A/N: I do not own Naruto, obviously.
So, this was an idea a had a few months ago, and I started writing. And then the current manga plot twists showed up, and I had to re-write every scene with Hashirama and Tobirama to fit their canon personalities.
I have this all plotted out, and it's going to be huge. I'll try to update every two weeks, so I can get it out in some sort of sane time frame.
Much thanks to Sikizu and Flame for beta-ing this, and especially to Flame for putting up with my obsessive ramblings and plot points every day at school.
The two figures looked at each other. The tall woman was dressed in a white kimono, with gold trim. Her long golden hair hung all the way down her back and shielded her eyes from view, and it waved as if blown by a wind. She shook slightly, and her usually pale cheeks were streaked-the only sign of her recent mourning.
The short boy across from her slouched, hands shoved into the pockets of his skinny red jeans. He was wearing a long-sleeved black shirt, which was only decorated with a red-orange spiral on the stomach. His skin was eerie, as white as a sheet of paper and covered with deep red markings, centered around a diamond on his forehead. His eyes burned a deep, inhuman red-the same color as his hair, which emulated a lion's mane. He, too, was unhappy, frowning slightly in a way that bared overlong canines.
"Shin's not going to be happy with the work that will include..." The boy said.
"Shin knows that it may be necessary. And ask him to look forward, and check to see which would have a better outcome." The woman said.
"Why not ask Kouun? This entire thing seems to be more in her district than anything else." The redhead asked.
"I did. You would probably get a better answer than I. All she would tell me was that the coin was flipping, and she smiled."
"Wonderful." The boy sighed. "Tenkou...are you sure this is a good idea?"
The woman turned sharply, her hair brushed out of her face, to bring the full bore of her gaze on the boy. "Do you have another idea, Akkiou? Do you? I know you trust the boy. I do as well. But do you really think that offering him some help would go amiss? Akkiou. Our brother is coming back. We are sending a mortal against him with no backup. None."
Akkiou raised his hands in surrender. "I know, Tenkou. I was the one who felt him stirring. I heard the whispers of dissent first-I saw the spread happening. I was just making sure you were sure."
"Alright, then. I'll go make preparations on my half. You have to go tell Shin what's going on and ask for his help. One question, though?"
"Can I please talk to them about the whole Kurama and his siblings debacle?" He asked, widening his eyes to attempt to look innocent and adorable. Because it was him, though, all it ended up doing was call attention to the fact that his eyes would constantly change colors of red, and were also faintly glowing.
"Fine...you can handle that mistake best, anyway."
In another place, a young teen chuckled. "The coin is tossed..."
Uzumaki Mito opened her eyes to see that she was standing in a large white room, with six other people. She recognized her best friend and husband, Hashirama, and tried to move to him but found herself unable. Frowning, she reached out with her mind, latching on to the familiar bright emotions that he gave off to reassure herself that yes, he was there, and yes, he was alright.
She supposed it was slightly odd to worry this much, but she couldn't stop herself-the last time she had seen him, she had been looking at his corpse. His usually bright presence in the odd sense that had always reflected people's emotions to her was dimmed very slightly-a difference she knew to mean that he was about as happy with their lack of motion as she was.
She turned her attention to the other people in the room. Next to Hashirama stood his brother Tobirama, clad as always in his blue armor. A few paces away was Hyuuga Hikako. Mito knew the young leader of the white-eyed clan fairly well, as they had both been key players in the history of Konoha in their day. It was a dark day for the small village in the forest when she was killed in battle, both due to the loss of a level-headed politician and the effects her death had on the people close to her.
Behind her, lounging against what apparently passed for a wall in this place, was Uchiha Madara. Mito wondered if he had appeared in that position-arms crossed, lazily glaring at the world-or if he actually had freedom of movement. As he wasn't trying to murder either of the Senju, she assumed the former.
The redheaded lady sighed. She remembered a time when she and Madara had been, well, not friends, but at least civil to each other. Granted, he seemed to automatically discount any shinobi who was also female, but to be fair he also discounted non-clan shinobi, shinobi with any kind of functional handicap, and...actually, pretty much anyone who wasn't a Senju or Uchiha. That was simply how the Uchiha were; even the nicest she had met had sides of this, although they at least would notice if they caused offense and apologize. But after his dreams died, Uchiha Madara had, to use common vernacular, gone off the deep end.
The final pair of people in the room were less familiar to Mito. A tall man with long, spiky blond hair was looking around with sharp blue eyes. He wore a long white coat, and Mito saw the kanji for 'Yondaime' written on the back. So the village lasted long enough for a fourth!
...She also saw Hashirama's eyes widen and felt his presence light up at the sight of the 'Yondaime' kanji as well. She smiled slightly. Of course, he would be thrilled.
Next to the Yondaime was a shorter woman, with long red hair much like Mito's own. After a moment of confusion, Mito recognized the woman as her distant cousin Kushina-the young girl who had been a mix of pupil and granddaughter to her in the final years of her life. She had grown up into a fine young woman.
"Apologies for the restrictions placed upon you." A voice said, and Mito's head snapped around. A woman was standing in the space before them, but Mito had no warning of her appearance; at the very least, her emotional sense should have told her there was another person in the room. But it picked up nothing.
"My name is Tenkou, I am what I suppose you could call a kami or a goddess, and I have a matter of the utmost seriousness to discuss with you." the woman said. Mito's eyes narrowed. Tenkou-roughly speaking, Queen of Heaven. Why did she get the feeling that was a description, not a name?
"Unfortunately, time is of the essence, so while I would like to allow you to greet one another and exchange information, I am afraid that will have to wait. There is a crisis brewing in the Elemental Countries. Plans are in motion for the Juubi to return."
Mito's eyes widened in horror. While she, of course, was not old enough to know of the Juubi from her own experience, she knew the Kyuubi's power well, and according to the legends the Juubi dwarfed that. Her grandmother's grandmother had fled her small town when the island it was centered on had been thrown under the water by one sweep of the Juubi's tail. The town she founded on the shores of that sea became Uzushiogakure.
The reactions of the others were similar-Mito sensed horror and shock from every other person...except Madara. But then, ever since the death of his wife and his abandonment of the village Madara had been very hard to read. The dark cloud around him stifled all other emotional signals.
"While there is a chance that the current generation could stop it on their own, the chance is very slim, and the risk is far too great. I have a proposal to make, to help tip the odds in the favor of the Elemental Nations. I ask-not request, never request, but ask, that you consent to be, for lack of a better term, reincarnated as young children-ages four to six. You would grow up as any child from whichever village you are in would grow, and hopefully you would aid in the results of events in your lifetime." Tenkou explained. "You will look much as you did in life, and you don't have to say yes-but if you do not agree, I will explain the consequences of this decision. I'm sorry to be so insistent, but you all must know that the results would be catastrophic." Tenkou stopped, and Mito wondered vaguely if the woman had to breathe.
"So...I will ask each of you, explaining where you would go in this second life. Once there, you all have a high chance of encountering each other by the time you are roughly fifteen years of age. I cannot guarantee anything. I cannot even guarantee that the addition of you seven, should all of you agree, will result in victory. All I can do is ask."
The moment she said that, the other six people in the room disappeared from Mito's senses, leaving her alone with Tenkou.
"Apologies again for the lack of mobility in the main area." Tenkou said, as Mito found herself able to move and speak again. "But time is of the utmost importance, and it passes more quickly here than you would think. We are in a small window of opportunity for the choice to be made. Do you have any questions?"
"How is the Juubi coming back?" Mito asked immediately. Tenkou sighed.
"If I knew that, I would stop him from returning myself. Unfortunately, I do not; all I know is that in roughly ten to twelve years, he will face the ninja of the Elemental Nations. By that point, if he's back it will be too late for me to do anything. But shinobi are...different. Special. They can do wonderful and terrible things, if they so wish. Do you so wish?"
Mito paused, but really it only took a moment's thought. "I will return to the Elemental Nations, Tenkou...sama?"
Tenkou smiled. "I thought you might. You will be sent to Konohagakure no Sato, along with these." Tenkou waved her hand and the walls showed pictures of two of the other people in the first room. On one wall was Uchiha Madara, and on the other was the yellow-haired man.
"Your companions in this who know your identity will be, if they so choose, Uchiha Madara and Namikaze Minato. The latter man was a classmate and later the husband of your cousin Kushina, and he also was the Yondaime Hokage."
Mito's eyes widened at that knowledge, and she smiled. "Konoha... thank you, Tenkou-sama."
Hikako frowned as the others disappeared. Even with her Byakugan activated, she couldn't detect where they had gone. Also, with her enhanced vision, Tenkou blazed-it seemed as if she didn't have chakra so much as she was chakra. It was that, more than anything else, that convinced Hikako that this woman was telling the truth. It actually reminded her of the times she'd spied the tailed beasts, when they roamed too close to Konohagakure or her previous home in Rai no Kuni. However, unlike the red chakra that the beasts were suffused with, the chakra of this woman was a gold-white in color.
"I have a few questions to ask before I give my decision." Hikako said. "First: did the Hyuuga clan continue in the form I know it, or did it split as Haru was suggesting in later years?"
"It split." Tenkou sighed. "And the appearance of a child with the Byakugan in Konohagakure would not be taken well by the current Hyuuga. At best, you would be branded with a curse seal that would allow for remote mental torture if you broke certain rules."
"Haru..." Hikako snarled under her breath. She knew her younger brother was very protective of his power as the eldest male Hyuuga, but to do something that would result in the clan dividing for generations after their deaths? That was a bit extreme! "Alright. Why is Uchiha Madara in the group you are sending back? From what I have heard his actions were not always... well-intentioned."
Tenkou smiled. "Well, I did say this was another chance, right? I like to think that even Madara-kun can do good with the right motivation. Now-are you willing to go?"
"One more question." Hikako said. "Are you sure that this will do more good than harm?"
Tenkou smiled still. "I would not have done it otherwise. If you listen to my instructions, you will manage to save the life of a Kumo shinobi and one of your clan members just by appearing. Now, you will appear in Kumogakure no Sato, in Rai no Kuni. I will get my brother to mark you with a sign that only those who have close access to chakra akin to mine or his can see. What you must do then is seek out a boy named Killer Bee..."
Senju Hashirama smiled at the goddess. "Of course, I accept! I can't wait to see what the shinobi world is like now."
Tenkou sighed. "Unfortunately, it is not as good as you might hope. You will be placed in Amegakure no Sato."
"Amegakure? I think that's after my time...I'm assuming it's in Ame no Kuni, though? That was always a nice place, although unfortunately I was only usually in it for battles..."
"Yes. You were." For the first time, Tenkou's tone was something other than worried and kind. Now, she seemed-not angry, that was too far, but disappointed. "In fact, Ame no Kuni has been used as the battlefield of more powerful nations for years. This has had...unfortunate consequences for the people of Ame, and they now have leaders who are actually working in their favor. However, those leaders themselves have been subject to a terrible tragedy, and they are also being manipulated for an outside force."
As she continued to speak, the disdain hardened into something almost palpable. Hashirama blinked when he noticed chills shoot down his spine, and then his eyes widened. Killing intent suffused this entire room, and although it was milder than most killing intent-oddly so, given the power that Tenkou had displayed thus far, it was still terrifying.
Tenkou noticed his discomfort, and the killing intent subsided so quickly it seemed as if it was never there at all. "Sincerest apologies, Hashirama-kun. I did not mean to frighten you. However, it did adequately the urgency of the situation in Amegakure. I know there isn't much you can do without drawing suspicion to yourself, but just...be kind, alright? You excel at that-it isn't a too high of a duty to assign."
"So, this room is like a self-contained dimension..." Namikaze Minato was sometimes a bit too curious for his own good. "And I suppose that if you created one of these, you could nest it in a smaller area to make that smaller area much bigger on the inside than it is on the outside...and then the applications of that are pretty much endless..."
He finally noticed Tenkou staring at him, a slight smile on her face.
"Oh, sorry! Of course I'll go. I just got-"
"-carried away by the logistics of creating a place like this." Tenkou finished for him. "Before you ask, though, I don't know how I do it. Apologies. You are the only one of the former Hokages who I have seen fit to assign to Konoha-however, this may cause some unrest as your face is carved on the monument."
"Oh no, there's going to be 'Bastard Son of Namikaze' rumors, aren't there?" Minato sighed. "Well, I can live with that. I do have a secret son...although I'm not my own secret son...this is going to be slightly confusing, isn't it?"
"I'm sure you and all of Konoha will survive. Given your age, you'll likely be of a year with Uzumaki Naruto, as well...although I must warn you that that particular plan of yours did not unfurl with all the consequences you hoped..."
"Of course, dattebane!" Kushina grinned. "A second chance, without that stupid fox? Sign me up!"
Tenkou frowned slightly. "I think that my brother has something to say to you on the topic of 'that stupid fox', but oh well. The village that you will be sent to is Sunagakure no Sato."
"Suna?" Kushina asked. "Aww, I was hoping for Konoha, but Suna is still good. Why?"
"There's a boy there-a young jinchuuriki of the Ichibi. He will live a very lonely childhood if other measures are not taken. If you can find him, you would be an excellent friend." Tenkou said.
"A jinchuuriki..." Kushina said. No friends meant that he, likely, would have been persecuted for being who he was. Just like she had been, before a dark-haired girl on her team stuck out a hand and said "Hey, everyone else are idiots, let's work together!"
Once upon a time, Uchiha Mikoto had saved her life. It was only right that she save another person's.
The two sides of Senju Tobirama were in conflict. The larger part of him was insistent that he should simply deliver his decision to Tenkou and get this over with. The rest of him was determined that he not leave this room before he figure out how it was made, what it was made out of, and how he could possibly do that himself.
"Apologies, but I don't know how I create these." Tenkou said. His eyes widened, startled.
"Do you have the power to detect thoughts?" He asked. She smiled slightly, shaking her head.
"No-I know of no being that can hear the thoughts of others as a matter of routine. I could in all likelihood possess you and in that way become aware of your thought processes, but I would never do that to a person. Possession is, from what I am led to understand, highly unpleasant, especially when it is done by a being such as myself. No, you are just a type of mind that I am familiar with-it was easy enough to guess your queries." Tenkou said. Tobirama filed that bit of information away for further use.
"In any case, I have decided to accept your offer." Tobirama said.
"I thought so. You will go to Kirigakure no Sato, which is currently going through what could be described as a rough patch in it's history. However, everyone knows that the rough patches are the places it's best to be, in order to learn which people it is good to have on your side and who it is wise to watch. I credit you with enough strength and intelligence to survive in addition to the political savvy that it would take to use it to your advantage."
"...I see." Tobirama said. "I don't suppose that you could tell me what type of a 'rough patch' Kiri is facing? The last I knew of them, Houzuki Zangetsu was still Mizukage, and he still had that infuriating clam summon with the genjutsu properties. I could never learn how he managed it, either." He sighed.
"I'm afraid that I cannot tell you what Kiri is experiencing-I only tell details that will be immediately urgent or that need to be said to convince you." Tenkou sighed. "That was the bargain that I made in order to give you this option."
"Are you sure?"
"Of course I'm damn well sure." Madara scowled. 'Why on earth would I aid Konoha?" Especially help them survive my own plan?
Tenkou sighed, turning away. "The rationale my brother would give would probably be 'You broke it, you fix it." But I don't think that you really thought your plan through. The Juubi is not merely a toy for you to use as you see fit. You assume, as so many have assumed, that the tailed beasts are not capable of higher intelligence, and neither is the Juubi. You are wrong, and he is playing you for a fool."
Madara glared at her back. "You are the fool if you underestimate my power. I am easily the equal of my ancestor the Rikudou Sannin. The tailed beasts are mere chakra constructs, as every shinobi with sense knows. I don't expect someone like you to understand my plan."
"By 'someone like you' do you mean a non-shinobi, a woman, or someone who was not an Uchiha?" Tenkou asked. "Because I can think of quite a few points against each accusation. I predate the shinobi arts altogether, but that does not mean I am ignorant of them. I appear in the guise of a woman because that is the form that people expect me to take-in terms of my self, I do not see myself as any distinct gender. And about not being an Uchiha-" She turned to face him now, and Madara actually found himself taking a step back.
Tenkou's hair, for the first time, was out of her face, revealing her eyes. Her blazing, narrowed Rinnegan eyes.
"Who do you think gave your clan it's power, little Madara-kun? Your power comes straight from the Rikudou, and let me tell you, you have a long way to go before you ever catch up with Aimaru-kun. In all likelihood, you never will. But here's something you didn't know: Rikudou no Aimaru was my son. Each of his three children got a gift from me, through my power. Great healing ability went to the Senju, and two different Blessed Eyes went to the Uchiha and the Hyuuga."
"The Hyuuga were no descendants of the Rikudou." Madara said, feeling more and more backed into a corner. What this woman said could not be true-but how would she, clearly a non-human entity herself, have the Rinnegan? And if the Rikudou-Aimaru?-had divine heritage, that would make a lot of sense...but no, she had to be lying. She had to be. There was no way this naive fool was the mother of the Rikudou.
"How little you know your own history." Tenkou sighed. Her hair fell back in its place, as if the eyes behind it didn't exist at all. "Rikudou no Aimaru had three children-first the twins Uchiha and Hyuuga and then the boy Senju. The daughter, Hyuuga, wanted no part of her brothers' quarrel and left Hi no Kuni for Rai no Kuni." She waved her hand, and a picture bloomed on the walls.
A tall man with blonde, spiky hair and rinnegan smiled proudly at three children. One, a boy, had spiky black hair and red eyes, and held a ball of fire. A girl, in the center, had long, black hair and white eyes, and she pointed toward the sky. The third, a smaller boy, had short brown hair and held in his hands a small plant.
"In later years, all three clans would return to the same place, Konohagakure no Sato. But the Uchiha and the Senju would have already begun their feud, and their children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren would only exacerbate it. This upcoming generation might be the last chance the world has to see the blood of Rikudou no Aimaru live in harmony."
She sighed. "But that chance for peace-a chance for everyone in this world to win-means next to nothing to you, doesn't it? You still don't even believe who I am. Very well, I will offer proof. That Sharingan of yours-can you activate it?" She asked.
Madara scoffed. Of course he could activate the Sharingan, he'd been able to since he was a child! Since-neverrmind. What mattered was that he could. He channeled chakra to his eyes...and nothing happened. He repeated the procedure, unnerved. For the first time in over a hundred years, his Sharingan would not spring to attention.
"Is it not working?" Tenkou asked. He glared at her.
"What did you do?" He snapped, and Tenkou noticed that he was shaking. The inability to access that power had utterly dissolved his composure.
"As I said, I bestowed upon each branch of the Rikudou's line a power. I give, and I can take away. Do not worry-it isn't permanent, although I do think that I will be retracting your use of Mokuton and Rinnegan. Neither of those were yours to begin with, and I honestly believe that you would do better without them. Now, can we talk like civilized people?" She asked.
Madara nodded, jaw clenched, and the mother of the Rikudou sat and beckoned him to as well. After a pause, he did. It would be unwise to antagonize the person who could deprive him of all his most useful tactics in the blink of an eye.
"Very well. I can tell you do not wish to participate in this chance. That is your choice to make. However, because I am of all things slightly biased toward you, I will give you some idea of the effects of whichever choice you will make." Tenkou smiled.
"The first option is if you do not join this will happen then, I am sorry to tell you, will be exactly and utterly nothing. I do not mean this as mercy." Tenkou said, seeing the look of disbelief cross Madara's face.
"You clearly misunderstand me when I say 'nothing.' What I mean is that, regardless of your plan's success or failure, you will one day die, or you will remain dead. After your death...there will be nothing. There will be no reunion with your fallen loved ones. There will be no light or no darkness. There will be no power to seize, and no people who will applaud. In the land of the living, you will in time be forgotten, as no jutsu will last forever." Tenkou stopped, letting that sink in.
"And I will be left to explain to Uchiha Izuna why his beloved aniki, who he has spent over fifty years waiting for, cannot come to meet him ever again. I will have to tell him that his brother left Konoha, stole the Mokuton of Senju Hashirama, and secluded himself from the world, as he planned to resurrect the Juubi. I will tell of how he planned the corruption of young Uchiha Obito and my Nagato. And what will Izuna think then? What will he think of the things you have seen, have done using his eyes? You will never have to see the look on his face when he is told. That is the mercy of nothing. But you will know. You will know how he must feel, and what he must think, and you will continue with the knowledge of how you will never explain to him why you did what you did. Madara-kun-is the world worth the look on Izuna's face? The betrayal in his eyes, your eyes? Is it worth the tears he and your mother will shed at what you have become?"
Madara's face showed no emotion, but Tenkou knew that that did not mean that there was none there. She had spent millennia perfecting the ability to read Shin's emotions-Madara stood little chance.
"But." She said, and he did look up at that, and somewhere, deep in the eyes that belonged to his little brother, was a seed of hope. "That is not the only option. You could agree to my bargain. You could live another life in Konoha-a life where you are not stigmatized by the names of Uchiha and Madara. You could become a great hero-and there is always a dire need for great heroes in the shinobi world. You could be a leader of people, just like you always dreamed, and hear them cheering your name not due to any genjutsu, but because they honor you as their leader. You could create a world of true peace, where Yin and Yang coexist in harmony. And, after that life had finished, you would join your family here. You could finally greet Izuna and your mother, and your other brothers. And you could look back, knowing that your name would be honored for generations as a hero."
Silence reigned for a few minutes.
"Well, when you put it that way, what choice do I have?" Madara asked, standing. "I'll take your chance, kami. But if I hold my end of the bargain, you had better hold yours."
"If you mean guaranteeing that you will be a hero, I am fully confident that your own actions will do that. Be it villain or hero, you were not born to be a normal man." Tenkou said. "But you will uphold your end of the bargain, won't you? Because if you aid your plan's completion, if you think that you can play me for a fool, than you can say goodbye to those eyes of yours, forever. Mangekyo, Sharingan, even normal eyesight...scattered like ashes on the wind. Do not cross me, Uchiha Madara, and I will not cross you. Farewell and good luck."