Bearing our Burdens

Summary: Flashes of visions entered his mind. Memories, from what he could tell, he didn't know, he couldn't understand and never knew that existed. He could see himself in them as clear and as perfect as day.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto all property and rights belong to Shounen Jump and Masashi Kishimoto. This is strictly for fan purposes only.


Chapter Prologue: Awakening


"All changes,even the most longed for,have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another."

- Anatole France


It all started when he woke up today. He felt different somehow and felt something was out of the ordinary when he looked at his hands. A feeling of worry and then turning into apathy made their presence known as he stared at the palms of his hands and then to the blanket he had been using for a long time. The sun's rays were bright and shining but he looked felt different today, he was aware that he had been staring at nothing for the past five minutes, and he had to ask himself why? Why was he doing that today? Why couldn't he move?

He felt like an old man, weary and tired who happened to wake up and realized, he had grown a day older and nearing his death. It was after that contemplation that he moved. Sluggish and looking tired, the boy got out of his bed and headed towards the bathroom to clean himself.

He was starting to be aware of his peculiarity but when he washed his face and looked into a mirror, he looked surprised as he saw an older version looking at himself staring back at him.

The blonde shook his head vigorously at this and rubbed his eyes once more. The man staring back at him was gone and instead, a boy no looking older than six years old was now staring back at him from the mirror.

He took a deep breath and exhaled. Perhaps he needed fresh air to make his mind forget about any peculiarity he had within the day.

He couldn't understand what was going on today. Looking back, it felt as if it was just any other ordinary day. He could see the same people that sneer and glare at him everyday from the day he could understand. They all gave the condescending, disgusted look at him. Normally, he would simply give a mean response or at least some form of revenge on the people that tend to either ignore him or give an insult. But today, whatever fault he saw in his surroundings, he just couldn't care.

A maniacal laughter escaped the wasteland of what was once a grove of fertile soil. The laughs were loud, deep and resonant in the barren fields.

'What a waste of potential you had, boy.'

He couldn't speak. He was too tired to even make a snide comeback at the man that stood before him.

Before he could totally black out, the boy reached out a hand to the man before he was encapsulated by the strange, condensed layer of chakra.

Unknowingly, he had reacted in the same way as that of the person that he couldn't identify. His hands were reaching out towards the same way; it was to the scary man's area.

'What's happening to me?'

He looked at his own hands and noted that they were tiny compared to the person's own that he saw. Somehow, it felt like he was the one who was being trapped in that wall of blue. As he walked over to the areas where civilians where restricted (the training grounds) His vision shifted from the fields of grass and trees to smouldering craters and mutilated bodies left and right.

Everything was destroyed. Gone, eradicated in a matter of seconds. He could feel his own fear manifesting as that huge monster destroyed battlefields in seconds. He could see a lot of men dying, bodies flying around and sometimes disintegrated to the point where not a trace of him remains.

He fell down on the ground, one hand supporting him as he stared at the dirt beneath him while another held his mouth, trying to stop the contents of his meagre breakfast from spilling out.

He had never seen so much carnage and death throughout his entire life. They were far, far too real to be just an illusion. The question was though, "Why?"

Why was this happening? Why to him of all people?

'The whole point of this war is for your protection! Instead of insisting your will and acting like a brat, you should let us do the work! Understand that if we lose you, we lose this war!' The large man spoke to him, large and hulking; he could see his head fitting in the man's palms and just as easily crush it. He was intimidating but much more when he was angry. And right now, that type of anger was directed towards him.

It was then that he saw the man appear within arm's faster than it would take to count one second. He had dodged this time, but almost barely escaped the man's fist that was supposedly to kill him.

There was no pain as his thoughts were brought back to the realm of reality. But the agony of receiving that blow, it was far, far too real for it to be seen. A sense of lingering pain escaped his tiny little arms as he finally noticed that he wasn't in the populous area of the village now, rather he was now in one of the village's main training grounds.

"What the hell is happening?" He asked himself as another stream of vague imageries invaded his vision.

'Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.'

The man with orange spiky hair under a long black cloak and emblazoned with countless red clouds stood in front of him, looking down at him in both a condescending manner and pity. He was pinned to the ground and pain coursed through his hands, lower torso and back seeing as he was nailed to the dirt with black rods that seemingly came from the man's sleeves.

'This is but a small price to pay for what I achieve to make. Look at the forest and not the tree, boy. In order to attain peace, blood will have to be spilled. And in the name of peace, it is you who should lay your life down for the people that still live.'

From his words, he could feel his own rage and anger welling up. How couldn't he? His home was in complete shambles.

The village was wiped off the map. Nothing was spared. Everything was destroyed. The once great village was now nothing more than a giant crater and its imposing red wall.

'This is the very same thing that happened to me when I was young, perhaps younger than you. My family, my friends, and my village, they were all taken away from me because of you Konoha Shinobi.'

The boy had to stop thinking about anything about what was happening to his mind today as a realization dawned in on him…

'Konoha… was destroyed?'

His mind was running a million miles a second as he had realized this. What was going on? Why was Konoha destroyed? What did that man mean about him being a sacrifice? He didn't know the answer. He didn't have an idea because he couldn't trace the images invading his mind. Everything was hazy, confusing and horrifying. It was as if he was bearing witness to the inevitable.

"AAAAAAAHHHHHH!" He finally screamed. He held his tussle of blonde hair with both hands as his knees buckled and suddenly kneeled on to the grassy forest floor. The thought of death and destruction was maddening him.

'I have to get out!' The blonde said this to himself as the myriad of visions kept pouring, and pouring, and pouring.

'Jiraiya-chan is dead. His throat was crushed with the battle against Pain.'

Gloom permeated within the room, as an old busty lady looked down in mourning, as did the people around him.

The old wise toad then pointed to him, 'But as his teacher, I do not have time to mourn and let his death be in vain, at least, not now. I am here as both a last request from Jiraiya-chan and a messenger from the Great Toad Sage, to train the Child of Prophecy.'

He ran.

'Do you really wish to save Sasuke from his fate?'

He went faster.

'Looking at your forehead protector reminds me of the first leaf shinobi I've ever fought, The First Hokage.'

Naruto stumbled a little but immediately regained her balance and Naruto was off again.

'I spared your life on a whim. Nothing more. This time, my whim is telling me, that I should finish what I started.'

He wanted to run. This place, it was going to be destroyed. Of that, he was entirely convinced. He didn't know why he had to believe it but he knew that he needed to get away. Something, something terrible is about to happen!

He needed to run!

Staying here would be dangerous.

Staying here would get him killed!

He ran, as fast as to where his little legs took him, as small visions of clearly something brought out a lot of fear in him.

He made his way from the training area, past the monument of fallen heroes and into the bustling streets of the village itself. People could see the panic rampant in his eyes. The sheer terror from him made a lot of the adults curious and wary. They grew scared as he ran in frantic horror. He couldn't shout, he couldn't tell them what was going on. For something was keeping him from doing so.

'I can't tell them, I don't know why, but I just can't tell them!'

With agility he never knew he had, the boy bounded from the ground and leapt to the rooftops. The people looking at the boy, stunned. They were staring at him. They had never expected the boy to be able to do that when he shouldn't be in the academy just yet!

The boy was now inches close to the red walls of the village, the only thing that he could remember as the structure that stood while everything else was obliterated in a blink of an eye. As he bounded close to the wall, he felt something grab him from behind his shirt. He turned his head to look back at his capturer and saw the white mask of an ANBU agent. Naruto's eyes widened as he was yanked back from the air and into the agent's arms.

"No, no, no, no, no, NO, NO! I have to get out! I-I'll die if I stay here! They're after me! They'll destroy the village!" The boy shouted in a panic and in a sudden move grabbed the ANBU agent's arm holding him pulled himself up, surprising the agent drawing him closer to the boy while he grabbed the nearest thing he could, the man's pouch before kicking the man away with his right foot and bounding away.

'That kid… Those aren't moves that a starting Academy Student should be able to do!' And indeed it wasn't for from what he could observe, it was a move more common from seasoned veterans that had an idea of fighting with Taijutsu. And this boy, that move that he used was rather unorthodox but it was effective in staggering and surprising him.

'I have to go after him!' The agent muttered as he chased after the blonde who was running quite fast for a boy his age and bounded to the rooftops like no other, signifying he had some sort of ninja training prior.

'But that's what I don't understand. I've been observing him for most of his life and I've never seen him actually train before.'

Naruto looked back and saw that the ANBU agent picked up his pace, forcing the blonde to pick up his own pace. The ANBU watched, wide eyed as the blonde crouched closer to the ground and leapt from the final rooftop up to the walls that kept Konoha separated from the outside world.

The child looked back and then formed a hand seal that the ANBU instantly recognized…

"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu (Shadow Clone Technique)"

Then, he heard it, the multiple sounds of clones popping up and running in different directions as him and his replicas jumped from the wall and scattered about as he ran into the forest.

The agent cursed loudly and looked as to where the boy was last seen and turned back to the village. What would he do now? Chase down every single clone that would most likely spread throughout Fire Country? Or go back to the tower and request for back up in tracking the boy down. The agent already knew his answer. He just hoped the Hokage would not tear his head clean off his shoulders about this monumental blunder.


Hokage's Office:

"Get every available tracker, agent, Jounin, Chuunin, I don't care! Bring Naruto back in this village this instant!" The Hokage shouted in fury as he stormed out of his own office. He was irritated, no, downright furious! How could a boy slip past a guard on duty near the walls? How could Naruto have the physical conditioning or the ability to leap like that without prior Shinobi training? How did Naruto learn the Kage Bunshin without even unfurling or reading the Forbidden Scroll of Seals? How could he have let this happen? The very thought of Naruto slipping away from his care was inconceivable!

"Sarutobi…"

The aged Hokage stopped and saw a man, face wrapped in bandages by scars of former battles that had happened. He walked with a cane, wearing loose garbs of black and white and wild, trimmed hair were only kept in check by the bandages that wrapped cleanly around his right eye and head.

Danzo, Sarutobi Hiruzen's former rival to the seat of Hokage, stood right in front of him. Obviously, he had already heard news of Naruto's escape. Danzo had eyes and ears around the village after all.

"Danzo, what is it?"

"I have heard of the circumstance that happened with the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki."

Hiruzen already knew that, but Danzo wanted to be formal about it.

"Be at ease, Old Monkey, as I have sent my best agents to track the boy down as well."

He knew of Naruto's importance as much as Hiruzen did. If Naruto was gone, then their deterrent to war was gone as well. Though their views were quite different with regards to the boy, they knew the very thing that kept the wolves at bay from Konoha was the presence of a Jinchuuriki. If word got out especially from their rival villages of Kumo and Iwa, god forbid, who knows what they will do?

A feeling of dread once more escaped Sarutobi, if any other day, he would have dismissed Danzo but not right now. As such, they both have the same priority.

Get Naruto back home.


Uchiha Compound, several hours later:

Uchiha Itachi had just arrived home after another mission from ANBU. He had been assigned as a newly minted member to become one of the Hokage's personal bodyguards. In truth, he was actually a double agent. His father assigned him to be their mole within the ranks, but Itachi knew better. The village would not stand if a civil war broke out. Especially if Konoha was still reeling from the attack of the Ninetails, if a coup were to happen now, who is to say that the village would stand after if the Uchiha were to triumph?

He saw his clansmen rushing around the compound and heading to the Shrine near the river, to where they would usually meet. He saw his father heading there in a brisk pace as he caught up to his father.

"Father, may I ask of what is happening right now?" Itachi mentioned as his father glanced back to him and said, "We will discuss it in the shrine. For now, call Shisui. There are pressing matters that we must attend to."

Itachi simply nodded and turned back from his father. A feeling of uncertainty was welling up inside him as he went to find Shisui. What was happening? Is the coup going ahead of schedule? What was he to do now?

Itachi had no other choice but to stand down for now. There was still no order coming from Danzo, but just to be sure, he would have to change his attire much later than expected.

Once Itachi found his peer, he just had to ask, "What is happening, Shisui? I need to know. Father is going to the shrine in a brisk pace and he has not told me about anything about the emergency meeting."

Shisui looked at his cousin and remembered that Itachi had been out on a mission and had just arrived today.

"There is a report that the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki has escaped the walls of the village. Uncle Fugaku went to the shrine to order for an emergency meeting, most likely to help track the boy down and bring him back home."

Itachi's face didn't look surprised at all, but his raised eyebrows told him otherwise, "The container has gone missing? How was he able to elude the guards?"

Shisui looked serious at the moment there, "That is what I would like to know. According to the agent that's been guarding him, the boy showed feats of a seasoned chuunin when he got away. He surprised the agent as well when the boy managed to counter his hold and stole his weaponry, which makes no sense since he had no ninja training prior to the events that occurred earlier. Then it was what he said that made us all wonder…"

Itachi's curiosity grew at this, "What did he say?"

"It was disturbing, Itachi. The boy said that people were after him, that he would die if he stayed any longer and that the village would be destroyed in the process. The agent said the boy was panicking, driven crazy by something but he didn't know what caused the sudden change."

"Has Hokage-sama ordered a pursuit?" Itachi asked and Shisui nodded before giving an answer.

"He's ordered every available tracker there is be it an ANBU agent, Jounin or Chuunin or anyone that could help in finding the boy. Let me tell you that you would not have wished to be that agent who had to report on Naruto's escape. He's lucky that the Hokage is lenient. Had it been Danzo, he would have most likely kicked the man out of the office in both a figurative and literal way."

Itachi nodded at this, he realized that he would most likely be mobilized as well due to the events. But first, he had to see to it that his clan would not capitalize on such situation.

When they managed to reach the shrine, both Itachi and Shisui sat down as Fugaku was in front. The meeting had already started.

"Fugaku-sama, this is our chance! With the sudden confusion, we could capitalize on this situation and usurp the Sandaime!"

Fugaku looked at his fellow clansman and shook his head.

"No. We cannot go through with this. With the vessel missing, I doubt the village will last long like this."

"But, Fugaku-sama, if we don't take this now, there might never be an opportunity that may come to pass such as this!" One of them refuted but Fugaku answered swiftly, "I know that, but an opportunity of this kind is a curse in disguise. We only have one Jinchuuriki while three of our rival villages have two each. We lose the last one, and we lose everything. Pretty soon, word will reach each of the Kages' ears concerning the missing Jinchuuriki. They will be prowling our borders like vultures on a dying animal. As much as possible, we should grab the boy first before Hiruzen's group does in order to win political favor and maybe finally we be rid of Danzo's prying eyes."

Fugaku was scared. He had realized what might happen when the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki went missing.

"How is that going to restore our honor, Fugaku-sama? They sullied our pride and held us in suspicion since the attack of the Ninetails! It is inconceivable to think that we bow to…"

"I KNOW that. I know that we shouldn't bow our heads to the Senju. But it is our pride or our village's safety that will cost us. The boy is a deterrent to war, without him we will be the targets of other nations and we would have not possibly survived, down to the women and children. So what use is a king if he has no subjects? There are other ways to gain the seat of power, but right now, a coup is not one of them."

Itachi sighed in relief. Perhaps there is hope for his clan yet.

With that, Itachi's father looked at him and said, "Itachi, Shisui, for now, you two should volunteer in seeking the boy. Find him, bring him to us and we'll show him to Sarutobi."

Shisui looked back to his cousin and gave a small relieved smile, "I know, but it beats bloodshed a hell of a lot more!"

The circumstance could not have come any better for Itachi. For Naruto's departure turned out to be a blessing in disguise.


With Naruto:

He ran, ran to where his legs could take him, ran like it was the most important thing right now, neither caring nor daring to look back at his village. The things that he had seen, the things that he had heard, it was driving him mad. The visions kept entering his mind and only saw death.

Death was everywhere. Blood, blood splattered in every wall and ground that he could see. The smell of burnt flesh, the rotting carcasses of men and women lay down on the ground wafting his nose even if there was none. The sound of people screaming and wailing and dying kept entering his ears even if no one else was around him. Flashes of different visions invading his mind as it began to sort out, like puzzles slowly forming the bigger picture.

Those things that he saw weren't just visions of the future. That, he had realized.

He saw himself in them, saw everything that occurred, heard every word said to him, and felt every pain that happened to him. He had slowly come to the conclusion, in his weary state of mind, it was his future.

A dark, bleak and apocalyptic future; and he saw it.

He saw ALL of it.

Naruto stopped and looked at the palm of his hand. The thought had never occurred to him, as slowly, the pieces began to complete itself in his mind. For a moment there, he had thought he had gone crazy, a chaotic mess as his mind kept seeing the things that he wasn't supposed to.

At first, he had thought he had eaten something bad for this to have happened. But he dismissed the thought. Something like that would have given him a tummy ache instead.

Naruto sat on the branch he had been standing on earlier and sighed.

Somehow, after sorting out the mess that has happened inside his head, it brought him a sense of tranquillity. It was the clarity of the thoughts that invaded his mind. Young as he is, his mind was now like a young adult's.

"I wasn't going crazy." He mumbled to himself and relief had set in.

That relief turned into urgency when he had remembered the events that would come in the future. He looked to his hands again and noted that though he had gained unexplained skills as a ninja akin to genin class fighter, he had yet to know if any of the stuff he had done in those visions that he had were accessible.

Standing for several seconds, Naruto took a deep breath and began a meditative state. He took note of the feel of the earth beneath him and the trees around him, feeling the soft and gentle bristle of the wind touching his skin. Several seconds later, he opened his eyes and cursed loudly. He could feel nothing around him even though his mind could remember the sensation of natural energies that existed all around him.

A sigh escaped his lips.

He supposed if he couldn't access that kind of power, then he should forget about the other one until it was the right time. Now that he had a moment to breathe, he had to make a choice now on what he was about to do.

'Go find the perverted hermit, Jiraiya and ask for his training and the Toad Contract or go to Suna and get to Gaara before his father and uncle drives him mad before looking for Ero-sennin.' The blonde thought as he started to walk first before running once more. By now, he was nearing a third of Fire Country's landscape. And although Old Man Hokage was sure to have sent trackers to find him, his clones were there to misdirect them from the real one. It would be days before they could even catch up to him. At least right now, he had to think about his next move.

Naruto took note of each circumstance and heavily thought about both their pros and cons.

Going after Gaara means crossing the vast desert of Wind Country, and although it was the most sure fire way of getting his objective, he is currently ill equipped in getting there since he literally ran from home with only the clothes on his back. If he was going to cross the desert, that meant going back to Konoha and possibly be stuck there under the watchful eye of the ANBU and ROOT. That was something he didn't need right now. As his objective would be hindered if he went back. And as of this moment, there was no turning back.

On the other hand, at this point in time, Naruto didn't know where Jiraiya was. The toad sage mentioned to him that he was tailing Orochimaru and to an extent, Akatsuki for a time. If he was going to find Jiraiya, he'd have to be closer to Akatsuki than he would have liked at his current predicament.

'Suna it is then.' Naruto decided as he leapt from his branch and made his way to the nearest town to acquire the needed equipment in order to cross the desert.


Days Later:

Jiraiya had just received word from Sarutobi that Naruto had gone and disappeared from Konoha six days ago. The letter was written to him exactly the same day that Naruto disappeared and the old man, obviously incensed judging from the exclamation points and the rush that was made in order for the letter to get to him as soon as possible. Jiraiya wasted no time in tracking the boy and leaving behind his spy network for a while. He had decided to leave Akatsuki alone for a moment in favour of the boy that would inadvertently cause a war. Jiraiya rushed towards where the boy was last seen and although the mismatch of tracks that the boy left behind (since he obviously didn't want to be followed) was showing, Jiraiya would eventually get a lead on the boy to the nearest town nearing the border of River Country and Fire Country. He knew. He just KNEW that the boy had obtained a lot of ground to escape his pursuers.

The Toad Sage was curious at this, what was going through the blonde's head when he ran away? Hiruzen had told him that the boy kept muttering about him being sought after, Naruto dying and Konoha destroyed. He kept screaming and kept acting strangely on the day he left.

Those peculiar actions caused Jiraiya to stop for a moment and frown. What had the blonde seen? What made him go to brink of insanity like that? What scared the boy?

Questions kept lingering in his mind as he had now reached inside the Land of Rivers. He had decided that he wouldn't have to update his old teacher on his progress for now so that he could focus everything he had for this mission. Naruto was his godson after all and the son of his most prized pupil.

As Jiraiya jumped through the treetops, his whole being suddenly felt a tug. He had recognized the feeling of being reverse summoned and that usually happens when the toad sages needed something from him or that there was something that they were about to give him.

Like a prophecy.

Jiraiya could see the waterfall of oil cascading as well as the stone statues of past summoners that attempted Senjutsu.

"Jiraiya-chan, the Great Toad Sage is requesting that your presence at once! He states that something has happened and that the course of the prophecy has changed!"

Jiraiya couldn't help but grind his teeth out in frustration! The timing was bad enough! Now he'll be behind again for at least several more days with the brat having the possibility to change courses!

Jiraiya just took a deep breath and had just let things run its course for now. The Great Toad Sage wanting him to be here and tell him something must have been really important, perhaps more important than the affairs of his village.

'It better be. I have a godson to track down, after all. Prophecy or no prophecy I have to find him before any hidden village discovers the fact that we have a jinchuuriki on the loose.'

As Jiraiya made his way to the great toad sage's abode, he looked at the giant toad that was holding the giant crystal ball.

The Giant Toad opened his wrinkled eyes and looked down upon his visitor. It was a white haired human, adult by his build and mane reaching to his tail bone. He had the markings of a sage on his cheeks and the character of oil on his forehead protector. The old toad raised an eyebrow at this as he asked the man that stood before him, "Eh, who are you?"

Jiraiya wanted to scream, he wanted to yell at the old toad right now! He didn't have time for his long term memory loss!

'Get on with it, you senile old toad!'

Jiraiya muttered in frustration as he was itching to get out there and wasting his time here.

'Calm down, Jiraiya, calm down! He's old. He's testing your patience!'

The old toad scratched his head and tilted it as he looked down on Jiraiya.

'Ah! Stupid, senile old toad! If it didn't concern the prophecy I would have…'

"I see a veil of darkness, chaotic and unyielding. Nations will fall. A war shall emerge. In the veil of chaos, lie the red clouds, devious and cunning. It will tempt and push the world into turmoil and will make every nation turn on each other. From the land of the Weeping Country shall arise a god, not of benevolence but of scorn, he will strike with fury on the world and show his might. He will seek and turn every stone to find what he most desires."

Jiraiya had a sudden feeling in his gut that this was by far, the most dreadful prophecy he has ever had received.

"He will subdue this world and shape it in his image. He will blaspheme, he will trick every leader, every person into submitting to him and he will succeed."

By now, the Great Toad Sage looked at his crystal ball directly.

"Many people will rebel, but they will die. They will fall victim to his wrath."

Jiraiya stared at the great toad sage. All matters concerning his godson had been put aside for now because of this.

"What about the child of prophecy?"

Silence reigned in between them as the old toad shook his head.

"The child of prophecy will not come unless you see him. The vision will be the same unless you teach him, young Jiraiya."

"Then who can stop the future that you just said from happening if the child of prophecy isn't there?" Jiraiya asked, now more intrigued than ever. The old toad once more opened his eyes and looked down at their most recent sage.

"There is a boy, who holds within his hands, all of the answers to your questions. He knows who will come and knows who will die, he knows who will liveand knows who will be damned. Find him, and the future will possibly change."

'Damn this cryptic messaging! How on earth am I going to search for this person without even a physical description?' Jiraiya inwardly screamed. Outside, he was concerned, very, very concerned of the matter. Because for most of the times of the visions that the old toad sage had given him, they ALL came true.

He wrote a book and roamed around the world. He had met Nagato and left. He had observed all of the countries in the continent and grew wise with every visit he has done so!

Yet, now, of all the times that had to happen, ANOTHER prophecy showed a future much darker than the last!

Fukasaku had already sent him back to where he was last standing before being reverse summoned. But Jiraiya had other things in mind that had put him in a difficult situation once more.

'What should I do?' The Gama Sennin mentioned this as smoke covered his entire body and reappeared within the lands of Kawa no Kuni (River Country). If the world would have a better chance of stopping this unknown force from happening, then he would need to look for a kid that knew EVERYTHING that's been going on.

'I'm sorry, Naruto. But you're going to have to be a priority at a later date. The world comes first.' With a heavy heart, Jiraiya turned his back from tracking the boy down and instead, went back to Fire Country but not before a tinge of guilt and regret escaped his heart as he looked back.

'Be safe. And I'm sorry for not being a better godfather.'


Unknown Place:

Gold slit eyes surveyed around the large cave that was supposed to be their meeting point. And although he would have liked their meeting place to be much more hospitable, he knew that their leader was not someone who would waste trivialities when something needed to be discussed quickly, so he could only think of one thing to say about their venue right now.

Damp.

The whole cave was damp and dark. It was much too damp, dreary and asymmetrical to Orochimaru's liking. The place reminded him of poorly made catacombs.

To his side, Sasori looked rather unconcerned about the whole thing.

Orochimaru simply smirked. The man beside him, Sasori of the red sands, was a rather impatient man. He would often sound irritated when things do not go as planned in his schedule. The man hated waiting for anything that would bother him with his work.

Quite ironic for his attitude since Sasori's love for art depicts those that captures eternal beauty, still frames, sculptures, and puppetry are where his interests lie and all of them required long and meticulous work. To that kind of end, patience was a virtue that was the most required.

In contrast to Sasori, Orochimaru had no desire for the arts. But even though he found such works boring, he had, at least, far more patience than Sasori ever had. That he was able to endure his partner's rants and displeased expression in his style of fighting would warrant that he be a monk in the patience that was required to ignore Sasori's degrading insults.

Right now, Sasori's extremely short patience was wearing thin.

"Calm yourself, Sasori. You would do well to have more patience like your partner." The voice mentioned to his partner. Sasori glanced to his side and saw an orange haired man, wearing the standard uniform of Akatsuki and having a sword strapped to his back mentioned. Behind him, a blue haired man appeared from the shadows, chuckling darkly at Sasori's expense.

"Yahiko, where is the leader and why hasn't he started the meeting yet? You know I do not like to be kept waiting." Sasori mentioned and Hiruko's tail swinging slowly and making noises that indicated that he was ready to kill something. Kisame chuckled once more as Samehada did the same.

"My, my, are you in a rush, Sasori-san?" The blue skinned swordsman asked, earning a growl from the puppet master before Sasori replied.

"I would have wanted to get my work done as soon as possible for the next assignment. From what I've obtained from Yahiko, the leader has his eye set on a new member to join anytime soon."

To this, Orochimaru's curiosity piqued.

"A new member, you say? How come I have never heard of such a thing?"

It was then that the ground below the rocks began to have the consistency of mud and out came a giant venus flytrap.

"That is because you weren't present last time, what with being busy in establishing a village and all." It's black half said as Orochimaru chuckled.

"That and he's still isn't part of the organization yet." mentioned the white half towards Orochimaru that looked surprised despite his usual smirk.

"Ah, of course, do excuse my ignorance there. My partner is quite the story teller." Orochimaru mentioned those words with a bit of sarcasm as he looked back at Sasori who dismissed the snake user's tirade.

"I saw no reason to tell you as you will not be coming with me on that mission."

Orochimaru's curiosity now grew much more, "Oh? Do tell me why."

"It is because I saw no need to add more on your agendas." Another person then came into view, it was a red haired man, a single eye with concentric circles were the only things shown from his face as half of it was covered by his bangs.

"Ah, Nagato, so the leader finally arrives." Orochimaru mentioned with amusement as the lady from behind the red head spoke, "Watch your words, Orochimaru. It would be wise not to speak so informally against the leader."

"Oh, do forgive me for my insolence." Orochimaru mentioned with a smirk while the Blue Haired woman's frown turned into a scowl.

"Konan, don't bother. Orochimaru is twisted like that." Yahiko chastised all the while he stared at Orochimaru who was chuckling again. Indeed, why would Nagato include this madman even though this was the person that suggested they be killed when they were younger? Konan had good reason not to trust the man but Nagato had let him in the organization despite their past with him.

"Where are Kakuzu and his new partner?" Yahiko asked, turning away from the snake user and looked at Zetsu.

"They are collecting funds right now by hunting down those in his list. He and his partner will not be able to attend today." The plant man's white half answered. Nagato nodded at this.

"Are there any other news that we should be concerned, Zetsu?"

The plant man nodded, "Almost a week ago, there have been rumors around Fire Country that the jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi no Yoko has escaped custody of his village and is running amok around the country."

Nagato nodded and asked once more, "Do you find validity in those rumors, Zetsu?"

The plant man nodded his head, "It would be obvious to notice the Kyuubi's chakra once it goes out of the village. Unfortunately, there are several signatures that had managed to scramble my sensing of the ground and kept mismatching them in finding the real one. He has most likely gone from Fire Country at this stage in time, so Konoha would not risk in taking military action once he reaches past the border."

Nagato nodded at this, "We leave them be for now. The Jinchuuriki are not our priority at this point in our plans. Zetsu, make sure that not a word of this escapes outside Fire Country, I do not wish to meet a compromise with our objectives."

Zetsu gave a small laugh before sinking back into the ground.

"Oh? You would dare pass a chance in destroying Konoha?" Orochimaru asked, obviously confused with Nagato's decision. Did he not care if a village were to burn to the ground if it meant getting what he wanted? He knew that Sanshouo no Hanzo was a testament to that.

"It would not bode well with our plans. War right now is too uncertain. We are still an organization that is relatively new and I would like the villages to continue in a state of disarmament before we finally make our move." Nagato replied.

The leader wanted to tread carefully with this predicament. Of course, it went without saying that Nagato would have to avoid as much bloodshed as he could, but that didn't mean he was scared. But everything he did, if he acted now, it would be undone in just a matter of seconds. That's why he had to look further into the situation before he could make the right decision for now.

The red head turned to Yahiko, Konan and finally to Sasori, "Do you remember who it is you're after?"

The three nodded at this while Konan spoke to Nagato, "Iwa has requested that we neutralize a person called Deidara for his terroristic activity within Earth Country."

"If possible, we should recruit him. But first see what the target can do and why he would warrant an S-Rank within Iwa." Sasori continued as Nagato nodded.

"Very well, to the others that have no assignments for this day, be on standby and I will call you via an Astral Projection. Until then, this meeting is adjourned." With that, Nagato left the scene in the same manner as he came, he faded into the darkness and vanished without a trace.

Thus, Akatsuki will remain further in the shadows until such a time when they feel that it is right to take the stage.


With Naruto:

The blonde looked out into the night as the stars shone brightly. He glanced to his back with a sense of longing and regret. Somehow, he wanted to stay in Konoha, change things the way it is from there. But he knew he couldn't. He knew that he couldn't save everybody if he was stuck there, being a ninja of Konoha. He would have to move around, with people after him both good and bad. But it would be better than being thrown into a war with everybody dying and that bastard Tobi winning. He had sacrificed his childhood for the sake of the village, but now, he was willing to sacrifice his every being for the sake of the world for he knew what was coming, and he is the wrench in their plans.

'This is for the best.' Naruto muttered but even that didn't stop him from looking so fondly back home, where everyone he had ever loved and cared for were living their lives.

They may not know him yet, but Naruto couldn't help but let out a small tear.

'I promise you, this time. I will save you all and I won't die trying. I know what I'm up against now, and I know what to do. I'll sacrifice everything and put it my all. It's because that's what heroes do, right?'

Naruto then looked on ahead, there was still many more days before he could reach Suna. And even though it was night time, he had not stopped his travelling since then and only stopping at a town to steal supplies and barter if needed. He walked forward right now, his eyes looking fierce and determined.

This time, for sure, he was going to save them all.


To be continued…

Another experiment that involves time travelling (sort of, well not really), I've been in my semester break and I must say, I think this one shot just brought back a lot of creativity! But you might already guess where I'm going with this, right?

Aside from that, there is also one more that I have to add. Now you see some possibilities of a chain reaction going on within and out of the walls of Konoha. As such, the effect of Naruto's absence will leave a profound effect on not only on several people, but Naruto's entire generation will be affected (Will be seen in future chapters if this manages to be a hit). Strange, I know, but hear me out and see what happens now.

Also, rule about this one, don't ask for pairings, I will not answer them and joss them out of the inbox with the delete button. I hate people who keep pestering me about things like that along with people who leave non-constructive criticism (i.e. I HATE THIS AND I HATE YOU FAAAAAAAAGGGG! THIS IS NARUWHATEVER? GODDAMN I HATE THIS! THIS SUCKS!). That isn't being helpful, it's nerdraging and all attempts to be that kind of a nerd will be met with the full force of Bender's "Oh you were serious, let me laugh even harder!" comeback.

Please leave a review and tell me what you think about this one!