Sasuke stared down at Naruto's unconscious body. He thought about the red chakra that enveloped his one time teammate, curious about what it was. He tried to stand up but immediately fell to his knees, coughing up blood. Sasuke was still in awe that Naruto had fought him to the point of near death. He finally struggled to his feet and began attempting to walk away from the Valley of the End. Then suddenly in a blur of speed, a grey haired shinobi appeared in front of Sasuke, someone who he knew very well.
"Ka.. Kakashi, leave me.."
He couldn't finish his sentence as Kakashi's fist impacted into Sasuke's gut, knocking him unconscious.
"You're coming back with me Sasuke."
Kakashi picked up Sasuke's body and then walked over to his blonde genin, proud of his efforts to stop the Uchiha. He began to run back to Konoha with both genin on his shoulder.
The next thing Naruto remembered was waking up to the familiar sight of the white ceiling that was present in the Konoha hospital. He shot up from his resting position and slowly sat up and opened his eyes. They opened to the sight of Shikamaru standing besides his bed with a slight smirk on his face.
"About time you woke up."
Said Shikamaru with the smirk on his face. He was happy to see his friend awake and well. After Naruto said this Shikamaru's blonde haired teammate Ino walked in.
"Naruto your awake!"
Said the blonde kunoichi, happy to see her one time classmates awakening. Naruto was puzzled by the blonde's appearance in his hospital room. Ino had never been a big fan of him, but he put it aside, glad to see that some people were happy to see him awake.
Said Naruto weakly before feeling a shooting pain in his chest. He began coughing loudly as small amounts of blood splattered across his fully bandaged body. Shikamaru ran over and put her hand on Naruto's back.
"Naruto, are you okay!?"
Shouted a concerned Shikamaru in a rare display of emotion before a nurse ran in. That was all Naruto remembered before drifting off to sleep.
Naruto started to open his eyes as he began to slowly sit up in his bed. He remembered that the last time he moved too quickly he coughed up blood. He sat in his bed, contemplating the events that had taken place. He remembered blacking out against Sasuke; he had no clue what happened after that. People began stopping by in the room to check up on him. He saw Hinata and Shino who both came to check up on him while wishing him a fast recovery. Hinata's was difficult to sit through, as it was hard to hear her and it took forever for her to get her sentences out. But regardless it was great to see her and Shino as well. Shikamaru and Ino stopped by once more
Naruto found out from Shikamaru that everyone had survived the mission and Sasuke had even been returned safely. He was in a high security sector of the hospital for him to rest and be watched over. The one person Naruto wanted to see was Sakura, yet she hadn't even bothered to stop by. He had managed to bring back her precious "Sasuke-kun", the least she could do was stop by to check up on him.
Naruto sat in his hospital room for the next week. He received frequent visits from his classmates, which lifted his spirits. After a week of sitting in the hospital he was finally omitted due to his quick healing from the fox. The only long-term injury he'd have would be a scar on his chest from the chidori that Sasuke put through his chest.
Naruto went on to spend the next two days locked in his room, isolated, not talking to anyone or leaving. Only getting off his couch to use the bathroom or make some food. The Sasuke retrieval mission had brought multiple questions to mind. Why did he consider Sasuke a friend? Would a friend shove a chidori through the other's chest, no. Why did he love Sakura? She didn't even visit him once despite him being her teammate and even bringing back Sasuke. There certainly was no reason for him to love her based off of her actions towards him. The biggest question he had yet to answer was what was keeping him in Konoha. Sure there was Jiraya and Tsunade, but two people sure didn't make up for the hell he experienced daily in the village. His own sensei didn't even bother training him.
The next day Naruto decided he'd go check up on Sasuke, and see Sakura, maybe seeing them again would resolve the questions he had running through his mind. He walked into the hospital and entered into the secured area of the hospital. The guard let him enter, knowing he was Sasuke's teammate. The second he entered the room he saw the Uchiha sitting up in his bed next to his pink haired teammate.
Said Naruto sheepishly as he scratched the back of his head. The whole situation was awkward. Sakura hadn't come by to visit him once since he'd returned from the mission. On the other hand, he'd ruined Sasuke's plan to go to Orochimaru to gain power so the Uchiha likely wouldn't be too thrilled to see him.
"Naruto… I think it'd be best if you left."
Said Sakura with a saddened facial expression. Sasuke glared at Naruto with his dark emotionless eyes. Sasuke had bandages rapped around his chest and one of his arms was in a sling.
Naruto was shocked to get this response from his pink haired teammate. She didn't even bother to come visit him while recovering from bringing Sasuke back and now she asks him to leave!?
"You shouldn't be here Naruto! Sasuke's trying to recover and you're just going to anger him."
"Is this really how your going to treat me after I bring him back? You were crying to me at the gates to bring him back, and this is what I get. No thank you? No visits in the hospital?!"
Naruto's anger was boiling over. Years of emotions that had been kept from the surface were emerging. Sasuke then spoke up maintaing his glare.
"You brought me back? I don't think so dobe, Kakashi did. Don't give yourself credit for stuff you can't possibly do. I defeated you, even with that freakish red chakra you emitted."
"Shut up teme! You're one to talk with that curse mark on your neck! Consider yourself lucky you haven't been executed for trying to leave the village!"
"I"ll KILL YOU NARUTO, GET OUT OF HERE!"
Naruto stood silently in shock as the Uchiha slowly began to regain his composure. Sakura changed her gaze to the ground, saddened by the interaction between her teammates.
"Naruto… I really think its best for you to leave for now. We can discuss everything when Sasuke recovers."
Said Sakura, causing Naruto to glare at her. Naruto changed his gaze to Sasuke who immediately looked away from him with a slight smirk on his face at getting Sakura to side with him. Naruto stood there for a couple of seconds before simply walking out of the section of the hospital.
He walked to training ground 7 and collapsed onto the ground where the team had passed Kakashi's test to become Genin. He was the one tied to the post during lunch time, always left out from the others, treated differently. He laid on the ground staring up at the clouds contemplating his life in Konoha. Thoughts of his childhood hit him, memories of being alone, the stares the snide comments. The only good childhood memories he had involved the Third Hokage…. but he was now gone. Iruka had provided Naruto with good times but that was only recently.
Jiraiya was great, even though he was a pervert. He had given Naruto probably the greatest moments of his life. To be chosen by one of the Sanin as a student made him feel special for the first time in his life. Despite how great Jiraiya was to him, he was gone most of the time, leaving him mostly alone again. Kakashi was alright but didn't even bother training him, shipping him off to Ebisu to train.
Taking in all his relationships and connections he had with Konoha, Naruto made up his mind. He was going to leave the village immediately. He didn't care if he died, or how many supplies he had, he had to leave this village. Naruto wasn't sure for how long or if he would ever come back, but he needed to go. He walked into his apartment to pack anything he deemed valuable. As he looked around around he noticed that there wasn't anything he considered valuable enough to take with him besides his frog wallet.
That night Naruto walked to the top of the Hokage monument. He looked out onto the village. He remembered his promise and goal to become Hokage that now seemed to have disappeared. Naruto turned towards the forest and sprinted towards end of it where he reached the giant stonewalls of the village. He began sprinting up the wall full speed. Immediately three ANBU appeared at the top in preparation to stop what ever the jinchuriki was planning on doing.
"Stop right now!" Screamed one of the ANBU.
Naruto planned for someone to try to stop him so he channeled as much chakra into his next jutsu. "Multi Shadow Clone Jutsu" said Naruto as hundreds of clones appeared in front of Naruto and all began running in different directions. The ANBU tried to take out as many as they could but they were overwhelmed as hundreds of the clones got to the top of the wall and jumped over. The clones spread out, all going in different directions. The ANBU looked on in horror as hundreds of Narutos took off through the forest outside Konoha in different directions. Rather then pointlessly trying to find the real one they ran to the Hokage's office to tell her what was happening.
"Hokage-sama, Naruto has escaped the village perimeter, he's trying to the leave the village!"
Yelled one of the ANBU who had appeared in the Hokage's office causing Tsunade to jump out of her seat.
"What!" screamed Tsunade, causing the ANBU to shiver at the ferocity in her voice.
"You couldn't stop him!?" Questioned Tsunade.
"He created hundreds of clones, there was no way we could tell which was the real one, they all ran in different directions."
Said one of the ANBU, Tsunade groaned, she knew they couldn't pick out one Naruto from the hundreds, it was impossible.
"How long ago was this!" Yelled Tsunade.
"Around 15 minutes ago." Said one of them. 'Danmit, he's already got a considerable head start, not to mention we'd have to pick him out of the hundreds. Why did he leave in the first place, he got Sasuke back?' Thought Tsunade.
"I want all available ANBU units to search within the fire boarders. Make sure to capture, and not kill him, understood!?"
The ANBU nodded and departed. Tsunade was furious, she would eventually find out why he left, and when she did, there would be severe consequences. Tsunade wanted Naruto to return, he was like a son to her, though she would never admit it. She had a pretty good idea that they wouldn't be able to catch Naruto with all the fake ones running around, not to mention his stamina.
The real Naruto darted through the trees, thinking of where he was heading. He had decided that he would go towards Mist since he figured that Konoha wouldn't think he'd go to a war zone. Naruto ran for hours until he neared the fire border which peered out onto the ocean separating the Leaf from the Mist. Naruto quickly eyed a cargo ship, which didn't appear to have any shinobi on it. Then suddenly, the memory of many of his clones farther back being dispelled began hitting him. 'They're coming..' thought Naruto as he snook aboard the ship and transformed into a cargo box similar to the others on board.
Naruto knew the Konoha nin likely couldn't catch him any longer as he was now in Mist territory. The boat ride was fairly long, around 6 hours until he reached Kiri. When he land he knew he now only needed to avoid Mist shinobi. Security was low since the country was recovering from a Civil War. Still, Naruto took great precaution in exiting the ship and make sure to avoid not being seen. Naruto darted away from the dock that he landed in a saw a cave. Naruto was beginning to become extremely tired as he decided to enter into the cave. He slowly walked into the cave, exhausted from his escape from Konoha and collapsed onto the cave's floor.
The next day Naruto woke up to find himself, not on a gravel food, but a cold tiled floor. 'That's weird?' thought Naruto at the feeling of tile on the slowly stood up, not sure of where he was. He looked back and saw the exit to the cave and thought about leaving but he decided against it. There had to be some reason for the cave being tiled. He walked farther into the cave until he came upon a large stone boulder blocking the path. It was quite obvious it was put there to block people from entering. Naruto created a shadow clone and formed a rasengan before slamming it into the boulder, completely destroying it. He stepped into the clearance of the cave and the second he walked in lights flickered on revealing a relatively large room filled with scrolls on shelves and a wooden table in the center. Naruto walked up to the table and saw a mask with small eye slits and a small blue triangle at the bottom. The mask covered a note and had a sealing scroll next to it. Naruto picked up the note and began reading it.
Hello to whoever is reading this, my name is Kushimaru Kuriarare, one of the Legendary Seven Ninja Swordsman of the Mist, and wielder of the deadly blade Nuibari, or sewing needle. Whoever is able to find this note can obtain both my blade and mask and do with them as you please. I'm writing this in my last hour so I will have to make this quick. If you do plan on using Nuibari, do not put it to shame, master it and perfect its abilities. The scroll near my mask has the blade. If you choose to attempt and use it, note that it will not be easy. It is one of the most difficult blades to master in the world. The scrolls around the rest of my base here have tips and jutsu that will help you with Nuibari. I wish whoever attempts to wield my blade next the best of luck, goodbye.
Naruto placed the note down as his face was in shock. He had just found the base of one of the most feared shinobi in the world. One of the Legendary Seven Ninja Swordsman of the Mist. Naruto remembered his fight with Zabuza who was one of the strongest shinobi he'd ever seen. This "Kushimaru" was just as powerful as him. Naruto remembered Kushimaru's letter, it said if he was to use his blade, that he couldn't put it to shame. He figured that before he decided to choose got use it, he should at least see what it looked at.
Naruto pumped some chakra into the scroll causing a poof of smoke to appear until what looked like a huge needle appeared. Naruto slowly reached down and picked up the needle like blade. It was extremely skinny and had wires attactched to the bottom of it. The blonde haired Uzumaki had forgotten his dream of becoming Hokage but he began to think he'd found a new one. He decided then and there that he would master Kushimaru's old weapon, and he sure as hell wouldn't let him down.
Thus, began Naruto's new life as the wielder of Nuibari. Naruto read scroll after scroll, learning how to utilize the blade in combat. He began learning how to use it in combat, often battling against clones. The scrolls present in the room also contained various jutsu used by Kushimaru and other ninja from the Mist. The first thing Naruto picked up from the scrolls was how using the blade effectively required being extremely gruesome. The blade was called sewing needle due to its ability to penetrate any body and continue to do so, forming bundles of bodies along the wire. Naruto found one that was familiar, Zabuza's Hidden Mist technique, which Naruto took a liking to. He remembered how effective this jutsu could be when using it with silent killing. One of the keys to being one of the Seven Ninja Swordsman of the Mist was the use of intimidation and scaring your enemy.
Naruto remembered how proficient Zabuza. He had basically paralyzed Naruto in fear when they were fighting. According to one of the many scrolls in the training room, Kushimaru's main form of intimidation was a high-pitched laugh that would echo throughout Zabuza's mist. Naruto made it a goal of his to try to imitate or come close to the spine tingling laugh that Kushimaru would echo through the mist.
Naruto continued reading upon how Kushimaru was able to master the blade. Kushimaru was an extremely skinny and bony shinobi but was extremely flexible and fast. The type of person who was fast and versatile was perfect for Nuibari because it allowed for the user to quickly catch the blade when thrown or to be able to avoid hits and move your body in ways to be able to sew the needle through bodies in acrobatic form. The cave contained a couple of cabinets and a small refrigerator. Naruto assumed that Kushimaru must have spent quite a bit of time living in this cave as well, probably to avoid the war that was going on in the mist. Naruto would seldom wander outside of his cave, only to find small forms of meat but mostly herbs and vegetables for salads. Naruto's new small diet caused him to lose weight rather quickly. He soon resembled Kushimaru but not quite as skinny, he had some small bits of muscle on him.
The cave also had a passage, which lead to fairly large opening in the cave that he assumed Kushimaru used for training since there were multiple training dummies and senbon scattered across the area. The dummies all had small wholes running through them, which he guessed were from using Nuibari. This was where Naruto trained with Nuibari, attempting to weave his new needle sword through every single dummy. Naruto also practiced his hidden mist technique and various water ninjutsu from the scrolls in the cave due to the small river that ran through the cave.
Naruto trained vigorously for three years in his cave, often for around ten hours a day. No one interfered with him, and he doubted anyone even knew he was in the cave, let alone in Mist territory. No one ever spotted him getting food, and he doubted anyone heard him training within the cave since most of his fighting style required silence to maximize results. He had been able to nearly master Nuibari, not quite to Kushimaru's level but extremely close to it. He learned many jutsu which could be used in collaboration with the blade, and even managed to create a few of his own.
He had mastered Zabuza's Hidden Mist Technique and had also mastered many water based ninjutsu. Naruto was now extremely proficient in using Nuibari in the mist. Naruto often created many shadow clones and hunted them down within the mist. He had been able to come up with what he thought was a rather creepy, and intimidating laugh. It was pretty high-pitched and like Kushimaru's, it was able to echo through the mist. He had also kept up with his training with the rasengan and was now able to form it with one hand alone. Naruto had also picked up on various ways to use shadow clones, one of which was attaching explosive tags to them, causing them to get close to targets and then detonate. Naruto also had come up with various techniques that worked in collaboration with jutsu he had mastered, typically resulting in extremely destructive and deadly new ones.
Naruto had also read a scroll on a jutsu that seemed rather disturbing and dangerous. Apparently the seven ninja swordsman were also relatively proficient in sealing, and were often called upon to battle the three tailed biju, native to Mist. It was labeled as forbidden and was a sealing technique that ultimately resulted in the death of both the user and target. Naruto held on to the scroll, he figured he may learn to use it later on.
He had also grown a couple of inches, and was now respectably tall, and lanky. He had a small amount of muscle but was overall a rather skinny guy. He had taken to wearing Kushimaru's mask constantly, however he had made some adjustments to the mask. Instead of the blue triangle that was on the bottom of the mask, he painted it red and instead of the mist symbol on it, he added the Konoha one instead. Naruto wore the mask constantly for the final two years in the cave, only slightly lifting it to eat.
While in the cave Naruto had pondered what he was going to do after completing training with Nuibari. Sure he could probably train for more years, but he had gotten relatively lonely after not interacting with any other people in three years. He could probably go and join the Mist, but that could go poorly due to the recent or possibly continuing civil war in Kiri. Naruto decided it would probably be best to return to Tsunade in the Leaf.
Then the thought of his team hit him, his sensei who ignored him, his ungrateful and stuck up teammate who nearly killed him and the annoying pink haired bitch that he used to have a crush on. Naruto periodically thought of them during his three years in Kushimaru's cave and every time he did, his anger rose. When he saw them again he would make sure he scared them shitless. Naruto had faced the reality that to wield Nuibari would require being extremely gruesome, and fully accepted by the end of the three years to the point that when training with his clones he only went for vital spots in the body.
It had been three years and four months since Naruto left the village and he finally decided he would return to the Leaf. He did miss Tsunade, Jiraya and his few friends he had. It would be nice to finally interact with people again. Naruto gathered up all the scrolls in Kushimaru's cave and put them into one huge sealing scroll. He then grasped Nuibari and began walking out of the cave he had spent the last three years of his life in and made his way back to the dock he'd arrived at from Konoha and snuck onto another ship. Naruto summoned twenty shadow clones who went and found the largest boulder they could and placed in front of the entrance, hopefully preventing anyone from finding Kushimaru's one time base. Naruto slowly began walking and within six hours he'd arrived in fire territory.
Naruto walked for around a couple hours until he picked up on multiple chakra sources. There were around 30 ninja who were darting through the trees, and three of the chakra signatures were fading quickly. Naruto thought he might as well check it out, it would be good to possibly test out his abilities against actual opponents.