Sakura glared at the test. She should have expected it, really. But still, this was beneath her. She could have answered the questions in a drug induced stupor while simultaneously killing a few enemy infiltrators.
Bah, she scrabbled the answers down. If she wanted a chance to kill the two bastards, however weird they were, she would have to be on their team. And the only way to get on their team, was to be the best kunoichi in the class.
Not exactly difficult, but annoying.
Ino had distanced herself from Sakura, which suited Sakura just fine. She didn't want to get too close to Ino. She would protect the girl with all she had, yes. But if she got close... she would fail. No matter how long she would managed to succeed, at some point she would fail. A fact of life.
And maybe, just maybe it would cost Ino her life. Sakura took a deep gulp from the bottle. If she got close to Ino again... she might not be able to go on living. And she wouldn't give up. She had sacrificed too much to give up now.
Shaking she concentrated on the test. Damn thing couldn't even distract her... she had already finished it... damn.
"Iruka sensei?" She beckoned him to her.
The entire class looked at her strangely.
Iruka looked at her with a raised eyebrow. "Yes Sakura? Do you have a problem?" He asked.
"Yeah, the questions are too easy. Can I have a harder test?"
She could hear the sigh of relief go through the class. Sure, she still acted weird, but at least the weird kinda fit her.
Iruka shook his head. "You can't be done yet Sakura. Even you..." He stared at her test paper, then grabbed it and examined it. Flying from question to question.
"That was fast..." He stammered finally, staring at her in shock.
"Well, yeah, can I have another test? Maybe the chunin one? I heard they are kinda difficult." She answered. Not that they really would provide much more of a challenge, but anything to alleviate the boredom.
"I'm also done Iruka Sensei!" Sasuke said, grinning.
The Uchiha grinned! Grinned!
Sakura stared at the freak of nature. What. The. Hell?
Ok, something fishy was going on. The Uchiha flirting with Ino had been weird enough. But that could have been written off as an anomaly, or some plot to ensnare Ino into his schemes. But this? An honest to god happy grin?
Damn, she would have to get to the bottom of this.
Iruka, wandered over to Sasuke, a bit unsteady on his feet. Not everyday that two students finished the written test in under ten minutes Sakura bet.
He flew over Sasuke's answers, and nodded numbly. "These seem to be correct, just like Sakura's." He said, slowly, his voice shaking slightly..
"So does that mean I get out of detention?" Sasuke asked, all white eyed innocence.
Iruka blinked for a second, and glared at his student. "No." He stated flatly, apparently shaken out of his stupor.
"Didn't think so." The Uchiha shrugged.
Naruto giggled. The rest of the class attempted futilely to focus on their tests.
"Can we go outside then? Prepare for the combat test?" Sakura piped up. Maybe she could spar with the Uchiha, that would be... fun. For her and hopefully painful for the Uchiha.
She grinned at the boy, who gulped visibly.
"No, I'll get you the chunin level tests." Iruka grinned at them. "Let's see how well you do on them."
Damn, shouldn't have given him the idea. Sakura though.
Naruto waited for the last part of the test. If you knew the answers to every question it would be easy to fail the written test, he reflected.
But to barely not fail it?
He had a new found respect for Shikamaru, who didn't just do it for one test.
Luckily Naruto didn't have to fake on the combat exam. His body didn't follow his controls exactly. He was sure Sakura could explain why it didn't, probably because he just didn't have the proportions of his old body or something, but it followed his orders well enough.
He once had to listen to Sakura lecturing him about muscle memory and how it wasn't actually his muscles that remembered but his brain, and how that was the only reason he could learn with his shadowclones. He suspected that this body, brain, whatever, still had some muscle memory from before he inhabited it, which meant that, as long as he didn't think about it too much, he could punch and kick well enough.
Sakura and Sasuke had the same problem apparently. Though the both of them did manage to do better than him. Sakura even managed to do better than Sasuke, which was kinda weird, considering that Sasuke's body should be better suited to combat.
After all Sasuke trained his body far harder than Sakura, at least before the chunin exam.
Though, he frowned, Sakura just did better in the form. Sasuke, while far more sloppy also moved far faster. Much better suited to real combat.
Of course, in this test that wouldn't matter, only form mattered, since the genin wouldn't face actual combat too soon, their Jonin would have to make sure they were ready for that.
So Sakura might actually get better grades than Sasuke.
Naruto grinned, wouldn't that be neat. He almost waved at Sakura, before her glare reminded him that maybe discretion would be the better part of valor.
Sasuke also kept away, from Sakura and Ino.
Ino had tried to go closer to him, but Sakura's glares made sure that Sasuke kept a nice and save distance.
Which was another surprise, Sasuke didn't seem to want to keep that distance. Whenever Sakura didn't glare at him, in other words, when she didn't look at him. He shot her sad glances, her or Ino...
Naruto sighed, another mystery. Once the test was over... no, once they had been assigned to Kakashi, then he could talk to Sasuke... and hopefully Sakura.
But first... Mizuki.
Sakura frowned when she noticed a dejected Naruto leave the academy. She stood outside, her parents were congratulating her.
She smiled brightly, nodded at them and generally did her best to fake happiness.
She had managed to avoid her parents all day but now... now she had to face them.
It was easier than facing Ino, which actually made it worse.
She knew, that her parents loved her. She could see it written all over their faces. But she didn't love them. They had just drifted apart over the years, where Ino always stayed at her side.
And so, when her parents died... it hadn't hurt. She had felt sad, for a day or two. But she got over it, like she did with the dead of other people. Civilians, killed in the fighting, swept aside by the claw of a chakra monstrosity or by a careless ninjutsu.
And now... she desperately wanted to drain the bottle she held in the storage scroll at her side. But...
She couldn't, not in front of her parents.
So, Naruto, thinking about him was better than thinking about how much she didn't miss her parents.
He looked dejected, if you were a rookie. To Sakura he looked as if he had a plan, she frowned.
"Sakura? Is something wrong?" Her mother asked, following her gaze.
"Oh... he failed the academy right?" She asked.
Sakura nodded, if you took his expression at face value, he did. But she would bet every scrap of alcohol the world had to offer that he wanted to fail.
"That's good I suppose, I mean... he's such a troublemaker..." Sakura's mother looked around uneasy.
"Yeah..." Sakura nodded. Damn, hearing the whispers around her, saying how good it was that Naruto failed... kinda make it hard to blame him for leaving.
She had forgotten how bad he had been treated. She shook herself, even if he did have a legitimate reason for betrayal. That didn't excuse him cooking up the chakra beasts and unleashing them on the world.
Sasuke left the academy, a proud grin on his face. A grin which fell as soon as he realized that nobody was waiting for him. He hung his head, hiding his face from Sakura.
Damn it. Why did they make her feel sorry for them? Sasuke had unleashed an army of freaky, messed up ninja on the world, in an attempt to outdo Naruto in destructive potential.
"That poor boy... to be so alone..." Her mother muttered. Sakura's father just grunted. Sakura had to suppress a giggle, as far a he was concerned it didn't matter who the boy was. As long as there was a male around his daughter he wouldn't be happy.
"Mom, Dad?" Sakura asked, she had to get away from here. "I'll go look for Ino," who had thankfully already left, "to celebrate."
"Have fun dear." Her mother said, while her father grunted in approval.
Had he always been like that? She couldn't remember. As soon as she couldn't see her parents anymore she pulled out a bottle and downed it's content and dropped the genjutsu that hid her smell. She had no intention of meeting up with Ino. No, Naruto planned something, and she wouldn't let him do whatever it was, without at least keeping an eye on him.
Sasuke walked through the streets of Konoha, around him people whispered, thinking he couldn't hear them.
They whispered about him, about the last Uchiha... the last, when Madara was somewhere out there, plotting, preparing. He had no doubt about that.
He didn't know what exactly happened, to kill his family. But he had no doubt, that Madara had his hands in it, somehow.
He sighed, but without the Kyuubi Sasuke couldn't do much against him. The highest form of the Sharingan might be able to hurt Madara, but... he would have to go to Itachi for those eyes. And if he was the last Uchiha... good luck asking a corpse for his eyes.
And that was assuming Itachi even had the magenkyo...
He reached his apartment. But then, he just tried to avoid thinking about what really hurt him. He was alone. He had no clan, no mother, no brother. He didn't even have friends. Naruto didn't wait for him, though maybe that was just the fact that he didn't pass the exam, he had looked so sad, walking out of the examination room... Sasuke had wanted to go up to him, tell him that he would pass next time.
But he had kept back, reminding himself that Naruto probably wouldn't appreciate him doing that.
Not as angry as he still would be.
He hadn't dared approach Sakura. Where Naruto was merely pissed she was murderous. No way he would go close to her until she calmed down somewhat. It could only take years...
He flopped onto his bed. Tomorrow would look better. It had to! If it didn't... he didn't know how long he could take this.
Naruto stopped near the little hut he remembered from the last time, he stole this scroll.
Here Mizuki would find him, here he would reveal the secret to him, and here Naruto would show Iruka that he learned how to use shadow clones.
Only one problem. Somebody had followed him, he had felt the presence, on and off, since his meeting with Mizuki, he couldn't pinpoint it, he only had the slightest idea of his followers existence.
The only thing he was sure of, was that it wasn't Mizuki. The idiot simply didn't have the skills necessary to follow him like that. Few people had.
Well, it would take a while until Mizuki and Iruka would show up, so he had time for a little chat. He had hoped to have another look at the scroll. But, his shadow was more important.
"I know you're there, you might be good, but you aren't nearly good enough to hide from me." He shouted.
The leafs rustled in the wind. Some insects chirped in the night.
And absolutely no sound reached his ears.
He frowned, standing still, his stalker could hide even from him.
He didn't have time for this. Ok he had, but still, he would prefer if he could just get on with it. Maybe learn another jutsu to pass the time. He didn't want to wait for this stalker to attack him from the shadows.
Only the faintest whiff of alcohol warned him of the attack. He whirled around, kunai in hand, a smirk on his face. He faced an empty forest, just as expected.
"Not bad." Sakura's voice came from behind, a kunai at his throat. "Not bad at all."
He opened his mouth to respond, but the kunai bit into his throat before he could make a sound.
"Now come out!" Sakura shouted, as the shadowclone disappeared.
Naruto gulped, if that had been him...
And she didn't hesitate, didn't give him a chance to explain. She just killed him. Granted, she did seem to expect it to be a shadowclone, but what if she had been wrong?
And she was drunk. His clone had smelled her the second she had reached him. And afterward...
The fact that she could still sneak up on him like that, while drunk like that... he didn't like the implications, didn't like them at all.
"I said come out Uzumaki!" She screamed, killing intend flaring.
Damn that still disturbed him, how could a little girl radiate enough killing intend to rival the Kyuubi?
"Alright already." He shouted back and jumped down, to join her. Even with her killing intend, she couldn't touch him.
He choose not to think about the clone, he had recovered from worse wounds.
"Hello Uzumaki." She growled.
"Sa..." He stopped himself. If she wouldn't call him by his first name, neither would he. "Haruno." He gave her a short nod, she just stared at him. Eyes burning.
"What do you want?" He finally asked.
She continued to glare, then sighed and took a drag from her bottle.
Naruto could see her restraining herself.
This must be pretty hard for her. And he still had no idea why she hated him like that.
"Talk?" He asked, looking at the kunai she still held in her hand. "That why you killed my clone?" He glared at her. "To talk?"
She grinned. It reminded him far too much of the way Kyuubi grinned, all teeth, no humor.
"No, that was for fun."
Yeah, utterly like the Kyuubi.
"And why should I talk to you?" He asked. Not that he didn't agree. But there came a point where you just had to push back, or your opponent would just assume they could walk all over you.
She glared at him, like she did the entire time since he showed up in the past.
He rolled his eyes, talk she said.
"I thought you wanted to talk Haruno." And damn did that hurt. He wanted to call her Sakura, move in and hug her, make the pain go away, because he could see pain, anybody who couldn't had to be blind.
But he didn't, he liked living without kunai wounds in sensitive places.
"I hate you." She finally said, as if that wasn't perfectly clear to him already, not that it didn't hurt to hear her say it.
"I hate you, and everything you stand for." She continued. "I hate the way you talk, the way you move, that stupid grin of yours, that god damn look of pity you give me right now..."
She rammed the bottle into her mouth and emptied it completely.
"I hate this. You are here, alive. Ino's alive, my parents are alive, everybody's alive. And still... and still..." She pulled out a scroll, ripped her thumb open and unsealed another bottle of alcohol.
She proceeded to empty that bottle too.
He didn't dare go closer, he had no doubt, that if he did he would end up skewered on her kunai.
"And still it hurts! It hurts even worse, cause I don't give a damn! For all I care you all can die again! Especially you! And The Uchiha! You mass-murdering bastards should rot in hell! But you are alive!" Suddenly she stood in front of him, bottle and kunai were gone, as she grabbed him by the collar and shook him.
"Why are you still alive? When so many aren't? Why the fuck did you die? You should have to live with the consequences! But no, you and the Uchiha kill each other, and let the rest of us deal with the monsters you created!" He didn't resist, he didn't dare to.
What had happened after Sasuke killed him? It must have been something bad, something very bad, to affect Sakura like this.
And the worst part, the part that really chilled him, was the realization that she didn't cry. She just stared at him, hatred burning behind her eyes.
"Why..." She whispered, and threw him away.
"I don't know." He whispered back. He didn't have the slightest idea what she meant, what she went through. He only knew that she hurt.
And that she wouldn't accept his help, not yet at any rate. Maybe later, after she opened up a bit. But not now.
She took a shaking breath, then pointed at the scroll, that lay forgotten at his feet.
"Why did you steal that?" She asked, having regained some control at least.
He looked at the scroll. "It's a ninjutsu scroll, Mizuki wants it."
"I know, why did you steal it. You had to know he would try to take it from you."
"It has the instructions on how to make shadowclones." He answered.
Sakura nodded. "An explanation for why you can use them."
"Yes, and I can expose him for the traitor he is." He added.
Her eyes narrowed at him. "That's rich coming from you."
The way she said it... but he wouldn't press, not yet.
"It's how I passed the exam the first time." He was pretty sure she had traveled back with him, actually it was the only explanation he could think of, for her behavior just now. But it wouldn't hurt to make sure.
"I always wondered. You just showed up, after failing..." She whispered.
"Do you want to stay? Iruka will arrive at dawn..."
"Didn't you and Sasuke have detention?" She asked.
"Eh, skipped it." Naruto shrugged. He doubted Iruka even bothered to look for them, after they left the academy. Contrary to what he had said, once you passed, you passed. And once you flunked you flunked. Until you were back in class that is.
She snorted weakly, before her eyes hardened again.
"I'll stay, and watch. Don't expect me to talk."
"You know about the Kyuubi I assume?" If she didn't...
"Good, it's how I found out, the first time."
"Whatever." She muttered, then disappeared, hiding somewhere in the forest.
Naruto shook his head sadly, then settled down with the scroll, he still had time, maybe he could learn a jutsu or two.