Chapter 15: Thirteen
16th of September. Three months earlier.
She felt heavy.
Her eyes were closed, her body unmoving. It didn't feel like her body at all, she felt as if she weighed so much more, or that the pull of gravity had increased as she slept. 'Yes that must be it,' she thought, she had never been good at physics, and half the stuff she was capable of doing apparently defied the laws of it anyway.
She was so sick of laws and rules, she knew why they were in place, but so many of them were terrible. So what if she wanted to jump off a seventy metre cliff and walk away as if she'd done nothing but step from a staircase? Why did it have to defy some law that she knew nothing about?
Huh. Maybe she could speak to someone about the laws of physics, get someone to re-write them or something. Shikamaru was a good choice, he knew about stuff like this. She would speak with him once she managed to move from beneath this increased gravity, he would probably be with Chōji at that Tobirama Barbeque shop they loved so much.
Everything seemed to be named after a Hokage. It was weird, so many things had similar names. Hashirama Shinobi Hospital, Hashirama Orphanage. Tobirama Barbeque, Tobirama shopping district.
"I swear to god Naruto…"
Hiruzen day care, Hiruzen Civilian Hospital. Minato shinobi district, Minato Civilian Academy.
"NARUTO! Wake. Up!"
Naruto suddenly opened her eyes, a rasping cough scraping up her throat as if a Fire Eagle was slowly dragging it's talons inside the fleshy pipe. She attempted to roll over and free her chest from the weight to find she couldn't move. A wave of dread drowned her consciousness as she began to hyperventilate, panic ridden from the lack of breathing space as her ribcage was constricted between the earth around her.
"Naruto, I need you to calm down," Kurama's voice was clear in her head then as she attempted to think straight. Crippling pulses of pain shot through her skull sporadically, one of her eyes rendered useless as a dried and sticky red liquid—blood—forced it shut.
She closed her good eye and breathed in, her breaths shuddering as she tried to slow her breathing. After a while she made sure she could breathe in for five seconds and hold It for a further five seconds before she deemed herself ready.
"It's about time you idiot," Naruto smiled as best as she could with half her face forced into the ground, dirt scratching its way into her wounds. Her arms were pinned behind her helplessly, further reducing the space for her chest to expand with breath.
"Hey Kurama, fancy seeing you here," her words were lethargic and drawn out, her muscles heavy with pain and exhaustion.
"Honestly girl, you royally messed up here," Naruto chuckled low and slow. She wanted to go back to sleep, that was until she realised she had been concussed and hadn't actually gone to sleep in the first place.
"What should I do?" she couldn't use any hand signs since her hands were pinned by her sides.
"You will just have to rest, gain more strength and then we can attempt to transform and break our way out," he couldn't really think of anything better to do, his host was incapacitated. She had done amazing feats in her life, survived the impossible, but contrary to popular belief; she wasn't invincible. She was still just a girl—granted a very powerful and hard-headed one at that—but more or less just a girl, in a never ending world of heartache and turmoil.
"Rest…Okay," she said dopily, her body relaxing despite the pain, into a deep slumber, leaving Kurama to think.
She awoke to a splinter of sun, the small beacon heating her cheek. Naruto opened her eye and rolled her blue iris to the sky. A small hole in the rocks above, shined down like a light of hope as the sun's rays intruded into the dark cavern.
"Naruto," Kurama's baritone and animalistic voice was as clear as day within her mind.
"Yes Kurama?" she asked with a smile, her fury tenant quenching the lonely feeling that had begun to build up inside her. Three days now she had been stuck with no food and no water. But Kurama was there to keep her company as she began to wilt away.
"Can you move?" Naruto wiggled her fingers, she felt nothing, but she was sure they were moving. The pins and needles throughout her body was almost painful, but it was more of a tickle compared to the crushing pain she actually felt.
"I need you to move more, gain back control of your body. I have been sustaining your limbs as well as I can to keep the circulation through them, but I can't completely heal you until we are out of here," Naruto groaned a long and sorrowful groan as she attempted to move her body. It was hard, oh so hard. She couldn't feel either of her feet, completely unable to move her toes. She told Kurama as much, the Bijū sighing with a tired voice.
"It will have to do. Draw on my chakra and entre the initial Jinchūriki phase, the initial phase only Naruto," Naruto smiled and nodded, she knew she was too brash sometimes, but she would always take everything her tenant said with serious consideration. This was definitely one of the times she would listen to him.
She felt her canines extend and her nails sharpen into claws, the chakra within her was hotter than fire, a familiar and non-painful burn within her belly. Kurama watched her with sharp red eyes, her own eyes becoming mirrors of his. He commanded her next to ease into the first tail.
The chakra boiled from deep within her, the tingling of the invisible seal that wrapped her entire body was comforting. The energy bubbled from her skin and began to form a protective coating around her body. The rocks around her began to groan as the chakra moved between herself and the earth. Her breathing quickened as she looked to the rocks around her with wide eyes, terrified that they might give way.
"Good," said the Bijū, his nine tails swaying behind him in concentration as he passed specific amounts of chakra to the girl. Her lone chakra tail was moving around the rocks like fire, not disrupting the rocks, but causing less room for his host to work.
"We'll slowly go through each stage of the transformation. Right now I don't want you to change size, just shape. We'll ease your body into it so as you don't damage yourself further, then we can increase the size and get out as fast as we can. If the cave begins to fail, then we will have to risk it with a spontaneous, full transformation. Do you understand?" Naruto got her breathing under control again, and nodded, but that wasn't enough for the mighty fox.
"Answer me Naruto!"
"Hai!" she replied, short and quick.
"Two tails," she did as she was ordered, groaning in pain as her body protested the strain.
"Three," they were moving slowly, it had been half an hour now since she began to unleash the Kyūbi's chakra, one painful tail at a time. Usually she would have just turned into her Vixen fox form, but the strain on her body, to skip from no tails to nine was just too much, her body would reject it and shut down immediately. It had happened before, and the repercussions weren't good.
The fourth tail was where the hard part truly began.
The Kyūbi was different from the other beasts, he truly did have the right to brag. He was the most powerful, his Jinchūriki's body were always put through the most amount of stress to contain his massive being. Therefore his transformation stages were different.
Up to three tails it was the same as any beast, even four tails were similar. But that is where the similarities ended.
"Four," slowly changing into each stage was painful, the fourth tail especially was a large transitioning point. She whimpered as her skin began to peel away from her body in ribbons. She didn't exactly feel the pain as if someone was physically doing it to her, however the burn of the chakra was pain enough.
She didn't resemble herself, or a human at all anymore. She looked like a demon as her eyes glowed white and her body moved with chakra, an especially dense black spot covered her face.
Her whimpers and groans of pain now sounded animalistic in nature. The screeching of her raw throat scaring away the forest dwelling animals in the area.
"Five," she sounded like a cornered animal as her cries of pain became desperate. Bones began to materialise around her, the processes of her vertebrae extending from her back and into the stone with forceful vigour, no sympathy for her pain. She cried out again, a strangled choke as her space became narrower with her morphing body.
"Six," she writhed then, fists clenching as the bones fully formed. The stones creaked and small peddles fell around her, the dust dissipating on contact with her charka body.
"Stop moving Naruto," he commanded with clenched teeth, feeling her pain through their bond. He couldn't physically feel it, but he mentally could, and it hurt. She replied with a guttural cry, her body stilling it's writhing, her muscles quivering from the effort.
"Seven," her chakra body began to expand then, the soon to be flesh rising up and engulfing the bones into its hot prison. This was the one step she could not keep downsized. Only partly was it because of her current physically and mentally weak state, but the Kyūbi's power was just too much to really keep in control to such an extent to bring the bones into the body. No, the body had to expand to meet the bones in order to compensate for the extra energy.
The rocks began to shake and grind, the sound a sombre symphony with her animalistic screeches of pain and worry.
"Eight!" Kurama yelled in her mind. The muscles began to form around her then, her body just growing that slight bit more. The rocks began to move then, their towering and globular bodies blocking the only light source she had. The world around her suddenly went dark as the boulders shifted.
"NARUTO TRANSFORM NOW!" she wriggled with panic to free her arms, a sudden burst of energy sending adrenalin coursing through her veins. Her arms came free—quickly covering in thick, beautiful orange and red fur—as her claws stabbed with fury into the rock in front of her. She pumped charka through her coils urgently, her body increasing in size rapidly as the heavy boulders began to fall around her.
Her spine met the stone with a sickeningly loud crack as her body expanded with power. She exploded from the rubble with a roar, her hands thrust into the earth, dragging her useless legs from the hole.
Smaller but still heavy stones rained from the sky, the hard rock thumping against her body. She wanted nothing but to transform back into her normal body.
"Don't, stay as you are, it is easier to heal you this way," her form was nowhere near the size she was capable of, however she was still an imposing figure. As she lay there, her chest heaving breaths that had been restricted before, with each rise her body reached at least two stories high. Her tails were long and limp behind her, the fur swaying in the breeze as the sun warmed her skin.
It was at least thirty minutes before the beast allowed her to shrink back to her normal body. She pulled herself up from the ground and dragged her body back to the rubble she'd come from. Not far from the gaping hole she had made was another hole. She slowly crawled her way towards it, her legs just now coming back to life beneath her.
Looking down into the tight space, she could smell the blood of her teammates. Naruto heaved a rock to the side and looked down again to see no-one inside. On the ground were small puddles of blood, but other than that there were no bodies. She sighed with relief and clutched above her heart, a smile erupting over her face.
'They're okay,' she thought before turning to move away from the hole, she wasn't about to risk falling down again because she sure as hell didn't want to go through the process of getting out again. She slid down the pile of rubble, soon losing her footing and rolling down in an ungraceful heap. She landed at the base with a loud 'oomf', her limbs unceremoniously sprawled about.
"Damn it child! Are you purposefully making my job harder?" the beast complained as she rolled with a half moan, half laugh. Once the feeling returned to her legs, she stood shakily and took a few unsteady steps. Finally catching her footing, she walked, and walked, and walked. There was no ending, without the map she couldn't find where the Kanabi Bridge was situated, since she assumed that where her teammates would be headed.
It only then just occurred to her, her teammates were gone. To them, she must be assumed dead. Her feet faltered at the thought, head spinning. She needed to find them, so show that she was alive.
She righted herself again and continued walking, she would run into someone soon whether they were friend or foe, but it would give her an idea as to whether she was heading in the right direction.
It felt like hours before she found anyone. Up ahead, Naruto's sharp vision could make out a faint figure of someone lying on the ground, next to a rock that was at least the size of her. As she got closer she realised it was a young man, probably only eighteen to nineteen years of age. She couldn't be sure, but from where she crouched, he looked injured and abandoned.
She walked forward slowly, knowing he wouldn't be able to attack her with only one arm. He had his eyes closed, his chest heaved in and out in painful gasps of air. His good hand was clutching his injured shoulder, practically holding the flesh onto his body.
He had dark black hair to his ears and deathly pale skin, from the loss of blood or just naturally she couldn't be sure. It wasn't until she was a mere few metres away that she saw the headband.
"What is a Kirigakure Shinobi doing all the way up here? I thought you pulled out of the war at the same time that Kumogakure did," the Kiri man looked to her then, eyes wide and guarded. She looked like a harbinger of death in her bloodied state, a corpse which should have been long dead.
"Screw you," he ground out between his teeth, Naruto made no move towards him, his free hand was still able to throw weapons after all.
"I'm sorry, I think I caused that rock to fall on you," the man's small brows furrowed and looked back between the rock and the young teen before him. She was tiny, there was no way she could have caused this thing to have rained from the sky like it had.
"If you're going to kill me, do it already! Stop screwing around," Naruto looked to him with a frown, she had no reason to kill this man.
"I have no reason to kill you," she walked forward then. The man panicked and moved to grab a kunai from his weapons pouch, only for a stab of pain to travel through his body from the pull on his crushed arm.
"I'll kill myself before you can take me into questioning," he replied. She seriously didn't understand why he was so guarded, he had done nothing to her, Kirigakure had left the war, and Konoha had no need to interrogate him. She lent down beside him and reached for her weapons pouch. The man closed his eyes and waited for the stab of a kunai within his flesh, and when the pain came he still was in no way prepared.
However it was not the pain he expected to feel. He cried out and looked down at his shoulder to see the blonde Konoha girl tying a tourniquet. He looked to her with shock ridden eyes, she was helping him?
She stood then and looked at the boulder which was just a tad smaller than she was. The young man looked at her with utter bewilderment and confusion. He was absolutely baffled, why did she help him? Is she just trying to keep him alive for interrogation? Did she seriously think she could move this boulder? Many thoughts and questions were running through his mind, just what was with this girl? He couldn't figure it out.
"Don't waste your energy on him," the Kyūbi loudly protested from within her mindscape. She scowled, despite highly respecting Kurama's opinion, leaving someone in this situation when she could do something about it is not something she could stand for. Friend or foe, it was just the type of person she was.
"You can't possibly…" the man trailed off as Naruto placed her hands on the rock in front of her. The Kyūbi's energy coursed through her coils as she entered the initial Jinchūriki phase. The man blinked at her, only to cry out in pain as the rock rolled off his arm. He rolled to the side then and cradled his broken and bleeding arm to his chest.
The stone didn't move far at all, both because she was too weak to move it any further and because she really did need to conserve her energy. The Kiri Shinobi didn't flee like his body screamed to, instead he sat where he was and just stared at this enemy ninja that just saved him. His teammates had left him as a lost cause when the rocks had rained from the sky and trapped him, yet here was this enemy girl from Konoha, helping him when his own country did not.
"Why are you here all by yourself Kiri-Shinobi-san?" she asked with a breathtaking—albeit tired and drained—smile.
"They left me," he replied, not sure why he did. She was an enemy, why is he still conversing with her?
"Why would they do that?" she sounded absolutely appalled at the thought. This served to confuse him more, they were in the middle of a war, and people were left behind all the time.
"I was injured and trapped, I was useless and they needed to carry on…" he stopped for a second before a thought came to him.
"Why are you here all by yourself then?" he asked her back, causing Naruto to stop in thought. She couldn't believe that his team would leave him without even trying to free him. She was positive that her teammates would have at least tried, they wouldn't have left her had they thought she was alive.
"My team thought I died," she answered, she was certain that was the case, they wouldn't have just left her here. The Kiri man went quiet and looked to the ground, his aching shoulder pulsing with a background pain. It was a few moments of silence between the two shinobi when she suddenly broke it.
"What's your name?" he blinked in surprise, another ninja had never asked for his name before. Heck, an enemy ninja had never spoken to him before besides threats, this whole situation was weird.
"Momochi Sandayū" he answered uneasily after a breath of hesitation, something about her made him feel as if it were okay to talk to her.
"Momochi?" Naruto asked in surprise, looking over the man once again, and when she looked this time she could really see the resemblance. In front of her, stood what looked like a slightly younger version of her times Momochi Zabuza, the man known as the Demon of the Hidden Mist, the man that completely messed up her first ever C-ranked mission. The black hair was longer and his eyes were slightly less angled, but other than that they were a spitting image.
Momochi Sandayū looked to her with guarded eyes. It had only been a few years ago that his one and only little brother had slaughtered all the children at the Kirigakure Shinobi Academy, making a name for himself in the ninja world without even having any ninja training.
"What of it?" he asked bluntly, standing to his full six foot height, towering over the smaller girl that stood a little less than a foot shorter than himself.
"Peach soil, such a cute name for a clan with such strong looking people," she decided not to show that she knew of Zabuza, she had no idea just how close they were in the clan. They could be distant relatives or they could be siblings, but she wasn't taking any chances. She had however heard of the boy's actions a few years back, it had been the news of the nations that a boy from Kirigakure without ninja training, had managed to slaughter an entire class of soon to be geinin. Sandayū looked at the girl with narrowed eyes, however he couldn't shake the feeling and need to protect the Konoha girl's innocence. She seemed to be so naïve in her actions, but deep in her eyes was a haunted soul, the crystalline blue much older than what they should be.
"What's your name?" he finally asked, wanting to know the name of the girl that saved him.
"Uzumi Naruto," he froze. His whole body tensed as he stared at the girl in front of him. He shot forward suddenly and grabbed her arm, Naruto twisted easily from his grip and dropped into a tired yet coiled stance to fight.
"You need to get out of here now!" he said furiously, his change in personality putting Naruto on guard.
"Believe me when I say I have been trying to do just that," her eyes were wide and her fists were raised.
"No you don't understand, they are after you," he didn't understand why he was telling her this. He was a Kirigakure shinobi, tasked with the mission with numerous other's from his village to capture the Jinchūriki of Konoha, to capture Uzumi Naruto. Officially, the Land of Water had retreated from the war, but they didn't really stop, they were waiting for their time to strike back and really bring down the larger countries. They needed an upper hand, and Naruto was their key through a tricky door.
"Who's after me?" she asked quietly before numerous Shinobi's stepped into view. There were dozens, most of them only recognisable by their forehead protectors, others by their hunter-nin masks. Kirigakure had sent hunter-nin after her!
She swore and dropped lower into her defensive stance, eying the Momichi before her. She could see that he was hiding his shock, he had warned her.
"Good work Momochi Sandayū, perhaps you will be as useful as your little brother. After all…You led us to our target," The girl sounded roughly her age and wore a hunter mask that simple blue lines with dots running from top to bottom, each line crossing one of the masks slit eyes. Her hair was an auburn so dark it was almost brown and the only skin that showed anywhere on her body, were the pale tips revealed though her fingerless gloves.
"Capture her," she said evenly as all hell broke loose.
The numerous shinobi jumped towards their target. Naruto swore and activated Kurama's chakra within her coils, her body alit with bright flames, a black seal trailing across her limbs. She used her speed to evade the Shinobi's, she didn't want to risk actually fighting with any of them as there were too many and it would slow down her escape. It didn't necessarily matter how weak the opponents were, if they had numbers such as this, they were a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately for Naruto, they not only had numbers, but within those numbers were obviously extremely powerful Kirigakure ninjas.
Naruto instantly made numerous clones as distractions, slowing down the pursuit of many of her hunters. The girl hunter-nin appeared before her then, her auburn hair blocking Naruto's view for a split second before she saw hand signs that caused dread to pool in the pit of her stomach.
"Shit!" Naruto exclaimed before dodging the lava that spewed from the girls mouth, the whole bottom half of her mask melting, yet none of it marring the girl's smooth skin.
"Mei! We need her alive!" another hunter-nin called in anger, avoiding the lava as he landed beside the girl.
"Oh please, if she couldn't dodge that, then she wouldn't be anywhere near the level she is made out to be," Naruto didn't wait around to listen to the rest of the conversation and darted away with lightning speed. Her body hurt as she propelled through the thick terrain. She was forced to come to jarring halts constantly to change directions, her joints buckling many times in protest of the sudden movements.
Naruto was frustrated, she was weakened from hunger and dehydration, unable to perform anywhere near her true capabilities. She felt as if she would usually be able to escape such a situation, however her body wasn't moving as fast as her mind.
She reached out suddenly when a ninja slammed into her side, the crippling sting of a kunai within her torso caused her to double with pain. Her Bijū chakra moulded into a large claw, the makeshift limb grabbed the back of the Shinobi's clothes and flung him to the side with outstanding force.
Naruto removed the kunai from her side, holding the weapon in her fingers as the wound began to heal as quickly as she could in her state. She darted away again as footsteps sounded from behind her, as well as to each side. Her brows furrowed when she realised very quickly that they were herding her. Naruto changed her direction within a split second and charged a group of Shinobi to her right, the pack being the smallest she could sense of all the groups around her.
With her kunai raised she collided with a Shinobi, chakra claws dug into their flesh as she slashed her acquired kunai with deadly precision. A cut formed across the knee of the man, slicing the patella ligament in two, stopping his ability to pursue her further. Similar fates were set for the Shinobi around her, she didn't kill any of them, but she made damn well sure that they wouldn't be chasing her any longer. The altercation lasted for all of five seconds as she dashed away again, leaving the six wounded ninja's in her wake.
Naruto could only run for a few seconds before she cried a short surprised scream, a wall of molten lava suddenly appearing before her eyes. She cringed back from the heat as she felt her skin crack and peel instantly, only to be quickly healed again by Kurama. Naruto ran to the left along the burning and melting line of trees, only to be once again cut off by a large wall of lava. She swore and doubled back the way she came, realising that they were trying to box her in.
She wished then and there that she knew water techniques, as they would have been her best bet to cool the lava into a near walkable surface. She doubted she could fully jump to the other side, however with the ninja's approaching in front of her, getting on the other side of the lava would at least use their own barrier against them
She turned to her left suddenly and jumped, just as a Kiri ninja's hand shot out to grab her tattered clothes. She bubbled Kurama's chakra inside her, the energy shaping and expanding her body to give her the extra stretch she needed to make the death defining jump. Her lengthened and half formed paws landed just centimetres from the line of lava, the fire outside burned her hands as she tumbled to the ground, breaking the transformation.
She was up and running as quickly as she had found even the slightest of footing. She knew that that wall wouldn't hold off the ninja's forever, and she doubted all of them had been on that side in the first place, however she did limit the amount of assailants at the immediate time.
Naruto began to weave in and out of the trees as kunai and shuriken began to rain around her. Small cuts and slashes began to appear across her small body, the wounds healing, only for new ones to open. Her blood was spattering on her path, leaving a direct map of her route that any ninja with a good nose would easily be able to follow.
She fell suddenly without any warning, the cold stabbing feeling of water engulfed her, the liquid filling her lungs as she gasped involuntarily. She raised to the surface quickly as her body quickly expelled the unwanted substance, the coughs choking her attempts to gasp air. She gulped mouthfuls of the freezing water around her coughs, not caring to check whether or not it was poisoned. She swam to the river bank behind her and threw herself into the muddy earth. Releasing the glowing sheath of chakra around her she grabbed handfuls of the muck and smeared it all over her body.
It wasn't long before Naruto heard footsteps approaching her location. She grit her teeth in annoyance and buried herself into the mud she'd been trying to mask her scent with. Coughs that threatened to escape her chest burned with anger as she supressed the action, her muscles quivering so violently from the effort that she thought they would feel and see her from ages away. Many shinobi stopped above her, their sandals sinking scarily close to her hidden body.
"The blood stops here, she must be traveling in the river,"
"Upstream or downstream?" she heard Mei ask of the tracker woman. There was a short pause as Naruto refused to breathe, they were so close.
"I would say downstream, the river would carry her blood down here had she gone upstream. She was bleeding too much for it not to show," she heard a smacking sound and a yelp before a man's voice sounded, the mud sinking directly next to Naruto's hidden head. She could sense his chakra instantly…He was another Jinchūriki.
"You idiot Kasumi, the Intel suggests that this particular Jinchūriki has remarkable healing capabilities. She probably stopped bleeding as soon as she hit the water," his voice was loud and commanding, none of the Shinobi around him seemed to protest his words, making Naruto think that he was probably high up in the ranks.
"Split up, that group go down stream, this group will take upstream. You guys keep going forward in case she continued past the water," Naruto couldn't see as Mei ordered the formation, her ears also had quickly filled with mud, muffling her hearing. The pressures of feet left the area around her body as the ninja's ran in their ordered directions. Naruto waited another thirty seconds before the burning in her chest from the lack of air and the need to cough became unbearable. She attempted to muffle the coughs in her palm as she broke through the surface of the mud, the taste bitter in her mouth.
She never heard it coming.
Her mud filled ears couldn't detect the pinpoint airflows of the dozens of kunai that rained down upon her hurting body. The stabs were numerous and covered her exposed and covered flesh. Naruto's blue eyes flew open in surprise, the thick mud blinding and scratching the orbs, forcing them shut.
A guttural cry of frustration left her throat as she dragged herself forward, her back arching in a cripplingly painful attempt to eject the many kunai from her body. She would have liked to have transformed and disintegrated the damned objects, however her body was much too weak to handle the stress.
With desperate hands she wiped at her eyelids, trying with all her might to regain one of her senses. A shuriken stabbed into the back of her hand, braking one of the slender bones that made up her palm. She cried out and thrashed the injured hand out blindly, the chakra claw extending from her arm and causing destruction all around her.
She heard screams and yells as she continued her blind assault, the smell of smoke filling her senses as Kurama's raw chakra singed the environment. A burning sensation suddenly exploded on her back as thick chains were thrown across her body. She grabbed the chain with her good hand, the lightening chakra from within the metal coursed through to her palm and up her body. Without so much as a cringe or flinch to show that she felt the element, she wrapped her hands around the metal and yanked it towards her while simultaneously thrashing out with another chakra claw in the direction she felt them fall.
More chains began to fall on her body, the lightning chakra convulsing her muscles into spasms. Naruto thrashed for the chain before tensing her body, the chakra building up in her gut before she expanded the pulse in a powerful shockwave, blasting the chains from her body and knocking away the Kiri shinobi. Her body was twitching all over as remnants of the lightning chakra streamed through her body.
Naruto's hands shook embarrassingly violently as she finally was able to wipe the drying mud from her eyes. As soon as she was able to open them, a blur obstructed for newfound vision, a force slamming into her head, unable to move in time. Her body swayed from the impact and dizziness that followed, completely powerless to the lightning chains that once again wrapped around her body. She didn't fall unconscious, she didn't want to give them the pleasure, however Naruto quickly felt her body beginning to lose control.
Her crystalline eyes looked up to meet Mei's green orbs, the colour blending beautifully with her auburn hair. Her once pale skin however was dirty and bruised, the girl looked furiously down at Naruto, and angered that it had taken so many of their finest ninja to take down a simple girl her own age. Mei couldn't believe that she was still conscious, she knew that if she were in Naruto's shoes, she would have been captured long ago. The thought enraged her as she roughly grabbed Naruto's jaw in her hand and looked her square in her dazed yet sharp blue eyes.
"You're now a prisoner of war by Kirigakure from the Land of Mist, your struggling is futile," Naruto smiled at Mei's words, her skin glowing faintly before a large fox shaped head of chakra burst forward. Mei was jerked out of the way by the short male Shinobi from earlier, the auburn haired girl clutching her hand as the Kyūbi's chakra burned through her skin, eating away at the fabric of her gloves. She ripped the glove from her hand, some of her skin tearing off with it as the chakra burnt hotly enough for the two to fuse together.
When the sudden burst of energy faded from Naruto just as quickly as it came, Mei moved forward with manic ferocity, slamming her fist into the blond girl's temple and forcing her into unconsciousness.
"How are our people?" Mei asked suddenly as another ninja tended to her chakra burns.
"No-one is unscathed, some have near fatal wounds however no-one was killed. She just wasn't good enough to kill us," the young man boasted the last remark with a confident smirk.
"Don't be stupid, it isn't that she couldn't kill us, it is just that the fool decided not to. If she did decide to aim to kill, over half of us would probably be dead," the short man was an imposing figure despite his height, everyone quietened at the sound of his voice. Mei may have been the leader of this mission, however no matter the name in the reports that stated the official leader, everyone would follow him in a heartbeat.
The man hurried for everyone to be healed to the best of their abilities and that they were leaving as soon as everything was prepared to transport the Jinchūriki. Everyone that couldn't keep up would be left behind.
Such was war.
Naruto blinked her eyes, unsure as to whether or not her lids were actually moving. She could see nothing. Her night vision eyes could see not even the smallest splinter of light, her vulpine hearing overwhelmed by her own breathing. A loud ringing of silence flooded her ears between breaths, the resounding sound pulsing through her brain.
She moved her arms and the clanging of chains was magnified tenfold in the deathly silent room. She instinctively moved to cover her ears, only to rattle the chains more and send more amplified ringing through her skull. She felt her skin burning from contact with the shackles that imprisoned her hands, however she sensed no chakra manipulation through the metal. Disgusting and overly sweet smells also began to flood her sinus, the tingling causing her eyes to water and the mixture of bitter and sweet tastes surged throughout her mouth.
A door suddenly opened, the screeching sound it made against the ground felt as if Naruto were sitting in the middle of a room as hundreds of people scratched their nails across a chalkboard. The blinding white light flooded through her eyelids, the thick folds of skin doing nothing to shield her eyes.
"You can feel the venom of the Ishigakure Stone wasp amplifying your already extraordinary senses," the man's soft voice sounded as if he were yelling calmly in her ear. The sound dizzying, her senses going mad as Naruto's body tried to make sense of the information being pounded through her brain.
"Closing your eyes still feels like you are staring at the sun, the smallest of touch feels as if someone is burning you," Naruto clenched her teeth, the action sending bursts of pain through her gums, however she didn't dare make a sound to add to the cacophony of noises around her.
"Everything you smell is sickening as it overpowers your olfactory system, everything you smell can be tasted on the palate of tastebuds across your tongue," a finger trailed up Naruto's arm, the touch leaving a fiery trail behind.
"Every little noise feels as if it is being pounded into the very core of your brain, you feel as if your ear drums will burst at any moment as I quietly whisper in your ear," his mouth was a mere inch from her ear as he whispered, however to Naruto he might as well have had numerous megaphones set up by her ear and screamed into them.
"Don't worry, your little Bijū will burn through the venom within minutes, but this is a warning of what we can do to you if you don't cooperate," she heard the agonisingly loud screeching of a metal chair being moved deliberately across what she assumed to be a stone floor.
He was telling the truth as Kurama quickly detoxified the venom from her body, her senses returned to normal, however her confused brain spun from the aftermath of her senses being so completely overwhelmed. She rolled her head to the side and stared at the person who had being torturing her senses. She blinked in surprise to see Yagura, the Jinchūriki of the three tailed beast and the Yondaime Mizukage of Kirigakure.
"How is Isobu? Is he still shy?" Naruto asked the man in a gruff voice, she hadn't had a sip of water in what felt like days now and Kurama was working overtime to keep her body hydrated. Yagura looked to Naruto with the utmost of confusion, not knowing who this Isobu boy was.
"You took a hard beating to your head," he informed her, trying to convince her of her insanity. Naruto 'tsked', clicking her tongue at the man in a disapproving manner.
"Are you trying to tell me you don't know the name of your own prisoner, Yagura?" she was trying to scare Yagura with her knowledge, trying to make him think her ties to the Bijū were stronger than they actually were now that she was in the past. Yagura stared at the girl with a blank face, not giving away that she had actually shaken him with her words. He could sense that she was a Jinchūriki, so he was sure that she could sense him too. However if he didn't already know, he wouldn't necessarily be able to tell which beast she contained, let alone its supposed name. He shook off the hot feeling he felt from his beast reacting to the name of 'Isobu', he wouldn't let this girl get the better of him in his own interrogation. He needed information to get them back into the war, but he couldn't get his village involved until he had enough leverage over one of the major players, and so far at the top of the game poll was Konoha.
And now he had their prized Jinchūriki.
"Isobu…what an unfortunate name. Does your mighty Kyūbi have a name?" the fact that the Bijū had individual names was news to him, and hopefully they could be used in order to control them perhaps in some way. Such a tool would be very helpful knowledge, however with how easily she gave out the information, she is either extremely weak willed or their names have no power over them what so ever.
"Of course he does, they all do, imagine a life without a name." Yagura's eyes darkened at that, he himself was an orphan and only had a given name with no clan attachment. He knew exactly what it was like—as did many other ninja's—to live without a name.
"They all live, breath and feel just as much as you or I," Yagura chuckled at that.
"The only thing they seem capable of feeling is hate, anger, malice and any other emotion related to it," Naruto frowned and shook her head as if she pitied him, which only served to annoy the short man.
"Anyone that is seen as nothing but a weapon to be caged and used would eventually grow bitter. Surely as another Jinchūriki you can relate to that, but imagine having to put up with it for centuries," Yagura stood then in anger, annoyed that he was supposed to be playing the mind games with her, and here she was playing mind games with him. He knew that the Kyūbi had exceptional healing capacities, and the girl seemed stubborn enough to take whatever physical torture he threw her way. It seemed that the only way for him to get anything out of her, was to break her will with psychological torture. He slapped his hand onto her vulnerable forehead, the paper seal left there activated with a flare of his chakra.
Now he just had to wait as she broke down into easily malleable pieces for him to forge however he wanted.
She was in her adult body as she sat curled up on the large squishy couch, her long slender legs folded beneath her. It felt normal, as if this is exactly how her life had turned out to be. She heard light footsteps and looked down to see a child of perhaps four years of age. The child smiled a large gap toothed grin, their dark and deep blue eyes hidden beneath a mop of silver hair. She instantly knew who this chid was too, this was her child. This was all normal.
"Hey there cutie!" Naruto reached forward and picked up the child and held them in her arms, their small fingers lacing through her long blonde locks. Two much larger and stronger arms then appeared and draped themselves around her chest, engulfing her slender and athletic frame in a secure embrace. She smiled warmly at the contact as the man trailed feather light kisses down her neck.
"Hello Kakashi," she almost purred, her free hand moving to lace her own fingers into a crown atop the man's head, his silver hair soft as it flowed through her fingertips. He almost moaned at what she assumed was the feeling of her fingernails across his scalp, sliding over the back of the couch so as he could be closer to her.
Naruto could feel the warmth radiating from his body, his skin was slightly grimy from a mission, but she didn't care, she just wanted him closer. He raised his head then to look deep into her eyes, his face was exactly how she remembered it from that day she first saw what was under the mask. His stubbly jaw was masculine but slender, his mismatching eyes warm.
She leaned in to kiss him as he pulled away, snatching the child from between them. His once warm eyes turned cold, his free arm reached up and pulled the mask up to cover his lower face. Naruto sat on the lounge in shock, not understanding what was up with the man.
"Don't say my name you monster," Naruto froze in a position half way between sitting and standing, his words shocking her into immobility. She didn't understand why he would say that, hadn't their life been happy together? She looked down to the child in his arms, she knew it was hers, but she didn't even know its name or even its gender. Something was terribly wrong.
"Kakashi please," her head spun in confusion as she tried to remember their apparently happy life together. She remembered everything up to when he caught her falling from that tree when she was seventeen, however everything after that was out of order and jumbled.
She saw them as children together, which didn't make sense, he had been her sensei so they weren't the same age. She remembered a necklace he gave her, which she could no longer feel the weight of against her collar bone, however his warm chakra still pulsed faintly into her chest. Nothing was making sense, she felt like she was living two lives at once. The confusion suddenly stopped and she looked to Kakashi again, but all she saw was red.
Her hand was impaled through her child and Kakashi's chest. She shook as the Kyūbi's chakra faded from her body, red blood dripping from her fingers. She looked up then as a wave of heat brushed violently against her body. She didn't think it odd that the scenery had changed, but her mind still spun as she looked at the burning village of Konoha.
Traces of Kurama's chakra was everywhere, the beast himself was standing tall near the Hokage Mountain. A snarl morphed the beasts beautiful face into a contorted sneer of anger. Naruto's eyes were wide as she looked to her friends around her, every single one of them dead with their faces turned to her in accusation.
"Naruto snap out of it!" the beast cried in her direction. She couldn't understand why he would do this, after everything they had been through together. An image suddenly filled her mind of a younger Kakashi sitting across from her at her mother and father's table, all of them eating a delicious meal. The thought brought tears to her eyes as she remembered what she had just done to Kakashi, but the image was so clear.
She could almost taste the smell of the food in front of her, the tingling of Kushina's perfume that Minato had bought for her birthday. Memories flooded Naruto's head then, everything that had happened in the past few years of her life flashing before her eyes. She clenched them tightly closed as she felt bloody hands over her body.
"You aren't real," she whispered, their moans, pleas and accusations loud in her ears.
"This isn't real! KAI!" she screamed the last word in the ancient language, as the tongue was much more in tuned to the chakra in her body, the jutsu stronger whenever the language was used.
She felt winded when she suddenly opened her eyes, Yagura stood beside her in wonder. The paper on her forehead had been shredded to pieces. It was one of their strongest genjutsus, never once did he ever think anyone would be able to break it.
"That wasn't very nice," she said hoarsely as their eyes locked.
"I am surprised that genjutsu went how it did, your Kyūbi friend did a lot of manipulation to make it much less traumatising than what it should have been," Naruto shuddered at the thought, she didn't show it, but she was quiet shaken from what she had experienced.
His face was blank as he moved to a table where he then proceeded to drink a glass of water in front of her, knowing how thirsty she must be. Picking up a book from the table, he flipped through a few pages until he came to a stop near the back.
"You have your own Bingo Book page you know, soon to be thirteen and already have a target on your back from assassins," Naruto chuckled at and looked to the green haired man.
"I was born with a target on me," Yagura raised an eyebrow at that, eventually choosing to dismiss the comment.
"Unknown parents, unknown origins, no records of any Uzumi clan within any of the main nations, you Naruto are a mystery. No-one knows anything about you besides your name, team, that you're living in Konoha and that you contain the Kyūbi. Every single bingo book we have picked up, at least one from every nation involved in the war, and that is about the gist of all we can get on you. Even the most skilled of ninja cannot cover their origins that well," he walked over to Naruto's side, shuffling a stack of papers with seals on them. Her eyes followed his fingers, trying to read the kanji on them in the fleeting moment that she could see them. Altogether she deduced that they were all torture seals, the one before being only just the beginning. Each had a particular pattern in them that would tap into her memories, with another meant for choosing happy ones and contorting them into some of your worst fears.
"You have a few names in there that people have tossed around, they vary greatly. Some of them are borderline stupid, others cross the border into the land of what the fuck. Would you like to hear some?" he didn't really care for an answer as he flipped the book open again to her file.
"Konoha's Flaming Ghost, the Orange Demon, the Orange Fire Fox of Konoha, the Blazing Enigma, a small nation even had you down as the Vixen, which, if you look up the definition is quite fitting. Those are just a few, but the one that really goes more into stupid territory is the Orange Eyesore," Naruto began to laugh at that, her voice husky and ragged from dehydration and phlegm.
"That one is fantastic, I like it. I will use that until I am known as Konoha's Orange Hokage, before then I will be Konoha's Orange Eyesore," Yagura just stared at the girl after that, he couldn't figure out just what was going on inside her head. He knew now however, that he would be checking on his subjects often. She was lovable and sweet, capable of probably disarming some of the most brutish of ninjas. He would need to make sure she doesn't crack his men before they crack her.
Slapping a particularly horrible seal on her forehead he dropped the others on the table before walking out and closing the heavy door behind him, trapping Naruto into a room of complete darkness.
"Every time she breaks one of those seals activate another one on her before she can fully come into consciousness. Check her mental health every few times, once she starts to weaken we can start with the seals to make her more loyal towards Kiri. Break her like a twig, do whatever it takes," Yagura left then, picking up a staff he had left outside the door as he thought over the young girls odd genjutsu. She cared deeply for a Kakashi, 'so what is the best way to break someone than to break the ones they love?' he thought as he moved away from the room.
He had a ninja to be dealt with.
2nd of January, three months later, 'present time'
"How are you Minato? Kushina?" Sarutobi Hiruzen, the Sandaime Hokage sat behind his desk, running an aging hand over the old and polished red wood.
"As fine as we can be considering the circumstances," Kushina replied quietly, tracing circles into her husband's palm with her thumb. It had only been a day since she had heard the news of the death of two people she considered to practically be her own adopted children, tears threatening to spill from her eyes at the mere thought of their untimely demises.
"It is still hard," replied Minato afterwards, his eyes shadowed with dark bruises from lack of sleep. He felt like such a failure, he had let down his team, he hadn't made it in time and it resulted in half of his team being killed. He wasn't even able to recover their bodies to give them a proper burial because of the war around them. He couldn't bring them home where they belonged.
A red light suddenly shined through the window as the sun began to rise over the horizon. The three powerful shinobi looked out of the window that faced over the city of Konoha. A large sculpture that had been erected the previous night stood shining, flowers already decorating the imposing figure. The large stature of the Kyūbi was seen as a shrine, a protector and a grave all at the same time. People flocked to the sculpture to honour the dead and pray for the end of the war, incense and flowers scattered around the area as the Kyūbi's crystalline eyes watched over the village. It had become a sign of hope.
Minato glanced down to see Kakashi kneeling in front of his work, staring up at the figure with bloodshot and dying eyes. Minato clenched his eyes shut as his guilt overwhelmed him, Kushina running a soothing hand over his shoulders.
"I am sorry Minato, but I am about to make your day much harder," Minato turned back to the Sandaime, he held a small scroll in one hand and an exceptionally large one that he instantly recognised leaned against the desk.
"First of all I want to give you this one," he held out the small scroll to the couple. Minato eyed the large scroll before taking the smaller one. His eyes scanned the contents, his whole body freezing over.
"You can't possibly think I am fit for this after everything that has happened," he was shaken to the core, inside the small scroll was his offer of promotion to the seat of Hokage. Kushina gasped and gripped her husband's arm, this was a huge opportunity and there was no way she was going to let him waste it.
"It is exactly because of your actions over these dark times and the camaraderie everyone in the village feels towards you that we think you are perfect for the job. There is no better candidate and you know it Minato, I really wish that you will take it," Minato stared down at the words, he couldn't believe that after his failure that anyone would want to put the village into his hands.
"He's right Minato, there is no-one else in the entire village that the people would rather follow than you. You're young but extraordinarily strong in all aspects of the word, whatever happened to that little unreliable and girly kid in the academy that said 'I want everyone in the village to acknowledge me and become a great Hokage!'" he looked down to his wife, shocked at both the comment of him being 'unreliable and girly', as well as that fact that he remembered his aspirations for the future that they all had to say on the first day. Not only had she remembered them, but she remembered them word for word. He smiled at her determination, her fist raised in support. He reached up and engulfed her small and slender fist in his much larger, non-girly hand.
"You had two fantastic students that I have no doubt would have surpassed all of us in the future, both of them with the exact same goal that you voiced all those years ago. You and I both heard them say it and challenge each other over it on numerous occasions. You have their spirits inside you, you have the dream of three amazing children to fulfil," Minato looked to her with a raised brow.
"Three?" Kushina's smile widened as she raised a hand to play with some hair that had become excessively long over his three month mission.
"Inside you there is still that flaky little boy with a big dream," he rolled his eyes and kissed the motor-mouth woman, honestly not caring that the current Hokage was sitting only a metre away.
"I'll do it," he said eventually, a smile across his face. It was the first time in a while that he felt he could really smile, like everything would be okay.
Sarutobi smiled, absolutely relieved that the man had accepted his proposal. However it was strained. He was all too aware of the enormous scroll beside him, it was good to see Minato and Kushina happy again, and within the next few minutes he was about to crush their souls and break their hearts all over again.
"Thank you Minato, I am very proud of you," the blonde man leant down and pressed his right thumb, smeared with his blood, into the scroll. Grabbing the Hokage's pen he went to sign, he hesitated briefly, looking to his wife and mentor's faces before signing his name. Within the week, Namikaze Minato was going to be the Yondaime Hokage. Sarutobi took the scroll and sent it with an ANBU to the council members to be informed of the decision, giving them the chance to announce that a new Hokage has been named.
Sarutobi was silent, unable to really join in with the couples happy musings. He felt the scroll of memories burning a hole in his hand as he rested his palm atop the heavy object. He let the two celebrate for a few seconds before Minato's eyes caught sight of the large scroll again. His blue eyes suddenly hardened and he looked to the Hokage's face, the grooves within his skin had increased tenfold over the past few years with the stress of war.
"That was barely news compared to what you are about to throw at us, isn't it Sarutobi?" the man stayed quiet as he puffed on his pipe, staring back at his successor with unyielding eyes. Kushina looked to the scroll then, not knowing what it was.
"You saw that the two of you both have family members in Konoha according to the Bingo Books," Kushina's eyes hardened, getting a better idea what the scroll contained, yet not knowing at all at the same time. The aging man placed the heavy scroll atop the desk as if it were the weight of a feather, though the creak of the desk suggested otherwise. The name of the scroll was on full display for the couple to see.
'The Scroll of Memories'
The words were in a deep red colour, the timing seal that had previously snaked around the edges of the scroll were broken.
"I honestly don't know what to say…But inside this scroll is everything you need to know…I am so sorry," Sarutobi's voice had quietened by the end, his eyes filled with pain as he moved around the desk to leave the room. He placed a hand on Minato's shoulder, squeezing it before moving towards the door.
Minato moved forward, a lump forming in his throat. If the Hokage's response was anything to go by, he was not going to like what was in the scroll. Memory scrolls were a special kind of scroll, though everyone refers to 'reading' them, they aren't read at all. The term of reading a scroll of memories is generally just manners to make the person whom is having their memories seen, not feel as violated. It is impossible to really get all the information from someone's memories down to mere words, instead the memories are seen as images and noises. Feelings, touch, smell and taste couldn't be converted to the reader, however their brains tended to supply these by what they see and hear.
What Minato and Kushina began to see and hear terrified them.
From the eyes of someone much shorter than themselves, they ran through the streets of Konoha in frantic terror.
"Please! Why?!" they were on the ground, knees and palms raw from falling.
"You filthy Demon stay out of my store!" no-one was chasing her, but no-one was helping her either. The man threw the fake ANBU mask that Naruto had touched, it clattered to the girl's feet.
"Take it, I can't sell it to a poor child after you have contaminated it!" the village people stared with hurtful and accusing eyes, tears blurred the girl's vision but the liquid never fell.
"Cut it out!" she yelled, her small and malnourished body hidden beneath boys clothing that were a few sizes too big.
"Huh? What do you want?" one of the three boys asked, the small frame of Hinata kneeling between them.
"Hey she's the kid, the one who's always getting into trouble. The one everyone hates," another boy said, smirking as he crossed his arms and moved between Hinata and Naruto.
"Oh yeah! That girl!" the third boy smiled brightly, mischief in his dark eyes. The three boys laughed as the anger began to boil within her belly.
"I'm not just that girl! My name is Uzumaki Naruto and I will be the Hokage one day! Remember that!" she yelled, her tiny hands in fists at her side. The three boys looked to her sceptically, exclaiming the incredulousness of the girl becoming Hokage before breaking into another fit of laughter.
"Are you serious?"
"You Hokage? What a stupid kid!"
"What a bunch of bull. There is no way an idiot like you could become Hokage," the boy pulled his fist back before ramming it into Naruto's small jaw. She reeled back by the stinging pain, not having time to recover before the boy hit her again. She pulled herself up from the ground, wiping her mouth as she smiled at the boy that hit her.
"You better not regret it guys," she said as she placed her hand in the jutsu position, just like they had been taught only the week prior.
"What seal is that?"
"Bunshin no jutsu!" she cried in the old language, her tongue unfamiliar with the dialect. A sorry excuse for a clone appeared beside her, its pale and cloudy appearance making it look extremely sick. The three boys began to laugh uncontrollably as the clone fell to the ground and faded out of existence. She darted forward then and tackled the closest kid to the ground.
"I caught you off guard! How was that huh?!" she screamed in his face, hands wrapped in his T-shirt as she slammed him into the ground repeatedly as hard as she could.
"I will! I am absolutely going to become Hokage! I'll prove you wrong!" she pulled her fist back and brought it down with all of the force she could muster. Before she could get another hit in, the two other boys dragged her body from the boy she had pinned to the ground. They rammed their fists into her body repeatedly, her small arms pulled up to shield her face and her body flexing in on itself involuntarily.
"Lady Hinata!" a man called, causing the boys to scatter in fright. He stopped when he saw her, her eyes were closed but her ears were open. She heard the man mutter that they were leaving and the sound of Hinata being pulled to her feet.
"But she came to my rescue,"
"You are not to get involved with that girl. Let's go,"
She watched the boy go, his hair and eyes the darkest black she has ever seen, his skin as pale as snow. His whole clan had been massacred, he was all alone.
He was like her.
"Daddy why is she by herself?" a small girl asked as they walked past her.
"Never mind honey, don't go near her," Naruto bristled before throwing her cup, still half filled with ramen at the Chūnin father. It landed directly on his head where she had planned it to land, laughing as he turned to yell at her.
It didn't matter what attention she was getting. As long as he yelled at her, it showed that she wasn't invisible.
She was running, but this time she was laughing, a can of paint held in one hand and a wet paintbrush in the other.
"Get back here you little brat! This time you have gone over the line!" a Chūnin yelled as he ran behind her. Her evasion skills highly advance for her age as she had been doing this for years.
"You're just jealous because you couldn't do what I could! I was able to paint all four Hokage faces before anyone even noticed!" the game of cat and mouse continued for several minutes before her academy teacher, Iruka, finally caught her.
Any attention was good attention.
She sat on the swing outside the academy's main doors, watching as the families stood around with happy smiles. The cheers and congratulations loud in her ears, it was something she would never experience.
She failed to become a genin.
She failed again.
She was a failure.
"They've been lying to you your whole life Naruto, ever since that decree was ordered twelve years ago," Mizuki said from the tree above, looking down at her with sick glee.
"Everyone knows except you. Iruka's trying to hide it from you even now, he would do anything to shut me up,"
"Don't tell her, it's forbidden!" yelled Iruka.
"The decree is that no-one can tell you that the Kyūbi is inside you! The Bijū that killed Iruka's parents and destroyed our village has taken over your body! You are the Kyūbi!"
"My future dream is to be the greatest Hokage! Then the whole village will stop disrespecting me and start treating me like I'm somebody. Somebody important!" she finished, Kakashi standing in front of her for their first meeting.
"In the ninja world, those who break the rules are trash, that's true, but those who abandon their comrades are worse than trash."
"Sorry I'm late, I'm afraid I got lost on the path of life."
"Don't underestimate me! I don't quit and I don't run! You can act tough all you want! You're not gonna scare me off! No way! I don't care if I do get stuck as a genin for the rest of my life! I'll still be Hokage someday!" her hand was slammed down on the desk in front of her, her Chunin exam paper completely blank. No matter what, she wouldn't give up.
"I'm not gonna run away, I never go back on my word! That's my nindō: my ninja way!"
"It's almost unbearable, isn't it… the pain of being all alone. I know that feeling; I've been there, in that dark and lonely place, but now there are others, other people who mean a lot to me. I care more about them than I do myself, and I won't let anyone hurt them. That's why I'll never give up. I will stop you, even if I have to kill you! They saved me from myself. They rescued me from my loneliness. They were the first to accept me as who I am. They're my friends." She managed to get the words out as she stared at Gaara, soon to become life-long friends.
"Just shut up for once! What the hell do you know about it?! It's not like you ever had a family in the first place! You were on your own right from the beginning, what makes you think you know anything about it?! Huh?! I'm suffering now because I had those ties, how on earth could you possibly understand, what it feels like to lose all that!"
Sasuke's hand was pierced through her chest.
She watched on as the clouds cried above her. Sarutobi Hiruzen, Sandaime Hokage was dead.
"I'll ask you one question before you faint kid…Why get so passionate at the mention of a Hokage's name?" Tsunade asked, her cheeks flushed from alcohol.
"Unlike you, I will be the heir to the Hokage name no matter what, because being Hokage is my dream,"
"Sai, I honestly don't care who I have to fight. If he rips my arms off, I'll kick him to death. If he rips my legs off, I'll bite him to death. If he rips my head off, I'll stare him to death. And if he gouges out my eyes, I'll curse him to death. Even if I'm torn to shreds, he is my friend, so I will take Sasuke back!"
The Popsicle melted before her, her tears mixed in with the sugary sweet as it stained the ground.
Her last remaining family was dead.
Her god-father was dead.
Ero-Sennin was dead.
Jiraiya was dead
"You should give up…on me giving up!"
"'Then I will break that curse. If there's such thing as peace, I will find it. I won't give up!' Weren't these your own words….Nagato?"
Her hand lashed out as she slapped the man in front her across the jaw, before he could recover however she wrapped her slender yet toned arms around his neck. Her face hidden in his chest as she screamed at his torso.
"Why did you seal the Kyūbi inside your own daughter? Do you know what I went through because of that? All the grownups looked at me with contempt and I couldn't make any friends! I wanted people to accept me, so I trained really hard to become strong!
"Then I met Iruka-Sensei, Kakashi-Sensei and Ero-Sennin. I was so happy because they helped to make me stronger! Because despite all my efforts a group called Akatsuki came after me, so I had to train even more! I became even stronger but still the Akatsuki killed my friends.
"But, umm…What am I saying? Damn it am I supposed to be happy or mad? I don't know anymore!" Minato rested his cheek atop his daughters head, she could feel his arms wrapped around her small and malnourished frame.
"It must have been hard for you, I am so sorry Naruto,"
"It's okay, I may not be too smart or the best of ninja, but I am the Yondaime Hokage's daughter after all."
"If you attack Konoha, I will have to fight you… So save up your hatred and take it all on me, I'm the only one who can take it! It's the only thing I can do! I will shoulder your hatred and die with you! Because I'm your friend!"
"Why couldn't I get your hair? I mean yeah okay, Dad's hair is nice and it goes with my eyes. But no-one's hair is more beautiful than yours!"
Kushina moved forward and enveloped Naruto's small body in a hug, the two women roughly the same height. Naruto's height was stunted from malnutrition, Kushina however revelled in the fact that she was still taller than her daughter, even if it was by mere centimetres.
"I am so sorry for everything we put you through Naruto,"
"Don't apologise Mum, I had a lot of hard times growing up as a Jinchūriki, but I never blamed you or Dad. I couldn't understand what a parent's love was like because you guys were never there. I could only guess, but now I know. I live because you and Dad gave your lives for me and filled me up with love before the Kyūbi was inside me! So here I am, happy and healthy! I'm glad I am your daughter! I can continue on to become Konoha's Orange Hokage!"
"Thank you for letting me be your mother, and for letting Minato be your father. Thank you for being our daughter. Thank you…Thank you!
"Yes A, he might have died, but together, he and my mom protected Konoha from the Kyūbi. They protected me! It may have only been for a second, but in that second, they gave me so much, their faith! Faith that I could finish their jobs! Faith that I could fulfil the role of a 'saviour!'"
"You're not the monster fox anymore. You're one of my team-mates from Konoha, Kurama. And one day, I am going to come back and take all that hatred from your heart!"
"Happy birthday to you, nana hmmm, Happy birthday dear Naruto, yada yada okay blow out the candle," she leant forward and blew softly on the candle, the flames not budging. A vein pulsed in her head as she realised exactly what Kakashi had done.
With a swing of her hand, she summoned as much wind chakra as she possibly could, sending Kakashi to the other side of the field.
"That is what I think of your damn kaiton lit cupcake and your half assed rendition of happy birthday!" walking up to him brusquely, she tackled his half raised body in a hug, planting a kiss on what little exposed skin he was showing.
"Obito, Madara, you guys piss me off so much that I can't even put it into words. So I'll just tell you something about me…I'm not trash and I'll never become trash either! I won't let you kill any more of my comrades!"
"Kakashi-Sensei that's why we endure…We are ninja. I will never forget. And anyway, that wound means that my friends are still inside me. The real friends are not the ones I created in my dreams not to get hurt, that would be erasing the real ones. It can work as a curse but I don't care, I want to keep the real Neji here,"
"Kakashi…I love you," the man stood startled for a second, charcoal eyes meeting sky blue. He eventually moved forward slowly and wrapped her head and shoulders in his arms, leaning his forehead on top of her head. He didn't say anything back, but she didn't care. It wasn't an outright rejection, so she could live with that.
He acknowledged her.
It was several more hours as Minato and Kushina sat in silence as they watched the memories of her time in the past and the struggles she faced lying to everyone. They were broken from the trance after the last reading, just before they had left for the Kanabi Bridge mission. The scroll suddenly began to wind itself back up again at tremendous speeds, slapping together with a loud click as the usual privacy seals reactivated themselves.
Minato moved faster than he has ever moved before, ripping the old leather guest chair from the ground and propelling it into the wall. The loud bang and crash from the impact could be heard throughout the Hokage tower. Minato didn't care, he was always so calm and collected, always being the voice of reason.
But he failed. Not only did he fail to give his daughter a happy life, he failed twice. The second time had ended in her death even. He was a sorry excuse for a human being. He fell to his knees and hunched over, his hands clenched tightly in his hair. A Long, drawn out, agonising cry left his chest. Tears streaked his cheeks as he crumpled in on himself.
He didn't just lose two of his students, one of them was his own biological daughter. She was a daughter that had endured so much pain and misery because of him, a daughter that couldn't even tell her own parents who she was for fear of their reaction. If I tell them, will they feel pressured into my conception? Will they be too scared to go forth with my conception? What would happen if I am not born? What will happen if I am born? Will our souls merge? Will I disappear?
Kushina had sat frozen in place, silent tears escaping from her eyes. When her husband snapped beside her she was only half shocked. He had been shouldering the burden of many deaths over the past few years, but the death of his students hurt more than anything else. Now however, the knowledge of their failure as parents was too much. She stood and quickly walked over to her husband, kneeling beside him to wrap her arms around his shaking body.
"Since when have I been the calm one?" she attempted to joke, in all honesty, she just had no idea what to think of everything she just learned. Her mind was a mess, but she hadn't been put through what Minato had, she could understand the man's breakdown.
The couple sat there for what felt like hours, mourning the loss of their own daughter, as well as Obito, whom might as well have been their adopted son. Minato stood then, one of his hands lacing this fingers through Kushina's. He wiped his cheeks with a sleeve and began walking towards the office doors, dragging his wife behind him. He burst through the red, wooden doors, the startled receptionist Misaki just stared at the powerful ninja, his eyes bloodshot from tears. Other's had surprised looks from seeing the incredible shinobi, a man that seemed so above them all, showing his tear streaked face to the world.
It wasn't long before they reached the main walkway of Konoha, the imposing Kyūbi sculpture stared protectively over the city. The sculpture staring protectively over Kakashi's kneeling form. Minato stopped beside Kakashi, sitting down in the lotus position as the flowers cushioned his legs. They were absolutely everywhere, the site was breathtaking, a lump forming in Minto's throat.
"Obito would tease you relentlessly and Naruto would probably tackle you in the biggest hug you've ever faced if they knew you did this for them," Kakashi's right eye softened at the thought, what he wouldn't give to have that happen.
"It is beautiful you know," Kushina said, sitting down on Kakashi's left in the same position as Minato, her hair pooling behind her.
"Nowhere near the real thing," the couple knew that he was referring to the beauty of Naruto's transformation in particular and not the Kyūbi itself. If she could ever do it, Kushina doubted he'd find her transformation anywhere close to the magnificence he found Naruto's. Kushina's eyes furrowed as she reached forward, a finger brushing against the Kyūbi's paw. The whole sculpture suddenly glowed a faint red glow, each shard's centre spinning radically with light.
"Oh my God…What does this mean?" she whispered, her eyes filling with tears as she looked to her husband.
"What is it Kushina?"
"I am still connected to Kurama, I can still use his chakra. What does this mean? He half disappeared when Naruto came, the genjutsu the Sandaime apparently put on me didn't work. I have still always been able to communicate with him. The only thing that genjutsu managed to do was mask from me the fact that half of Kurama was missing!
"Despite half of him missing from within me, his power level never decreased, according the Scroll of Memories, Kurama passed his chakra between the two seals, both of them housing the separate chakras. Only the Yang chakra was sealed in her, so even though she thought that all the chakra was being absorbed from me to her…I think only the yang chakra was. Minato, I can still feel the yang chakra! What does that mean?!" Kakashi knew they were talking about Naruto, but nothing that they were saying was making sense. Minato's eyes widened as he thought of all the possible explanations.
"Is Kurama's yang chakra in the wild? Has it been released and he is still passing the chakra through your seal?" Kushina shook her head, her eyebrows furrowed in concentration.
"I don't think that is the case, as soon as she came here our two seals became connected, but none-the-less they are still seals to contain him. With one of them broken, my seal should have activated to reabsorb his chakra, or his ying part should have separated from me to join his yang half. With the two seals it was possible to keep the two halves separated, with only one seal it wouldn't be possible to keep them apart. You saw it in the scroll during the battle with Madara, one seal on you, one seal on her. Look at Kakashi's eye, it is exactly the same as what happened in the scroll, some things haven't changed!" Kakashi had just about had enough with the talk.
"What about my eye? What is going on here?" he asked, looking between the two as they stared wide eyed at each other.
"Kakashi, did you see Naruto die?" Minato asked suddenly, Kakashi choked up at the question, thinking back all those months ago to a time he had nightmares of constantly.
"A large rock fell between us which I could have sworn had fallen on her, she was in the very centre of the cave. Obito was on the outside and he was half crushed, we could only assume she had faced a similar fate," he clenched his uncovered eye closed, the images of her terrified face flashing in front of his eyes.
"And Obito, only the right side of his body was crushed, the left was left completely unharmed?" Kakashi dredged up his nightmares again before nodding at the image.
"Oh my god Kushina you are a genius," she smiled widely before reaching over and grabbing Minato's knee.
"It is exactly the same Minato! Maybe, just maybe it is the same for at least Obito! From what she saw of them, this is all adding up. If it happened the first time, perhaps it didn't change and it happened again," Kakashi's fragile mind suddenly snapped as he stood abruptly.
"What the hell are you talking about? What is going on?" Minato looked up to Kakashi, pure determination was set in his eyes reminding him so much of Naruto. The resemblance and the look alone catching him off guard.
"Kakashi, we have evidence that leads us to believe that Naruto or Obito, heck if we are damn lucky even both may still be alive,"
"You're eye…Are you an Uchiha too?" Obito had been in and out of consciousness for a very long time, his body hopelessly damaged and unable to sustain a wakeful consciousness. Until now.
"Who knows?" the decrepit old man replied with a shrug. Obito looked around the cavern in confusion, his breathing laboured as he tried to figure out how in the world he had managed to get there, did he save me?
"You said between this and the other world…Where am I? It's dark, I can't see well," the man didn't reply as he leant against a large walking stick, his body unmoving.
"Who are you old man? Are you a shinigami or something? Here to take me on to whatever is next," he fixed his remaining eye onto the walking stick, only to finally notice the long, curved blade situated at the bottom. It wasn't a walking stick, it was a scythe. Obito began to panic, exclaiming to the man that he didn't want to die and if he had to, begging him to send him somewhere nice. He sat up violently, his body doubling over in pain. Looking down he saw his right limbs were completely missing, stumps not even remaining.
"You feel pain, because you are still alive," Obito looked up then, his remaining eye locked onto the elderly man's only visible eye.
"It's a miracle that you are even alive, I don't know how that rock didn't crush you. It's as if you were able to slip away from it," Obito attempted to sit up higher in the bed. He suddenly felt bad, realising that he was probably occupying the old man's only sleeping area. However he was in so much pain that he couldn't picture himself lying anywhere else.
"Where was I?" he asked.
"You were lying in my underground passage, next to a rock. Your team caused quite the commotion down here. Half your body was crushed indeed, though I did treat you. It is more than I can say for the other one," Obito looked to the man in confusion before realisation dawned on him.
"Oh my God Naruto! What happened to her?" The old man raised an eyebrow at the loud outburst.
"If you are talking about the little blonde teammate of yours, she spotted me coming out of the passage and seemed to take an instant disliking to me. You don't unleash that amount of killing intent at just anybody. However unlike you I was unable to reach her and if she did manage to stay alive, she should be dead now since the passage completely collapsed a few months back, just after I pulled you out," Obito felt his eye fill with tears, mourning the death of his bright teammate. Wiping his eye, he looked up to the old man with a smile.
"So you saved my life, thank you,"
"It's still early to thank me, because you will have to repay this debt," Obito looked to him with wide, incredulous eyes. The burning pain down his entire right side made him doubtful that he would be able to help the old man at all, despite his motto being to help the elderly.
"Um, well, what do you need?" he stuttered out. The man didn't answer, and after a lengthy awkward silence he continued on.
"I want to help, but I am sorry because I can't stay here too long. If I'm alive, then I need to go back to the leaf. There's a war going on right now, I finally awakened the Sharingan, so now I will be able to protect my friends," the old man huffed and shook his head.
"Protect your friends?" he said as if it were the most ridiculous thing he had ever heard.
"What?" Obito defended, unsure as to what the man was getting at.
"With a body like that, you can't seriously think you can go back to being a Shinobi," Obito closed his eye and shook his head, his left fist clenched tightly in the sheets.
"W-wait! But I finally got my hands on these eyes! Now I'm confident that we can work better together. I now have the means to become a better Shinobi that can protect his precious peo—"
"Look at reality boy!" the old man cut him off, his words strong despite his decrepit stature as Obito stared up at him.
"This world is full of things that don't go as you wish. The longer you live, the more you realise that reality is just made of pain, suffering and emptiness," Obito looked up at the old man sharply, his expression unyielding as they locked eyes.
"Listen boy, in this world, wherever there is light there is also shadows. As long as the concept of 'winners' exists, there will also be 'losers'. The selfish desire of wanting to maintain peace causes wars, and hatred is born to protect love. It is a causal relationship that can't be avoided," the young Uchiha sighed, closing his eyes. 'He's so focused, I bet this is gonna be long,' Obito thought, deciding to cut off the man before his monologue reached epic lengths.
"So, where am I now?" The man scowled at being interrupted but thought better of reprimanding the boy.
"There are people that were saved because you got wounded…Isn't that true?" Obito thought back, relaying the past events through his mind: throwing Kakashi out of the way, being crushed while Kakashi and Rin stayed safe. Naruto didn't make it, but at least they all weren't dead. His heart clenched in guilt at the thought, the pain in his chest still alight as he thought of his fallen comrade.
"Just what the hell are you on about? I don't want to stay here forever, just—Ugh!" he bent over again in agony, his whole right side suddenly lighting up with pulsating pain.
"If you want to leave, do it. That is, if you can move of course," Obito shook his head in confusion, 'why is an old man with a Sharingan here alone?' he finally thought. Obito knew every single elderly person in the village of Konoha, as a large part of his life revolved around helping that community. However as much as he shifted through every single face he knew, not once had he ever seen the man that stood before him.
"Old man…Are you a Nukenin? Just who are you?" he asked bluntly, his eyes trailing to the three long tubes that jutted out of the geezers back as he turned his back on the young man.
"I am, a ghost of the Uchiha," he finally answered as he sat upon a makeshift throne, a towering figure of what could only be described as a demonic tree sat behind him.
"I am Uchiha Madara,"
Hey guys, before I continue my note I just want to point out that I have the best reviewers EVER! You guys can be absolutely hilarious and I love having conversations with you, I really do try to answer all of your messages, and I am really sorry if I don't D:
Back to the note, I hope you enjoyed that Chapter. I am not completely happy with it to be honest, but I couldn't really think of the best way for it to flow. I plan my stories for the most part, I always know where I want to end up, however I like to not prewrite the whole thing and write it as I go since I really do take into consideration what my readers suggest. You guys also point out things that I miss, so that is also always a plus.
I also think you all need to be aware that I was a little tempted to kill Naruto and have her be born again…HOWEVER, you are all lucky, because I have been impatient enough for her to grow up during this story, no way am I making her into a baby. I think my brain would explode from the lack of romance. I am also going to point out that on some people's standards, not much has happened between Naruto and Kakashi. However I am absolutely sick of all the stories I have read where Naruto is only 12 and doing things with male characters much older than her that someone much older should be doing. It really grosses me out, and that is why nothing physical has gone down between my characters except for Minato and Kushina that one time which was barely explained. They are like my babies I swear.
Well enough with my ranting, I hope you enjoyed and I really look forward to hearing from some of the most awesome readers on this entire site.
P.s. some of you guys FREAKED OUT when you thought Naruto died, and something that I hold very close to me when reading is…If you don't see the character die, or it isn't confirmed that they are dead…Then they are not dead.