Welcome to the re-edited, and newly re-written version of, Changed Paths! It has been a while since I even looked, much less read, this fanfic, as it was years ago that I finished it. However, at the first sight of this chapter, in its original context...I was horrified by the mistakes I committed. As such, I have taken it upon my self to revise every chapter, until I have brought it from "Total Bust" into "Semi-Decent!"
As I said, I have only just now revised this chapter, as of tomorrow I will begin to proof read the second chapter.
Warning: DO EXPECT ADDITIONAL CHAPTERS, THAT WERE NOT ORIGINALLY INCLUDED IN THE STORY PRIOR TO REVISION.
Read, review, but most importantly, enjoy!
He looked down at Sasuke's unconscious body, as a collection of thoughts came to his mind, drowning out most of the soreness that would have normally racked his body.
He could have stated that he didn't believe it, that it was all a horrible dream, an dthat Sasuke was simply under the influence of the Cursed Heaven Seal.
But did it really have to come down to him running that Chidori through his chest? Did the seal change the Uchiha, or did it simply magnify his true personality? Was this who he really was? Was Sasuke a lost cause? And what about he had said?
He had known what it was alike to be alone, he of all people kknew it all-too-well. The village had ignored him, shunned hi, even glared with looks that only the coldest monsters deserved. What made Sasuke any different form him? Why did Sasuke had the right to betray their team, and the village?
He knew what it was like not to have a fam-
He had never had a family...Sasuke did.
Perhaps, that was the difference. Sasuke had actually lost the people he treasured the most, and was forced to watch his family by slaughtered by his own brother. Only to add to that pressure, everyone expected him to be a sudden savior; as if he was the next Minato Namikaze.
The irony in that...
"Huh...I guess things never go the way you wished..." whispered the blonde, as he closed his eyes, in an attempt to force back the tears from forming.
Why can't I just get a fair shot, just this once!?
Suddenly, he looked around sensing a chakra approaching. It wasn't large, but he knew the feeling around their presence.
What's he gonna say you pathetic brat? He'll walk in and simply see you standing over your battered teammate...he'll say you killed him and label you a monster like the rest
Shut you, Kyuubi...you dragged me into this, when you attacked Konoha...
Scoffing, the Kyuubi merely let out a loud sigh, before retreating back.
Do you truly think they will respect you after this? You suddenly come home with the last Uchiha beaten to a pulp? They will go back to calling you a monster, a simple demon and blight to the land...you know my words are true, foolish boy...and don't even get your hopes up about that pink haired girl, she'll just go back to her dear old Sasuke-kun...you're alone brat, with nobody aside from me, at your side...it's pathetic.
Scowling, Naruto shook his head, covering his eyes.
You're lying, baka! Obaa-chan wouldn't let that happen...and Ero-sennin will help me, and so will Iruka-sensei too!
As he finished his statement, the only reaction the blonde recieved was a heartless laugh, that came from the Nine Tails.
If you want to be crushed, then so be it kid...but when you come running to me for my help on surviving the village...don't expect any
And with those last words the giant fox retreated back into its cage...that would be enough persuasion, to get the fool doubting the village. He was in a clearly vulnerable state, at the moment, after all.
Glancing at the ground, Naruto let out a sigh, feeling a large lump formoing in his throat. He had never been one to question the village, yet...deep down, he had to admit, the Kyuubi was somewhat right. Konoha adored Sasuke, much more then they did him.
So what if what the Kyuubi had told him, held truth?
Hadn;t Kakashi-sensei said those, that those who abandon their teammates, for the mission are worse then scum. Did he just not give up on the Uchiha, simply to force him back? What if Sasuke claimed he had attacked him, without giving the Uchiha a warning, or chance to come back willingly? The blonde could already se that he would be an outcast again...the village scapegoat. After al the work he had put in, and all the training he hd endured, would be gone with a single mistake, he had made.
No...he couldn't allow that, and h wouldn't allow it.
Taking a deep breath, the Uzumaki lifted his hands, slowly undoing the Hitai-atei, before he proceeded to place the band next to Sasuke.
I can't let people see my affiliation to the village...I'm not a shinobi for Konoha, anymore...just an idiot, who thought he could change the world...
Turning around, the young Genin began dashing towards the Eastern border.
He knew that going towards Wave Country was a bad idea, as he was well-known for the mission against Zabuza, and Sunagakure was allied with Konoha, so he'd be a give-away there. Kumo and Iwa were out of the question, due to their strained relations with Konoha. Kirigakure was absolutely out of the question, as he remembered clearly, what they had forced Zabuza to commit for his exams.
I'll just travel, I guess...I might be able to find a way to train, or maybe a small village that will take me in...it's my only option, right now...
Coming to a halt, he looked back, in time to see he was a few miles away from the Valley, where he could feel that Kakashi's chakra had suddenly stoppped. It was a clear signal, that he must have reached the Uchiha...but he'd be too busy with taking care of him to chase after him...maybe it wasn't going to be so difficult to escape.
She looked at his withering body...the once lean and powerful Nagato now layed on his deathbed next to Konan. He coughed violently as droplets of blood flew out. Konan could only shut her eyes tightly, as she tried to block out the sight, to no avail.
"There's...no...use in running from the truth...Konan..." whispered Nagato; his voice soft and barely audible, from his weakened condition.
It was a sight that she had once been forced to witness, when her childhood friend and crush, Yahiko, had willingly killed himself for them.
A sight that haunted her every dream...
"Konan...I lived my every waking breath, to see this world...one day see true peace, a day in which nobody would...have to see, or witness, the corruption of the...shinobi world..." he continued, his words becoming more and more strained, with each passing moment.
She was by no means, a trained medic, yet even she could tell it was only a matter of minutes at most, before death came to claim him. With this knowledge in hand, Konan could do no more, then simply nod in silence, as a sense of dread began to grow in her stomach.
Why did this happen to the ones she loved? Why was it, that the people who sought peace, were the first to die? Why did the people, who sought to cause misery, get o live long lives?
Before she was able to finish her train of thought, however, Nagato interrupted her, with a small smile, followed by an ever-growing series of coughs.
"You need to find...the...true...child of...prophecy...I know that...Jiraiya-sensei...was looking...for him before he left us...find him and...make our dreams come true." he wheezed, his hands beginning to numb, as he looked one last time at his old friend.
"Na-Nagato..." murmured Konan, cursing her life under her own breath.
You can't die...you can't die, Nagato...you're the God of Shinobi, you're supposed to be the world's savior...
Unfortunately, Nagato never got to hear her say his name, as he closed his weary eyes, slipping into a relaxed, and final, slumber.
The last remaining piece of Konan's childhood, had just passed away.
The sun had already risen, and the daylight had hit him square in the eyes, when he awoke to a groggy sensation. He had managed to travel past the border of Fire Country, thus he had escaped Konoha jurisdiction. That, however, was not his main concern at the moment. Rather, it was the cold and dampness that emitted through his clothed, as they were now worn and torn. If he stayed like this a few more nights, with no change of clothes and shower, he would find himself either sick, or with a case of pneumonia. To which, no amount of Kyuubi's chakra could heal. It was a simple fact.
His secondary, although ultimately more important, worry, was where to head from where he was at. He didn't know many villages, aside from Sunagakure, which canceled out many options.
As much as I enjoy seeing your internal torment, brat...I would hate for us to die, simply due to your being unable to find, and locate, a suitable place to sleep.
As much as he hated to say it, the fox had a point with his argument. He would have to find somewhere to stay for a while, if he wished to survive. His only choice, now, was to locate any nearby towns, and possibly rent a room, and steal food in secrecy.
You know it's ironic...
Hm? What are you rambling on about now, child?
I escaped the orphange, only to be stuck in a broken down house, that nobody wanted...now, I'm living with no home, and not even a single person to help me...
You sound like a withering fool...
He should have known the fox wouldn't care...
Tsunade looked over the report that Shikamaru had turned in, not too long ago, much to her own fear. It had, however, turned out much better then sh had expected, although many of the Genin were injured in the process. Neji had been brought back and suffered multiple bone fractures, whereas Chouji was hospitalized with massive chakra exhaustion as a side-effect from the Akamichi pills, even Akamaru was near dying, but medics had said he would live. Kiba, being more lucky, was only staying for a few days in the hospital simply for for a screening. Overall, it had gone decently, as there were no deaths.
She had, however, taken note of the lack of information regarding Naruto's condition and Sasuke's whereabouts. She could only assume that Kakashi had picked the two up, upon the team's return.
"Hokage-sama, you called?" asked Kakashi, bracing himself to tell her th grave news.
"Yes, Kakashi...I noticed that Shikamaru didn't report anything on Naruto and Sasuke, althoug I'm aware he wasn't present at Naruto and Sasuke's fight, so I understand him not knowing but...what's my the baka's condition, Kakashi? Shikamaru stated that you went ahead, to retrieve them?" She asked in a calm and collected voice. Knowing Naruto, he was up and about, parading about how he had returned with the Uchiha.
The veteran Konoha Jonin sweat dropped a bit, shaking his head nervously. He knew very well that all hell would break lose after his next words.
"He...uh...got away...he's...a missing shinobi..." he answered, only to witnes Tsunade stare at him in silence.
It was shocking, considering he had expected a sudden burst of anger from the Hokage...or at least a few monstrous punches.
If he was lucky, he would get off the hook. To which he hoped for, as he needed the time to look for Naruto...he had a promise to keep to his own Sensei. A promise, that he wouldn't fail another person as long as he breathed.
Snapping out of his thoughts, he quickly felt a painful grip grab his neck, as he was shoved forwards, into the face of a glaring Tsunade.
"You let him escape!? Hatake, you moron! Naruto is the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki, and for all we know, he could be dead! Do have any idea, what the consequences would be!?" she barked.
Suddenly realizing what the situation meant, the Jonin cursed himself. The Senju had a point, as Naruto would be unable to hold a candle to even a true veteran shinobi, should he be caught or attacked. In addition, if Jiraiya's words were true, regarding the Akatsuki, the young blonde owuld be in grave danger constantly.
Minato-sensei...I failed again...why am I so blind to these things...Obito...Rin...you...and now your only child...why am I so useless...
Tsunade slowly took notice of his facial expressions, as they turned from pain...to confusuion...and returned to more pain...maybe he was taking the situation hard...maybe TOO hard, she didn't want one of her top shinobi going into depression.
Sighing, she shook her head, holding back a few tears. She could do no more, then hope Naruto was alright.
He felt the strain on his legs begin to take hold, as he ran towards the trees at his quickest pace. He hadn't expect the store to have shinobi guards, much less rookie Jonin, and that had caused him to be caught off guard. Jumping onto a branch, he felt the food and drinks in his pack sway; knocking him a bit off balance, as he regained his momentum.
He could already hear the voices being just behind him, drawing nearer to him with each passing second.
"You buffoons! How could a mere child escape your watch! He was no more then a teenager!" shouted their leader, the anger clear in his voice.
Naruto simply kept running forward, taking advantage of their situation, as the group ha dpaused due to the scolding, they were recieving.
What he didn't notice, was a figure land ahead of him, knocking him down, before he could realize their presence.
"Well, well...a young orphan stealing food?...you know, kid, here in the nation's borders we don't take kindly to thieves...perhaps, you need a lesson" smirked the shinobi, as Naruto put down the supplies.
Great, now I have to fight him...
We could make it easy, and you allow me to kill him...
No! I can handle my own problems!
Slipping into a defensive stance, Naruto sighed. He was probably walking into his own death, but he'd rather face it himself, then let the Kyuubi fix everything he caused.
Konan hadn't been traveling for long, as she had finished the secret burial of Nagato only a few days prior. She hadn't known what to do, as Nagato had only left a vague, and rather broad, order; to find the Child of Peace. In truth, the only option she had considered, was searching for Jiraiya, as h had been the first to locate Nagato. If anybody, he would have a general idea of what to do, as she was no familiar with prophecies, then she was with being alone.
Alright, first, I need to clear my head...think, where would Jiraiya be...he was a hermit, so I know he wouldn't stay at any one place for too long...which only raises more questions...wait! He was a shinobi of Konoha! If anything, their Hokage should know!...now, how to get to the Hokage?...
"Hey! Get the kid! C'mon, hurry up!" yelled a man, at a distance from her. Initially ignoring it, Konan stopped, as she watched the men chase down a young blonde teen, in an atrocious orange jumpsuit.
"Wh-what?...they're chasing him?...perhaps just a common thief, although, why in the world he would wear that suit is beyond me...who would even wear oran-..."
Pausing, Konan felt a small wirein her brain click as she registered her own words.
Orange jumpsuit. Penchant for mischief. Blonde teen.
"The Kyuubi Jinchuuriki!" she gasped, sprinting forward, to the crowd.
I can't allow them to injure the boy!
The three Jonin panted slightly, as they began heading into formation.
"Captain, this kid...he isn't normal..." gasped the youngest of the Jonin, as he struggled to catch his breath. Despite being known for an oblivious mindset, even Naruto could tell the man was not trained for highly physical missions...which meant...either he preferred Genjutsu, his biggest pain, or medical jutsu.
Though, considering, he had yet tio use a single attack, he guessed he was most likely a medic ninja and not trained for combat.
Well, well...you're actually getting smarter, child...
Scratching his head sheepishly, Naruto let a grin form, surprised that even the Kyuubi had complimented him.
Unfortunately, the attacking shinobi mistook that same grin, for a mock smile. Which they did not, in fact, take kindly to.
"So that insolent child, assumes that because her avoided a beating thus far, he can toy with us!?" snarled the tallest of the Jonin, who had brown hair a slight scruffy beard.
"Fuiton: Kaze Shuriken no Jutsu!"!"
Groaning ,Naruto leapt to back, as seven small air shuriken began to fly towards his idrectio; landing on a nearby branch, as the wind attacks dug deep into the very spot he had stanidng on.
He wouldn't last much longer, as even with his stamina, he was beginning to tire out from the energy he was burning from dodging constantly.
Lost in though, however, the blonde teen noticed the Jonin enemy too late. The veteran shinobi smirked, as one of his partners landed behind Naruto, catching the young Genin off guard.
"Katon: Hosenka no Jutsu!"
Oh no, not that jutsu again! Sasuke already made it overrate-aggh!"
Naruto looked behind him only, hoping to be able to dodge the incoming fire, but could only watch helplessly;as the flames drew closer to impact.. He felt the searing pain, as his skin seemed to melt from the heat.
Blast it, you runt! Stand up! I will not die! I refuse to fall to a lowly human!
Snarling, the Kyuubi began banging against the caged seal, in a vain attempt to save what was left of life in his host. He would die now, in the gut of a pathetic child!
Had it been a few days prior, Konan would have labeled herself a fool for heading the general direction of the fight. Yet, in hindsight, she was sure that protecting the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki was a better move, then allowing it to die, as she was sure the Bijuu inside would only be released. Without Nagato, and the Chibaku Tensei, there would be little hope of stopping the monster.
What will I do? I can sens ethe chakra levels of the enemy...they're all Jonin, even if low-skilled...should I atta-...
Konan felt her world freeze, as she caught sight of the young blonde being hit with a Katon jutsu, before a sudden fuse was lit in her head.
He was a child.
They were all taking turns in attacking a diwned opponent.
Was this what she had become, with Akatsuki?
"You insolent, incompetent brat! Did you really think you stood a chance against us!" laughed one of teh Jonin madly, his eye widening form the mocking tone.
She didn't know what it was, or why it happened, but Konan could feel a single crack form, on the mask of indifference she had worn for so long.
Was this what the Akatsuki had become? Had they gone from a symbol of hope and change, against tyranny...to a group of mindless criminals, set on changing the world through suffering? What had happened to them? Why did they fall so low? Who's fault was it?
Shaking her head, she scowled at herself, instead dashing forward, in time to catch one of the mens' wrists, as he attempted to stab the Jinchuuriki.
"Leave the boy alone" she commanded, her voice once again devoid of emotion. Glancing back, she sighed, as she caught sight of the unconscious teen, who was breathing heavily, but at a relatively safe pace.
"You should learn how to respect your superiors, lady' said the man, as he attempted to move his wrist forcefully, only...not budge her grip even the slightest.
Wh-what the hell is this woman made of!?
'Those who bring violence upon others, with no regardto their suffering, and without purpose...will suffer" she whispered, as she jumped up, drop-kicking the man in his chest.
Before his teammates could react, however, Konan ran through her hand signs, silently grasing the tree trunk next to her.
"Wh-what did she do, Captain!?" cried one of the Jonin, before he froze in place.
"Shut up, boy..." growled the older Jonin, as he glanced around his general area.
They were surrounded by hundreds of exploding tags, from their feet, to even the base of the tree they were standing on. One single thing, and everybody would be blown to pieces.
With those final words,, the tags exploded.
Konan turned around, picking up the boy, before noticing his facial features that made him appear eerily similar to Namikaze Minato. While it had been true, that she never had been to Konoha; she most certainly knew the 'Yellow Flash' through stories and word of mouth. Stories of how he had obliterated half of Iwa's army by himself. How he was the only shinobi in history, to have a Flee-On-Sight order. Maybe, he had chi-..no...Minato never had children...otherwise Konoha would have been bragging about it.
Sighing, she realized that at any rate she couldn't leave the child on his own.
It wasn't until she heard a gruff voice speak, that she froze in shock. A pang of fear streaking up her spine.
"Well well...if it isn't Konan?...fancy meet ing you here, I always wanted to avenge Lord Hanzo, after you and that freak kicked us all out of Ame..." laughed laughed the mystery voice. She turned to see five Hidden Rain Anbu staring at her, causing her to curse her luck.
She just seemed to have the best of it these days.
The man continued laughing, reveling in the fact that he noticed the absence of Nagato and Yahiko.
He knew that he could never hold a candle to either of them, but he knew that Konan was a different matter...especially with no more damn interferences.
"Takumo...what a nice surprise..."She replied through gritted teeth, seething as the man simply shrugged casually
"Enough of the pleasantries, Konan-chan...how about we dance?...I'd hate to think what my men would do to you if they thought you were alone" he grinned, as he licked his lips sadistically. Konan shuddered. One of the few man who could scare her...and he now had Anbu to help him.
Much to her surprise, however, the Anbu merely stood there, as Takumo stepped towards her.
"I want to to kill you on my own...but first...I'll beat you to a bloody mess...then I'll make sure I have you screaming my name you whore" he growled.
On instinct, she took up a defensive stance, before gulping in anxiety.
She had to had to reach the boy at all costs.
Takumo quickly materialized in front of her, catching the Kunoichi by surprise, as he slashed his kunai upwards, only to have it blocked by Konan as she brought her own kunai directly into his.
D-damn! He nearly go-got me with that simple move! I have to focus!
Dropping down to the ground, Konan quickly shot up with a backflip, landing a solid and painful kick to the man's chin; staggering him backwards. Grunting as a powerful sting shook his mind, Takumo instinctively reacted by throwing a pair of Shuriken; running through the handsigns immediately without a moment's pause.
"Tajuu-Kage Bunshin Shuriken no Jutsu!'"
The two shuriken quickly doubled, before repeating the process, before Konan found herself facing a wave of metal weapons raining upon her. Crossing her arms in front of her face, she helplessly braced herself as they dug into her skin and arms. Scwoling, she bit back any emotion of despair, as trails of blood slid down her arms and body.
The pain soon retreated, however, as one of Takumo's fists connected to her stomach, forcing her to double over, only to meet his knee, as it crashed into her face.
Not being one to miss an opportunity, he proceeded to grab her by the hair, and throw her against a tree; landing a series of chakra-infused kicks upon her vulnerable state.
Konan weakly coughed out a bit of blood., gasping with each hit she felt.
He was still just as strong as before and even faster...
Smirking with a smug sense of justification, Takumo tore the paper flower from her hair as he held her by the throat; slidng her up against a nearby tree. He only let out a soft, yet joyous, giggle as the woman began to pant for air.
He enjoyed watching her suffer, the same utter desperation he had felt, when that accursed Nagato decimated their forces...
"What's the matter whore? Don't know how to gag? Didn't little Yahiko teach you? Or perhaps Nagato?...or did you take them both at once?"
With no chance of survivng, with her dignity intact, she started to cry.
All she could think, was that she had to live. That she could not afford to fail the vow, she had once made to both Nagato and Yahiko. If she died, who knew what this sadastic world would do upon its own corruption?
W-wait! The child! Where is teh Kyuubi Jinchuuriki!?
She looked over Takumo, praying that the blonde was nowhere to be found, before realizing he would have been long gone, She smiled weakly feeling her life leave her, one finall goo dthought, that he has at least he gotten away. Gasping one final time, she saw the world go black, but not before witnessing a silhouette, let out a shout.
:RASENGAN!" as a blue orb of chakra hit Takumo directly to his abdominal.
"Wh-who?..." she whispered meekly, before fainting,
Flying into the forest, Takumo looked at the orange clad genin, as he went crashing into a tree trunk. Clutching his body, he could feel his stomach being torn from the inside...he could instantly ell, he only had a few minutes left...but he'd be damned if he let the midget live for it.
"You little fucker! You'll die for that!" he roared, before blinking as the boy just stood ahead of him, his head drooped down low to where his bangs covered his eyes.
"...you attempted to harm a woman, who had done nothing to you...that was a vile thing to do..." he murmured, causing the man to laugh.
"Yeah! What of it, kid!? She had it coming!"
"...those who are weak in spirit, enough to bring danger to those beneath them, for the mere pleasure of it...deserve to be cast to the pits of their nightmares..."
Why..does that sound familiar?...
"What are you..ranting on about?..."
"...I'll bring you to justice, old man...I am a shinobi, bound by the righteousness of my own beliefs...I will give you nothing in mercy, but...I will take everything that is corrupt, and burn it!" he yelled.
N-No! Not that self-arrogant speech again! This kid's even worse then that Nagato!
Takumo was never even given a chance, as Naruto threw a small black rod at the shinobi, shooting his chest, before piercing the renegade Ame-nin.
"...give them nothing, but take from them...everything.." he whispered to himself.
Glancing at the unconscious woman, the blonde shook his head, suddenly a bit dizzy.
Wh-what happened?...I remember...running away...then...nothing...
Catching sight of the woman once more, he felt his mind go balnk, as he carefully walked over to Konan and picked her up bridal style.
"...I should get her out of here, there is no telling who could be coming back with reinforcements..."
Jiraiya let out a ;echerous chuckle, as he kneeled down and looked through the small peephole om the owoden fence; leading into the womens' hot springs.
"Oh yeah, ladies...that's what daddy likes...if only Tsunade-hime would do that...' he whispered quietly, before feeling an ominous presence nearby.
Not now...why me!?
He suddenly froze as he felt a familiar killer intent fill the air.
"If only I would do what, Jiraiya?"
Realizing his impending doom, at the female voice, he looked back only to confirm his fears. A soft, but steel hard, fist crashed into his face, sending him flying into the town square a few blocks away.
Something must have gone terribly wrong for Tsunade to openly beat him at the womens' spa...and he felt it had something to do with his lack of Naruto sightings.
Hope you guys enjoyed the re-write! It was a lot easier to come up with ideas, now that I progressed my grammatical and writing skills, then when I had frist written this! Again, I know most of the original readers of this story are long gone. Most of whom, I presume quit this site, when it began its initial purging of all lemon-focused stories. For those who now read it, remember this chapter is the only one revised, thus far.
I sincerely hope you al enjoy it, and can wait until I fix the next chapter.
I may even add a few extra to the story.
Goodnight! - VH