Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or Bleach. It is respectively the propriety of Kishimoto and Tite Kubo.
Hi everyone. It has been a while (a year damn!) since I updated any of my stories and I really have nothing to say other than I was at a turning point in my life. Several things were dumped on me and I had to choose between keeping writing at the risk of jeopardizing my future or moving on for a while. I think my choice is pretty obvious. I love writing and reading stories out there but let's us be honest, this won't be feeding me, so I think you'll all understand.
Anyway, forget about my ramblings. The only things you need to know is that I'm back!
Some people asked me if I had given up on my stories, and I only have one reply to them: Hell no!
I will keep writing whenever possible and do my best to see these stories through.
As of right now, I've edited all chapter of my story "Naruto the true ninja". Meaning a new chapter is coming soon.
Now let's talk about this story "Shinigami". This chapter is shorter than usual because I'm slowly getting used to my style again. You'll certainly notice the drop in quality (at least I did notice), but hopefully it's temporarily.
Now I present you the fourth chapter of Shinigami. Enjoy!
Chapter 4: Something to come
Tsunade was sitting in her office, alone. With her hands positioned under her chin and the dimly lighted room, she gave the impression of a woman with the weight of the world on her shoulder.
'Only three years... No! less than three years and he's already this powerful.' The object of her thought was none other than Naruto.
A few days had gone by since Naruto's exam for Jounin grade. A few days since she had had Kakashi hospitalized. Every once and then, she got flashes of the fight, flashes that both elated and scared her.
'The way he moved. The way he analyzed every situation. The way he used his skills. Everything was calculated. No chances were given to his opponent to come up with a viable strategy.' She thought, more than a little shaken by her observations.
She couldn't imagine what had happened to Naruto — the little boy that always boasted his strength even though he had none — for him to become such a... cold ninja? No that wasn't the right term... mechanical maybe? Anyway, she didn't know how it was possible.
'Maybe it's a consequence of gaining so much power in so little time...' She thought frowning. Obviously Naruto had become powerful, that was for sure, but she wasn't sure she liked the consequences.
Jiraiya had told them that it was just his battle side and that Naruto still was the joyful boy he had been. But seeing Naruto's battle side was enough to make her wonder if his human side was anything but a mask. The real question that was tugging at her the wrong way was which side was the mask?
She was interrupted when light reached her face as the entrance to her office was pushed open. Raising her head she saw — and immediately scowled — the elders Koharu and Homura. Without a word she gestured for them to take a seat in front of her. At the same time she went back to work by shuffling the paperwork on her desk.
After a moment of silence, Homura rattled his throat to gain Tsunade's attention.
Ignoring Tsunade's lack of proper manners, Homura greeted the shodaime granddaughter. Koharu though didn't appreciate the disrespect and made it know.
"Where I come from, we greet guests!" Her voice was cold but Tsunade didn't seem the least bit concerned.
"And where I come from, guests request entry instead of acting like they own the place. Of course we both know we don't come from the same place." The haughty tone wasn't missed by Koharu who silently dismissed the comment even though she had just been insulted.
"What can I do for you honorable elders?" Tsunade finally addressed the two knowing they never came for a courtesy visit.
Slowly shifting his footing and joining his hands above his thighs, Homura answered her question.
"It is about Naruto Uzumaki promotion."
"What about it?" Tsunade immediately narrowed her eyes at the elders.
"We feel that granting the boy Jounin rank is too soon. And that's not even taking into account the sannin rights you gave him."
"We'll come back to the last point later on. First let's talk about his Jounin status." Homura cut off Koharu speech before she became sidetracked.
"And what is there to talk about?" Tsunade replied sharply. "Last I remember, to become a Jounin a ninja must fulfill two conditions: be a Chuunin at the time of the examination and succeed in taking down a Jounin level ninja during a full out battle. Both conditions were met in Naruto's case, which is the reason he was granted Jounin status…"
"Yes, but Naruto is a special case!" Koharu cut off Tsunade in the middle of her explanation, irritating the later.
"Are you implying that because of Naruto's status as a Jinchuuriki, he cannot become a Jounin?" Tsunade asked threateningly.
"Don't be stupid Tsunade! This isn't the first Jinchuuriki to have fooled ground in Konoha. We are not stupid enough to discriminate the boy for this, especially knowing the identity of the previous Jinchuuriki."
"Sorry but your behavior indicates otherwise Homura. If not then why would you dispute this promotion?"
"The boy is young…"
"He faced the scorn of the adults since he was young!" Tsunade shot.
"He does not have the experience…"
"He has been on dozen of C and B ranked missions and every time they were completed beyond expectation and with glowing recommendation from the clients!"
"He is not strong enough…"
"He beat Kakashi, one of our strongest jounin!"
"Enough!" Homura yelled stopping the two bickering women. "We do not deny is ability to be a Jounin, far from it actually…"
"Then what is this visit about then?"
"Do you deny the threat posed by Akatsuki?"
This took Tsunade off guard. She didn't see what that had to do with this promotion.
"What does Akatsuki has to do with his promotion?"
"Everything!" Koharu yelled, having finally enough of the situation they were in. 'Can't she see what such promotion would cause?' she thought exasperated.
"I don't quite follow."
"We can see that!" Koharu sneered at her.
"A jounin is expected to go on mission outside and most of the time, far away from the village. This increase the chances of the boy coming into contact with Akatsuki. This is a risk we cannot afford at this time."
"And what do you suggest then? That I lock him up in the village? Do you think he will accept such thing?"
A pointed look from the elders answered her question.
"And what make you think that Akatsuki will give up because Naruto is in the village?"
"They have never been bold enough to attack a Jinchuuriki inside his village!" Koharu supplied.
"There is a start for everything." Tsunade shot back. "Be that as it may, I can't and won't have Naruto's promotion denied from him. He worked too hard for it. And as the Hokage I have final say on who get promoted or not. My decision is final!"
Knowing that they had lost that battle, they went back to the second issue of the day.
"And what about the sannin rights? Why would you give him such rights in the first place? This is going too far." Homura wondered out loud.
"What do you think Naruto did this past 3 years with Jiraiya? The boy is supposed to take over Jiraiya's spy network. As such he need to be able to easily come and go. Those rights were given to him to facilitate his job, nothing more."
This answer had the elders stumped. They didn't think Tsunade had a viable reason for that one. Hell, they didn't even know Jiraiya was grooming Naruto to take over his duties. They had always thought that Jiraiya was training him as a favor to the boy's father. Because, let's face it, the boy wasn't talented.
There was no denying it. They had hoped that his ancestry would make him outshine other ninjas, but that wasn't to be. The boy wasn't very bright, stubborn and had a penchant for causing problem. Nothing like his late father or even his mother. While Kushina had been a tomboy, she had still been a genius when it came to seal. The apple had never fell so far away from the tree it seemed.
Learning that he beat Kakashi had taken them by surprise. So much that they didn't believe it until they saw the messed up copy ninja in the hospital.
Nevertheless they still had one question that needed to be answered before letting the matter goes.
"Did the boy use the Kyuubi to win?"
"You know that it is a classified matter. We never talk about the Jounin exams of our ninja in order to keep their abilities a secret. You both know that." Tsunade replied to Koharu's question but the latter didn't seem satisfied.
"That isn't the same thing. We didn't ask for his techniques, we just need to know if he used the Kyuubi as a clutch or we were mistaking about his talents." Homura supplied softly. This was of course a half truth but it would serve its purpose.
Tsunade hesitated for a moment before coming to a decision. "No, he didn't." She replied finally, prompting the two elders to share a glance at each other before nodding.
"That is good to know. And it will easy up our next decision then."
"What decision?" Tsunade narrowed her eyes at the two, feeling like she had backed to a corner.
"We knew you wouldn't agree with us to have his promotion retracted. So we came up with another plan to protect the boy from Akatsuki." Koharu replied smugly.
"And what plan is that? For that matter what make you think I will agree to whatever it is you have concocted?"
"You won't have a choice in the matter." Homura said rather boldly before looking back at the office's entrance.
"You can come in!"
Surprised, Tsunade swiftly turned her head to look at the entrance to see one of her least liked individual pass the door.
KONOHA - Residential district
Naruto's apartment was situated in the urban area of the city. The place had at first been purchased by Sarutobi upon discovering Naruto wasn't liked in the orphanage. Not wanting to bother with the matrons there, Sarutobi simply bought an apartment for Naruto.
Since his 7 years old, Naruto had lived there. Because of his earlier independence, he had had to rely on himself for every little things. He did his own groceries shopping, his own laundry. He took care of his apartment by himself. All that was fine by him as it had given him a kind of maturity well beyond children his age.
Of course it wasn't sunshine everyday. He couldn't count the number of times he had been ripped off during his shopping. And that wasn't even because of his status as a Jinchuuriki. At the time he was a child living in a grown up world. Of course people would take advantage of his naivety.
Anyway, the apartment wasn't something grandiose. It had a living room, a kitchen, a bedroom and a bathroom, the bare necessities. But it was enough for him… or had been enough. With his growing responsibilities and knowledge, it was quickly becoming obvious that he needed to move out into a bigger apartment or even a house.
While an apartment was fine, it didn't give much secrecy, something he dearly needed these days.
Money wasn't an issue as he never once used his earnings during his training trip with Jiraiya. And with the number of missions he did, let's just say that he was loaded. Enough to buy a small house a little away from the city, just like he wanted. Unfortunately he didn't have time for it.
Even now he was moving around his modest apartment, packaging his gear for another mission.
Carefully he re-checked his weapons, counted the number of kunais and shurikens he had. The count over, he put them in his pouch. He looked toward a corner of his room to find a straight katana with a blood red handle grip leaning on the wall. Before he could contemplate further on the weapon a shadow appeared on the window.
"Jiraiya — sensei…"
The toad sannin smiled as he jumped through the window and into his student's apartment.
"As always I can't sneak up to you anymore. One day you'll have to tell me how you do that." Despite his playful tone, Naruto knew he was annoyed.
Observing Naruto's surrounding and the way he packed his things, Jiraiya frowned. "You're moving out again!"
It wasn't a question and both of them knew it. Naruto's only response was to move toward his trusted katana and secure it on his back.
"Does that mean you found another Jinchuuriki's location?" Jiraiya wondered, quite surprised by it. Finding information about Jinchuuriki was really hard. Villages went to great length to protect the identity of their weapon after all. He was still surprised by how easily Naruto seemed to gain information on such things.
"Jinchuuriki is such a crud word… It's fitting and pretty much describe how such being is created, but why do you always need to remind me of that fact, I wonder." The harshness of Naruto's words was as clear as day. Jiraiya knew that the name bothered him a lot more than he let on, but he kept using this to remind him that he wasn't special. A way for him to curb his arrogance he had said.
"Maybe when you'll acknowledge yourself then I won't need to remind you of that. We may have given up on training you like a Jinchuuriki but that doesn't mean you aren't one. Still that doesn't answer my question."
Naruto looked at him calmly. Anyone else would have been bothered by such intense gaze but Jiraiya wasn't anyone. Add to that he had been on the receiving end of that look for a while now.
"I didn't find another Jinchuuriki…"
"Then what…" Jiraiya interrupted much to Naruto's ire.
"BUT… I found a Bijuu or rather his general location."
Jiraiya looked at him in wonder. He knew that a Jinchuuriki was always with his Bijuu, unless the later escaped. The only Jinchuuriki that died recently was the yondaime Mizukage. That meant only one thing…
"The Sanbi…" Once Naruto confirmed his guess he widened his eyes. "How the hell did you manage that gaki? My own personal spying network didn't find anything at all. Where the hell do you get that information anyway?" He grumbled exasperated.
He didn't want to admit it but Naruto's spying network was always a step ahead when it came to finding things and people whereabouts. The boy never explained why and how that was possible, no matter what. Still Jiraiya wasn't one to give up, so he pestered the boy as much as he could, hoping beyond hope that the latter would cave in.
"Really? You're gonna ask me this question again?"
"One cannot stop trying."
"I can see that." Naruto replied smiling at the attempt.
"Anyway, that's good news I suppose. If you manage to get that one, only 4 Jinchuuriki will be left to deal with."
"Gaara, Yugito, Bee and me."
"Yes! Though the last ones are gonna be hard to deal with. Yugito and Bee are under the Raikage's protection. Attempting anything on them would result in an international incident of epic proportion. I don't even wanna imagine the storm Ä will bring on us if he learned that we were behind it." Jiraiya nodded with himself as he spoke. Despite Naruto moving around the house, he knew the boy was listening to him.
"We'll think about something when the time comes. For now let's focus on what we can do."
"Yeah you're right. Still, Naruto?" His sensei serious behavior made Naruto pauses and face him.
"Be careful out there. With Akatsuki having lost 3 Jinchuuriki, they are bounds to start targeting you."
"I know that sensei. Don't worry about me. If there is one thing I learned during our training trip, it's my own limits. I know when to cut my losses."
"I sure hope so. Also do not forget what we agreed on." Jiraiya spoke sternly to Naruto who sighed.
"Should I encounter Akatsuki's leader again, I am to flee. Yes I know that, you told me the same thing over and over again."
Naruto's nonchalant attitude really got on Jiraiya's nerves, which prompted him to slam his hand on the wall beside him. The little apartment shook under the sannin strength but stayed rooted on the ground.
"This is not a game Naruto. Don't you remember your last encounter with him? It was luck that allowed you to escape…"
For the first time in a long while Naruto showed cold fury on his face. This was an emotion he rarely ever felt anymore, but the situation demanded such reaction.
"This was way before I mastered that technique. Now if we face each other again, I won't be the one fleeing."
"Why? Because during your last fight you were almost even? What make you think he was serious? Because I can assure you that the strength he showed wasn't above a low S-Ranked shinobi."
At that point, the discussion was turning into a shooting match. With neither side willing to capitulate. After a while, Jiraiya sighed in defeat. He passed his hand through his hairs trying to calm his nerves. 'This boy will be the death of me'.
"Look, just try to avoid him as much as possible until we've found information about his Rinnegan. This is very dangerous grounds we are treading on. Facing a ninja with unknown abilities is very bad, but facing an S-Ranked ninja with unknown abilities is suicide. You should know, you trashed Kakashi because he knew nothing of your skills while you knew most of his."
"Are you sure you aren't just protecting your student Nagato?" This shocked Jiraiya to the point of silence. "I may understand that finding information about that dojutsu is downright impossible but the way you have gone about finding it is like you don't want to find it."
Seeing Jiraiya about to protest, he raised his hand to stop him. "Don't try to deny it. I've seen the way you search for that information and I know that you wouldn't have done that if it were anything else." Naruto looked at Jiraiya surprised look.
"Don't be surprised. Nagato attacking me in Takigakure was him signing his death warrant. Did you think I would solely rely on you to find information about him? If you did you're certainly losing your touch."
Jiraiya just stayed there in shock, looking at his student. This wasn't the first time they had had such spat but never had Naruto questioned him like that. Turning around he spanned the window and threw a last glance at Naruto.
"You have changed Naruto." Naruto looked at him just as Jiraiya disappeared in a swirl of leaves, his last words echoing in the room.
"But not in a good way!"
With his sensei departure, Naruto was once again alone in his apartment. He knew he had been harsh on the sannin but that was the only way Jiraiya would take thing seriously on that front. Oh he knew very well everything Jiraiya had done to find information about the Rinnegan, which wasn't much considering his resources.
He'd have searched the information himself if he could. Unfortunately his own spying network didn't deal with finding such information.
Dismissing the matter for now, he focused on the last thing he needed to check before leaving for his mission. 'Kakashi should still be in the hospital right now.' He thought before going out, not before locking his home. There wasn't much there to steal but he did it anyway.
As he moved on the rooftops toward the hospital building, he felt someone watching him. Once upon a time he would have looked at the direction he knew the spy to be, revealing his hand. But that was in the past. Without moving his head or giving any indication that he noticed the onlooker, he focused on the latter with his Reiryoku.
In his mind he seemed to zoom in on the individual. '198 meters on my left.' He thought as he analyzed the male shinobi as he discovered. Said shinobi had short black hairs and wore a short black jacket with red straps. The jacket barely covered high collared midriff shirt, leaving exposed his belly. 'A strange outfit for a boy, that's for sure' Naruto mumbled as he continued his observation, never straying from his path.
He also wore black pants, shinobi sandals and gloves. Finally a tanto was strapped on his back and his face was covered by a blank anbu mask.
Normally the mask would have indicated this ninja belonged to the Anbu division, but Naruto knew better. There were some perks to being apprenticed to Jiraiya after all. He knew a great deal of Konoha secrets. He needed to if he were to someday replace Jiraiya as the spymaster of the village. That is why he knew then and there that the onlooker was a member of Danzo's Root.
Narrowing his eyes, he left the matter be for now and kept moving until he reached his destination. Entering the building, he went for the teller inquiring about Kakashi's room. Once he had the information he went his way.
Meanwhile, Kakashi was lying on his bed wide awake. He was reminiscing on old good times with his late team when someone brushed the door.
The door opened, letting in Naruto who smiled upon seeing his ex-sensei.
"Kakashi — sensei, I see you are awake."
"Naruto — kun, I wasn't expecting you." He smiled at the boy before noticing the jounin jacket he wore. "So… jounin then! How does that treat you?"
"Good sensei, I still can't believe I'm one though. Dreaming about being a jounin and being one is certainly not the same thing." He smiled as he said that. It was true that his new rank hadn't yet been registered in his mind.
"Trust me, this feeling won't last long. Especially when you'll be confronted with the reality of being a jounin. Now that you are one, you must set the example for your peers. So you better behave."
"Like how you set the example for children by reading that smut everywhere." The both laughed at that remark.
"You got me there!"
"I sure did, in more way than one." Smirking at his taunt, Naruto moved to sit beside Kakashi who eye-smiled.
"Still what the hell were those techniques you used?"
Naruto knew that question was coming. After all he had used very powerful techniques without handseals and they were certainly not common. Fortunately he had prepared himself to answer such things.
"They are called Kido, I created them." He said simply. His goofy personality gone once again. Talking about such required him to be serious after all. Kakashi noticed that but made no comment about the sudden change.
"You know that every Hokage held special techniques that made them extremely powerful. The Shodaime had his Mokuton, the Nidaime had his unequaled mastery over water ninjutsu, the Sandaime knew so much ninjutsu technique he could combine them in such a way it was almost impossible to escape and finally the Yondaime had his teleportation jutsu." Kakashi just nodded for Naruto to continue.
"During the training trip I researched something that would too set me apart. I'll need it if I want to become Hokage after all." A goofy smile found itself on Naruto's lips alleviating a little the tension.
"That's how I stumbled upon the Kido arts as I named them. They are a series of techniques I created to pretty much help me in every situation. They are mostly advanced manipulation of chakra." Most of it wasn't true but he had decided to stick with this story for now. He didn't want people to know he had discovered a new form of energy. Secrecy was a strong weapon after all.
"That must be pretty advanced manipulation then because I couldn't understand or copy it when I used my Sharingan. Not that I wanted to steal your jutsu." Kakashi quickly corrected once he saw Naruto's face darken.
"You wouldn't be able to anyway. But that is for another time." He smirked at seeing Kakashi's gobsmacked expression. Of course the Sharingan couldn't copy the technique. To make it works, one needed to use Reiryoku after all. It was the energy itself that allowed him to create a technique like that.
"Still I didn't come here just for a chat."
"I figured as much. So what did you have in mind."
Naruto hesitated a little. After all what he was about to do could be very dangerous. He didn't like to use Kakashi like that but he was the only one that could help him.
"Go ahead, I won't bite" Kakashi joked seeing Naruto's hesitation.
"I don't think you'll be as open once you hear what I have in mind." Taking a deep breath Naruto tried his luck.
"One of the thing I did during my trip was to research something to combat the Sharingan." Kakashi's widened eyes was certainly a comical scene but Naruto reminded himself he wasn't here for a laugh.
"I know that sooner or later I'll face Itachi or Sasuke. I also know that their dojutsu isn't something to ignore. So I searched its history, how it works and the ability it grants its wielder."
"Where did you come up with that information?"
"Jiraiya!" the answer satisfied the bedridden jounin and gestured for Naruto to continue.
"Anyway, after summing up all the abilities it granted, I tried to come up with something that could block the most debilitating ones like the induced hypnosis and the predicting ability. After a while I came up with something that should work but I had no one to test it on."
"I see." Kakashi interrupted him, having come to the correct conclusion. "And you need me to test it as I am the only one with a Sharingan here."
"That's right. The thing is, I do not know the consequences of using it. It could be very dangerous to you…"
"What? You didn't let me finish!"
"I know that it could be dangerous but I'm willing to take the risk if it'll allow you to confirm its efficiency instead of taking a gamble during a real life or death battle." The seriousness in his voice was enough for Naruto to know Kakashi had made up his mind.
"Brace yourself then." Naruto mumbled as he stood in front of Kakashi.
He had trained with the technique to such an extent, activating it was like breathing to him. So with a low voice he muttered.
"Yami o Keihatsu"
Lazily sitting on a rooftop several meters away from the white building, the blank masked anbu observed as Naruto got out of the hospital building. His eyes were squinted as he analyzed every step taken by the newly made jounin.
He was tempted to attack him just for the heck of it but thought better. He had a mission to accomplish and attracting attention to himself wasn't in the mission parameters. And attacking would do just that.
He heard footsteps behind him but didn't react. The sound was closing on him until it finally stopped, replaced by a voice he knew very well.
"Anything interesting Sai?"
"Nothing so far. Then again, I wasn't given much leeway to acquire the needed information sempai." The newly named Sai replied, all the while keeping an eye on Naruto.
"I would say you take what you get but we both know you are used to such limitations. So I reiterate. Have you found anything worthy of interest on the subject?"
The voice came from another blank masked anbu that stood beside Sai. This one was heavily garbed, so much that only his mask was visible.
"I still don't get what is so interesting about the Jinchuuriki. Nonetheless, I didn't find anything worth mentioning."
"I've been standing in this position ever since he went out of his apartment and he didn't notice my presence even once. Even reducing my stealth capability to the level of newby Chunin didn't do the trick."
"This is strange. From the reports, it was indicated that he could hide from the village elites."
"Exactly!" Sai retorted. "So I thought he was just feigning it, but that wasn't it. It's more like he has an uncanny ability to hide from others but I suspect finding people is not his strong point."
"What else?" the masked anbu fired again. He was already analyzing the information provided and finding how they could use it to their advantage.
"That was the only thing I was able to test. Anything else would require direct confrontation with the subject."
"That is your official report I suppose. But what do you really think of him?"
For the first time, Sai looked at his obvious superior. Traces of laziness had all but disappeared to be replaced a cold look. One that had seen death countless of time.
"He is weak!"
With that said, his body dissolved in bubbles of ink, leaving behind a contemplative anbu. He was mentally reading the file on his fellow ninja Sai, and comparing the data to the children his age. His comparison over, even himself was forced to admit that Sai was really above the lot of them.
'Even if the young Uchiha prodigy has stayed in the village, Sai would have been above him by far. Maybe that's why he does not like them?'
Still, knowing that no one would answer his query except Sai himself, he forgot about it and too disappeared.
Had he stayed a little longer, maybe he would have noticed the shadow of a man leaning against the left wall of the building, seemingly staring at nothing. Without indication of a jutsu being used, the shadow swiftly moved away.
One thing that I didn't like in canon Naruto was the way they presented Sai as comparable if not stronger than Sasuke, yet they didn't show just why that is. At least not until the war.
Know that I intend to make full use of his talents.
Anyway see you soon folks!