Steal My Thunder God
Prologue - To Steal Your Thunder
With a quiet thump, a sharp kunai embedded itself into a branch but a hair's breadth above Konohamaru's head. The nin did not even flinch at the near miss, only adjusting his hitai-ate a little. He whistled quietly, impressed. Shifting ever so slightly, the Jounin could even feel the cold, sharp edge touching the very edge of his scalp. He had found who he was searching for. Finally.
In a single movement Konohamaru dropped out of the tree, landing in a crouch on the forest floor below. His gaze shot up to the tree tops, eyes narrowing.
"Alright, Naruto, you can show yourself," he called, trying to catch the faintest hint of orange in the bushes around him, or up in the crowns of the trees, from which the kunai had come. There was nothing, though he was quite certain that the master prankster was around. "I was looking all over for you! Where have you been?"
"Not here," said Naruto's voice from above him. "Is it urgent?"
Konohamaru spun around quickly to gaze up the very tree he leaned against - the kunai that had so very nearly scalped him had just turned into a bored-looking Naruto who was currently hanging upside-down, legs wrapped around one of the lower branches. He was lightly swinging back and forth, dressed in his usual comfortable black and orange, with his hair fanned around his head rather funnily, as he had let it grow out a bit longer than usual. He did not wear a vest to indicate any sort of rank, since the whisker marks on his face were enough to confirm his identity.
"The boss is in the middle of training not far ahead," the clone said helpfully. "You're getting rusty looking over those kids, Konohamaru, if you can't feel his chakra from here. Did you come for a spar or something?" The playfulness in Naruto's voice made him seem a couple of years younger than he really was, and the amused smile was as bright as ever.
"You're not going to ever grow up, are you?" Konohamaru asked, laughing. "I'm content with my abilities, you don't need to run me through the loops again. Not today."
"I could bring the kids, if you promise to go easy on them," Konohamaru said. "They could use the experience for the Chuunin exams. Those exams are part of the reason I went to find you, actually."
Naruto rubbed the back of his head. Konohamaru waited patiently. "The exams - they're this week in Konoha," the clone said as he swung his whole body back, released the branch, did a backflip in mid air, and landed gracefully before the Jounin. "Baa-chan wants me to take part, doesn't she?"
Konohamaru paused. "Not exactly. Could I tell this directly to the real you, though? It's just... strange to talk to a copy all the time."
"It's not like there is a difference," the clone responded, shrugging. "Fine, fine, head towards the cursing, then." He grinned as he disappeared into a puff of smoke.
There was a loud shout and a crash followed by a bright flash of red light, and Konohamaru couldn't stifle a laugh as he heard Naruto swearing like a sailor from not too far ahead.
"Stupid clones always messing with my concentration!" Naruto was kicking at the nearest tree while muttering profanities. His surroundings were burned to the ground, crumbled and withered as if from immense heat. Naruto himself even had a couple of slight burns that were rapidly fading away, healing themselves in moments.
Konohamaru used the Shunshin no Jutsu to quickly reach his oldest friend, chuckling at Naruto's misfortune. "Sorry for that," he said, though he did not really mean it.
"There's a smartass idiot in every batch," Naruto said in annoyance, turning to him, the last burn marks disappearing from the face. "You've disrupted my whole concentration now, so thanks for nothing. What did baa-chan want from me this time, then?"
"She's thinking of retiring, actually," Konohamaru answered, a smile twitching at the corners of his lips. "After the Chuunin exam ends."
Naruto blinked, nodding. "It was going to happen someday, I suppose. Who's going to be the Hokage, then?"
Konohamaru snickered. "Think about it, Naruto."
"You?" The blond man showed his tongue. "Aren't you a little short to be a Hokage?"
The younger Jounin frowned unhappily. "Guess again."
"Kakashi, then? He already got passed over once, with all the commotion back then. Gai-sensei was inconsolable after it turned out he had arranged a special suit for the occasion and he ever got to wear it..."
"God no!" Konohamaru exclaimed, shuddering. "You're making this entirely too difficult, you know. Who is the son of a Kage again? Who is a hero of the Fourth Shinobi War?"
"Gaara is the Kazekage, silly," Naruto said dryly. "Besides, can you even be a Kage of two different villages? That sounds like cheating to me."
Konohamaru was all but pulling his hair out of frustration. "You!" he shouted at Naruto. "She wants you to be the Hokage!"
"I know," Naruto said calmly.
Naruto smiled thinly. "I talked with her a couple of minutes ago. Well, a clone did, really. Baa-chan and I have been going over this for a while now. She figured I needed to know everything about leading a village before she made it official." He smiled. "You know, back when she first offered me lessons, I thought it was only so she could save her some paperwork by letting me slave away with my clones, but I guess I finally passed her mission, huh?"
Konohamaru crossed his arms. "You had to ruin my good news? I spent the last hour searching you throughout the training grounds!"
"I can play surprised, if you want me to." Naruto grinned, then, his eyes widened suddenly, and he clamped a hand over his mouth. "Me, the Hokage?! Konohamaru, do you understand just what this means?!" He flashed the tongue again. "I won our race! I am going to be the best Hokage in the history of - ever! Believe it!"
"Thank you for that," the Jounin said with a groan, rubbing his forehead. "You are a true friend."
"Rival," Naruto whispered conspiratorially, glancing around and bringing a finger to his mouth, hushing him. "The word you wanted to use was 'rival'."
"Yes, of course, how silly of me," Konohamaru waved him away. "Why don't we go celebrate your new position? I thought you'd like to visit Ichiraku's together, now that you can still go there without getting mobbed. I figured you'd be hungry, too."
"Maybe later," Naruto said, and smirked as Konohamaru widened his eyes at the refusal of ramen. "I'm busy, you see. Today, I'm going to finally use that technique." Naruto said it proudly. "The Hiraishin!"
Konohamaru looked suddenly bored. "You were saying that a year ago."
"No, I swear, this time I really got it," Naruto exclaimed, nodding eagerly. "I managed to decipher everything this time, I know it. It's too simple, really. I was spending so much attention on the space aspect that I forgot about time entirely."
"Mhm..." Konohamaru raised an eyebrow. "Which means...?"
"See, it's like this," Naruto put his hands together, then moved them outwards until there was a small distance between them. "Imagine that this is a road from here to Ichiraku's. Now, if you have to body flicker there..." For show, he made a small puff of smoke appear around his left hand, and he moved it quickly towards his right. "That saves a lot of time, but you still have to move through all the territory in between."
He moved the left hand back where it had been. "Now, if I had to use the Hiraishin, it works differently." Naruto summoned a clone right in front of him, mirroring his pose, so that their opposite hands were nearly touching. "It's more like I have to manipulate the distance, to bring the target closer." The clone wiggled the left hand's fingers and patted the right hand of the true Naruto. "In a sense, I wouldn't have moved more than a single step, but I will have crossed the whole distance anyway."
"I don't see how that helps you." Konohamaru frowned, rubbing his chin. "You mentioned something like this before."
Naruto nodded. "Ah, now here's a funny - and hardest part." He nodded to his clone, who got back in position. "I always kept forgetting time, that's why it didn't work. You see, I have to arrive just before I leave. You can't exist identically in two places at once, I can't even imagine what would happen if you managed it, and the future doesn't exist yet, that's obvious. So that leaves only one option."
The Naruto that was speaking disappeared in a puff of smoke, and the one Konohamaru had pegged as the clone smiled and waved with his left hand. "In essence, it's like using a body switch with a clone before you even begin the technique. The slight time difference between the arrival and the departure is undetectable, since it's so short, but it's necessary."
"And how do you go about doing all that?" Konohamaru asked. "The switching part, I mean?"
Naruto scratched the back of his head awkwardly. "It has to do with the structure of the seal itself. It took years to figure out, you know." He pointed at a tree that was a couple of meters away, where a three-pronged kunai with a seal tied around the handle was embedded into the thick oaken wood. "The seal helps you find a destination you are going to travel to. If it is drawn correctly, it's not actually there at any given moment, even when it may looklike it's there. It's sort of drawn to be forever delayed in time, rather than in the present. That's why I can't just jump there; I need to find a closest point in the past to use. But..."
"Every time I try, there's some sort of resistance to it. I am trying to push through with ever increasing amount of chakra, but it's already getting to ridiculous levels. There's no way the Fourth used this much. To top it all off, the jutsu is disorienting, it's like I need to be in two places at once, and I feel like I'm everywhere and nowhere, and it is trying to tear me apart."
"And the burning thing?" Konohamaru pointed around them, to the singed earth. "How did that happen?"
Naruto shrugged. "Oh, that's just Kurama's chakra. I don't have enough concentration to try and search for the connection with the seal and simultaneously keep the chakra at safe levels. I mean, I probably could, but it would make the technique twice as hard, at the very least, and I can work on efficiency when I have the basics down. It is not like it actually does me any lasting harm."
Konohamaru nodded slowly. "Say, Naruto," he said, thinking. "You said that you feel a tearing apart - and the jutsu is supposed to move every single bit of you and everything you are carrying on yourself? Do I have that right?"
"Yeah?" Naruto looked hopeful. "Any brilliant ideas?"
"You said that you can't be in the two places at the same time earlier - but you are trying to? How many clones do you have running around right now, exactly?"
"A bunch. What does that have-" Naruto stopped mid sentence, eyes wide. "Oh - oh, you're a genius!" There was a loud echo of popping sounds all around the training ground, as a multitude of clones dispelled themselves. Naruto winced as he rubbed the side of his head. "Man, half of them decided to slack off on training..."
"It figures that youwould forget you're using a highly draining technique," Konohamaru observed with a smile, shaking his head. "Maybe if you're just you, it won't be such an issue to get this down. If this works, you owe me a lesson with the kids, understood?"
Naruto nodded, smiling. "Well, let's see then. You might want to step back a little, just in case." Naruto closed his eyes, and chakra began exuding from his pores, plainly visible power swirling around him. "This is going to be awesome! Believe it!"
Konohamaru hurried to clear away; when Naruto gave a warning like that, any sane shinobi would duck and cover like their life depended on it, because it probably did. Naruto did not do things by half.
There was a rush of chakra building up, and vicious tendrils of the Kyuubi's chakra lashed out at everything around the jinchuuriki, shredding skin and earth like paper, uncontrolled. To think that was only a slight remnant of the actual chakra being channeled, the true amount had to be gargantuan.
"Hiraishin no Jutsu!" Naruto exclaimed with a hoarse voice, and he vanished in an orange flash.
The chapter has been edited by Morta's Priest. Expect the full first chapter in a matter of hours.