Chapter 1: The End of Parts Known
I can't believe it ends like this.
"No..." Naruto's mouth was spewing the word with a combination of surprise, disbelief and blood...lots of it. The copper taste of blood flooded his mouth and drowned his taste buds.
The pain on the other hand was something entirely different, it was not burning hot or sharp like Naruto expected but very cold, like being dipped in an ice-bath which was far worse. As Naruto's blurred vision regained some function, he noticed the flicker of light emanating at the centre of his chest, just next the heart. The light was comprised of the crackling blue electricity, the classic symptom of using the Chidori, an awe inspiring move used by only two people that Naruto was aware of, Kakashi-sensei and...Uchiha Sasuke.
Chidori is such a powerful technique. Naruto's mind was starting to wander off, wanting to leave this horrible situation and drift somewhere else far away from all this...unpleasantness. The crackling of the Chidori slowly faded away, revealing a human arm. The arm was too small to be an adults, the hand was beyond Naruto's vision as it was lodged in his chest, he could feel the rushing pulse of his attackers fingers radiating throughout his body. Naruto traced the arm, to gaze into the eyes of Uchiha Sasuke, his best friend, his comrade in arms, a traitor of Konoha...and his murderer.
"Funny... never expected to see this much emotion...Sasuke." Naruto gazed into the face of someone he thought would be rather stoic in this situation.
Wonders never cease. A weeping Sasuke. Sasuke's face was impassive, indicative of a person more in shock than nonchalant, giving way to a rather horrible display of tears, which was distinguishable from the small yet incalculable droplets of rain that drenched both of them. So thick and viscous were the tears that Naruto could swear that they have not been used in a very long time, which was true.
Naruto felt cold rushing water start to swarm up to his ankles, he glanced down to see the river of the Valley of the End beneath them.
That's right, I remember that we leaped into the air with our final attacks, his Chidori and my Rasengan, Sasuke looked...terrifying. Naruto's memory started to fill in the blanks of the final moments of their 'battle'. I lunged forward, I could feel the Kyuubi giving me strength, I felt the rasengan impact with Sasuke's Chidori...and it was... deflected?
The memory of the Rasengen charging straight for the Chidori was engrained only for the Rasengan to spin off Sasuke's technique and wind up glancing Sasuke's forehead protector. The Chidori, losing none of its potency hit home...directly into Naruto's chest.
"I'm sorry, Naruto." Naruto glanced up at his killer, his tears starting to subside, though his voice was shaky at best, totally racked with guilt was more accurate. Sasuke, removed the hand from his victims chest with a sicking wrench. Naruto felt a sudden jolt downwards and out of reflex grabbed Sasuke by the shoulders, he did not seem to react; he knew his opponent was finished. Naruto glanced down and noticed that he had sunk to his shins.
I am losing control of my chakra...I am going to be swept away by the tide...no, it can't end like this.
"No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no." Naruto tightened his grip on Sasuke's clothes, he stared up into his eyes. "Please...Sasuke don't let me go like...this..."
Naruto noticed a change in his eyes, apart from the cold look he received he noticed that Sasuke's eyes physically changed, they altered themselves... the appearance of three intersecting ellipses. Unlike Sasuke's original Sharingan, which had a black design and red background, these new eyes had a red design and a black background.
"I'm sorry Naruto..." Sasuke's voice was still shaky but he seemed more determined and confident in what he done. "I am so sorry...but you have to go now." Sasuke's hands wrapped themselves around Naruto's, attempting to dislodge his grip.
Uh oh...Naruto tightened his grip even more, so much that he could feel his nails cutting into his palms. Kyuubi! Oh god Kyuubi, if you're there please help me!
Naruto's plea to some would argue his worst enemy, went unanswered. KYUUBI? Where are you? If I die so do you remember?...Kyuubi?
...Nothing, it was as if the Kyuubi was not even there anymore.
"Oh god." Naruto felt his own tears stream down his face, Naruto was engulfed to the knees.
"Let go, Naruto." Naruto glanced back up, Sasuke was still staring at him with a sense of pity. "I did not want it to turn out this way. You have given me a great gift, for that I am thankful...but now you have to go."
Geez Sasuke, at least dump me on the shore, don't leave me to be swept away...please.
Naruto tried to speak; to cry out in objection, but all that came out was a gurgle. Naruto's terror was starting to let blood flow into his mouth and lungs; his voice has had it. The pain in his chest made Naruto want to throw up; he could feel his gag reflexing going into overdrive.
"SASUKE! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?" Naruto tried to turn his head to the source of the outburst but he could not even turn his head, he felt so weak. The voice sounded so familiar, Sasuke on the other hand tilted his head to see, and his eyes widened in horror.
"No time Naruto...goodbye." With strength that Naruto could not hope to match his grip was broken; in less than a second the water engulfed him and was swept away at rapid speed.
You son of a bitch! Naruto cried out however water entered his lungs and suppressed whatever outrage Naruto hoped to voice. No! No! NO! GOD HELP ME! HELP ME, GOD! Someone! Anyone! I DON'T WANT TO DIE!
Naruto tried to kick up a struggle, to get to the surface, but it was to no avail, he sunk deeper into the rapidly moving river, he could not guess how far he travelled but he knew it was enough that the chances of him being found were next to none. It was only then that he noticed his blood mixing with the river, surrounding him in bright red as he was dragged off to parts unknown. A strange sense of calm seemed to wash over him, whether it was acceptance or death laying final claim over him, he did not know but it was a relief if nothing else.
So this is it...no more me. Damn...I would have loved to have gotten that date with Sakura... Naruto reflected on the pink haired girl of his team, a cute girl with green eyes and an amazing smile. Sakura...I am so sorry I can't fulfill my promise to you. I hope you can forgive me...I tried. His mind was going blank, but it was more a blessing than a curse as he felt himself slip away into parts unknown.
It's funny...it doesn't...hurt...anymore...
The rain continued relentlessly, all animals in the nearby forest continued to seek cover wherever it was; underground, under leaves or in trees. There were only two things that were still moving under the oppressive rain; a 27 year old jounin, with his Konoha forehead protector covering up his left eye and a mask concealing the lower half of his face, and a small brown haired pug with blue clothing.
"Something's wrong...Pakkun are you sure we are almost there?" the jounin grew tense as he was overcome by an ominous feeling; like something bad happened.
"Kakashi, I am telling you, we are just about to break through the forest." The small dog replied, Pakkun normally did not like being questioned, and Kakashi was not the type to question. However, Kakashi had been getting more and more anxious as they journeyed to catch up with the rogue genin Sasuke and his purser Naruto.
Come on, come on. Kakashi's patience was all but spent. Something is off, I can feel it. The trees abruptly cleared to reveal the huge and well known Valley of the End. The imposing statues of Uchiha Madra and Senju Hashirama, the First Hokage, guarding the very beginning of the stream flowing between them.
"They're down there...oh no." Pakkun's crestfallen voice rattled Kakashi, he looked at the base of the Valley, only to see small pools of blood near the river.
At the centre of the valley stood to figures, one blue, one orange. The blue one was currently standing over the orange one. The orange one seemed to be dying. Pools of red seeped from the orange tinting the water beneath it. Kakashi could not even recall himself yelling.
"SASUKE! WHAT HAVE YOU DONE?"Kakashi did not even think, he jumped down and ran over to the scene of the battle, bits of chipped stone scattered and the obvious trace of blood could only spur his imagination the type of battle that was held. Sasuke wrenched himself free from the dying boy in orange and fled the scene as quickly as he could. Naruto without any support immediately sunk into the river, being carried away with great speed.
"Kakashi-san! Who do you want to go after?" Pakkun cried out but he need not have guessed, the silver haired jounin immediately ran after his dying student trapped in the current.
"NARUTO! ANSWER ME!" Kakashi sprang into action, he ran down the river with all the speed he could muster, so much so that Pakkun had difficulty picking up.
"Whoa! Wait, Kakashi!"Pakkun called out.
Kakashi saw a sliver of orange under the flowing river, and with every muscle in his body, leaped into the water to grab. He felt his hand wrap around something, and the fragment of orange quickly turned into a humanoid form, it was a start.
"Gotcha." Unfortunately, what he grabbed had other ideas, his grip was strong but what he held onto was weak, for he heard the terrifying rip of cloth and the figure quickly slid back into current.
"No...No! Naruto wait!" Kakashi scrambled as quickly as he could through river, his fist still holding the only link to the dying boy. He heard the panting of a dog behind him while he continued his pursuit.
"Kakashi! The scent has gone cold I won't be able to find Naurto!" Pakkun called out.
"Don't care! Naruto! Answer me!" Kakashi peered into the watery depths trying to get a glimpse of anything that was remotely distinct to a big orange jumpsuit.
"What about Sasuke? His scent leads to the bank and into the forest on the other side." Pakkun managed to catch up though he was heavily winded.
"We'll catch him later! We need to find Naruto, he could still be saved if we got to him in time. We-"
"Kakashi, we both know he cannot be saved. Not from Chidori at point blank." Pakkun tried to get through to his summoner but it was no use, he ran down the stream even faster than before. In a matter of minutes Kakashi has accelerated beyond Pakkun's line of sight.
Pakkun gave up counting how far he had followed the river once he got passed the ten kilometre mark and that was a little under an hour ago; the sun was actually beginning to set. Pakkun could still smell Kakashi; his scent halted a few hundred meters away.
Did he find Naruto? Pakkun doubted that was the reason but still it could not hurt to be optimistic, moments like these...losing a student, you would take any shred of hope you can get.
As he saw the outline of Kakashi appear on the horizon, he knew the reason why he stopped, and with that the last shred of hope was annihilated. The waterfall drop was easily over half a kilometre; the chances of finding anything even remotely resembling a human were gone. Kakashi was sitting on the edge of the drop, his legs dangling over the side of the waterfall, he appeared to be cradling something.
"Kakashi...look if you want to continue searching for Naruto, that is understandable but we can't do it now. The sun is going to set and then it will just be a waste of time."
"No point. Naruto would hold onto this until his dying breath." Kakashi's voice was barely a whisper, drowned out by the sound of rushing water.
"What do you mean?" Kakashi unfolded his arms to reveal what he treasured.
"Where did you get that?"
"It is what I grabbed, the one shot at saving him and it failed him, hard to believe it was even there. Naruto..." It was the Crystal Gem necklace, the First Hokage's Necklace despite its magnificent gleam in the fading light it carried the smell of blood. The blood was Naruto's but had a strong smell to it; arterial blood which is blood carried away from the heart to other parts of the body.
Chidori strike to the heart releasing arterial blood...no one could survive that, not even Naruto.
"Guess that rumour of it being bad luck...was true." Pakkun regretted saying it the moment it slipped out of his jowls; the legend of the cursed necklace was well known to all, especially to the Fifth Hokage. The First Hokage's green necklace gleamed in the dimming light. Pakkun's ears drooped a little. Kakashi's masked face was impassive, though the sadness welling within him was overwhelming.
"Sasuke?" Kakashi muttered, he knew the answer; he just needed Pakkun to say it.
"In this rain his scent is long gone by now. Kakashi...we have to head back." Pakkun was never good at trying to comfort people, he was not going to try now, the most he could do was get Kakashi back on his feet and moving.
"Just a few minutes. Please." Kakashi remained still as a statue. Pakkun nodded and slowly headed back to the shore, realizing that his broken summoner needed to make peace with the events that unfolded.
Alone on the waterfall, Kakashi stared at the necklace hoping the dammed thing would explain why it would not hold for a few more seconds; that was all he needed. But it didn't. As he wrapped his hands around one of Naruto's most precious achievements he made a silent prayer.
On the day of my Judgement and I stand before thee, Naruto; I hope you can forgive me. Rin...Obito, I failed...again.
Back up the river to the very beginning of the Valley, near the very edge of the forest, the ground started the morph upward, as the ground parted, a 'man' with green hair and venus fly-trap extensions rose from the ground clothed in a long, dark cloak with red clouds, a red interior, and a chin-high collar. His body had two different coloured halves, his left side was completely white and the right side black. Although the two halves had different personalities, the shared the name Zetsu with relative ease.
"Dammit! Dammit! Dammit! This is not good!" The white half spoke with a sense of hysteria. "Why did we not intervene? We could have jumped that Uchiha twit!"
"It was sheer fluke we came along." The black half was calmer, his voice gruff and deep, though he was admittedly concerned with current events. "There was nothing we could have done."
"Did you see that jinchūriki's chest explode?" The white half was rambling much to the black half's irritation. "The leader is going to freak out! So will the rest of Akatsuki!"
"This is a minor setback." The black half was not trying to reassure his other half; he gave up trying a long time ago. "The boss can still make this work; he always has a backup...even for something like this."
"A minor setback? How about complete and utter failure! This little Akatsuki expedition is over." The black half hated it when the white half was freaking out like this; it always made their heart accelerate to an uncomfortable rate. "Assuming the boss does not rip our head off, Akatsuki will! What are we going to tell them?"
"The truth: the Kyuubi jinchūriki is dead...and so is the Kyuubi itself."
A/N: Hey guys. Here is a new story. Let me know what you think.
FYI this is a challenge that I accepted from ABitterPill who was kind enough to help me finalize this universe. PM and Review as always. TTFN!