Into the Inferno
Author's Note: This story takes place at the end of the manga chapter 504 and just before 505 begins, so there will be major spoilers. This is also sort of a crossover from Dante's inferno, though only the concept of hell with its minions will be a part of the story.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or Dante's Inferno.
Chapter One: Enter Hell
Hinata had never considered herself to be very smart. In fact, if anything, she considered herself to be rather plain, normal, average, and anything that was not extraordinary. But on the opposite note, she also didn't view herself as being dumb either. Well she hadn't. And yet here she was, standing in a place no sane or smart person for that matter, would ever step foot in willingly.
All around her the sounds of tortured screams could be heard as their fiery bodies plummeted from above in a mock similarity to a meteor storm. On the barren rocky wasteland, the newly damned souls moved forward towards their destination with moans of regret as they slowly approached their fate. And there Hinata stood wondering how she was going to proceed. For she was not dead; and yet she stood at the gates of hell ready to descend to the lowest level to face the devil himself if it meant she could save the one she loved.
Earlier that week:
Hinata had known something was wrong the moment she had stepped into the Hokage's office. Even though Tsunade had suffered from much criticism since the beginning of her reign as Hokage, Hinata had never heard any talk of Tsunade ever shedding a tear while on the job. She had remained hard, and almost cold at the death of the toad sage, and while people speculated that she might have cried for him in private, non of her subordinates had witnessed their leader's grief. And yet sitting behind the desk with red rimmed eyes, and streaks of tears purring down her face was the leader that Hinata had always admired for her strength both physically and mentally.
"Hokage-sama, wha…"Hinata tried to ask when a comforting hand touched her on the shoulder, stopping any further inquiry. Turning around to face the owner of the hand, Hinata was surprised to see Sakura looking at her with fierceness in her emerald eyes.
"Wait," Sakura mouthed as her eyes traveled to her master with the same questioning look Hinata had. But while Hinata didn't have a clue as to what was going on, Sakura knew that the only thing that could upset the Hokage to the state she was in was if something had happened to Naruto.
Both girls were pulled from their thoughts as Tsunade took in a shaky breath, and was finally able to compose herself enough to look at the two girls in front of her. "I…I called the two of you here because I know how much Naru…how much Naruto means to both of you," the Hokage chocked out, her eyes dropping down to her desk as her body was wracked with sobs.
Hinata and Sakura both felt their own eyes well up with tears at Tsunade's announcement, hoping that it didn't sound the way it did. Naruto couldn't be dead. He just couldn't…
"Please tell me he isn't dead," Sakura demanded her grief quickly being replaced by a more familiar feeling.
Anger had always been the way Sakura dealt with anything. She had felt angry at Naruto during her childhood because he reminded her of her own awkwardness. She had felt anger toward Ino when they both shared feelings for the same boy, because she didn't know how to deal with competition. She had felt anger toward herself when Sasuke had left the village, believing it was her own fault that he had left. And when she had failed to convince Naruto that she loved him in order to keep him from having to face Sasuke, she had lashed out at him in anger when he refused to listen to her lie about her true feelings. And now Sakura was angry at the grief of losing her other teammate, and Hokage or not, Sakura couldn't help but feel angry at her for not stopping this.
While Sakura seethed, Hinata had sunk to the ground, trying everything possible to breath, and yet she couldn't help the painful pounding in her chest. To the quiet girl, the world seemed to have come to a screeching halt, and while she wanted to scream and cry, nothing came out. She remained silent.
"He's not dead," Tsunade yelled noticing the reaction of both girls, and immediately understanding what they were thinking. Sakura immediately recovered, her anger switching to confusion. But Hinata didn't act like she had heard anything. The girl just continued staring at the floor, her body swaying as though she was on the verge of passing out.
"Hinata?" Sakura asked kneeling next to the girl, frowning at the lack of reaction. "Hinata!" Sakura yelled taking a hold of the girl's shoulders, and roughly shaking her. As far as Sakura was concerned, she didn't have time to fool around, Naruto may not be dead, but something was still wrong.
"Sakura…"Hinata whispered finally breaking out of her stupor. Sakura stared at the girl firmly before turning to look back at the Hokage from her kneeling position.
Tsunade watched the exchange smiling sadly at the display. While both girls had a hard time showing their true feelings when it came to Naruto, at the moment, they were like open books. Both cared for the blonde idiot in their own unique ways. And it was that bond that she was gambling everything on.
"Naruto isn't dead," Tsunade repeated finally catching Hinata's attention, "But, he is in Hell."
"What?" both girls demanded standing up in their shock.
Tsunade sighed as she pulled out a rolled up scroll that was worn at the edges, and looked like it was on the verge of falling apart. "Naruto had gone with Yamato to a hidden island to try to learn how to control the nine tailed fox," Tsunade briefed, her resolve strengthening as she continued her explanation. "The nine tails at first seemed too strong for Naruto, but before he was overcome, Naruto somehow managed to subdue the fox. Everything seemed alright at first, but then the worst possible outcome occurred," Tsunade finished as she unrolled the scroll.
"The nine tailed beasts are guardians of the nine levels of Hell," Tsunade explained holding up the scroll so that the two girls could see the picture. "You can almost think of them as Satan's 'pets,' and each of them were given one level of Hell that they govern," Tsunade summarized as she looked at the two girls.
Both girls had horrified looks on their faces, but they didn't seem too surprised by the explanation.
"So, the nine tails is in the ninth circle?" Sakura asked her eyes watching her master questionably.
"Yes, as well as the devil himself," Tsunade verified her eyes once again sparkling with unshed tears, "And as of right now, Naruto is probably at the ninth circle as well."
"No…"Hinata gasped, her hands clenching into fists at her side, as she looked at the Hokage with pleading eyes, "Why?"
Tsunade looked at the girl before looking back at her own hands that were folded in her lap. "The host of the eight tails believes the nine tails did it to break Naruto's will," Tsunade explained.
"What do we have to do?" Hinata demanded hoping that there was something that they could do.
"I asked the two of you here because you two are the only ones that have any chance of saving him," Tsunade explained finally getting to the point she had called them for. "Hinata, if you are willing, I need you to travel the nine levels of Hell," Tsunade said before turning to look at Sakura, "And Sakura, I will need you to kill Hinata, and revive her just enough that she remains on the brink of death. It is the only way for her to enter the gates of Hell," Tsunade finished.
Almost immediately Sakura was objecting. "What?" the girl demanded, her eyes looking almost yellow in her wild state. "I can't kill Hinata," Sakura pointed out before her eyes narrowed in rage, "And why am I not going to Hell to get Naruto, he is my teammate," Sakura demanded.
"The reason you aren't going is because you are the only one with enough medical knowledge to bring Hinata back to life after killing her, and yet keep her on the brink of death for days if needed," Tsunade pointed out before her eyes looked at her apprentice sympathetically. "I know I am asking a lot of you, but only the dead may pass through the gates of Hell, and if she doesn't remain on the brink of death for the duration of her journey, her soul may not find it's way back to her body when the job is done. Her body could be revived, but will be empty. And if her body dies, Hinata will be trapped forever in Hell," Tsunade explained watching the horrified look on the girl's face as the weight of the situation sunk in.
"Why aren't you sending more medics then?" Sakura asked doubting her abilities to do such an impossible thing.
"Because no one else is available," Tsunade said as her eyes shifted to the ruined village outside. "So many were hurt when Pein attacked, and while no one died thanks to Naruto, there just aren't enough medics to care for everyone," Tsunade sighed as she looked back at her apprentice. "If I could I would have sent the whole hospital with you as well as go myself. But…"
"But Naruto would kill you if you abandoned the village for him," Sakura finished smiling sympathetically at the Hokage.
"Um…"Hinata finally managed to gasp out, breaking the silence that had fallen in the room. She had listened to the exchange between master and pupil patiently as she tried to gain the courage to ask the question that had been bothering her since her role was assigned to her. "Why choose me for this, aren't there more qualified ninja who can do this?" Hinata asked when both women turned to her as if noticing her for the first time.
"No one is going to force you to do this," Tsunade said looking a little disappointed at the girl's question.
"No!" Hinata yelled as her body started to shake. "No…I…I want to go, I just don't understand why you chose me," Hinata announced.
"Because you love Naruto," Sakura whispered. "Hell is full of hate, anger, and powerful demons. The only weapon that will save you is your love for him," Sakura pointed out while smiling at the smaller girl with as much encouragement as she could.
"Sakura's right Hinata," Tsunade said getting up from behind her desk so that she could stand directly in front of the girl. Taking the girl's chin in her hand, Tsunade tilted the smaller girl's head upward so that she was looking directly into her pupil-less eyes. "You are the only one who can save him," Tsunada announced
Island in Kumogakure:
Hinata watched as Sakura and Ino scrambled about, setting up tables with syringes, vials, and other medical equipment. Next to her, Yamato watched the dark haired girl with a frown on his face.
"Is there something wrong Captain Yamato?" Hinata asked softly, her eyes remaining on Sakura.
Yamato shifted slightly before gazing down on his lap. "I just don't understand why Lady Tsunade would choose you," Yamato admitted before turning to look at the opposite side of the room.
Hinata followed his gaze, only to turn away almost instantly. Across the room, Naruto was on the ground, sitting in a meditative position. His arms hung limply at his side, and his head facing upward with his mouth open in a silent scream. His eyes were completely black, and on his abdomen a black, gaping hole was swirling. Around Naruto, red and blue chakra flickered around him like two flames battling for control. The red chakra would sometimes lash out and burn Naruto's flesh, while the blue flames would caress Naruto's wound, healing it slightly. But from what Hinata had seen, the red flame was slowly getting stronger.
"Do you care about him?" Hinata asked looking up toward the ceiling, "Even though you have only known him for a short period of time," Hinata pointed out before turning to gaze at him sternly, waiting for an answer.
Yamato met her gaze with firm resolution. "I may not have known him for long, but I do care for him," Yamato announced sternly.
Hinata smiled at the answer. "I have watched Naruto since I was little, and even though I didn't have the courage back then to approach him," Hinata admitted, her eyes shinning brightly with a fire that Yamato had only seen in a certain blonde, "I love him, and will do anything for him."
Yamato stared at the girl in shock, not sure how to respond to her confession. All he knew was that it helped. He had been feeling a little worthless, being unable to do anything but wait. He and Killerbee could only watch, waiting to stop the Kyubi if it gained control. It was a boring job, which was only made worse by the pair of green clad ninja's that were loudly yelling at each other.
Hinata smiled at the sound of Gai and Lee's reunion. While Tsunade had been unable to spare a lot of people for this mission, Sakura was able to convince Tsunade to spare two ninjas. The first one was of course Ino, who was trained as a medic, and was a loyal member of the rookie nine. The second person was Lee, who was chosen for no other reason then to ensure their safe arrival, and to protect them during their stay on the island.
"Captain Yamato, we are ready to start," Sakura announced coming to stand in front of the man with an exhausted look on her face.
Yamato nodded, his expression growing serious as he turned to look at Hinata. "According to Killerbee, the area around Naruto is like a vacuum to any 'loose' soul. Which means the moment you 'die,' your soul will be pulled into hell," Yamato announced before trying to give the girl a reassuring smile, but resulting in a creepy looking grimace. "Good luck," Yamato finished before getting up and retreating out of the area before Sakura could yell at him for being in the way.
Hinata watched him go, feeling her stomach churn as she allowed Sakura to lay her down on the wooden bed Yamato had made.
"Because of the energy the Kyubi is setting off, I can't use any electrical devices, and since it will be too exhausting to continuously use chakra, I have elected to use chemicals to get the job done," Sakura announced as she made a wide sweep with her arm to point out the many syringes filled with who knows how many drugs. "Sorry it took so long to set up," Sakura apologized looking a little sheepish as she sat on a stool and wheeled herself so that she was looking directly at Hinata, "But it was very important that Ino and I took the time to label everything properly. And even though Lee did help a little bit, he only filled those syringes with normal saline, which you can think of as water," Sakura said pointing to a table pilled with syringes that held a clear fluid inside.
"Umm…" Hinata gulped trying not to show just how frightened and intimidated she really was at the situation, "Why are you telling me this?" Hinata finally managed to ask.
Sakura sighed as she looked down at her lap. "I've been told that it helps with anxiety if the patient understands what is going on," Sakura admitted, "Plus it helps me prepare," Sakura finished getting a responding "oh" before Hinata nodded her head in a silent gesture to continue.
Taking a deep breath, Sakura pointed to the stethoscope around her neck and the blood pressure cuff sitting on one of the many tables. "Like I said earlier, we can't use electronic devices to monitor you, so either Ino or I will be taking your vital signs the old fashioned way every fifteen minutes until the mission is over. However, it is impossible for us to know if permanent brain damage has occurred until after you wake up," Sakura pointed out her voice emphasizing the last part.
"We will both be working on you during the first three hours after we start, then we will take turns watching you in eight hour shifts," Sakura continued before hesitating just slightly. "Hinata?" Sakura asked her hand reaching out to grab Hinata's in her own. "I…I don't know how long Ino and I can continue to do this, so please try not to take too long," Sakura asked before pulling away.
Hinata couldn't help but be shocked by Sakura's strange behavior. She understood that what Sakura was about to do was horrifying, but there was something about the situation that was off. But before Hinata had a chance to ponder it further, Sakura began to speak.
"This tray," Sakura started as she pointed to the small tray next to Hinata's bed, "Holds the medication that will end your life," Sakura explained as she picked up one of the syringes. "This will be the first medication I will use. It is used to put people to 'sleep' before a surgery," Sakura explained as she put the first syringe down, and picked up a second one. "Once you are asleep, I will use this medication. This one is also used for surgery, and is a paralytic. It will paralyze every muscle in you body, including the ones you use to breathe," Sakura explained before putting it down and looking at Hinata. "Normally during surgery, after these medications are used, a tube will be placed down your throat so that a machine can breathe for you," Sakura continued before pointing to another tray with a large balloon looking thing, and several other instruments. "Since we can't use a machine, Ino will be using that bag to breathe for you until the medication wears off," Sakura said as she pointed to the balloon looking object. "But that wont be until after you die," Sakura said her hands shaking a little as she placed them on her lap. "After I use the medication to make you stop breathing, we won't do anything until your heart has stopped beating. At that point you will be officially dead," Sakura announced before looking up to the ceiling. "I will only give you five minutes at that point to enter the gates of hell, before Ino and I work on reviving you," Sakura finished.
"Just five minutes?" Hinata asked softly.
"Yes," Sakura answered, "At seven minutes there is permanent brain damage. Five minutes is all I can really give you and still have time to try to revive you," Sakura explained before looking at Hinata. "Do you have any question?" Sakura asked.
Hinata lay on the bed looking forward but not really seeing as her mind tried to comprehend everything she had just been told. Finally after what felt like forever she turned to meet Sakura's questioning gaze. "Will any of this hurt?" Hinata asked trying to prepare herself for what was coming.
"No," Sakura said giving her a reassuring smile, "It will be just like falling asleep.
"Thank you," Hinata replied, her eyes closing as she took in a deep breath.
Sakura looked at her sympathetically before signaling Ino to start. In a matter of minutes, the two girls had started two IV's, one in each arm, and finished making the final preparations to start.
"Are you ready?" Sakura asked as she attached the first syringe to a port on the IV line.
"Yes," Hinata replied opening her eyes and turning so that her eyes locked with Sakura's emerald one.
Sakura nodded before slowly pushing the medication into the girl. "Hinata, bring him back to me," Sakura asked her eyes shining in desperation.
"I'll bring him back, I promise, and I never break a promise, it's my nin…" Hinata mumbled as her eyes closed and she became oblivious to her surrounding.
For a moment, Sakura just sat next to Hinata's side, not moving, unsure if she believed in herself enough to continue. Finally she looked up to meet Ino's concerned gaze. "Are you ready?" Sakura asked as she replaced the first syringe with the second one.
"Of course not," Ino admitted as she pulled the intubation tray to the head of the bed. "But it's too late to stop now," Ino finished giving Sakura a nod of encouragement.
Sakura sighed as she pushed the second medication into the IV line. "It really is sad how easy it is to kill someone," Sakura whispered as both girls watched as Hinata's breathing slowed, and then stopped. At that moment Ino worked to put the endotracheal tube down Hinata's throat, while Sakura used her stethoscope to listen to the girl's heart.
"It stopped, she's…dead" Sakura announced looking at Ino, who was currently tapping the tube in place.
Ino looked at her pink haired friend expectantly, waiting for the go ahead to begin resuscitation. It was only five minutes, but for the two girls who literally held their friend's life in their hands, that five minutes felt like hours. Finally, Sakura nodded her head, and Ino used the bag to give Hinata two breaths, and from there the two medics started a rhythm of thirty chest compressions, two breaths, and an occasional dose of epinephrine.
After three cycles, Sakura was able to pick up a heart beat. From there, the two girls took turns breathing for Hinata, and monitoring her heart to ensure that it remained beating. One hour after starting, they were finally able to stop breathing for Hinata, and just continued to monitor her closely. Finally after three hours of starting, Sakura felt that Hinata was stable enough to allow Ino to rest, taking it upon herself to take the first watch.
"Do you think it worked," Ino asked as she lay down in a spare bed next to Hinata's.
"I don't know," Sakura announced as she held Hinata's hand in her own, "all we can do is hope."
The Gates of Hell:
The land around her was lit with a reddish hue, and the only noise around her was the sound of tortured screams. Hinata stood on top of a cliff starring at the land in front of her with a detached feeling. All around her, souls plummeted toward the ground in a fiery mass, mimicking a meteor shower, and on the ground their charred remains marched forward toward a large black ship.
"Welcome to hell," Hinata muttered to herself as she took a step forward from the massive gate with the intricate designs of demons carved into it. Almost immediately after she stepped out of the archway, the giant gate swung shut, trapping the girl inside.
"Now what?" Hinata wondered as she looked around unsure of how to proceed. Finally deciding that the only way to travel to the first level of hell would be to follow the crowd, Hinata started her journey.
For the most part the journey to the ferry was uneventful. The charred souls marched on only caring about their own misery, giving to mind to the girl that walked among them. But Charon was a different story. The ferryman looked down at the girl with a sneer on his rotted face, and with a booming voice Charon denied the girl passage.
"Only the dead shall pass," Charon announced his bony finger pointing at the girl, "and while you are on the brink of death, you are not yet dead," Charon pointed out before turning his head away.
Hinata stared at the ferryman with desperation. "Please," Hinata begged her eyes staring at Charon with desperation. "I need to continue," Hinata continued but the ferryman was unmoved by her plea.
"Come back when you are dead," the creature finished as he prepared to start the ship.
"I can't wait that long, he needs me!" Hinata yelled her heart plummeting as she knew that her quest was meaningless to the being in front of her.
Charon hesitated in his task, and held a bony hand out to the girl. Hinata stared at the hand confused, not understanding what the creature wanted. Her eyes searched the ferryman's face, trying to find some clue to the gesture, but Charon's face remained shadowed and emotionless.
"I don't understand," Hinata admitted in a small voice barely louder then a whisper.
A dark chuckling noise filled the air from behind Hinata as the souls stopped loading the ship to cower in fear. Dread filled Hinata as she turned around to face whatever it was that filled her with despair.
"He wants you to pay the toll," a shadowy creature with red eyes announced in a voice that sounded like a whisper of death.
"Who are you?" Hinata gasped out her body shaking with fear as the shadow man stepped toward her.
"I am the shadow of Satan," the creature announced as a freezing hand reached out and brushed Hinata's cheek like a lover's caress. "And I have been watching you since you entered here," Satan announced as the hand moved to grasp Hinata's hand in his.
Hinata couldn't move; her whole body was frozen with a feeling she had never felt before. It was almost like every negative feeling she had ever felt in her life was suddenly overwhelming her. The grief of losing her mother was mixed with feelings of worthlessness she had felt her childhood years when she failed to live up to her families expectations, to the guilt she felt when her uncle died because of her, and the anger she felt toward Sasuke for hurting Naruto, but none of it compared to the fear she felt at losing Naruto. Every feeling mixed inside of her, confusing her. She didn't know if she should cry, scream, lash out in anger, or just cower on the ground.
Satan's shadow laughed at the girl's obvious hopelessness, before letting go of the girl's hand. Almost instantly Hinata let out a breath of relief as the feelings subsided to a lingering throb.
"Don't disappoint me girl, I'm looking forward to seeing you in physical form," Satan announced before he seemed to dissipate into the shadows around him.
Hinata shuddered before looking down at her hand which she suddenly realized was grasping onto something. "Coins?" Hinata asked when she saw the obolus coins in her hand.
"If you want to travel across the Acheron, then pay the toll," Charon demanded holding his hand out toward the girl again. Hinata startled, forgetting that the ferryman was still waiting for his payment. Her hand shaking, Hinata was barely able to drop the coins in the ferryman's hand without dropping them.
The ferryman nodded satisfied before gesturing to Hinata that she could enter. Hinata gulped, hesitating for just a second before she stepped into the black ship.
Moving forward toward the front of the ship, Hinata tried not to think of the nauseating feeling she had as the ship rocked forward. Satan was testing her, but for what reason?
"God, what have I gotten myself into?" Hinata muttered as she sunk to her knees.
"God can't here you here," a soft voice whispered as a tender hand rested on her shoulder and gave her a reassuring squeeze. Hinata screamed startled as she spun around out of the stranger's grasp. Turning around, Hinata stared up at a pair of familiar blue eyes staring at her from behind a pair of golden bangs.
"Naruto?" Hinata gasped in surprise.
The blonde man laughed as he held out a hand to help her up. "I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I'm not Naruto," the man responded smiling at the girl with a gentle smile. "So tell me what is a Konoha ninja doing here, and one that is still alive?" the man questioned, but Hinata didn't respond as her eyes studied the stranger hardly believing her eyes.