AN: I like time travel fics; what can I say? So here for your viewing pleasure is a Naruto time-travel fic. However, unlike other fics, this Naruto is not coming from a war torn future where Konoha has been leveled to the ground and he is the only survivor, intent on achieving revenge and marrying Hinata or some such thing. Let's just say that it's been done before, and by better writers than I, and leave it there. No, here Naruto succeeded beyond his wildest dreams in defeating the many enemies he faced, such as Madara and Tobi, and took up his mentor's banner, before we meet him. His being back in the past is not something that occurred as a result of an act of desperation, so his actions will reflect that. So without further ado, here it is, an attempt at something very different. I do not own Naruto, and I hope you all enjoy. This fic will not be yaoi.
Prologue: "Who Are You?"
-Title of a song by The Who -
It was a peaceful night, which was to say that the old man on duty was rather bored due to the lack of activity. He stood at the desk, idly flipping through a magazine, occasionally glancing up at the slightest creak of movement, before returning to the dull article on the latest in Kumo-Ame relations. Nothing had changed for the past thirty years, and it was likely nothing would in the foreseeable future; hence why it was such a boring article. He glanced around the room, nodding slightly at the wide-open door, that served as an invitation, the Vacancy sign that hung in the window, the brass candle holder positioned next to the sign, and the stairway that led up to the dozen rooms in the place. He yawned, feeling rather annoyed by the inactivity. True, very few people ended up here- this shabby little motel he had been put in charge of was rather out of the way of… well, everything- but that was the point.
It only took one curious merchant looking for a new trade route whose pockets were laden with gold, or a few unwary Shinobi escorting a high value bounty, and he and his "friends" would dine well for a few months afterwards. And if luck didn't come their way, there were always more pedestrian activities like raiding, pillaging, bootlegging… the usual for men of their stature. Yet that hadn't proven necessary, because this business had been such a lucrative little sideline. The tradeoff, of course, was that there were always long periods where nothing happened. Like tonight. He was contemplating just shutting off the lights and heading to bed when, mercy of mercies, someone finally walked in!
"Can I have a room for the night?" The speaker was an old man, like him, with long, snow white hair, bright blue eyes, and a clear, unblemished face with the exception of three identical whisker markers on each side of his face. He wore a red jacket with a visible inky black undershirt, black pants that looked rather worn, and on top of his spiky snow white hair sat a headband, with the insignia of a leaf. Tied to his back was a massive scroll almost as big as the innkeeper, which he almost wanted to comment on.
"Certainly," the innkeeper replied, before naming a price. The customer, probably a retired Shinobi, passed over the amount due, and he quickly deposited it, while the old man received a key in return. "Before I get some sleep, do you know anything about travelers going missing around here?" His customer asked bluntly. The innkeeper chuckled lowly, careful to keep his face neutral; he'd been asked that so many times he almost wished he did so he could get a reward. The gentleman thanked him for the room and the information before making his way over to his room to retire for the night.
He stayed on duty, ears carefully tracking the customer up to his room, for the next few minutes. Once he heard the door firmly shut, he dropped his magazine and made his way over to the window. He slowly withdrew a match from his pocket and used it to light the candle. There, now the signal was in place. When the next patrol came by- probably about fifteen or twenty minutes- his "friends" would be alerted, and then their pockets would be full once more, thanks to another unwary fool. He was in such a cheerful mood that he never noticed his "mark" quietly walking towards him, nor the glinting kunai he withdrew. All he knew was that one second everything was going as planned, and the next, he felt a splitting pain in his head which caused him to collapse to the floor as the kunai split the back of his skull. The customer lifted the Genjutsu which had allowed him to approach silently, in time for the "innkeeper" to see his killer before he passed away with a final death rattle. The Shinobi whistled merrily as he pulled out his kunai and wiped away the blood on the deceased man's clothes. He lifted the man's body with ease as he whipped out his sealing paper with his spare hand. Time was of the essence; who knew how long he had to prepare?
Three dozen bandits crept through the night towards the worn wooden building. The bright light inside was the only sign of life for miles around. Carefully, the leader unsheathed his sword and walked into the motel, sparing a glance towards Kensuke, who must have fallen asleep while waiting for them. He turned slightly and signaled his men to take their usual positions, before creeping across the room and up the wooden stairs. The group with him stopped outside of Room One, the only room Kensuke ever gave out the key for, before he pulled out his own copy and quietly unlocked the door. He signaled his men to stop outside before he slipped into the decrepit room. In the pale moonlight, he could see the outline of an old man with spiky hair resting on the bed. He stalked forward his sword raised, ready to-
-"I wouldn't do that if I were you." The leader turned slightly, only for two kunai to impale him in his chest. He fell to the ground with a cry, blood pouring out from his wound, as his men burst into the room. The killer, the white-haired man smiled grimly as he made a hand seal and the floor underneath them exploded. With a nod, he and the clone pretending to be asleep dispelled.
The explosion alerted the remaining bandits to the danger, and seeing their leader's plan fall apart; those remaining tried to sprint away from the destruction. Only to collectively stop the second they saw a white-haired man leaning against a rock, whistling a merry tune as if he had not a care in the world.
"Kuchiyose No Jutsu," He declared calmly, slamming his hand on the ground. In a massive puff of smoke, he reappeared on the back of a massive green-blue toad, taller than the building they had just hastily exited from, with two massive katana strapped to his back. He jumped off as the toad unsheathed both swords in a single move, before charging at the remaining bandits. The bandits scattered.
The white-haired man landed gracefully a few feet away from the charging toad as he created four more clones and ordered them to track down stragglers. There would be no mercy for them, just as they had no mercy for those who came before him. He nodded in certainty of his decision before running after the second-largest group of fleeing bandits; Gamahiro was pursuing the largest.
He leapt from tree-branch to tree-branch as he kept pace with the bandits. Finally, they stopped running, probably thinking they had gotten away. Seeing his opportunity, he began making a series of hand seals that finished with Tiger, and after a few seconds he shot a massive ball of fire from his mouth at the unsuspecting group. Three of them were unable to scatter, and they screamed in horror as the huge fireball engulfed them and burned their bodies until they were nothing more than fried husks. The two who had dodged began looking around for their attacker, choosing to stand and fight rather than continue to run.
He jumped down from the tree, with his arms crossed over his chest. The one nearest to him withdrew her sword as she charged at him. Watching impassively, he finally jumped straight up in the air the moment she swung her sword where his head had been only milliseconds before. He landed and turned sharply, with a kunai flying from his now outstretched hand. His aim was true as another bandit met their end. The one remaining bandit flinched before he tried to turn and run once again. The old man sighed as wind chakra gathered around his arm. He began sprinting towards the fleeing bandit before slashing his arm forward. The bandit stopped running and doubled over as a deep, bloody wound appeared across his back. The old man lazily flicked a kunai towards him, ending the last bandit's life. He walked over and recovered his kunai, readying himself for the messy part. After all, to claim the bounty Kumo had on this group of bandits, he needed their heads.
Early the next morning, the white-haired man set out, after spending the remainder of the night in what had been the innkeeper's bed. Three dozen heads were safely sealed away in one of his pare scrolls as he left the ruined remnants of the motel with a visible hole on the side of the second floor. He silently thanked Kami that Kumo was only a day's trek away; he was looking forward to a hot meal and a bed that didn't have a lumpy mattress. And maybe he'd check up on the Raikage's hot younger daughter while he was in town…
"Are you Naruto Uzumaki?" a light, feminine voice asked as he exited the Bounty Collection Office, idly flicking through a wad of ryo.
Without turning around, Naruto answered, "Yes," and continued walking. He had stayed too long in Kumo for his liking- the Raikage was close to putting another bounty on his head after he'd hit on his daughter- and he certainly wasn't willing to get bogged down further.
"I have a proposition for you," The voice continued politely, apparently ignoring his brush-off. Naruto stopped and, unseen to the person addressing him, raised a silvery eyebrow. "I can make it worth your while," She added, a hint of seduction in her voice. Without saying anything, Naruto turned around. He saw a middle-aged woman, with shoulder-length brown hair, a semi-scarred face, brown eyes, a good figure, and a very attractive lime green kimono.
"What can I do for you?" Naruto asked with a cheery smile, now in no rush to continue with his travels. Fuck the Raikage, he could beat that shithead if need be. Subconsciously, he knew his mentor would have been proud.
"Perhaps we can discuss this over some food?" she replied, an easy smile on her face. Naruto nodded and followed her over to one the village's best and oldest restaurants. It was a very nice place, silk napkins, fine china, exquisite paintings lining the walls, the best sushi in town, and Naruto was already beginning to regret this. Whenever he'd been wined and dined like this in the past, the result was almost always a contract that nearly ended with his death. And the fact that his apparent employer was this attractive… yes, this was going to be trouble. After they had ordered and made small talk for a bit, the woman decided to get to the matter at hand and activated a privacy jutsu.
"So what can I do for you?" Naruto asked quietly, silently dreading the answer- it was bandits raiding another out-of-the-way village, wasn't it?- after he had finished munching on a piece of bread.
The lady leaned forward eagerly. "I merely wish to repay a debt to you; a debt that has been in my family for decades, and I offer-"
"Okay look, I think I know where this is going, and despite being trained by him, I am not my sensei," Naruto cut her off tiredly. Though if she was really insistent, well, who was he to say no?
The lady blinked and got a tick mark over her head. "Not in that way!" she nearly shrieked. She took a moment to calm herself as Naruto was reminded strongly of his former teammate, Sakura. "No, you see, uh… you knew my father. He always spoke very highly of you and how much you had done for my family. So when I became a ninja, I made it a personal quest to repay that debt. Once I heard you were still alive and kicking," she mumbled at the end.
"Miss, I may be old, but I'm not that old," Naruto replied. The lady stared at him. "Okay, maybe I am that old. But still-"
"Well after I had advanced to jōnin rank, it finally occurred to me how I could repay my debt." She paused dramatically. "After days and days agonizing over the question of how, I finally figured out what the oldest and greatest ninja in the world would want! Another chance at youth!" Naruto stared at her blankly. 'What?' "A time-traveling jutsu," she explained finally, apparently exasperated that he hadn't caught on.
Naruto's eyes widened comically. "Is such a thing possible?" he whispered in awe. He'd been around many years, seen many strange things, but this… this would certainly jump to top of the list. His first thought was that this lady must be crazy if she could believe such a thing was possible! On second thought, she might have actually believed, maybe even achieved it… though if that had happened, it was probably with the aid of the Orochimaru/Kabuto research model.
"Well, space-time jutsu are possible, so it was just a matter of making the right alterations, though it's not as simple as it sounds, and viola, it is in fact possible" she explained. "I started by analyzing the principles behind a Kawarimi and then transplanting it to affect space-time rather distance and…" His eyes glazed over as she continued speaking in highly technical terms about her discovery. "Needless to say, the principles weren't conducive to replication and I had to…" Yes, he was reminded strongly of Sakura. This was the kind of exuberance he'd grown accustomed to over the years after she'd made another really groundbreaking medical discovery. Okay, he was leaning towards a combination of both options: she was clearly crazy, and it was still possible that she was a mad scientist. "And finally, after nearly a decade and a half of research, I created a working prototype!" She babbled ecstatically. "Yours to use as you see fit!"
Naruto took a sip from his glass of water once it became apparent she was waiting for him to say something. "Supposing for just a second that I was absolutely certain that this wasn't a ruse, a con, a trick, an assassination attempt, and so on, why would I want to use this?" Why on earth would he condone this upset of the balance of nature? Disrupting the flow of time like that definitely went against all he was supposed to stand for as a Sage. Such a perversion of natural energy- it caused him to physically shudder- it was as close to a crime against nature as Kabuto's zombie army had been all those decades ago.
Besides, even if he ignored that, which he couldn't by the way, why would he want to be young again? He was the Legendary Toad Sage, the man who could halt wars with his mere presence, the man revered as a ninja god in his hometown. He was a hero in Konoha- he even had three separate statues in the village. In solid gold.
If he remembered correctly, and he would admit that his memory had been going, he hadn't been well liked in Konoha in his youth. Perhaps village pariah was a better way to say it. Most of his memories growing up were sad ones, like the death of Jij- the Third Hokage. He really had to stop doing that, one of these days. Anyway, there were also other strong memories, like that of Orochimaru's sneak attack upon the village. Or Jiraiya's death. If he remembered correctly his early years had been extremely… turbulent, to put it politely. So to sum it up quickly, his childhood was lonely, sucky, and incredibly dangerous, and she was possibly offering a chance to return to it? Thanks, but no thanks.
The woman looked startled at his refusal. "What do you mean? You're the Legendary Toad Sage, Naruto Uzumaki Namikaze! I've read extensively about you and your past in all the books and magazines! You have every reason to want to go back in time!"
"Do I?" Naruto asked amusedly. "If I remember correctly, I've succeeded in all I set out to accomplish. Here's a brief flyby of my first tewenty years, which you want me to relive for some strange reason: I had to survive my time with Team Seven, had to liberate Wave as a Rookie Genin," he said pointedly and the lady looked away, "Defeat the surprise Suna/Oto attack, convince Tsunade Senju to become the Fifth Hokage, train with my mentor- yes that was a pain in the ass, he threw me off a cliff one time-, crush all of Akatsuki's S-rank ninja, defeat Kabuto Yakushi, his zombie army, a revived Orochimaru, convince Sasuke Uchiha to return to Konoha, kill Madara, Kill 'Tobi', defeat Iwa in the war that broke out afterwards, finally become Hokage, all of that before I was twenty, and I could go on." He stopped ranting and took a sip of water to ease his burning throat. "The point is that I've lived a full life, with regrets, of course, but why would I mess with a good thing?" He laid out his arms, the picture of happiness. "I'm content, madam. I wish for no such disruption to my peaceful existence. If you really wish to pay off your debt, destroy all of your research relating to that jutsu so it can never be used. Please."
The woman opposite him seemed absolutely flabbergasted. "But… look, I understand your concerns, but you could make it all better!" She pointed out excitedly. "I mean how great has your life been really in all honesty? You were hated by your own village-"
"They got over that," Naruto pointed out. "Save the village a few dozen times and they forget you were the 'demon brat.' Besides, how would your jutsu change that?" He countered politely.
She opened and closed her mouth in frustration. Naruto took the opportunity to note how great that ruby-red lipstick looked on her. "You were outshone by your traitorous teammate Sasuke. You always did your duty to the village, rather than doing what was in your own interest. You had to put up with slights and insults that would have turned lesser men into bloodthirsty animals. Even now, history gives you a lot of the blame, but not enough credit. And all you really have left is the mantle of Legendary Toad Sage. Does this existence really make you happy?" She asked, a hint of concern in her voice.
"Okay, first of all, it took a long time to win my village over. And I used to annoy the crap out of them as a kid, so I made it take even longer. But I'm okay with that; I understand why they were concerned, and if I were them, I would have been scared out of my mind too. Secondly, though I personally never forgave him, Sasuke is now on the straight and narrow. He is a great and powerful ninja, and a true asset to the village. He has turned over a new leaf, in a manner of speaking. Third, yes I always did my duty to the village, yes I got shafted some-, well, a lot of the time-, yes, history doesn't always remember me fondly, but in the end, I'm okay with that. I'm a human being who has made a lot of mistakes, and it's only fair that some blame rests on my shoulders for them. Finally, Legendary Toad Sage is what I wanted to be, to honor the memory of my mentor, who gave his life for me. Growing up, I always wanted to be a great and powerful ninja, who could serve his village, and make his parents, whoever they were and wherever they were, proud. This is life is not perfect, of course, but it's everything I ever wanted, madam," Naruto finished.
The lady stared perplexed, as if he was some fascinating new jutsu she had just discovered. "But- but… okay, you're at peace with your past, and you're a great and powerful ninja whose name is known throughout the Elemental Nations, but have you found happiness?" she asked desperately, as if she were grasping for straws.
"Happy? Of course I am!" Naruto replied blankly. He was happy, wasn't he? Yeah, he was. This wasn't the best existence in the world, but he had friends, he had a pseudo-family, he had respect, he had lovers… he led a damn good life. Again, why in Kami's name would he want to ruin it all with a crime against nature?
The woman sighed as the waiter brought over there food. They each ate in silence with nothing but their own thoughts to keep them company. Naruto was grateful for the continued silence; he suspected that once this woman marshaled her thoughts, she'd start screaming at him. After they had both polished off their meals, his prediction came true.
"This is something I've spent years working on, I've thrown away two decades of my life on, and you don't want it!" She shrieked angrily. Naruto was suddenly really grateful for the privacy jutsu that had been placed on the table at the start of their conversation.
"Miss, did I ask you to do this for me?" Naruto countered grumpily. "I have obligations; I have a life. I can't just drop because you decided that you somehow found a way to transport me to the past to muck up everything I've ever accomplished. And especially not with a jutsu that would probably count as a crime against nature. And destroy everything you and I have ever known," Her anger briefly turned to curiosity. "I'm The Legendary Toad Sage. Remember?" He asked sarcastically. "The mechanics involved sound exactly like something that goes against everything the Toads have ever taught me about Senjutsu and the flow of natural energy."
The lady glared at him like he'd just killed her favorite pet. "You're a real son of a bitch!" She snarled heatedly.
Naruto stood up suddenly, a cross look on his face. "If your grandfather and great-grandfather could see you now," He muttered sadly and the lady paled. "Listen here Miss: I've lived a long and full life, one that wasn't perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but one I'm happy with. I don't appreciate your willingness to screw it all up, despite your good intentions. Even if such a thing actually did work, then I'm still certain it wouldn't be to my benefit to attempt it. I respectfully ask that you destroy all of your work on it to prevent this- this abomination from ever seeing use! Good day, Ma'am."
With that, Naruto swiftly walked out of the restaurant, ignoring the woman's screaming attempts to bring him back to the table. He was halfway down the street when he heard the lady s shout, "You've earned this Naruto! You've earned this! This is your reward for everything!" Immediately afterwards, there was a slash of bright red light, an earth-shattering explosion, and then everything suddenly went black for the Legendary Toad Sage.
"Oh fuck! My head!" Naruto groaned as consciousness swam over him once more. He slowly rolled over, wanting desperately to go back to sleep; maybe he could sleep the pain away. The pain he felt everywhere on his body: arms, legs, eyeballs, skull, chest- the works. He'd had a few nights like these; especially after a big battle against missing-nin, assassins, or even that one time with the bar-fight that got really out of hand. 'What the fuck did I do last night?!' And to make it worse, there was the really annoying fly on his nose. All he wanted to do was sleep the pain away for the next few weeks, and nature was conspiring to try and wake him up. How was that fair!?
He tried slapping the fly away, only to hit himself in the head. Startled, Naruto reluctantly opened his eyes. And frowned. Where in the world was he? He tried thoroughly searching his memory for an answer; time-traveling jutsu, crazy lady, red light, explosion, nothingness. Nope, no answers there. Still hurting all over, Naruto slowly stumbled to his feet, trying to find out where he was. Did that crazy lady incapacitate him and bring him back to her place? He shuddered slightly; she was really hot, but also pretty insane. So no, thank you very much. Well, if that was indeed the case, Jiraiya was problem laughing at him, wherever he was.
He looked around the bedroom. It was a decently furnished room. Hell, he could have comfortably lived here if he wasn't used to accommodations that were both so much better-like the Grand Hotel in Kumo- and so much worse- the lumpy bed he occupied from that bandit he'd killed recently- than the room before him. It had a window, with the blind mercifully down- he'd probably kill something if sunlight was streaming into the room, right into his eyes-, a barely alive potted plant in the corner by the bed, a small wooden dresser right next to the side of the bed he got up from, a small television in the corner opposite the plant, and two doors leading outward. Dreading what he'd find- like a hot, crazy lady who'd kidnapped him and brought him back to her place to have her way with him (Hey, it wouldn't be the first time)- he decided to explore a bit.
Naruto went over and slowly opened the door closest to him, the one on the same side of the room the bed was. It led to a small hallway, with two more doors on his right side. He chose the one in front of him, and opened it to find himself in a grubby looking kitchen. The table needed some work, and the chairs looked like they were falling apart, and it was all so messy. 'Boy, she really let this place go. It could be such a cozy little apartment with a few hours of work.' Shaking his head at the woman's apparent wastefulness, Naruto backtracked to the unopened door. Which led him to a bathroom. Thankfully. Suddenly realizing that nature was on the line, Naruto hurried over to the toilet. If he'd actually been awake, he would have realized there were several things 'wrong' with his body, but he was tired, and his bladder was insistent, so the shock was saved for a few more minutes. Once he was done, Naruto went over to the sink to wash. After washing the soap off and then drying his hands with a grubby looking towel he idly glanced upwards, just to check that his face was fine. And froze.
He was looking in the mirror, he was sure of that, and instead of the Legendary Toad Sage looking back at him- with trademark spiky white hair, trace amounts of orange pigment that came with years of being a Sage, and the three whisker marks- he was instead staring at a little blond kid with three whisker marks on each cheek and vibrant blue eyes, clearly stuck in a state of undisguised shock and horror. 'That's… oh fuck. Ohfuckohfuckohfuckohfuckohfu ck. That's me!' And then Naruto fainted.