Disclaimer: I do not own any Naruto characters...

Note 1: First of all, this will be my first Naruto fic but I just couldn't get it out of my head. Yes, it's a time travel AU of sorts, and there's a ton of them out there but I love these so I figured I'd write one myself.

Note 2: For anybody who is also reading my Bleach fic, I will be updating either at the end of February or early March.

Note 3: For anybody who is also reading my KHR fic, I will be updating that in late March or sometime in April.

Note 4: The updates probably won't be regular as I only have a general idea of where I want this story to go. Updates will also depend on reviews and favourites.

Full Summary: Uzumaki Naruto, 26 years old and undoubtedly one of the few remaining shinobi still alive after 10 long years of war, lay dying in the midst of a bloody battlefield. With Konoha gone and no one left to live for, he sends himself back to the beginning, to the day of his younger self's graduation from the academy, in one final attempt to set things right. Time travel AU.

Chapter 1 – To Live Again

Hoarse coughs disrupted the heavy surroundings as dying flames crackled quietly across the corpse-littered ground. A body stirred amongst the rubble and ash as one bloodied hand reached up to sweep aside dirtied locks of blond hair.

'Is he dead, Kurama?'

The demon fox's voice was faint when the answer came. 'As dead as he possibly can be, Kit. Even his body's been completely destroyed.' A pause followed for several heartbeats. 'But we're not far behind either.'

A dry half-chuckle was offered at this statement as Naruto heaved himself into a sitting position, ignoring the blood that dripped from his wounds and joined the dark crimson already staining the battlefield. 'No doubt. I can practically feel our chakra leaking away. Can't believe how strong that bastard is.'

The fox didn't reply, and under normal circumstances, Naruto would've been worried that the demon merged with him now found it too exhausting to even speak. Instead, the blond turned dull blue eyes to the broken figure lying only a few feet away, a hole in his chest, limbs twisted in an ugly rendition of a ragdoll.

Naruto released a bitter scoff at this, too drained to even consider crying for his fallen best friend. He hadn't cried since his godfather had died. The irony here was painful. Once upon a time, he had been the one struck down like this, almost killed by the very attack that Madara had slaughtered Sasuke with not even an hour ago. And the Chidori hadn't even been aimed at the raven-haired ANBU General in the first place. His stupidly proud, unbelievably protective, brilliant best friend had jumped in the way at the last second.

'Hey Kit,'

Naruto blinked slowly, pulling his wayward thoughts back together as the Kyuubi's soft, almost wavering voice thrummed in his mind. 'What is it?'

'What do you think you're doing?'

The blond frowned, dragging himself over to some leftover debris to lean against a slab of fallen rock. He doubted he could stand anymore. 'What does it look like? There's nothing left. Konoha's gone. Madara's gone. Not much left to do but wait until I go too.'

A feeble snort batted at him, somehow managing to convey the same amount of annoyance the Kyuubi once did at full strength. 'That's a pathetic way to die. And I for one am not going to just roll over and wait until death takes us like some common dog.'

Naruto would've rolled his eyes if he had the energy left to do so. 'Don't think we have much choice, Kurama. Unless you want me to commit traditional suicide.'

A growl berated him. 'Think, you damn brat! Last time I checked, you were a Fuuinjutsu Master. What were you working on after that pervert of a Sannin was killed?'

Naruto blinked, mind sluggishly retrieving the memory of a complex seal he had started on after Jiraiya had died. In his grief, he had holed himself up in his apartment and had gone through stacks of paper and numerous jars of ink in a half-crazed attempt at reversing the event of the Toad Sannin's death. It had been a stupid thing to do, and he had always known, in the back of his mind, that he would never go through with it. One man's death, no matter how precious to him, was not worth erasing his other friends' futures. He had put it aside after a week and a furious beat down from a subtly panicking Sasuke once the Uchiha had managed to break through his seals and into his apartment. But now...

Now, what was there to lose?

'I have no paper, no ink,' He thought stupidly even as he cleared a rough patch of ground in front of him. 'And it takes a huge amount of chakra. And it might not even work.'

'You have blood, Kit. And we still have enough chakra to pull this off if we pour everything we have into it. I'll be damned if you won't at least try. We have nothing to lose anymore.'

Focusing now on the seal he had come up with years ago seemed to lift the haze fogging his mind. Naruto held no doubts that it was mostly a last rush of adrenaline that forced him to concentrate even as his life continued to slip away like sand through spread fingers. But his hand was steady as he drew out the seal in his own blood. He only paused when he started drawing the time frame of the jump. Originally, he had drawn it out to be before Nagato's attack on the Toad Sannin, but if he was going to travel back, he might as well do it properly.

Kurama, how many years do you think we can jump?'

'...A decade, maybe a little more than that,' The fox responded after a considering pause. 'And it would be easier if you jumped back to a significant point in time. Significant to you, I mean.'

Naruto remained still. The day of the Kyuubi attack was out of the question. That had been a significant date, and he had played a large part in it, but he had also just been a baby. There was no way he could jump back so far to a time he couldn't even remember. The Uchiha Massacre was also impossible. As much as he wished to spare his best friend the loss of his family, he hadn't known Sasuke back then, and the Uchiha Clan's destruction had never affected him directly. The best date to jump back to would probably be the day he had been assigned to Team 7. It had been one of the happiest days of his life, and had occurred before everything had gone downhill.

'Good choice,' Kurama approved. 'It will take every last drop of chakra we have, but that is a strong point in time. It will serve as an anchor for us.'

Naruto nodded absently and quickly drew out the correct symbols before finishing the rest of the seal. His hand dropped back into his lap, studying the seal with a critical eye for any mistakes.

Kurama, where will I end up once I get back? My apartment? On the streets of Konoha?' He frowned. 'In my twelve-year-old body? I can't do anything like that.'

The demon fox was quiet for a long moment, the silence contemplative. 'You will most likely still have your own body,'The Kyuubi admitted eventually. 'Seals this strong consist of symbols, chakra, and the user's own desires. You wish for the ability to save your friends and family, as well as the village you call home. To do so, you would need the knowledge of this future and the abilities you have gained along the way. But to retain this self, you risk a paradox, where there will be two Uzumaki Narutos running around in the same timeline. That should not be possible. It should not happen at all.'

'But it will happen,' Naruto thought back fiercely. 'I am going to change it all.'

'Yes Kit, I understand that,' Kurama replied with a surprising amount of patience. 'And your desire to prevent another war of this magnitude and the eventual deaths of everyone around you will be strong enough to keep the paradox at bay. But it will not last forever. Your ultimate goal is Uchiha Madara. The things you change along the way will either help you towards this goal or simply hasten the inevitability of the same thing happening once again. Time is as rigid as it is flexible. You could prove to be strong enough to end up creating a completely different timeline, or prove too weak and end up with the same results. Time does not like being tampered with. But whichever outcome you end up with, it does not change the fact that you do not belong in that timeline. When your job is done, for better or for worse, you will simply cease to exist. As to where you will end up, that I do not know.'

Naruto had remained almost unresponsive throughout this entire explanation. Now he sighed, the movement causing a wave of agony to his already damaged lungs. 'I don't think I really mind,' He thought detachedly. 'I've lived long enough. The only reason I want to go back is because this could be a chance to give everyone a different future. A better one. But if I am to disappear, you will disappear with me. I thought you wanted to live?'

A derisive scoff echoed in his mind as the Kyuubi shifted irritably. 'Only fools and cowards wish to live forever and I am neither nor both. I simply do not wish to die due to a murder-suicide and at the hands of Uchiha Madara no less. At this moment in time, we have accomplished nothing more than ridding a broken world of a madman. When I finally leave this plain of existence for the next to meet my Maker so to speak, I would like a little more than murder to my name. And since those higher beings up there seem hopelessly enamoured with such pathetically weak humans such as yourself, preventing the apocalypse from wiping out your pitiful kind would be excellent fodder to throw back into their faces.'

Amusement stirred in Naruto's chest as the insults flew past him without harm. He was far too used to the Kyuubi reiterating his stance on humans to care. 'You don't seem to like those higher beings very much.'

'I don't. They place nine demons in a world where much weaker creatures roam and give us unlimited power only to condemn us to an imprisoned life in a human container because we brought destruction to those who sought to destroy us. There is neither logic nor intelligence in their decision. No doubt, once I pass on, they will try to condemn me for said destruction.'A dark smile curved the fox's mouth. 'But with this, I shall be ready to face them.'

Naruto just shook his head. He had never asked Kurama about any of the 'higher beings' on high, simply because he had no interest in them. As far as he was concerned, he carved his own path in life and he would deal with any judgment dealt to him when the time came.

'Alright then. Are you ready?'

Immediately, the demon fox settled down and the Kyuubi's red chakra rose to the surface along with his own. Naruto focused on the seal, one hand pressing over it as he concentrated on that fateful Spring day fourteen years ago when he had finally made Genin. Chakra flared around him and the seal flared up under his hand. Gritting his teeth, he forced as much chakra as he possibly could into the seal, ignoring the immediate warning bells that told him when he was at his limit. This technique would take everything he had.

All around him, the world exploded into a blinding landscape of white, the very air around him trembling with energy. An invisible force seemed to close around him and Naruto only had a moment to wonder, distantly, whether or not he would end up arrested and in a prison cell before the day was up.

And then, with a deafening roaring ringing in his ears that Naruto instinctively knew to be the rush of time, darkness engulfed him and he knew no more.



Blue eyes snapped open and Naruto jerked up, almost banging his head against a low-hanging branch. With a low groan, the blond's hands reached up to clutch at his head as a jackhammer set off inside his skull.

'Goddamnit you stupid fox! I'm awake! What do you want?'

A snort and Naruto could almost see Kurama stretching smugly in his mindscape. 'We're back, Kit. Just thought you want to get a move on. You've been out for three hours. I was getting bored.'

Naruto would've shot something derogatory back at the demon if he hadn't been caught up in the fact that he was back. Because he knew this forest, knew it like the back of his hand. He was at the very edges of the Forest of Death in the shadows of one of the trees, and from his position, he could see the rest of Konoha, real and bustling with life spread out before him.

Kurama, we did it!'

Another snort, this one more of fond amusement than anything else sounded in his mind. 'Yes Kit, that's what I said. And it seems you're wounds have disappeared. You have the scars to prove it of course, not to mention that your clothes are abysmal, but your chakra reserves are almost back to normal and I feel better than I have in a long time.'

Naruto couldn't quite help the small grin that tilted his lips as he staggered to his feet, tugging absently at the torn clothing that hung off his thin frame. He hadn't felt happy in a long time, and it had been even longer since he had shown it openly, but this was it. This could be everything he had ever wanted, and the best part was that his younger self could grow up, ascend the ranks, and become Hokage without half as much suffering as he had gone through. This time, Uzumaki Naruto would have his friends around him, supporting him, and there would be no war to take away the millions of lives that had been lost in that other timeline.

'What will you do first?'

Naruto blinked, frowning thoughtfully as his eyes drank in his village. 'The old man. At least one person will have to know who I am. And I still have baa-chan's necklace to show him. He's reasonable. I'll be able to convince him.'

The fox made a sound of agreement. 'Go on then. I'm going to sleep. Try not to get killed between here and the Hokage Tower. If anyone could, it would be you.'

Naruto rolled his eyes before performing a henge. His blond hair faded to normal brown, blue eyes quickly turned brown as well, and his clothes matched those of an everyday civilian. His henge was also a few inches shorter but his frame was the same slender build. All in all, he looked harmless and nondescript. Still, Naruto hurried along the streets of Konoha, not lingering as he hurried towards the Hokage Tower. He would not be able to get in like everyone else as he had no identification on himself, but his gaze flitted to the open window of the Hokage's office, his eyes quickly pinpointing the small squad of ANBU on guard duty at the moment. Casually, he turned left, putting him parallel to his destination even as he disappeared from the ANBU guards' line of sight. And then, with a quick half-step to turn back towards the Tower, Naruto pushed off from the ground, flashing past the guards and through the open window before coming to a halt in front of a startled Sarutobi Hiruzen.

It was so easy that it would've been funny if Naruto didn't know this also meant that if he had been an enemy, the Third Hokage would've been dead before anyone could've reacted.

Speaking of reaction, Naruto already had his arms in the air in the universal sign of surrender as ANBU rushed towards him, kunai extended and pointed at him. Sarutobi had risen to his feet, eyes narrowed at him, body tense as his sharp gaze assessed the intruder.

"Hokage-sama," Naruto started formally. "I mean you no harm but I have something of great importance to speak to you about. If you would allow me to show you something, I would ask you to consider granting me a private audience with yourself."

The Sandaime stared hard at the brown-haired man, observing the now obvious henge. This man, obviously a ninja, had entered his office before any of his ANBU had even been able to react, and then had stood still while his guards had surrounded him. If he had meant any actual or immediate harm, this man could have already done it. Wordlessly, Sarutobi nodded curtly, keeping his eyes on the man as one of the ninja's hands slowly reached into a hidden pocket and withdrew a necklace.

Sarutobi immediately stiffened, recognizing the necklace instantly. "Where did you get that?" He demanded as he came around his desk and contemplated whether or not the man would give it up without fuss.

The henged nin held out the necklace without hesitation. "From a slug currently on quite the losing streak."

Sarutobi's eyes widened at the analogy and he studied the brown eyes for a moment longer. This man knew Tsunade, and while an enemy nin could just as easily have gotten this information, he also knew his former student would never give up this necklace to some random shinobi.

With a decisive nod, he turned to his ANBU guards. "Wait outside," He ordered, ignoring the silent protest that immediately flared up. "Go. I can handle this."

Reluctantly, the ANBU withdrew, and once they had left the office, Sarutobi quickly activated the privacy seals set up around the room. He turned back to the stranger, blinking in shock as the henge dropped and a tall, slender-framed blond with piercing blue eyes stared back at him, a puzzling sort of affection tilting his lips.

"Minato..." Sarutobi whispered, taking a shaky step back.

The blond sighed, brushing a stray lock of hair away from his face. "Not quite, old man. Try his son. I'm Naruto."

The Sandaime quickly pulled his thoughts together, steadying himself in the present as he studied the man in front of him. Now that he took the time, he could see the differences between the Yondaime and this blond. While the two had the same hair and eyes, this man, Naruto, was more slender than and not as broad-shouldered as Minato had been. His jawline and facial structure were deceivingly delicate but also held the same strength Minato had had. And the faint smile that still quirked the blond's lips as the man waited patiently for him to finish his observations was all Kushina. Absently, Sarutobi wondered if his laugh would be like Minato's.

"If what you say is true," Sarutobi finally voiced carefully. "Then you must be from the future."

Naruto nodded, the slightest flicker of relief flitting across his features. "Yes, fourteen years in the future to be exact, give or take a few months." Here, the blond hesitated before forging on. "You could ask me some questions to make sure."

Sarutobi didn't think anyone could pull off this sort of henge and not many people knew Minato and Kushina even had a son, not to mention that the whisker markings on the blond's face and the distinct Kyuubi chakra he could now sense inside the younger man were dead giveaways, but a few identity questions couldn't hurt either.

"Who were your parents?"

Again, that faint smile appeared briefly, and Sarutobi frowned inwardly at this implication. Naruto had always been optimistic, and always had a ready smile for all. For his expressions to have faded to a mere shadow of what it once was (still is now?), was a clear indication that things in the future had not turned out well. "Namikaze Minato and Uzumaki Kushina."

Sarutobi nodded. "Your godfather and godmother?"

This time, a shadow of pain and deep sorrow darkened the cerulean eyes before that too disappeared. "Raiya and Tsunade."

Sarutobi blinked, startled. "He lets you call him 'Raiya'?"

Naruto, for it really could be no one else, blinked back. "Well, I also call him Ero-sennin, but after I did that a couple of times in front of those women he tries to get to as well as a few dignitaries, he finally told me I could call him Raiya instead, at least while in front of other people." The blond scoffed a bit. "There's nothing wrong with Raiya. It's not perverted or degrading or anything. It's just a nickname. If he hadn't told me that he didn't let anyone else call him that, I would have ignored him altogether."

Sarutobi chuckled, finally relaxing entirely. "I used to call him that, but he insisted on his full name after he turned fifteen. He thought the name sounded too female and I believe Tsunade somehow teased him enough when they were younger that Jiraiya now has the irrational impression that the name is a patronizing insult to his sense of self. Or something of that sort anyway." He paused before continuing softly, "You two must have been very close."

The blue gaze darkened once again even as the blond nodded curtly. "Yes."

Sarutobi nodded and made no further comment on the matter, instead taking in the ripped clothing the ninja was wearing. "Very well. I believe who you are. Now, why have you come back? Are things really that bad in the future?"

Naruto closed his eyes briefly before nodding. "Konoha is gone," He said simply even as Sarutobi frowned at this revelation. "Razed to the ground. Its civilians and shinobi all dead. I was the last."

For a moment, Sarutobi couldn't breathe as he tried to imagine a world where Konoha no longer existed. He glanced at the window towards the rest of the village before looking back at the blond.

It wasn't just the inner strength that was so like Minato, Sarutobi realized, because Kushina had had that strength as well. It was Naruto's entire bearing that reminded him most of Konoha's Yellow Flash. This man currently standing in front of him, frame relaxed but ready, had the air of a Kage, and a powerful one at that. The kind of power that Sarutobi had only ever seen Minato exude.

"You became Hokage then," Sarutobi couldn't help but enquire.

Naruto inclined his head in affirmation. "Rokudaime Hokage." The haunted look passed over the blond's features once more. "Just in time to watch my village burn."

Sarutobi almost shuddered at the near-overwhelming grief in the younger man's voice. It was always hardest on the Kage when their people's lives were lost. The entire village was their responsibility after all.

"I came back to change it," Naruto suddenly looked almost anxious, and Sarutobi found himself relieved as he caught a glimpse of the Naruto he knew in this time.

The Sandaime nodded briskly, turning to step back behind his desk. "Of course. If Konoha will fall then we will have to find a way to prevent it. But not now. Can I assume that nothing drastic will happen in the immediate future?"

Naruto frowned in confusion but nodded nonetheless. "Everything will start going downhill at the next Chuunin Exams. Before that, as long as I keep an eye on things and root out some spies, things should be alright."

"Good." Sarutobi pulled out a list of empty apartments and sent a reassuring look when Naruto stared in bewilderment at his assessment. "If nothing will happen anytime soon, I would like to get you settled in. You look ready to keel over, Naruto."

The blond blinked before looking down at himself. "Oh. I just finished fighting Ma-"

Sarutobi put up a hand to halt the younger man's explanation. "Not now Naruto." He chided gently. "No doubt, if you continue, I will have many questions for you and we will be in here for another few hours. Right now, you need rest, not to mention we still have to create a background for you."

Naruto seemed to consider this for a moment before nodding silently in agreement.

"Very well. While you are here, you will need to use a different name. Do you have one in mind?"

"Kazama Haruki," Naruto said after a moment's thought. "That's the name I used when I infiltrated Iwagakure."

Sarutobi opened his mouth to ask before shaking his head ruefully. Questions later. But who knew Naruto had the potential to be a spy? "Alright," He continued on. "I'll write up the necessary papers and tell anyone who asks that you've been on a mission for me for the past eight years. We can use the Hyuuga Affair, you know what that is? Good. We can use that and say you've been in Kumo to make sure they wouldn't try anything again. They won't try anything again, will they?"

Naruto shook his head. "They won't be stealing anymore Hyuugas anyway. But the Council will want proof."

Sarutobi frowned. "Indeed. Is there any knowledge from the future that you can use here?"

Naruto stayed silent, gaze flickering over to the window to stare absently out at the sky. "How long can you keep the Council at bay before they start asking questions?"

Sarutobi shrugged. "As long as you keep a low profile, word won't get back to them too quickly, but even if it does, I can hold them off for several days, maybe a week."

Naruto nodded. "Alright. Give me five days. I can get to Kumo and back within that time. And I'll bring back Hyuuga Hizashi's body. The bastards preserved it so I'll still be able to present an actual body."

If Sarutobi had been anything other than a Kage, he would've gaped. "Wouldn't they keep that well-guarded?"

Naruto shrugged. "I can do it, old man. I'm above ANBU level, plus I've done it before. And I'll leave a body clone behind so they won't notice. As long as the Hyuuga Clan doesn't go flaunting it through the streets of Kumo, everything should be fine."

The Sandaime considered this for a few seconds before nodding in agreement. "Alright, I'll call a Council meeting when you get back. You'll leave tomorrow?"

The blond nodded. "And I'll be back in five days."

"Good. Now for your looks. The village will be in an uproar if they get a good look at you. At first, and maybe even second and third glance, you look very much like Minato."

Naruto frowned thoughtfully before performing a few one-handed seals. His long golden locks immediately washed away, leaving a crimson fire in its wake. The new redhead cocked a questioning eyebrow at the surprised Sandaime. Sarutobi smiled and nodded approvingly. While there were still traces of both Minato and Kushina on the former blond's features, anyone would just dismiss it as a coincidence if they noticed. He couldn't detect the henge either.

"Moving on to where you will be staying then..."

"I'll take the apartment next to my... younger counterpart."

Sarutobi blinked. "How did you... oh. Right. Are you sure?"

"Very. This way, I'll be able to keep an eye on him. Keep him company too. He'll get lonely sometimes."

The Sandaime frowned sadly but said nothing. He had a feeling this Naruto wouldn't appreciate it. "Very well. Just show these papers to the landlady there and she'll give you the keys." He smiled warmly at the redhead. This Naruto exuded a quiet strength and seemed comfortable in his own skin. He had grown up well. "Get some rest, Naruto."

Naruto offered that faint half-smile again before tucking Tsunade's necklace away and withdrawing a small paper seal instead, extending it towards Sarutobi. The Sandaime blinked, taking the seal and noting the complex design.

"Just press it against any piece of clothing you wear and it will automatically imprint itself onto the material," Naruto explained quietly. "If you are ever in trouble, sending even a drop of your chakra into the seal will automatically inform me of your position and I will be able to step to your location in an instant."

Sarutobi examined the seal curiously before pressing it to his kage cloak's inside collar. A flash of chakra and the ink on the paper dissolved, reappearing on the cloak instead. "What does it do?"

"Hmm," This time, Naruto's smile held the faintest traces of mischief and Sarutobi found himself hard-pressed not to smile back in the face of such familiarity. "Try it."

Reaching up, Sarutobi sent a small current of chakra into the seal and then almost stepped back when Naruto appeared beside him, a quiet crackle of dry lightning as his only warning. Wide-eyed, Sarutobi stared between the spot the redhead had been and the spot where he was now standing. "Hiraishin...?"

Naruto was already shaking his head. "One of my own actually, although it is based on the Hiraishin. I call it Raikou Hitokiri no Jutsu. Same concept but less, well, like my dad's I suppose. Enemies rarely see it coming. The seal helps me lock onto the location but if I have a very clear picture of where I'm going in my head when I perform the jutsu, I can get there just as easily."

Sarutobi was speechless for several seconds. While he knew that this Naruto was essentially an adult version of the twelve-year-old Naruto, it was still hard to connect the two. To think that Naruto would one day grow up to create his own jutsus sent a thrum of pride rushing through the Sandaime. "This is amazing."

The younger man seemed to brighten a little, blue eyes glowing with momentary pride at the compliment. "Thanks old man."

Sarutobi nodded before making a shooing motion at the redhead. "Alright, go on then. We'll figure everything else out later. Get some sleep. And," He reached into one drawer and withdrew a wallet, deactivating the seal with a flick of his hand before offering several bills. "Buy some clothes and food. That should be enough for a month, and then you can start doing missions to earn your own money."

Naruto eyed the bills before accepting them with a nod of thanks. "I'll pay you back, old man."

Sarutobi would have refused if he wasn't certain Naruto would be stubborn about it. So he simply nodded in acknowledgement, deactivating the privacy seals as Naruto, now Haruki, sketched a simple salute before jumping out the window and disappearing over the rooftops within seconds.


Sarutobi glanced absently at his bodyguards as they slipped back into the office. He waved a dismissive hand in the air as he sat back down and started on a new stack of paperwork. "One of my spies. He had to pull out quite suddenly though so I was not expecting him. I sent him out a long time ago and haven't seen him in a while. He was also under a henge and it took me a moment to realize who he was. Now I better start on this. I swear, the paperwork grows every time I turn around."

The ANBU on guard duty seemed to accept this easily enough as they relaxed and moved back into the shadows again, some almost palpably amused at Sarutobi's grumbling.

But even as he started scanning a request for new medical equipment at the hospital, Sarutobi contemplated the few things he had learned in the last twenty minutes. Dark times lay ahead, waiting in shadowed corners. But perhaps, with the time traveler's help, a man who seemed both familiar and foreign to him at the moment, they would somehow manage.

They would have to.

Raikou Hitokiri no Jutsu - Lightning Step Jutsu

First chapter finished! Review and tell me if it has the makings of a good story and that I should continue with it!