Chapter 1 – The Loss of the Rinnegan
Deep within the forests of Hi no Kuni, Uzumaki Naruto stood in front of the man who called himself Pein and slowly watched the life bleed out of him. He felt a mixture of conflicted feelings - relieved that he was going to have his precious friends back, but saddened that this brother by circumstance who he had only just met would have to be the sacrifice.
"Thank you," he said softly, fingers tightening around Jiraiya's book.
"It is you we must thank," the hauntingly beautiful kunoichi standing beside him smiled softly, and a paper flower shifted in her strange blue hair. "We are happy to have met you, Naruto." With that Konan turned back to her former teammate, watching the mix of emotions that passed over his face.
Unbeknownst to them, Nagato felt a sense of rising dread as he thought of the eyes that had both helped and destroyed him. Once he died, the doujutsu would be taken. He will come for me, Nagato thought grimly.
He looked at the blond boy standing in front of him with silent gratitude in his eyes, and thought of another, masked person. Then he turned to look at his beautiful partner, who meant everything in the world to ifhe took it, it will be over for both of them.
That was all the warning he gave. The boy looked at him, confused, but Konan acted. She grabbed his arm and flew away on paper wings, barely managing to escape the vicinity before the area burst into fire and Nagato's body turned to ash.
Many days later, Uchiha Obito screamed in rage as he came upon the destruction that had once been Uzumaki Nagato. It took a long time to calm himself down, but when he did he remembered something he had saved as a last resort.
After months of careful preparation, he pulled a single seal from the mouth of the Gedo Mazo.
A small blond boy yawned lazily and stretched out in the sheets. Bright light filtered through the windows of his room, and remnants of cup ramen littered the floor. He opened his eyes slowly, prepared for another full day of hard work and studying the fine art of enka.
The ceiling was the first thing that set him on edge.
Tents didn't have ceilings.
He sat up straight, and noticed that he was in a proper bed.
And they didn't have beds, either.
Upon this realization, Naruto burst into action. He was training, after all, and it was only fair to assume that they would test him in his weaker areas. He crossed his legs on the bed and brought his hands together, concentrating a pool of chakra in his core. After he felt that it would be enough, he pushed it out in a sphere around him.
When the small shockwave had passed, he opened his eyes again to peer around the room. The same room with its rickety bed and dirty windows and cups of ramen. He took a moment to wonder exactly how they had gained so much information about his former home, but…
He slid out of the bed slowly, feeling extremely disoriented. It was like his legs ended much higher than they should, and everything was suddenly larger. A few wobbly steps, and he stood in front of the wooden dresser, pulling open drawer after drawer and examining the mundane things inside them. He lifted up a piece of orange clothing, and raised an eyebrow. There were underpants much too small for him.
With that, he turned to the door, determined to make sense of what he had gotten into. Before he managed to turn the doorknob, he felt a searing pain in his head and collapsed onto the floor.
Within the sewer of his mind, a Demon Fox was getting irritated.
"Fine. Take your own time. It makes no difference to me."
Naruto heard the voice pulsing in his head, and brought a hand up to nurse his skull. He opened his eyes slowly only to look into a pair of red eyes. The realization hit and he pushed himself off the stone ground, narrowing his eyes. He immediately looked up to check the seal; it was still strong. After having his father redo it, he felt like it would never loosen again. The giant beast was crouched up against the bars of his cage, watching him expectantly.
"What do you want? You never call me down here," he said sharply, senses at full alert.
"After watching you react, I've decided it would be best for me if you knew," Kyuubi told him cryptically, "that blasted Chibaku Tensei has weakened me, so I had to wait until I recovered before calling you here."
"Why should I listen to anything you have to say?" Naruto snarled. His hand automatically clenched into fists at his sides, but not as aggressively as usual. After witnessing B speak with Gyuki and feeling slightly jealous of their relationship, he had planned to speak to his bijuu one day. But today was not that day.
"How much do you know about the Rikudo Sennin?"
Naruto was taken aback for a moment. The look in the fox's eyes told him that this was something serious. He kept his guard up, but mentally ran though everything his sensei and Ero-Sennin had told him about the legends of the first shinobi.
"He was the God of Shinobi, the most powerful one in existence," the blond replied reluctantly.
"No, what types of jutsu was he known for?"
"I don't know."
The giant fox did something akin to a sigh. "He was known for his powerful Space-Time jutsu, a branch usually controlled using fuuinjutsu. With his Banbutsu Souzou, he controlled chakra and space itself. You must already be familiar with space-jutsu. Your father used it in the form of Hiraishin with his teleportation seals."
"What are you trying to tell me?" Naruto was slowly becoming more and more on edge. Kyuubi was behaving too differently from how he normally was. The giant beast was not even attempting to trick him into pulling the seal off, and that in itself was already suspicious.
"There are also jutsu that depend on time, and use time seals. Six years ago, one of these seals was used to reset the world."
Naruto barely understood what the fox was telling him. Seals with time? What was all of that? The fox was trying to trick him again… and with more subtle methods, this time. "No such thing happened six years ago," he snarled.
"You don't remember any of it. For the last six years you were in a place were no memories could be kept, the place where the time seal transported your consciousness while the world rewound. I, however, remember everything, because I am a creature of pure chakra. I spent the time watching from the seal, tracing the path of the world. The only reason you still remember the state that is long gone is because you contain me and some of my power is with you. "The beast settled down on the floor. He was in a bad state, weak from chakra drain, the outline of his ribcage clearly visible beneath a thin layer of skin and fur.
"I don't understand," Naruto frowned. He had never been good at ninjutsu theory and he had no clue about any part of fuuinjutsu. He had planned to have Jiraiya teach him one day… but that dream had been lost a while ago.
"You don't need to. There are only a few things that you must know. The future you know has been erased, and you are back where you were six years ago. Only the other Jinchuuriki who have come into contact with their bijuu have lived through the years that you have. I have a vague understanding of how stupid you are, so I advise you to think of it as time travel," he explained, "But you should probably wake up. I believe a small human is attempting to kill you while you sleep."
And with a smirk, the Kyuubi slowly disappeared and Naruto was thrust out of his mind.
Another searing pain formed on the side of Naruto's cheek as he immediately sat up from where he had collapsed on the floor. In front of him was a pair of legs. He carefully nursed the side of his face that had suffered from the vicious punch and looked up to see who his assailant was.
"First day of being a genin and you're SLEEPING ON THE FLOOR? BAKA! We were supposed to meet half an hour ago! Get up or we'll be late and Kakashi-sensei will fail Sasuke-kun too!"
The pink-haired girl didn't bother to respond, instead opting to drag Naruto out of the window next to the bed that she had entered from, grabbing his hitai-ite from his bedside on the way out and plunking it onto his head.
"Sakura-chan, I didn't eat…"
"Good. Sensei informed us that we weren't supposed to eat, remember?"
Naruto was in a special state of confusion. Sakura was young again. She had been learning more than punches from Tsunade baa-chan. But this was a little extreme…
He looked around, still somewhat in denial. Around him were the familiar sights of Konoha, perfectly normal even though Pein had destroyed everything only a few months ago. Just how much reconstruction had they done while he was away?
The Kyuubi's words were beginning to come up in his mind… something about a time-jutsu that had reset things. That could be why he felt so much smaller than he remembered, and Sakura still had her long pink hair. It could also explain why the villagers were mulling about their daily lives in a village that looked perfectly fine. He went along in silence.
They reached the genin training grounds in record time, since Sakura was practically running and dragging Naruto behind her. When they arrived, a young dark haired boy was leaning against a tree looking utterly bored. Kakashi-sensei was nowhere in sight.
"I brought Naruto! Is sensei here yet?" Sakura asked him, out of breath.
Naruto slowly looked up from where he had collapsed, panting from the running he had gone through. For some reason he was still slightly disoriented and easily tired. The moment his eyes met the other boy's, he stilled.
Sasuke… Sasuke is here. And he's young. He… hasn't left us yet. That means… if Kyuubi really was telling the truth… time travel back to when I was little…
Naruto suddenly burst into a wide smile and ran towards the gloomy boy who hadn't yet graced Sakura's question with an answer. He threw his arms around the boy and squeezed as tightly as he could, marveling at the fact that his friend was there and not off somewhere else after betraying them. This was the old Sasuke, the one he knew best.
The Uchiha who he was hugging spluttered, "Oi…what are you…I can't breathe…let go of me dobe!"
Sakura watched in horror as the Dead Last hugged poor Sasuke as the Uchiha boy desperately tried to untangle himself from Naruto's arms. Unfortunately, the blond had a good grip and he didn't budge.
"Gerrof!" he pushed again, and Naruto slowly pulled back, looking at him with shining eyes that scared him a little.
"Sasuke… you're here..." he muttered happily, holding his friend at arm's length.
"This is so wonderful…"
"Our test was supposed to start an hour ago! Where did you expect me to be, at home sleeping like you were? Get away from me, you're too close! Too close!"
"That's right!" Sakura cheered, "Sasuke likes girls!"
"Kakashi-sensei is always an hour late, we've got lots of time! And now that you're here we can be friends, can't we?"
"Not a chance! Stay away!" Sasuke reached into his pack and brought out a kunai, brandishing it in front of him with a gleam in his eye. Naruto didn't pay him any heed, already lost in the realization that he had technically succeeded in reuniting team seven, even if someone else had actually done it for him. Along with that came the slow but steady knowledge that Kyuubi's words were beginning to fit together. He had traveled back in time.
"I can do things over again…" he whispered to himself quietly, ignoring the strange looks that his teammates were giving him. He turned around and gave them both wide smiles, "Alright, we're going to pass this test and become genin!" While he was doing so, he might as well lead them down the right path, "And that involves teamwork!"
"What's gotten into you, dobe?" Sasuke asked with his arms crossed, "There's no way I'm working with a half-brain like you. I'll pass the test myself."
"You can do it, Sasuke!" Sakura cheered, watching the Uchiha longingly.
"Hn. Where is Kakashi-sensei anyway? He's almost an hour late."
"I already told you, he's always an hour late. Every time. Lateness is a part of his being," Naruto explained.
"How would you know that anyway? We all just met him yesterday," Sakura huffed, "Being late once doesn't guarantee that he's always late. Shinobi have to be disciplined."
Ah. Right. He really needed a plan for this before he messed something up.
"I've heard about him from the other jonin-sensei," he explained, "Oh look, he's here," he pointed to where a tall figure in a mask was approaching the training grounds. Sakura and Sasuke both turned around with accusing glares as he arrived.
"You're late." Sakura pointed out.
"Mou, sorry, sorry. I found a lonely cat and had to give it some food because I felt sorry for it. Unfortunately it didn't seem to like the dog food I had very much, so I went and bought it some fish," he scratched the back of his mask, surveying his genin.
Uchiha boy. Well built for his age, sensible clothing for combat, and serious expression.
Haruno girl. Not much muscle, but lithe. Clothing was slightly more aesthetically focused, but it would do. Glanced at the Uchiha every few seconds.
And then his eyes settled on Naruto. Naruto, who was still in his striped pajamas and panda bear sleeping cap with a hitai-ite haphazardly dangling around one of the panda's ears. Body shape undeterminable due to horrible choice of clothing. Oh dear…
"Naruto, I cannot believe I am saying this, but that orange jumpsuit is actually preferable over your current outfit," Kakashi said lazily. "Sleeping problems?"
"No, sensei," the blond boy said seriously, "Sakura dragged me out of bed. I didn't have time to change."
"He was late," Sakura explained.
"No I wasn't! I was accounting for sensei's lateness in order to get more sleep for the test," Naruto added.
"My… lateness? And how did you know that?"
"I heard some of the other jonin-sensei mention that you were always late."
"I don't know his name…"
"What did he look like?" Kakashi drilled.
Naruto gulped. Hatake Kakashi had seen through his lies. "I don't remember…"
Kakashi sighed, but fortunately did not probe any further, assuming that Naruto was just making excuses for not waking up on time.
"Alright," the jonin sensei began, "I'm sure you already know that I have a test for you." He reached into his pouch and withdrew two bells, dangling them in front of him. "You three are going to try and take these from me."
Naruto watched amusedly as the bells mesmerized both his teammates. Sasuke saw in them the path to his brother. Sakura saw the path to Sasuke. He turned back to Kakashi, who was looking at him strangely for his non-reaction.
"You have until noon," the masked jonin went on. "And whether you succeed or fail, one of you won't be getting lunch," he narrowed his visible eye, "If you want to have any kind of chance, you must come at me with the intent to kill."
Sakura faltered, "but…what if you get hurt?" she asked softly.
Kakashi's revealed eye crinkled in a smile as he looked down at her. "If you manage to hurt me, Sakura-chan, you're free to take to my place as a jonin," he said dryly. Sakura gulped.
"Well, I'll set the timer now. I have a new book to enjoy while I do this, but feel free to attack at any moment." He drew an alarm clock from his pouch and set it down on the log. The moment he hit the button, Sasuke and Sakura were already heading for the trees.
This time, there had to be an easier way to pass. There was no way he would be suffering the Thousand Years of Death again. Coming up with an idea, he suddenly grinned. As they scattered, Naruto followed Sasuke into his hiding place. He knew that if he convinced him of his plan first, Sakura would follow without a thought.
"Oi! Get away dobe, you'll give my position away!" Sasuke hissed, attempting to jump to another branch from the one he was currently perched on. Naruto grabbed the boy's ankle before his feet left the ground, causing him to stumble.
"Wait! I know how we can do this. I have a plan. Just listen, ok?"
"Nothing you come up with would work. If you want, go serve as a distraction or something."
"You see that book he's reading, Sasuke? I know the ending," he smirked at the other boy. "If we time it right I could yell out spoilers and distract his hands. He'll be covering his ears. Then you can attack."
Sasuke squinted at the cover of the book in their sensei's hand, "That's ecchi isn't it? What kind of stuff do you read, dobe?"
Naruto shrugged, "I've never actually read it. I just heard the ending from … Ebisu-sensei while he was talking to someone else about it. He reads that stuff." He probably did. Closet pervert.
The Uchiha gave him a long look before finally turning his head away.
"Fine. You go distract him with the spoilers and then I'll get him."
"No! Actually, this is supposed to be a teamwork exercise. Kakashi-sensei will only pass us if we display teamwork. I know that because Sandaime-jiji used the same test. We have to find Sakura-chan," he explained.
"Ch. She's right over there. Opposite from us, in that bush."
"Let's go then!" He pulled Sasuke along with him as they both approached the girl's hiding place.
When they reached Sakura, she was crouching under the foliage, eyeing the bells on their sensei's waist. She didn't notice their approach until Naruto approached her from behind and put his hand over her mouth.
"It's me. And Sasuke", he whispered as she calmed down. "We have a plan. It requires you going for the bells."
"What?" Sasuke asked in a harsh whisper. "Why her?"
"Because you can distract him with that fireball jutsu after he covers his ears and then she can go in with a punch and take the bells," he explained.
"P-Punch?" she asked tentatively.
"Yup. We're counting on you Sakura-chan." Naruto gave her a thumbs-up as Sasuke quietly and slowly bashed his forehead against a tree in disbelief.
"I can't… I'm not strong enough to-"
"You're plenty strong Sakura-chan. Just punch him like you punched me this morning. Except from the back. I'm going in now. Sasuke, come in as soon as his hands are on his ears."
"Ch," Sasuke reluctantly nodded, hesitant to take orders from the Dead Last. However, if the plan failed, only Naruto and Sakura would be hurt, so it didn't matter.
Naruto calmly stepped out of the clearing, arms crossed over his chest as he faced his sensei head on with the same confident expression he had worn the first time.
"Ah. Pajamas is out while Pinky and Gloomy are still hiding. Interesting," Kakashi remarked, turning a page in his book.
Before saying anything, Naruto went ahead and threw three kunai haphazardly to give the impression that he was really charging into battle. Kakashi avoided them all and caught one of them in his hands, examining the blade while ignoring the blond boy standing in front of him. Then Naruto decided that it was time.
"That's an interesting book you have there, sensei. What's it about?"
"…Not until you're at least eighteen, Naruto. I may not have any idea what boys your age are up to these days but this is really not the time."
"Aww… I thought it would be really good, cause I heard someone talking about it yesterday."
"Another nameless and faceless jonin-sensei, I presume?"
"Well, yeah. He read the entire thing, but you don't seem to be very far in yet. I'll help you out, ok?"
"What?" Kakashi narrowed his eyes slightly at the pajama clad boy.
"So at the end…"
"NO!" Kakashi swiftly put the book away and raised his hands to cover his ears, "I don't need to hear it!"
"Well, the heroine, that girl from Kaminari no Kuni, meets up with the man that she had been seeing from before the war, and her lover comes to find them— "
"Katon: Goukakyu no Jutsu!"
A giant ball of fire came out of the bushes behind them and rushed towards the copy-nin. Kakashi deftly jumped upwards and missed the flame, staying in the air for a second before jumping back down. The moment his feet touched the ground, a swift punch approached him from behind. It was as powerful as only a girl desperately trying to please the boy who she admired could make it.
"Yes!" Naruto raised a fist in the air, proud to see Sakura making solid contact. She didn't yet have the inhuman strength that she would develop in the future, but all those times she had punched him had counted as practice. Even Sasuke gave her a moment's glance as he released his hand seals from the Katon jutsu.
Their glee was horribly disrupted as the skin Sakura had made contact with erupted into a cloud of chakra smoke. It had been a clone. Naruto sighed, he had already done everything his genin self could be expected to do, and he didn't yet have the proper taijutsu skills ingrained in his body to engage someone as powerful as his sensei in combat. Revealing the rasengan would be suspicious, and he didn't have the toad contract to use anything as advanced as sage mode. Otherwise, his inventory of jutsu was actually pitifully low.
He sighed and transitioned into a seal, preparing to release a Tajuu Kage Bunshin no Jutsu to get Sakura safely out of the way.
All three of them turned around to see Kakashi-sensei standing behind them. Although his mask covered most of his face, his eyes revealed that he was smiling.
There was a moment of silence.
"Eh?" Sakura asked, still in punching position.
"This was a test of teamwork, and somehow you three managed to successfully work as a team. Therefore I'm going to pass you. Welcome to Team Seven."
"Where was the real you?" Sasuke asked.
"I was in the bushes behind Sakura, reading. I heard you three talking about your plan, I was slightly impressed so I decided to watch you carry it out. 'Punch him like you punched me this morning,' eh?"
Sakura's face turned almost as pink as her hair. "Baka Naruto was sleeping in and I went to find him sleeping on the floor in his really messy apartment with empty ramen cups everywhere. I think I even saw a bug on the way in," she shuddered. "It took me forever to find him anyway, so I was kind of angry and tired."
"Sorry…" Naruto sheepishly scratched the back of his head. "You had trouble finding me?"
"Of course! Why on earth do you live in the middle of nowhere? I know which direction you walk after school but every shopkeeper I asked didn't give me any information about where you lived. Finally this kind oji-san from a ramen stand told me where you lived."
"Ah. Anyway, you all did well enough to pass. Sasuke," he turned to the Uchiha boy, "You came prepared and you are talented with ninjutsu. You were able to form the hand seals very quickly. That was what allowed you to catch my clone off-guard. Sakura," he turned to look at the girl who was bashfully staring at the ground, "That was a strong punch. Although you were hesitant, you saw the merits of your teammate's plan and preformed well in it. Naruto," he finally turned to look at the pajama-clad boy, "You have the ability to think well in bad situations. I didn't like the plan to ruin my book for me, but it was a good plan given the circumstances. You also found the best uses for your teammates."
"Yes!" Naruto pumped his fist in the air, and Sakura did the same. Sasuke smirked, looking generally pleased with himself. He reasoned that eventually, he would have to forgive the dobe for that hug. Eventually.
"You two may go, we'll meet tomorrow at the bridge at seven o'clock sharp. Naruto can stay behind for just a moment."
Eh? Stay behind? That had never happened before… but then again, he had to expect that many things were going to change. He had already begun altering things. Maybe that hadn't been such a good idea after all.
Once Sasuke and Sakura were gone – with Sakura making hopeful eyes at her teammate so that he would ask her out for lunch – Kakashi turned to Naruto. He picked up the kunai that the blond boy had thrown before, and examined it.
"I just wanted to mention that all your kunai are a little rusted. You're not taking care of them very well," he flipped it around, displaying the rusted edges. "I'm not much of an iryounin, but I know that if you cut yourself with this it'll be dangerous."
Naruto bit his lip, and then decided that he would go for the straightforward approach. It wasn't good to lie to Hatake Kakashi, he had learned that a long time ago.
"I actually get them like that, and I usually sharpen the rust away. I don't think the weapons store manager likes me very much…"
"Well…I think I played a prank on him once…" Naruto tried. It was probably true, he had played pranks on most of the merchants he met.
"Ah… show me the rest of your weapons then. I'll check over them. I was actually supposed to train you three today but I forgot and already sent two of you away so I have too much free time," Kakashi sighed.
Naruto narrowed his eyes. He was probably lying, Kakashi would never forget something like that. Ah well. The important part was that he couldn't let sensei see his apartment. He still vaguely remembered the day Tsunade had come over to speak to him about training with Jiraiya. She had taken one look at the desolate place and had him relocated with some of the Hokage's Shinobi-oriented budget. His new place had been so far from Ichiraku Ramen… it was a painful few years.
Kakashi, on the other hand, was very interested by the development. His ANBU senses immediately informed him that the boy was slightly different. He had trailed the three of them before, after the Hokage informed him that his new genin team would contain his sensei's son and the last Uchiha. Naruto had been, to put it lightly, an utter idiot. Now he was coming up with strategies? It was strange, in a good way.
"Uh… they're all back at my place. So maybe I could bring them tomorrow. Teach me a cool jutsu, sensei! I'll show it to Sakura-chan and Sasuke when they get back!"
"No, we'll just go to your place," the masked jonin lazily took out his book. "Start walking."
He noticed that Naruto was suddenly very reluctant. Interesting. Maybe there was someone in his apartment that he was hiding… after all, he had already heard of the attempt with the scroll of forbidden jutsu.
The boy slowly nodded and started walking out of the training ground. Kakashi read his book while he followed, keeping Naruto's orange bed-slippers in sight beneath the cover. The walk to the somewhat unsavory neighborhood where Minato's son lived was completely silent. Naruto was shuffling his feet along and Kakashi had his nose buried in the book.
"Er, sensei we're here," the boy mumbled, slowly walking up a pair of disintegrating stairs to an apartment that had seen better days. In fact, Kakashi had known this place. When he had been young, it had been a wonderful neighborhood, generally a good place for a young child to grow up. However, it seemed to have gotten exponentially worse in the past few years, which he'd noticed the day Sandaime-sama had brought him here.
Why? Ah. The jonin sighed inwardly. Kyuubi, of course. The more respectable people who had lived in the area had probably moved out due to their biases, leaving only the questionable folk behind.
He decided to rationally blame everything on Jiraiya-san, even though he knew his reasons perfectly well. The old man was his godfather after all. And he was probably out drinking somewhere.
He watched over the top of his book as Naruto retrieved the key and pushed the door open. They were in some sort of main room, which lead to a bathroom, bedroom, and kitchen. The first thing he noticed was that there were ramen cup wrappers on the sofas. Naruto immediately walked over to a shelf nearby and opened it, displaying a rather haphazard arrangement of weapons.
"These are just my backup tools. You're going to teach me how to make them sharper, right?"
"Right. Do you have a kunai sharpening block on you?"
"Then how do you keep your kunai from going completely blunt?"
"Well… I just buy more," Naruto frowned. It felt like he had said something wrong, but what could it be?
Kakashi sighed and rubbed his face in his hands. This was going to be hard. The boy was probably spending a ridiculous amount of money just on kunai if he was replacing them so often.
"Well, we should probably get you a sharpening block then. It only takes a few seconds to re-sharpen kunai when you have one. Also, this place is a mess. You have so much free time and yet it's still messy…"
"Oi! I went to the academy every day for seven hours!"
"…So much free time every day."
Kakashi was a little lost, and yet he knew exactly why it had come to this. This had started the day Sandaime-sama had shown him the boy's apartment. The old geezer was slowly trying to implement the idea into his mind in the hopes that he'd eventually come up with it himself. He sighed. It had worked. It seemed that he had fallen in. Minato-sensei, you had better be extremely pleased with me.
"Listen, Naruto. You live too far from the training grounds. I can't afford to send Sakura every morning to retrieve you," he said mirthfully.
"It's alright, I can walk fast! I'll be extra training!" Naruto didn't see what the problem was, he had always walked the distance, and Kakashi-sensei had never made a big deal about it before. Exactly what was changing?
"Mou… but I live in an apartment compound with some other jonin and chunin. I have an extra guest room that I never use. You can stay there if you like. My apartment is quite a bit smaller than yours, but it should work out." Kakashi was rubbing the back of his head again. After all, when his father had died, Minato-sensei had refused to allow him to stay alone in his family house, and had practically dragged him into his own home on merely the third day they had known each other. He was indebted, and what better way to pay it back than though sensei's son?
Do not accept, a voice called from somewhere inside his head. Naruto recognized it as the Kyuubi's voice. It was completely ignored as he took in what his sensei had just offered. The joy slowly bubbled up inside of him.
It wasn't the idea of leaving his place, he'd actually grown fond of the messy apartment. It was the fact that Kakashi was paying so much more attention to him this time whereas before it had been Sasuke-this Sasuke-that and he and Sakura had felt slightly left out. It was… nice.
"That sounds awesome! I'll accept on one condition."
Kakashi raised an eyebrow, "hm?"
"How close do you live to a certain place called 'Ichiraku Ramen?'…?"
After going to see if his sensei's apartment was close enough to his favorite food place, Naruto was back in his room packing up all his things. Most of his everyday ramen was going in the bin, some were expired anyway, but his premium ramen was coming with him. All twenty cups of it.
As a young boy with no parents to drag him shopping for clothing, he didn't have much of it, but he packed all the pajamas, underwear, and orange jumpsuits in his possession. It was strangely nostalgic, he still remembered the day he had first noticed his precious jumpsuit tearing at the knee. Ero-sennin had seen his sadness and had immediately taken him to the tailor and asked for something similar.
Brat. The voice in his head spoke again.
"Shut up Kyuubi," he said out loud. There was no need to talk to the fox again; he already knew he had travelled back in time.
Listen, you idiot. You've made a mistake. With a high jonin like him right next to you, you can't perform well!
"Kakashi-sensei is going to help me perform well— "
No you idiot, the goal! The mission! You still don't know what that is! Don't forget that this is Uchiha Madara's doing, you must find a way to get out or the world will reset itself again. As something descended from the Gedo Mazo that the time seal came from, I am aware of the trigger.
"Trigger? What trigger?"
The fox seemed to mentally sigh. Why must I work with idiots like you all the time? The trigger is the event that will allow the world to reset again. You see, time jutsu has no term for 'go back to the past' because it is impossible to map out time into past and future. According to time jutsu, past and future are equal; there is no way to distinguish them. So there is no way to perform a jutsu that will take the user back in time only once, and then allow it to flow freely. It must be based on a trigger. In this case, the trigger was the destruction of the Rinnegan. If that moment happens again, the world will reset in the same way it just did.
"Destruction of the Rinnegan?"
Yes, brat. For some reason, that Nagato wanted to help you. But he knew that Madara would come after his eyes, and if Uchiha Madara attained both the Rinnegan and the Mangekyou Sharingan your silly dreams would fail. So he used the last of his energy to destroy the remains of his body, and his eyes as well. In doing so, he greatly angered Madara, to the point that he was driven to use a technique that had not been called on by anyone except the Rikudo Sennin himself.
"So you're saying that if Nagato's eyes are destroyed again, I'll time-travel back into the past like I just did? So I can have as many chances to fix the world as I want?" Naruto grinned.
You fool! This is not a 'chance'! Every time this happens, the strands of time clash into themselves. If you allow it to happen again, you will distort the time stream even further, and the world might be almost unrecognizable.
"Distort the what?" Naruto sat cross-legged in the middle of the room and focused on the words. The Kyuubi had given him vital information the first time, and he was willing to give the creature another hesitant chance.
You may find that some things are…off…in this time stream. For example, you knew the ending to Jiraiya's book, Icha Icha Violence. But that book was only written in the future, while you traveled with the toad sage. How could it exist now?
"Ah! That's strange…" He frowned.
The section of the stream that clashed into itself transferred some events. So in this time, the toad sage has already written the book. The resetting has only happened once so far, and the changes are minimal, but it changes drastically with every further reset. You may find that in the next reset, none of your friends have been born because their parents never meet.
Of course, for Madara Uchiha this means nothing; it is just a different world for him to control. But you cannot afford to do this, because if a change happens in which I am transferred to another host as part of a distortion, you will loose all your memories of the future. Or worse, a distortion could occur in which you might never have been born.
Naruto shivered, and a serious frown overtook his face as he considered it. A part of his brain that had become slightly more childish as it melded with his former self still understood very little, but he still had the mind of Naruto of the future. The consequences were too large.
"What should I do to stop the trigger?"
You must make sure that the Rinnegan survives past the six-year mark from today, when Nagato will attack the village. There is one other thing I must tell you; the Madara currently living has none of his future memories.
"What? But then why would he risk the Time Travel?"
Because he will regain the memories when the trigger does not go off. Essentially, it is a jutsu that changes the world, and then puts you into it when it takes your liking. If this succeeds, then Madara will feel as if the Rinnegan is still in existence only seconds after he activates that seal, because the time reset will go on indefinitely until the trigger is not activated. He is letting the world play out until he finds it satisfactory.
"But…this would mean that I am working towards the same goal as Madara, the goal of not setting off the trigger."
In a way, yes. Except he does not know that Nagato joined you, he only knows that you defeated Pein. With your knowledge, you could convince Pein to join you before he attacks the village, and create a powerful living ally.
"True…so I have to save Nagato from himself. I'm good at that, really. Saving people from themselves," Naruto sighed. "This is why you didn't want me to live with Kakashi-sensei, because I need to do things that he might find suspicious. But I won't give up this opportunity, I'll find a way."
Fine. You can figure something out. However, although I am strong, you are still weak. You cannot do this alone. The only others who know the truth are the Jinchuuriki who have developed some kind of bond with their bijuu. Find them and recruit them.
"I can do that!" Naruto grinned. "This time, I'll impress him with the enka I learned from him!"
Please, leave that one for last …
Hello new readers! Believe it or not, this story was written in two months (I am writing this AN after marking it complete). As for warnings, hmm, occasional language *Hidan* and pervertedness *Jiraiya* and lots of fighting, but what would Naruto be without it? There is no bashing, and this fic would be considered gen (no-pairing). Of course, there is the one-sided romance that Kishimoto embedded into canon in the beginning, but that does die out eventually.
So this is generally a very fast-paced fic, and the main plot arc begins at around chapter twenty-two (after the chuunin exam arc).
Note: try not to look at the chapter titles too far ahead, I've recently realized that they have a few spoilers.