People have been asking me to finish this or at least write an outline ever since I decided to call it quits. I've decided to comply before I don't have a chance to, when I start up school again.
It's hard to write an outline of what remains of a fic that I stopped thinking about two years previous, but I'm going to try. It's especially hard since we've seen a lot of new things pop up in canon that weren't present a couple years ago, so whatever I had been planning wouldn't have followed canon anyways. The result in my mind is based on what I remember of Naruto canon then, my own plot, and Naruto canon now… a horrid amalgamation. I was writing this with no outline or editing at all except for a quick look before posting the chapter… not a good idea.
But here goes my best attempt.
(Also I finished my first original fantasy fic, but more about that later)
I did it all,
I owned every second, that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did,
Yeah, with every broken bone,
I swear I lived.
I Lived - One Republic
Naruto arrives at the battlefield with the ninja troops to back up their forces at the border against the Sound/Rock invasion force. Naruto is key in the defense and basically shores up any weakness with his Kage Bunshin and formally announcing to the world that he is the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki and stands in defense of Konoha. However, Orochimaru and Kabuto are present and capture the unsuspecting and weakened Naruto when he makes the misstep of lowering his guard after forcing back the last dregs of the Rock attack. Jiraiya arrives via toad summon and finds his apprentice missing in the aftermath. Hence begins the Naruto retrieval arc.
(That concluded the very last of what I had written, but didn't post because I had somehow lost it when I didn't back up my computer, so it didn't make it into Romance Dusk. So this is where it gets really tricky. I don't believe I had anything more than vague notions of the story direction at this point.)
News travels back to Konoha and the Rookie 9 that Naruto is M.I.A, and likely in the hands of Orochimaru. Aiko immediately goes to plead with Tsunade to mount a rescue mission. Tsunade refuses because Orochi's whereabouts are currently unknown and therefore no mission could possibly be mounted. She assures Aiko that Jiraiya and ANBU are scouring Rice Country for any trace of the wayward Sannin, and Aiko and the rest are put on other missions despite their wish to join the search.
Meanwhile, Naruto awakes in a cell much to his panic. Both Orochimaru and Onoki take a moment to taunt him, then argue about what to do with him. Onoki wants him killed publically but Orochimaru wishes to experiment on him, and since Orochimaru captured him he gets to decide first. Onoki is angry and only placated somewhat by the promise that he will get Naruto eventually to be killed. Orochimaru's experimentation begins, and it's horribly painful for Naruto since the Sannin takes perverse pleasure in cutting him open with minimal sedative. Orochi tests his poison limits, healing rates, and takes hair, skin, blood and nail samples in excess.
six weeks pass and Jiraiya and the team of ANBU have had no luck in tracking down Orochimaru's moving underground village and only become more and more frustrated. Aiko has thrown herself into her missions alongside the rest of the worried rookies and even Sasuke is visibly perturbed and contemplating defying orders to search out Naruto himself, possibly trying to trade himself for the blond, if it came to that.
In the end, it isn't Konoha that frees the beleaguered blond, but Onoki's forces. The Tsuchikage grew impatient of waiting on Orochimaru to give him his prize, atop of all the other promises not kept by the Snake Sannin. A team of Rock nin are thus sent in to recover the blond. In the battle, Kabuto is killed when Naruto is freed from his seals and unleashes the Kyuubi in a rage. The sudden spike in demonic chakra brings Jiraiya and the others running, and they battle for the unconscious blond with Onoki's forces and win him back, then head back to Konoha. Orochimaru was noticeably missing from the battle, escaping as it started to hatch a new plot now that yet another alliance had failed to destroy Konoha.
In Konoha, Naruto recovers, tended by Aiko and the rest of the Rookies whenever they have the time from missions. Konoha receives notice nearly two weeks later that Gaara has been taken by Akatsuki, and Naruto demands to be given the mission despite Tsunade's heavy misgivings. Naruto has fully recovered physically, but mentally he still has a ways to go, since he wasn't really wholly stable even before his capture. He is still plagued by nightmares, paranoia, and is highly mistrustful of everyone including his own teammates, even Aiko. Still, ninja as a whole are far from the most stable group, so Tsunade allows Naruto to go along with Jiraiya to help Gaara. The rest of Team 7 is currently on border patrol and unavailable to go with them.
Naruto and Jiraiya pursue the Akatsuki members after talking with the Sand nin about what happened. Naruto fights Sasori while Jiraiya takes care of Deidara. Jiraiya has little trouble in his battle, but Sasori is playing a game with Naruto that is just as much a mental fight as a physical one, and the blond is noticeably shaken and far from at the top of his game. He succumbs yet again to the blissful rage that Kyuubi brings and drives himself to the edge far too quickly, nearly losing when Sasori reveals his trump card of his 100 puppets. He is saved only by Jiraiya, who is perturbed by his apprentice's weakened mental faculties, though not as much as Naruto is. Gaara is saved by Chiyo's sacrificial technique however, even though Shukaku was removed.
Back in Konoha, Jiraiya suggests that Naruto travel to Mount Myoboku for not only Sage Training but to regain his mental acuity and find peace within himself with his demons. Naruto agrees. Aiko returns to find that Naruto has not only left, but didn't leave any word for her. She wonders if Naruto has lost too much of himself to feel anything for her anymore, given the fact that he hadn't quite felt as strongly for her as she did for him already pre-Sound/Rock attack attempt.
At Mount Myoboku, Naruto attempts to get a handle on Sage Training and himself, something that proves much more difficult than in canon because of his inability to find mental peace. Unbeknownst to him, Jiraiya has sought out Pein much like in canon and died fighting him. Pein heads to Konoha, and when Naruto hears the news that he has reached the village and is razing it, he immediately demands to be sent back despite not finishing Sage training. Fukusaku advises against it, but Naruto feels he has no choice. Luckily, he's regained at least the ability to fight effectively, dispensing of the severe trauma that had haunted him from Orochi's lab.
Naruto returns to a village in shambles, and Pein attacking what was left. One of the Paths had already been destroyed by a combination of Aiko and Sasuke, and the Rookie Nine and Team Gai form much of the remaining defense alongside Kakashi, Gai having already succumbed to a fight with the soul stealing Pein. Tsunade has also been rendered out of commission in her attempt to heal and protect the remaining shinobi.
Still, Naruto's arrival reinvigorates his friends and together they prove that teamwork amongst allies that trust each other implicitly can overcome even the Rinnegan. Naruto defeats two of the Paths alone even without Sage mode, proving that even without Nature's power he is a force to be reckoned with, though Kyuubi is still being a dick. The rest of the Paths fall as well, and Naruto and Aiko seek out the real Pein together. Much like in canon, Nagato is moved enough by Naruto to revive the members of Konoha he killed using the last of his power with the Rinnegan, dying in the process.
Konoha moves to rebuild now, Naruto widely considered the hero of the day and his name is put in the running to become the Sixth. However, he throws his support behind Kakashi, and with the support of his friends and their families, along with the converted Sai, they oust Danzo from power along with Homura and Koharu, and ferret out Root. Kakashi takes reins as the Sixth, but a horrific attack from a vengeful Rock village strikes them at the worst possible moment. Rather than a full scale invasion, the Council Chambers are attacked in a suicide move by a Rock Team, killing most of the civilian council and ninja members. Kakashi, late as always, survived. However, the Inuzuka, Aburame, Nara, Yamanaka, and Hyuuga clan heads are all killed, and Akimichi Chouza suffers severe debilitating wounds. Now, the Rookie clan heirs are suddenly pushed into positions of power that they don't know how to use, atop of the horrible shock of their family members dying.
Danzo dead, Itachi returns covertly to speak with Kakashi about his place as a spy in the village. Kakashi is more than a bit surprised, but refuses to allow Itachi to return to Akatsuki, rightly believing that an S-class ninja such as the Uchiha needs to remain close to protect what remained of Konoha. Itachi thus rejoins ANBU, reactivated under the hooded enigma Crow.
The new council goes into overdrive to attempt to pull together the shambles that was probably the strongest village in the hidden nations a little more than a week ago. Naruto is instrumental in the process of rebuilding the village. He pushes himself to the limit with Kage Bunshin to not only rebuild the village, but streamline the teaching process of new ninja, genin teams, and even chuunin teams. The academy syllabi are recast to reflect a war syllabi, removing much of the nonessential history elements. Still, even then it seems like it will not be enough and everyone worries when, not if, the next attack by Rock will come. Aiko and the rest of the rookies also worry for Naruto's health, especially when they find that he has brought Fukusaku back to Konoha to continue attempting Sage training.
Tsunade awakens and Sand sends assistance along with word that not only is a Rock attack incoming, but Cloud as well. The pleas for a ceasefire to discuss the threat of Akatsuki have gone unanswered as the new Cloud/Rock alliance smells blood in the water and moves to kill Konoha once and for all. Tobi has lost Pein, but delights in the fact that the villages are doing the work for him, destroying themselves in their attempts to end each other. He sits and waits, only making the move to claim Nagato's eyes for himself and to end Konan.
Konoha is shocked when none other than Orochimaru arrives on their doorstep waving the white flag and claiming that he comes for peaceful negotiations, as hasnone other than the Mizukage and her entourage. The Mizukage had decided to throw her support behind Konoha and the Sand against Rock and Cloud, but demands to marry Naruto to seal the alliance.
A secret meeting between Mizukage, Hokage, Naruto and the Rookie Council begins.
Kakashi considers the arrangement, and a perturbed Naruto can only offer another suggestion. The Mizukage and Hokage marry, sealing a permanent alliance between their weakened villages forever, strengthening both immeasurably. This receives mixed reactions and Tsunade immediately warns that the Feudal Lords will never agree. Naruto grimly admits that he understands this, and declares that the Feudal Lords have become obsolete and if the world is ever to be at peace, their drain and demand on the villages must be removed and there would be no better time than now. An ANBU mission led by Crow, Uchiha Sasuke, and Asuma will ensure that the Fire Feudal Lord and his successors are all killed, with the help of those of the Twelve Gaurdian Shinobi that can be counted on. Mai agrees to conduct a similar mission in tandem.
Both missions are a success, and are pinned on the Rock and Cloud's attempt to disrupt the now allied villages. The Sand almost gleefully leads their own coup and displaces their Feudal lord as well, who had been disloyal to his own hidden village for years. Aiko remarks that Naruto's suggestion had been particularly cold-hearted and unlike him, saying that the Naruto of three years ago could have never condoned killing not only the Feudal Lord, but his wife and children. Naruto admits that he's changed, but the guilt of it has to be put aside, and states that radical changes call for radical action, and he doesn't regret his suggestion, which had literally been treasonous.
Instead of facing a weakened Leaf, Rock/Cloud must face a united Leaf/Mist/Sand front. Naruto himself leads the attack on Cloud Village and fights Bee while Tsunade brawls with the Raikage. Tobi makes his move, attacking Bee and Naruto with Zetsus, Kisame, Hidan and Kakuzu at his side, proclaiming that only Bee and Naruto remain uncaptured out of the Jinchuuriki.
The Raikage now sees for himself the threat that Akatsuki poses when Tobi handily wipes the floor with Bee all the while commanding the Zetsu legion, Hidan and Kakuzu to fight against Naruto and Leaf/Sand/Cloud nin alike. Tsunade persuades A to abandon his foolhardy treaty with Onoki to join their alliance. The Raikage grudgingly agrees and the two Kage turn from each other to fight against Tobi, who suddenly wonders if he had attacked a bit too soon and now fights a nearly united front of Shinobi.
Meanwhile, the nearly revitalized Konoha suffers a direct invasive force by the Rock nin led by Onoki, and it is up to the Rookie Council and the Uchiha siblings to mount the defense of the village. Mai has left to reaffirm control in Mist so she cannot help, and Kakashi is forced to direct the ninja from the tower, unable to participate directly much to his frustration.
Hinata had already removed the Branch Seal and made a swift demonstration of her stern control by killing the elders most responsible for using it, further placating the previously secondary house that already had a great deal of love for her. A united Hyuuga front meets the Rock forces, alongside whatever else the village could muster… even Orochimaru and his forces assist from just outside the village where they had been forced to make camp, proving further that he only wishes to assist Konoha.
Aiko, Sakura and Sasuke directly battle with Onoki, proving their progress and teamwork has sharpened greatly even as Onoki's two Jounin join the fight. Still, they would have lost if not for Crow joining the battle, though the hooded ANBU's mask is shattered in the process to reveal Uchiha Itachi, much to their shock. Itachi explains quickly, though Sasuke doesn't buy the explanation and is only held back from attacking by Aiko, who logically understands that Itachi, whether lying or not, is on their side and they frankly need him.
The siblings stand united and defeat and kill Onoki, who reveals that Orochimaru was supposed to turn on them and assist Rock in the battle, but didn't. Rock was defeated, but Itachi doesn't believe Orochimaru's intentions were wholly just and leads his siblings to find the Snake Sannin.
Back at Cloud, Akatsuki's forces do battle with the Shinobi. Naruto fights Kisame, tapping into Kyuubi's chakra immensely to feed Samehada, and defeat the former Mist Shinobi. Bee and his team handle both Hidan and Kakuzu, though Omoi dies in the process. The Zetsu legion is not Tobi's whole army, and is steadily decimated by the united front. The Raikage and Hokage fight with Tobi directly and are frustrated to find that they are unable to damage him. Seeing his losses, Tobi reluctantly retreats with the remainder of his Zetsus, frustrated that he was unable to capture either Jinchuuriki.
Back in Konoha, the Uchiha siblings discover that Orochmaru has snuck into the village and has attempted to take Hokage Tower, surprised to find a strengthened Kakashi preventing him from gaining control of Konoha in one felled swoop, though he nearly succeeds if not for the siblings timely arrival. Itachi's presence is the real shock, and Orochimaru is felled by the far superior Uchiha, the uncalculated factor of his presence the fatal flaw in the otherwise sound plan, even in failure the Snake Sannin believed he could always make an escape- something that Itachi didn't allow to ever happen.
Orochimaru is seemingly killed once and for all, and the remainder of the sound forces are given the choice of death or joining the leaf, most choose to join the leaf. Naruto sends word of their victory against Cloud and gives what basically amounts to orders to move against Tobi, whom they are tracking back to Rain, his apparent hideout.
All forces, Leaf, Sand, Mist, and Cloud converge to battle Tobi and his legion of Zetsu. Tobi is forced to resurrect Madara using his Rinnegan, and the last battle begins in earnest. What remains of Rock joins against the mad Uchiha as well, creating a fully united front. Naruto leads the charge against Tobi and Madara, the Uchiha siblings, Kages, and Kakashi at his side. Tobi reveals his identity as Obito to the shock of Kakashi.
The group attempts to delay the formation of the Juubi, and even Kurama grimly decides to help as much as possible, lest he be forced to reassimilate with his brethren into the Juubi's conscience, a slave to Madara's will again. Bee, Naruto, Itachi and Kakashi fight Tobi, while the others attempt to stop Madara. Everyone else that remains fights in earnest against the Zetsu army.
It is a great struggle, but Naruto and his team manage to kill Obito in time to help against Madara. Naruto uses Kyuubi's chakra in earnest, and Bee does the same with the Hachibi. Together, with the help of the others, they manage to defeat Madara once and for all.
Later that same night, Naruto completes one last mission set to him by the Hokage. He kills the Raikage A and makes it look like the large man had succumbed to his wounds dealt to him by Madara. Thus, Bee is put in charge of the Cloud village.
Now at relative peace, Naruto uses his unique and powerful political clout to call for the immediate removal of the obsolete feudal lords, and calls not only for inter-village peace, but deeper intermingling that will hopefully eventually wash away the years of hatred between the villages. Mai and Kakashi are used as an example, and marriage between different village civilians and ninja is encouraged. Naruto also suggests the formation of a single village in the very middle of the elemental nations, the new Shinobi Capital City. Here, all villages will intermingle, and every mission of C-Rank or higher will be processed on a daily basis to control an equal and fair outflow of missions to all villages. Open trading between hidden villages will commence as well, now that precious metals and resources are in control of the Kages instead of the Feudal lords instead.
These new procedures, along with the lasting friendships formed between the leaders of the villages allow for peace to outlast hatred, and within the next hundred years, the individual shinobi nations are fully forged into the United Shinobi Nation.
Naruto eventually claims his seat as the Seventh Hokage, and marries Aiko. Sasuke marries not only Sakura, but Ino and several others from other nations... much to his dismay when all the new Uchiha brats are born, and he regrets the hasty decision to use the Clan Revival Act to marry multiple partners. Not to mention the fact that not all of his wives get along as well as Sakura and Ino do. Kakashi and Mai remain happily married, though Mai burns all of his Icha Icha Paradise books in a fit of rage one day, and the funeral and mourning process take a ridiculously long 100 days in Konoha, as per decreed by Kakashi, the sixth Hokage.
Near the end of his very long life after Aiko has passed, a somber Naruto reflects with the now somewhat amiable (though still exceeding rude) Kurama about the choices he's made and whether some of the actions he had committed had been too harsh, such as murdering the feudal lords and killing the weakened Raikage.
He sees how the world around him has seemingly prospered, though most of those who made it so have moved on… in fact, he is the last of the Rookies, the last of those who had lived and fought in the final Great Shinobi War, outliving even Konohamaru and his friends. He wonders if Pein's warnings were right, and if the people will eventually descend back into violence after he's gone, even if it takes another century to happen, despite the provisions he's so carefully helped put into place.
Kurama ponders how to answer, and eventually tells him that he does not know for sure. The nations had simply changed. The people that Pein mistrusted so much didn't exist anymore. They had been tempered by over a century of kind neighbors, a lack of war, and a great deal of prosperity. It would be wholly possible that such peace could be maintained forever, because Naruto's actions had very much shifted what it meant to be not only a ninja, but a human.
Naruto is perturbed by the truthful answer, but the sight of one of his great-grandson's running across his path, sharingan eyes active and gleeful beneath a shock of sunnily blond hair, sets his mind at ease. He smiles after the boy and realizes that the world will not wholly lose him even after he finally goes, because the legacy he left behind with Aiko will endure, as will Sasuke's and the other friends who had already moved on.
Knowing this, he smiles peacefully as his eyes close for the final time, several days later. The world would be in good hands.
That's all I got, people. The ending was kind of in my mind the whole of the way, though Kishimoto's plotline has become so annoying to me and it was very hard to try and fit that in. I hope my description of the 'final battle' wasn't too bad, I really had a problem with how to incorporate Orochimaru, especially since Kishi has apparently made him a 'good guy' now or something. I definitely wanted to avoid Impure Resurrection, which I have just found annoying to the max.
Not a lot of romance described in this general plot outline either, and I'm sorry for that. It would have been more present if I wrote all out, but to a general outline it meant little to nothing.
If I had rewritten this story from the beginning, my Naruto would have most certainly been different and I think the remaining outline reflects that. I started with Naruto as a overly idyllic idealist and it was a terrible thing to do, as many of you pointed out his overbearing flaws along the way and how it conflicted with what a ninja really HAD to be. You were right.
I also avoided the whole Jinchuuriki mode and combination with Sage mode. I half didn't even want to write Sage Mode in, I really disliked the power-ups that basically seem to turn Naruto from a decent high B to low A rank shinobi to an S rank god that basically controls whether or not the whole of the Shinobi forces survive. I also didn't want to resurrect the Juubi at all because of that very factor. As you can tell, I'm still quite unhappy with the canon plot even as it draws to a close. As I tell many of my friends, I still wholly believe that Naruto as a series peaked at Sasuke vs. Naruto at Valley's End, though I thought the Pein Attacks Konoha was another undeniably cool high point.
So, there you go, that's my outline. Also, I've finished my original story 'Aether' and will be posting it on fictionpress with the same author name immediately, before I start school again. Hope you guys enjoy that… I feel it's a few leagues ahead of this fic in terms of writing ability, but I might just be tooting my own horn.
Thanks for reading, everyone. They say reading a book can change you, and I'm not really sure about that… but writing one definitely does, for better or worse.