I Do not own Naruto, If I did I wouldn't bother writing Fan Fiction.
A Price for Peace
Chapter 1: The Price to be Payed
Rain battered the ground in torrents creating small rivers on the muddy ground. The sky looked as though it would rain for an eternity attracted by the fires that set the surrounding trees ablaze. It looked like the world was in mourning and it wept for the lives of those that had recently been taken.
The Fourth Great Shinobi war did not last very long, in fact since the fighting started only five days past and in it came to and end in a whimper rather than a bang. Two rivals that once called each other friends had fought and one had lost, and in this fight losing meant only one thing, death. "It wasn't supposed to end this way!" a teen with spiky blond hair cried out in agony and regret. His shirt had been torn and several deep wounds were scattered all over his body although they were healing rather quickly.
"And how was it supposed to end Dobe?" the other teen asked weakly. A small trickle of blood was escaping from the corner of his mouth and his dark raven hair was dirty with mud from where he lay.
Naruto clenched his eyes trying not to let any tears escape, his efforts were futile however as he could not help but cry knowing that the first person he ever was able to call a friend was about to die from his wounds. He looked into the air not wanting to show weakness even now to Sasuke and silently thanking the rain for allowing his grief to remain hidden. "We were supposed to die together. That's what I saw the last time we fought, and that's what the grand geezer toad saw, we are both supposed to die."
"Is that it? Some prophecy is going to make you react like this." Sasuke coughed spitting out some more blood, he could feel that he didn't have much time left but he would be damned if things ended this way. "Since when have you ever let fate boss you around? If you did then a loser like you would never have made it this far." he smirked.
"But this was my answer." Naruto said weakly. The fact Sasuke was actually joking with him just made things that much worse.
Sasuke raised an eyebrow in confusion. "Answer to what?"
"Ero-sennin and Nagato's quest, this was how I was going to bring peace." Naruto said falling to his knees beside the fallen Uchiha. Naruto turned his cerulean eyes back down to his friend and saw that Sasuke had no idea what Naruto was talking about. "Ero-sennin once told me that the world was cursed by hatred and he believed that if people truly understood each other. Then I met Nagato and he believed that only through pain could peace be accomplished." Naruto explained while thinking back fondly on his master and fellow student of Jiraiya.
"Is this going somewhere? Because I don't exactly have all day." Sasuke said with a weak smirk before wincing in pain.
"Yes it does, the answer to end the circle of hatred is for everyone to lose. A joint loss that will unite everyone. Kakashi-sensei told me before I left that they are calling me the Hero of the Elemental Nations. I die and everyone loses the person they consider a hero, then everyone would understand each others pain." the blond spoke trying to make Sasuke understand.
Sasuke couldn't help but laugh. "Always the loyal Dobe huh? Well I guess things can't be helped anymore. But were you really willing to throw away your dream of becoming Hokage for this?" he asked. The last Uchiha's voice was cracking and he had to spit out a hefty amount of blood as his internal organs began to shut down.
"I am the legacy of my master and Ero-sennin believed in me so it is my duty to carry on his will. As for being Hokage. How could I protect a village when I couldn't even save a friend? This was my answer but now I don't know what to do." the blond admitted sounding like he had suffered a soul crushing defeat.
Sasuke sighed and gazed up into the sky. 'It's typical, I don't deserve to see the sun nor the stars when I die. Just the darkness and rainclouds that have filled my heart with the need for revenge.' he thought before making up his mind to do the only thing he could for the only person he had ever called his friend. "Half a mile away there is a cave, inside you will find the last of the Zetsu clones, without Tobi they have no real purpose, I was going to use them to destroy Konoha, but that doesn't seem likely now." he tried to laugh again but the action proved too painful.
"Why are you telling me this?" Naruto asked.
"Kami I swear you get dumber by the year. Use one of the Zetsu clones, make it transform into you then stab it with my sword. When they find the body everyone will assume we died together." Sasuke explained. It was now becoming quite difficult for him to remain conscious almost to the point where he was having small moments that his eyes blurred out of focus.
"Do you think that would work Kurama?" Naruto asked.
'It's a sound plan Naruto. If you decided that we should do this we will have to leave the Elemental Nations, and we may never be able to return.' the large nine tailed fox said with a hint of empathy for his partner.
Naruto knew that already, but them thinking he was dead would be just as effective. Although for him it would be so much more difficult and painful than dying. Not knowing when, or if he would ever be able to see his friends again, or see the sun rise over the Hokage monument. "Ero-sennin once told me that a shinobi's life is sacrifice. I think I finally know what he was talking about, Itachi sacrificed his life for a village he loved, and I will do the same." he paused for a moment before continuing. "I guess I will have to become Hokage in my next life instead."
Sasuke scoffed before looking up at the blond. "This is the second time I have died helping you." he said joking about their first real mission where he jumped in the way of Haku's senbon. "What ever you do Naruto don't give up on your dr-" his eyes widened and the last word he was going to speak failed to escape his lips.
"Sasuke!" Naruto yelled quickly moving to check his vitals but found no signs of life.
'I'm sorry Naruto, but he's gone, the last of a cursed people. And one of the strongest there had ever been.' Kurama said calmly.
"Another thing we had in common, both the last of our clan. Uzumaki and Uchiha." Naruto sighed refusing to shed anymore tears.
'You are not the last Uzumaki, your clan may be scattered but it still lives on.' Kyuubi assured the blond.
"Really, I would have liked to meet them, I guess that's not going to happen now, our chakra signature is too unique to survive in this world without anyone discovering who I am. Maybe one day if I return I will look for one of them I would like to meet one at least once. Well other than Kaa-san" Naruto replied.
'Again you already have, Nagato. He was an Uzumaki, that is why he was able to withstand the overwhelming power of the Rinnegan. The will power of the Uzumaki clan is not something to be laughed at, I have seen that first hand for well over one hundred years.' Kurama spoke with a smirk, thinking about Mito and Kushina, then all the times that Naruto had stood up to him in the recent past. He despised the boy for such a long time but during the war they had become friends. Now the fox looked back at Naruto's past in an almost endearing manner.
"I guess my clan was really something huh." Naruto huffed and slowly stood up. "You think you can find the cave Sasuke was talking about?"
'I am sure that I could, but it would be best not to use my chakra around them.' Kurama answered recalling how the versions of Zetsu were affected by Naruto's fox mode cloak.
"Yeah you're right, they all turned into those giant tree things." Naruto replied with a laugh. It may have been a weird transformation as the excess of life affirming energy had caused the white Zetsu to destabilize due to their connection with Hashirama Senju, the Shodai hokage. With that said the transformation made the Hashirama clones far easier to kill.
'Use the Sage Mode taught to you by the toads, that should be enough to locate the cave.' Kyuubi suggested.
Naruto nodded in agreement, the ability to draw nature chakra from the world around him gave Naruto sharp sensory capabilities, he could sense those around him for miles and the more he used this skill the stronger it became. The blond teen stood perfectly still while the freezing rain battered against his back, for several moments nothing happened, almost like he was a statue until the pigment around his eyes began to darken to a deep orange color. As Naruto opened his eyes the vibrant cerulean blue was gone, in it's place were brilliant golden orbs with a large jet black bar pupils. "I found it." he spoke calmly. It was a side effect of the use of senjutsu, you need to relax to the point that you become one with the world around you, making it rather difficult to not feel relaxed. Instantly Naruto's wounds began to heal several times faster than the accelerated healing capabilities awarded to him from his clan and enhanced by his partner.
'Then what are we waiting for, this needs to be done before the rain stops and you can be tracked by your sent.' Kyuubi warned.
"Right, it wouldn't do any good if we left a Zetsu clone here only for Kiba and Akamaru to find our trail." Naruto agreed and in the blink of an eye he was gone jumping through trees in the direction that Sasuke had indicated before he died.
It was only a short trip less than five minutes at the speed that Naruto was traveling. When he landed he found an undisturbed cliff face "This is it, they are inside. I just need to find an entrance." Naruto sighed as he began searching the area for a hole into the cave.
'You know this isn't like you, why not just blast your way inside. It's not like killing a few would be a bad thing, they are just mindless husks now that their master is gone along with the original two halves.' the fox reasoned.
"I guess you're right, it might be better for them if they were killed anyway, the last thing this world needs is more reminders of the Akatsuki." Naruto sighed before slamming his fist into the hard rocky surface of the cliff with the aid of a Senjutsu enhanced punch. Naruto tumbled through the wall as it cracked open with ease and found himself inside a immense underground hall, the floors were flat and so smooth that the blond was sure that this was no naturally occurring landmark. "Wow this place is huge!" Naruto said in awe. His voice echoed back at him from all directions as he marveled at the vast emptiness that stood before him.
'That is relative, to you I am huge. This place was made large for a purpose, to store those Hashirama clones, if it was full you would say it was cramped.' Kyuubi chuckled glad that something was taking Naruto's mind off of the dead Uchiha.
"You are huge, you can't say that everyone else is small just because you are so big, face it you are the minority in this instance." Naruto retorted.
Kyuubi scoffed but knew Naruto was just trying to irritate him for a laugh. 'As much as I would like to continue this ever so pointless discussion, I would like to point out that we have a job to do and time spent enjoying the sights is time wasted.'
"Alright geez, for a guy who spends most of his time sleeping you sure are impatient." Naruto replied before starting to walk towards the location he felt Zetsu's chakra signature. At the very back of the hall Naruto found a spiraling staircase made of stone. "They are down here, but I can't sense any movement." he said as he began descending the staircase.
The room below was far smaller, Naruto could see all the way to the other side thanks to his enhanced vision while in Sage Mode. 'Well here they are. Looks like its well over one hundred, good thing we only need one.' Kurama spoke in Naruto's mind.
Naruto nodded, the floor of the room was indeed filled with close to one hundred white Zetsu who all turned to face Naruto as he walked down the stairs yet remained impassive. "Um I'm no expert but shouldn't they be attacking me or something?" the blond asked.
'It seems without their master they no longer have a purpose. Perhaps that is why Sasuke thought he could use them as his own.' Kyuubi suggested upon landing at the base of the stairs.
Naruto shrugged agreeing that it was as good a theory as any he could come up with as he approached the closest Zetsu. "Hey you. Can you understand me?" he asked cautiously not willing to drop his guard for an instant with a room full of potentially deadly ninja. To answer his question the clone nodded slowly. "You will follow me and do as I say." this time it was a command, Naruto wanted to see how the soldiers of the former Akatsuki army would respond to such a statement.
For a few moments nothing happened. Several Zetsu clones shuffled around uncomfortably as if trying to find a little extra room in the crowded basement. But eventually the clone Naruto had ordered nodded in agreement. 'Well what do you know. These things were just waiting for someone to come along and control them. You could have a nice little personal army if you wanted.' Kyuubi teased knowing that Naruto would never do something like that. Despite Naruto's wish to become Hokage he never desired power for the sake of being stronger than everyone or being feared. He simply wished to protect those precious to him. That had been his ideology ever since his first real mission as a Genin.
"No thanks Kurama, this must be a pitiful existence, just standing around waiting to be of some use to someone. At least while Zetsu's original body was alive they had some free will." Naruto answered. Turning back to the Zetsu clone Naruto quickly made his mind up on what he would do with the rest. "Wait for me upstairs." he ordered. The clone nodded and slowly ascended the spiraling staircase. Once he was gone Naruto created three clones of his own. "After I leave destroy this place so it is never found by anyone."
Naruto exited the room heading back up stairs and collected his new follower before exiting through the same entrance Naruto had made earlier. They wasted little time in heading back to where the blond knew Sasuke's dead body lay. He made it around half way before the memory of his clones bringing the cave down upon themselves and the Zetsu army hit him. The rain was still beating down as hard as ever by the time Naruto arrived in the clearing.
All the blood had been washed away from Sasuke's body giving the final Uchiha the appearance that he was merely sleeping and would awaken at any moment. Naruto quickly shook those thoughts off as they only proved to make the fact that Naruto had killed his best friend all the more painful. 'It's time Naruto, now or never.' Kyuubi spoke his powerful voice holding a hint of sympathy for the boy.
"Right." Naruto agreed nodding his head. He approached Sasuke, bending down to pick up his Katana, the Zetsu clone following closely behind. "You can transform into anyone you have touched right?" he queried. The clone nodded in affirmation before Naruto spoke again. "Transform into me."
Instantly the white plantlike shinobi began to mutate, he became shorter and his skin began to tan. The last thing to change was his eyes and then Naruto was looking at a carbon copy of himself, even their chakra signatures matched perfectly. 'Do it Naruto, the longer you wait the harder it will be.' Kurama urged the blond on. Naruto hesitated for one last second knowing everything he was giving up before plunging Sasuke's blade into the clones stomach.
Naruto did the deed as quickly and painlessly as he could manage, the blade going up under the ribcage and piercing the heart. He watched slightly sickened as blood poured out from his own mouth and the perfect copy of himself hit the floor landing perfectly beside Sasuke. Despite Naruto's declaration not to shed anymore tears he couldn't help the one that escaped his eye as he looked down upon the scene. "Goodbye Sasuke, I am sorry that nobody will ever know the role that you played. In the end you were the one that will bring peace to this ninja world." he said, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath in to help control his emotions before turning to leave, running at full speed from the field of devastation that was once the sight of Naruto and Sasuke's final confrontation.
'So where are we going?' Kurama asked after a few moments.
'I don't know.' Naruto admitted talking inside his head for once. "I think I will head north, I heard there was a mountain range at the top most border of the Land of Earth, I guess I will head there." he decided after a few moments.
'Yes I know the ones you are talking about, they are supposed to be insurmountable, rocks are constantly falling from their peaks causing small pebbles to fall all throughout the country. I believe they call it stone rain.' Kyuubi mused.
"Wow how do you know so much?" Naruto asked in awe.
'I have been alive for a very long time Naruto, it is only in my recent history that I have been sealed. If this is your choice of destination then I agree you will never be found if you make it past the great Iwa mountains. However, that is because nobody has ever survived climbing them, if they were not killed by a landslide or falling rocks, then the freezing cold and thin air near the peaks would finish them off.' Kurama warned.
"Well then I guess it's a good thing that I have you to watch my back then." Naruto said believing now more than ever that this was the right decision.
Kyuubi chuckled deeply. 'I guess you are right, I can't have my first friend in well over two hundred years dying on the side of a mountain. With that said it will take several days even at this speed just to reach the base of the mountain and our chakra signature sticks out more than I do when we transform.'
"Um what are you saying?" Naruto asked not liking where this was going.
'I'm saying that before we get to the next village you are going to need to start actively suppressing your chakra and presence. We will have to act and travel like civilians until we are far enough north that our presence will go unnoticed.' the large fox explained.
Naruto groaned, that would turn a week long trip into a month, but he could not deny Kurama's logic. "Alright, at least I have Gama-chan full with money so I can pay for transportation and buy supplies." the blond sighed in reluctant acceptance.
(Several Hour's Later)
"This must have been quite some fight." a heavily tanned teen sucking on a lollipop said as he looked around at the scene before him. Large craters scattered the landscape and all the trees had been burnt away to ash that was now soaked into the ground from the falling torrential rain.
"Heh of cause it was, this is Naruto were talking about, that idiot can never do anything without destroying something." a Konoha shinobi riding a large white dog laughed.
"Kiba this is hardly the time for jokes, we need to find Naruto and Sasuke." A teen with dark red hair and sea green eyes ordered.
Kiba knew better than to argue with the red head. "Sorry Kazekage-sama." he apologized.
"Kiba you may call me Gaara, a friend of Naruto's is a friend of mine." the Kazekage assured the shinobi riding the hound.
"But Naruto-sama is a hero, everyone considers him a friend, does that mean that nobody will call you Kazekage-sama again? What if one day you become offended by such an action and it sparks a war, all of the work done with village relations would be ruined." Omoi sighed.
The rest of the group looked at the Kumo shinobi as though he had an extra head. "Is he being serious?" a kunoichi with short dark brown hair and pink eyes without discernible pupils queried. She wore a tight red top with the right arm missing and a miniskirt with a lapel over her right leg. She also wore a standard Iwa flak jacket.
"I don't know. I would ask him, but if Mei-sama were here I am sure she would scold me for being rude." the final member of the group asked. He was by far the oldest of the group. He had gravity defying grayish blue hair an eye patch covering his right eye. A talisman hung from each ear that had the kanji for 'To Hear' inscribed on each. His outfit consisted of a dark green Kimono that he wore over striped green shirt and pants.
"This is no time for joking around, we need to find where Naruto is! That bastard who does he think he is coming out here alone!?" Kiba asked as he shouted out in frustration.
"It wouldn't have been Naruto if he didn't. He was determined to end things with Sasuke on his own terms." Gaara replied.
"That doesn't mean it wasn't a stupid thing to do. We saw that Uchiha go up against four of the Kage!" the Iwa kunoichi retorted.
Gaara nodded his head in agreement. "Naruto is far stubborn not to do something because others consider it stupid, Kurotsuchi. To him Sasuke was like a brother."
The older ninja began to grow impatient from the delay in their mission. 'In my day ninja would complete their mission before arguing about something so trivial.' "We don't have time for this, you Inuzuka can you find the boys scent?"
Kiba shook his head in frustration. "With all this rain any trail will be washed away." he admitted, with Akamaru barking in agreement.
"That makes things slightly harder, didn't you say you were the best tracker in your age group?" Kurotsuchi asked skeptically.
"I am! But what do trails do you expect me to find in this rain!?" Kiba snapped in reply.
"We should have brought Kakashi Hatake instead, he would be able to find his pupil. Every village opted to send one shinobi to join the team to bring Naruto back and Konoha sends you, the one Inuzuka that can't find someone in a desolate area." Kurotsuchi scoffed.
"Enough!" Gaara ordered commandingly. Kiba's caught his tongue as he gulped back his retort. "Ao can you locate Naruto and Sasuke with your Byakugan?"
Ao nodded once slowly a thick veins bulged out from under his eye patch. The others waited a few moments while Ao searched the area. "I found them." he said then deactivated his stolen eye. "About a mile to the north... their uh, not moving." he finished solemnly.
Gaara's eyes widened and widened and turned to suggest the head there as a group but Kiba was already gone, Akamaru bounding across the ashen, crater filled field that stood before them.
Yey new story. Unlike 'Nightfall' this will probably not be updated quite as regularly and will be seen as more of a side project that is until I finish my other stories. Still with any luck I will update once or twice a month. At least until I am done with my other stuff.