A/N's will be at the bottom.
Disclaimer: I don not own Naruto or any of its character.
Naruto sighed as he rolled his shoulders. His eyes shut in concentration he did his best to formulate how this next battle would go down. Kurama padding up next to him merely grinned at his partner.
"I'm assuming you don't have a plan whatsoever, am I right?" The fox asked through their mental connection. Watching silently the beast could only wonder how the Iwa team in front of them would fair in battle.
Scoffing the blonde clicked his tongue in irritation. "I do have a plan you overgrown plush doll."
"Which is what exactly?"
Naruto gave a ghost of a smile before opening his blue eyes. The team in front of him looked a little impatient. Somehow he knew that wouldn't bode well for him. "Try not to die." Kurama barked in laughter at the response.
"I don't know kit…" Naruto narrowed his eyes before ducking quickly and spinning on his heels. His arm shot up to catch an outstretched limb planning to stab him with a kunai. "This one seems to have it out for you." Kurotsuchi glared murderously down at Naruto who only grimaced back.
"I don't believe I said start…" Swiping out her legs from underneath her Naruto brought them both to the ground. The kunai clattered out of her hands as he pinned her wrists above her head and shifted the weight of his body on top of her. She struggled to get free cursing.
"Now that wasn't very nice was it Kurotsuchi?" He reprimanded softly, ignorant of everyone around them but her.
"Arashi!" Her pink eyes flashed dangerously. Naruto frowned at that and for a moment he felt a pang of regret.
"Don't forget your other opponents' boy! My granddaughter is not the only one here to kill you! Doton: Saretsu!" Onoki shouted from behind.
Naruto cursed under his breath as the earth began to shake underneath of him. A giant pillar of earth erupted from the ground and began to fly towards the blonde. Forced to let go of Kurotsuchi he hopped backwards into the air.
"Not so fast!" Blue eyes widened as a hulking mass appeared next to him fist raised. Akatsuchi screamed a war cry as his punch hit nothing but air and red blur flashed by him. Landing back on the ground he begrudgingly went and stood by his Kage and friend.
"Sorry can't let you do that quite yet potbelly." Kurama said grinning with Naruto on his back looking more than a little annoyed.
Akatsuchi merely looked all the more determined to fight. "I will win this for Iwa and for Tsuchikage-sama!"
Naruto climbed off the fox's back and stood to his full height. "Thanks…" He muttered under his breath.
Kurama merely inclined his head in acknowledgement before saying, "Try not to get distracted by the pink-eyed bitch next time."
Naruto rolled his eyes but nodded his head in agreement. Turning to the Tsuchikage he frowned. "That was a cheap start. I never said we were ready."
Onoki laughed. "We're ninja boy, all we are is cheap. Or have you forgotten that?"
The Kage stiffened as he felt cold steel at the base of his neck. Turning his eyes, he saw the blonde glaring at him coldly. "I've not forgotten anything Old Man… the real question is have you?"
"Die!" Akatsuchi pulled out a set of shuriken and threw it at the missing-nin. The sharp metal sailed into his shoulder and bit into his skin painfully. Blood seeped through the wound slowly staining his clothes red. Tilting his head though Naruto just laughed. "That..." The blonde said as he began to glow white. "Was a very bad idea."
Kurotsuchi was first to realize what was going to happen next. "Akatsuchi, grandfather move!" Forcing chakra to her feet she quickly backpedaled. She needed to put space between them. Akatsuchi hurried to grab Onoki as the blonde shouted in vicious satisfaction.
"Bunshin Daibakuha!" The entire area was engulfed in a black smoke. Kurotsuchi felt the blast as it seared the skin of her forearms. It blackened the area instantly. She hoped her grandfather and teammate got out unscathed, but she also knew a cheap trick like that wouldn't kill them. She had her own worries after all.
The smoke surrounded her eyesight as she looked for the enemy. She coughed inhaling the nasty fumes. "Where did he go?" She thought as the black smog began to clear.
"Kurotsuchi above you!" She heard someone shout from the distance. Her head whipped up in alarm. Immediately she saw Naruto on the back of the fox high in the air above her.
"I know! Katon: Dai Endan!" A giant column of fire erupted from the fox's mouth. Blazing and furious the flame engulfed the entire area. Naruto simultaneously went through his own series of hand seals.
"Futon: Daitoppa!" A blast of wind tore through the air colliding with the massive fire jutsu. The two jutsus combined roared to life quickly evolving into something uncontrollable.
"Shit!" Kurotsuchi's eyes widened as the Katon jutsu grew ten times its original size. She didn't have enough time to avoid that. Quickly gathering her chakra she tried to put up a defense wall.
"Doton: Doruki Gaeshi" She slammed the palms of her hand into the ground and lifted up the earth beneath her into a giant wall. Digging the heels of her feet in she prepared to make a stand.
"Please let this hold…" The giant flame crashed into the earth wall and the heat licked at her skin as the blast decimated the area surrounding her. The wall would only hold for so long.
Naruto watched apathetically as Kurotsuchi was put under the immense pressure of the blast. He wondered if she would be able to hold it. He didn't think she would, but he commended her for being able to put up the wall so quick.
"Doton: Doryūsō!" The blonde turned just in time to see giant earthen spears being shot at him. Cursing he quickly flipped off of Kurama as the fox dove to the ground.
The hardened spear passed right by the blonde's face as he moved out of the way. Landing gracefully on the ground he pulled out a set of kunai and flung them in the direction of the assaulter.
"Kage bunshin!" The three kunai multiplied quickly into over a dozen and Naruto looked as Onoki quickly pulled up a mini-defense wall. All of his kunai simply bounced off.
"Is this the best Iwa has to offer Old man?" Naruto mocked.
Onoki grinned, which unsettled the blonde. "Not by a long shot. Akatsuchi now!"
Naruto turned as a large source of chakra appeared behind him. "Iwa no Yoroi." Blue eyes narrowed as the hulking mass was now covered head to toe in a stone armor. "You've got to be kidding me."
The blonde attempted to hop away only to find his feet stuck firmly to the ground. Looking to the ground in surprise he saw his feet solidified in a layer of mud. "Not so fast now are you blondie?" Akatsuchi grinned sending a punch to Naruto's face.
Forced from the spot Naruto was painfully sent flying. His back landed violently against the bark of a tree nearly snapping the foliage in half. The blonde groaned. It felt as if sirens were blaring in his head. His vision blurred as blood dripped into his eyes.
"That hurt…" He thought angrily.
Akatsuchi on the other hand smiled at his accomplishment. "Didn't I tell you to keep your eyes up potbelly?" The giant of a man had not time to react as Kurama tackled him head on. Focusing chakra in his tails the fox pierced the stone armor easily.
He could feel his tail break skin as he stabbed the fat man in the shoulder. The man screamed. Blood gurgled from the back of his throat. Raising the Iwa nin above the ground effortlessly Kurama threw him towards the Tsuchikage grinning.
"Akatsuchi!" The older man yelled.
"That should slow that oaf down, though will have to get rid of him quick if Naruto wishes to end this soon."Glancing over to where he saw the blonde land, the fox was happy to see the missing-nin standing back up albeit a little slowly. The man didn't look to worse for wear just a little beat up with the occasional black eye and bleeding forehead.
Kurama grinned as he saw blue eyes flash red. "Yep, Naruto's all good."
"It seems as if will actually be able to watch this time." Mei stated as the battle unfolded before her. The silence within the dome seemed uncanny. No one spoke and Mei felt as if she was almost talking to herself. Everyone – kage and bodyguard alike – had their eyes trained on this battle. And Mei didn't fault them. It was mesmerizing.
It had been a long time for any of them to see a fight of this level. You didn't get to see jutsu like these thrown around often. Then again you didn't see Kages fight often either.
"He's stronger than we thought Mei-sama." Aoi spoke quietly to her. "The fact that he's made it this far is nothing short of amazing."
Sasuke who was standing no more than a few feet away from the man bit back his retort. Naruto was still nothing. It didn't matter to him if Naruto destroyed an entire village, the blonde would always be insignificant.
When it came time for Sasuke to battle his long lost teammate he would be sure to end it quickly. He would finally prove to the blonde his strength. He would finally show everyone the blonde's worthlessness.
"Yes…" Mei commented offhandedly. "But every ninja has their weakness." She finished clicking her tongue more than a little agitated.
Her green eyes followed the blonde as he moved. It was interesting to say the least. He fought with a fluidness and grace that was unknown to her. He looked so in tune with the things around him. It was like he belonged in battle. Like that was what he was meant for.
Still that didn't really matter in the end. Because for her village, she needed to come out on top of this.
So every minute, every detail of the battle she memorized. Every instant Naruto moved, every hand seal and jutsu he went through was recorded. Whatever he did she had to be ready for. Whatever he did, she would have a counter.
There had to be a weakness. There always was. One just had to look hard enough.
"Usually I would agree with you Mizukage…" A finally spoke. "And even now I still do agree with you, but this man will surprise you. Every time you think you understand him, every second you think you're closer to figuring him out he changes. You're always only ever playing into his hand."
Tsunade stepped into the conversation, forcibly tearing her eyes away from the battle. "You're kidding. While I'll admit Naruto has grown strong, stronger than anything I could have imagined he would become, this battle still looks like it's going nowhere. If anything Naruto looks like he's losing."
"You're still not getting it." Gaara spoke out. "You're still not asking yourself: what does Naruto hope to accomplish by this? What does he want? You're looking so closely that you're missing the big picture."
Sasuke could finally no longer keep his tongue. "And you seem to not realize this is Naruto. There is no big picture. All he's doing is making a bigger fool of himself than he already is." He finished sourly.
Kankuro growled. "I suggest you watch your tone Uchiha. That's my brother and the Kazekage you're speaking to."
Sasuke bristled. He stepped forward dangerously at Kankuro until a hand clapped firmly on his shoulder. Glancing back he saw Kakashi stare at him warningly. The one-eyed Cyclops quietly gestured around them and Sasuke could see all the Kage watching him carefully now, Tsunade in particular not looking happy with him.
Settling back down the raven grunted in resignation. Kakashi sighed in relief. It was always an uphill battle with the raven and thankfully this one had been avoided. Still, Sasuke really was starting to get out of control with his temper. The council was coddling him too much. The boy had the potential to be great, but he was too clouded with arrogance.
"As much as I'm enjoying this – which I'm really not – I'm still here." Everyone looked behind them as the clone Naruto stood there watching apathetically. The blonde gave a small two finger salute in greeting.
Choujiro pointed in awe. "It spoke."
The clone snorted indignantly. "If I were you I'd focus my attention back on the battle. It seems as if things are going to get a little more serious soon."
Kurotsuchi groaned and opened her eyes. "Fuck, what happened?" She tried to move, but felt an immense weight across her entire body.
"A giant wall of rock fell on top of you."
"What?" Her vision started to clear and for the first time she realized her situation. Lying flat on her back she finally recalled the earlier events. Arashi had sent a giant fireball at her and she had raised the earth wall in attempt to protect herself.
Kurotsuchi had forced a large portion of her chakra into the wall and at the last moment she just couldn't hold back the sheer power of the jutsu. And in the end the wall pushed back on top of her.
"Like I said, a giant wall of rock fell on top of you. It looked like it hurt to."
Her pink eyes tried to focus, but the light blurred things. Finally she was able to make out the figure next to her with blonde hair. Whiskered cheeks and blue eyes stared at her as he sat on top of the slab of rock.
"Arashi?" For a moment Naruto saw her pink eyes soften and the pang of regret came back to him. Though as quick as he had seen it, it was gone. And in its place deep rooted hatred and betrayal lay. "Arashi!"
The blonde sighed and ran a hand through his hair. Kurotsuchi underneath him struggled to get free. "I'll kill you!"
"I don't think you're in any position to accomplish that." Naruto said nodding his head to the girl. Half her body was underneath rock. The only reason she wasn't completely crushed was because she wasn't half as stupid as she made herself out to be and the seal he had placed on her at the last moment.
She stared at him furious. "Where are my grandfather and Akatsuchi?"
Naruto shrugged his shoulders leaning back. "There somewhere in…" An explosion went off in a direction Kurotsuchi assumed was about a mile or so out. "That direction." He finished pointing.
"Arashi!" She yelled again furiously attempting to flare her chakra.
Naruto looked at her sternly. "And I'll have to remind you that my name is Naruto. Arashi never truly existed. It's always been just me."
"Like hell! I refuse to believe that!" Her pink eyes were damning, but blue eyes refused to relent. It seems he would have to get this through her thick head. She was stubborn just like Onoki. Naruto guessed it was a family thing.
"Let me go! I'll kill you for betraying the village, for betraying m—" Kurotsuchi got quiet. The unbridled anger still lit in her eyes, but she said nothing more. Naruto looked at her hard for a moment before finally standing up.
"Fine. We'll do it your way." Cracking his neck the blonde turned and focused his chakra into his fist before sparing her one last glance. "Don't blink or you might miss it." Slamming his knuckles down on the rock the earth shattered underneath his hand.
He watched apathetically as Kurotsuchi's body was revealed – a thin layer of chakra surrounding had placed a protection seal on herself earlier. It had allowed her body to support itself under the weight of the rock. On top of Naruto's own seal which he secretly put on her caused her bones to become ten times denser than their original structure.
Had the seals not been added she would have been crushed. Easily, her bones would have shattered under the weight and she would have been useless. She would have been useless and dead.
He should have let her be crushed. That's what he should have done, but he wasn't here to kill. He had to remind himself that he was here to set an example, to prove a point. Nothing more, nothing less.
Slowly he watched her stand up and settle into a simple stance. One he knew quite well from weeks of sparring with her. While she outstretched her right arm she kept her left one tight and tucked in close to her body. "Are you ready Arashi?"
Naruto tensed his muscles, coiling them into a position to move. "I told you my name is Naruto." The blond phased out of sight and reappeared behind Kurotsuchi. "Arashi only existed in your imagination."
The Iwa jonin turned and lashed out with her fist. Naruto deftly caught it. Twisting her arm painfully Naruto heard the audible pop. Kurotsuchi bit her lip to hold back the pain. He'd just dislocated her shoulder.
Quickly focusing she kneed him in the stomach and the blonde felt the air leave his body. She used the moment of advantage. Taking a kunai she threw it at him. Naruto barely moved in time as the blade left a nasty gash across his face.
Not relenting Kurotsuchi went on the offensive. Attempting to sweep out his feet Naruto jumped in the air to avoid it. Using the momentum he pole-vaulted from her shoulders trying to gain space. Going through hand seals he focused chakra to his lungs.
"Fuuton: Reppushou!" A gale of wind tore from his mouth.
"Not this time…" Kurotsuchi thought. When the winds hit her a log was substituted in her place. Naruto was forced to twist away as a barrage of kunai hailed down upon him from the side.
"Behind you!" Naruto turned just in time to catch Kurotsuchi with his kunai. In her hand a familiar rock spear was held attempting to crush his throat. She applied more chakra to her spear as it snapped his kunai in half like it was a play toy. Naruto backpedaled defenseless trying to avoid being hit.
"You always were one for running Arashi!" Kurotsuchi yelled. "Every time we sparred, you always ran like a coward!" Throwing her spear Naruto pulled out his sword from the back and deflected the spear.
"Doton: Yomi Numa" Naruto had no time to react when his feet began sinking further and further into the ground. Naruto yanked his feet hard, but they wouldn't budge from the quickly drying mud.
"You've got to be kidding me…I fell for it again!" He thought pissed at his own incompetence. He watched carefully as Kurotsuchi went through a series of familiar hand seals. "She wouldn't dare."
"Yōton: Yōkai no Jutsu!"
"Fuck!" He cursed as globs of lava shot from her mouth. Kurotsuchi's kekkai genkai – he had learned previously – was no matter to play with. Especially when she was angry. Thinking quick on his feet he knew he had no choice, but to try and use one of his experimental jutsu. Concentrating on his hands and feet Naruto manipulated his chakra best he could trying to separate his elemental chakra.
He only had one shot at this.
Kurotsuchi watched indifferently as her lava shots went flying towards the blonde. He was finished. Once he was hit with those he'd be lucky to even survive. And if he did, it would be with severe burns probably ruined beyond repair.
"Goodbye Arashi…" She thought bitterly.
"Hey!" She looked up in surprise. "Don't you dare think I've died yet Kuro!" Her eyes widened as the lava shots merely shot past where Naruto was supposed to be and instead he seemed to be levitating in midair similar to her grandfather. The wind literally carried him like its own.
There was no time for her to think as the blonde came flying towards her with a giant ball of chakra in his hand. The pure power that radiated off of his figure screamed at her and she just couldn't move. Not even if she truly wanted to. If that attack hit her though, she knew she would surely die.
"At least…. At least it'll be from him." It was the only thing that crossed her mind as she watched blue eyes stare directly at her for the first time. It was like she was meeting him all over again. In the village where they would disappear for days just to train. All for the sole reason of becoming stronger.
She waited for the pain to come. She waited for something, anything. But in the end there was nothing. She watched heartbroken as Naruto's hand lay outstretched in front of her the chakra orb dissipated before it even touched her.
"You were supposed to move. I gave you ample time to do so." Naruto said letting his hand fall back to his side. Staring at her pink eyes he saw all the fight leave her. He saw all her spirit just whisk away. And for the first time in a long time he saw Kurotsuchi empty and broken.
"You called me Kuro…" She whispered softly just loud enough for him to hear.
Naruto was silent. "Yeah… I guess I did."
"Don't tell me you're giving up already Arashi?" Kurotsuchi said smiling. She held the tip of her ninjato at the man's throat. Arashi laid beneath her laughing even though the tip of steel bit into his skin.
"I give, I give! I told you I couldn't take anymore Kurotsuchi. You're just too good." Pink eyes watched as Arashi carefully moved the tip of her sword away. He was sweaty and tired. They both were, but for some reason it just brought her comfort. She couldn't hide the amusement in her eyes as the man she had come to know stood up and dusted himself off.
"You're damn right I'm good. And don't you forget it either." She boasted cleaning off her sword before putting it away.
"I won't so long as you admit my devilish good looks and daring smile could melt any woman's heart." She watched as sparkling green eyes stared back at her. Mischief danced across his orbs and when he smiled Kurotsuchi could feel herself heat up.
Quickly embarrassed she grabbed a kunai and threw it at her friend. She felt no remorse as he screamed when the edge cut his face.
"Hey! What was that for?"
"You were annoying me again." Arashi laughed at her response and she could feel herself begin to blush even harder. His laugh was soothing, melodious almost. She decided it wouldn't be too bad if he laughed like that more often especially if she was the one to make him.
"What?" She turned and stopped when she saw the most breath taking sight.
She hadn't known where they were or how long they had been there. When they had started fighting she was sure they had been in the village, but now she didn't know. What she did know was that the sunset here was absolutely amazing. She couldn't remember the last time she had seen it this beautiful.
Fading over the hills the orange glow lit up the sky. It was like flames dancing across the horizon to a beat she could never dare to hear. Even the stars peaked out from their hiding spots dotting the sky with glittering lights of joy and hope.
She was acutely aware of when Arashi grabbed her hand and pulled her along to go sit in a little patch of grass. They sat there watching the sunset together and Kurotsuchi couldn't have been happier. Stealing a glance at her friend she wondered when exactly he had wormed his way into her heart. She couldn't put a finger on it.
Hell, she couldn't remember the last time she had let anyone this close to her. She was always so guarded, so determined. Maybe that was the reason she had isolated herself from many of the people in her village. It wasn't like she didn't have friends, but it was more like they just respected her and in some cases even feared her.
All they saw was the future leader of Iwa. The Tsuchikage's granddaughter. The next in line to be Kage.
And for the longest time she was okay with that. She was okay with just being that person. She completely forgot about Kurotsuchi and who she was and what she wanted. At least until Arashi. He had come – almost a year ago now – and just lit up her world. It was amazing.
She couldn't imagine a life without him.
"Mhmm" Kurotsuchi agreed. Noticing a piece of his red hair had come untucked from his bandanna she tucked it behind his ear. Now that she thought about it, the red head always seemed to wear that stupid bandanna of his. He never took it off. Not in front of her at least, that would have to be remedied.
Quickly shifting herself in front of him she poked him in the forehead.
"Ow! What was that for?" He said rubbing the injured spot, a small pout marring his face.
"I'm going to take your bandanna off." She had meant it to come off as a question, but it sounded more like a command than anything else.
Arashi quirked an eyebrow. He raised his hands to undo the tie at the back of his head himself before they were smacked away by the Iwa girl. "No, I'll do it."
The red head tilted his head before giving a silly smile and nodding an agreement. Kurotsuchi blushed before wrapping her hands around Arashi's neck. Quickly finding the tie she undid the little knot and pulled the wrapping free.
Letting the garment fall to the ground harmlessly Kurotsuchi stared in awe. The man in front of her shook his head playfully, jostling his mane of hair. Short red spikes poked out everywhere, but she could tell that he cut his hair often. It was trim and neat yet at the same time looked wild and feral. For some reason she thought it suited him.
Unconsciously she lifted her hand and began to comb through his hair with her fingers. It was softer than she imagined it would be. "Huh?" Arashi spluttered indignantly. She smiled softly at the blush she saw rise to his own face.
Good. It made her feel nice that she could make him blush to.
"Would it be all right if I call you Kuro?" He asked sheepishly. Her pink eyes widened in surprise at the nickname and she was silent. Arashi quickly raised his hands in a placating manner thinking it was rejection
"No, no! Don't misunderstand or anything I really like your name, I think it's great! It's just… I really want to call you Kuro. I know it's stupid and you probably don't—"
"I like it."
Arashi stared at her wide-eyed before giving a big goofy smile. "Really?"
She smiled. "Yep," She said twirling a piece of his hair, "But just when it's the two of us okay?"
Arashi nodded. "Kuro?" He said testing out the new name.
"Tell me why." Tears formed in her pink eyes. "Help me understand." Sorrow lit her features and the same feeling of regret stabbed Naruto's heart. She took a shaky step towards him and placed her face in the crook in his neck. And then she started to beat on his chest.
"Why didn't you take me with you? I would have gone anywhere with you, you must have known that." She said sobbing. Naruto was silent as he put his arms around her. When Kurotsuchi fell to the ground crying he went down with her holding her close to him.
He closed his eyes in frustration. The regret and guilt just kept eating away at his heart. He didn't have the choice. He had done what he had to. So then why did he still feel like this?
"Was any of it even real?"
"I-I don't know."
He didn't even have the heart to tell her no.
"Doton: Ganchūrō no Jutsu!" Onoki shouted molding his chakra. Pillars shot up from the ground surrounding Naruto, Kurama, and Akatsuchi. Kurama ran quickly to try and escape, but was shut out as a pillar nearly sent the fox flying. And it wasn't too soon before a massive cage trapped the trio with no means to escape.
"Kurama do it!" The missing-nin shouted as he was fighting the other Iwa nin. Akatsuchi had reclaimed his stone armor, but was still bleeding heavily from his right shoulder where Kurama attacked earlier. Naruto grunted when he felt the man clip his bad shoulder.
"I need more chakra!" He shouted back. Naruto quickly nodded in understanding. Forming a clone the original shot off in another direction forming the ram seal.
Kurama's angry red chakra erupted around the blonde howling in anger. Knowing he was limited on time Naruto quickly shot the chakra off to his partner. The giant beast growled in excitement feeling more of his power returned to him. A sixth tail sprouted from behind and the fox seemed to grow almost another ten feet.
Onoki on the outside of the cage eyes widened. "Akatsuchi take cover!"
"Doton: Doryuuheki!" The giant man quickly formed a rock dome around himself.
Kurama bared his fangs amused. "It won't be enough potbelly man." The giant fox howled shattering the winds around him as his tails swayed threateningly. The winds picked up around them and Naruto quickly moved to the edge of the cage ready to move at a moment's notice. Knowing Kurama he was going to take the brunt of the blast as well.
Howling again Kurama sent his chakra flying as tiny balls of the corrosive red life force spread from his body. Naruto could feel the temperature rising in the area rapidly. He nearly seared the skin off his hand when one of the balls of chakra flew by him.
Kurama curled his tails in above him and opened his jaw. Focusing his chakra all the bubbles of chakra came slowly back into one condensing into a single black mass.
"Shit!" Onoki cursed. "What the hell is that? I can't let that fire…" Quickly taking his hands he began to focus his own chakra. It had been a long time since he had to use his dust release jutsu. A small orb of bright light erupted in his hands as the Kage molded it carefully. Slowly another boxed layer was added on top.
Onoki thrust his palms outward sending the box of light into the cage around the fox. His plan hadn't been to completely obliterate the fox, but it seemed he was left with no other choice.
The box quickly grew in size and enveloped the fox along with mass ball of condensed chakra. "Now!" "Jinton : Genkai Hakuri No Jutsu!" Kurama and the bijuu dama ball vanished into the light. Naruto merely grinned.
"Too late Old Man." Naruto whispered.
A wailing cry came from the Tsuchikage's jutsu as the box literally shattered to pieces in front of him. A dark beam of black chakra shot out from Kurama's mouth obliterating everything in its path. The Earth cage around them collapsed in on itself and Onoki lost sight of Akatsuchi under the rubble.
The earth shook from the sheer force of the blast. Anything and everything seemed to crack under the pressure of the chakra explosion. The Tsuchikage was blown back from falling debris. He was doing his best to stay focused. But everything was burning. The stench of flesh filled his nostrils.
How is it that thing could deteriorate so quickly? How could he have lost control of the battle? He thought he had had things under control.
"Akatsuchi!" Onoki thought panicked. He searched around in the arising chaos. "Kurotsuchi! Where are you?" Where had his subordinates, his teammates, his friends gone?
Life around him seemed to just erupt in flames. Smoke rose and the dust bellowed. And then finally things just stopped and lay frozen. Color faded away from reality and it seemed as if everything just melted until nothing existed anymore and Onoki was left alone.
"Not quite…" Naruto said walking towards the older man in the empty white space.
"Then where are we exactly?" Onoki questioned. He was a bit unnerved. When the blonde walked in he looked completely healthy. It couldn't have been a moment ago that everything had been falling apart and the boy had been in the middle of it all.
Naruto raised an eyebrow. "What no fight left in you Old Man?"
"I may be old boy, but I know when I've been caught. There's no point for me to continue fighting… not yet at least because be sure by the end of this I will still have your head."
Naruto quirked a small grin before taking a seat. "I guess that makes this a little bit easier then, but before we begin I guess I should ask if you have any questions."
"Where are we?"
Taking out a kunai Naruto began to fiddle with it in his hands. "I guess the best way to describe it is my mindscape." The blonde watched as Onoki was about to speak out in confusion but interrupted him.
"In theory we are basically chakra reconstructs. We aren't necessarily real. We're just configurations of our real selves moved into my mind."
"Then what happened before… the bijuu dama, the flames?"
"Not real. It was just a possibility that I was merely willing to take if things escalated to that point." The blonde threw the kunai at the feet of the Tsuchikage. "I will not hesitate to destroy you. I will not hesitate to destroy Iwa. Everything you care about, everything you love will burn at your feet. You'll watch everything fall to ashes."
The short man bristled at the threat. "Those are bold words for someone so young—"
"They're not words Old Man, they're promises."
Onoki was quick to grab the kunai and shunshin behind the blonde. The shorter Kage held the tip of the steel at the blonde's throat. "I am still a Kage. I am still your elder. And I will still slit your throat and leave you to be eaten by the animals. Do not test me because I will not be kind."
The Iwa nin stared into the blonde's eyes looking for any sort of vindication, any kind of emotion that showed the man's true motive, but they were just blank. There was truly nothing to this boy. That didn't make his words any less insulting though.
"You asked a question. I answered it."
"Fine." The Kage said sourly taking the kunai away. Naruto didn't even react as the small bit of blood dripped down his neck. "Are Kurotsuchi and Akatsuchi safe?"
Naruto closed his eyes. "Yes." Onoki waited for more but only found silence.
The elder man sighed as if in resignation and continued with the questions that placated his mind. "If we're here than what's going on outside?"
"I told you we're not technically real. Figments of our minds joined together for a single second. Outside we are still battling like we were or at least to everyone else we are. I assume you are aware of Itachi Uchiha?" Naruto asked.
"Yes, I am very aware of the Uchiha traitor."
"Traitor? Not so much, but that's a story for another time unfortunately." The blonde bit bitterly. "Still if you are in fact aware of him then you know the Mangekyo sharingan and its ocular powers. Itachi's sharingan allows him to use Tsukuyomi which distorts his victim's perception of time. This is similar. What may seem like hours in here is really only a few seconds out there."
"Then I assume the revised question I should ask is if our minds are in here, what are our bodies doing?"
"There still, almost unmoving really. But to everyone else we're still fighting. It's simple enough; once I caught you I ensured that Kurama would cast a small genjutsu to help fool everyone else." Onoki was silent. Honestly, he didn't know what to say. It felt as if the boy had him from the very beginning. Naruto only allowed Tsuchikage to believe what he had wanted him to.
"Did you have this planned from the beginning?"
Naruto shrugged. "That's for you to decide Old Man. Anymore questions?" Onoki merely grunted in response refusing to give the missing-nin any satisfaction. "Stubborn fool…"
"Then it's my turn to ask questions. Have you figured it out yet?"
"Figured out what?"
Naruto laughed coldly. "Nothing it seems like, but I'll try to clarify. Have you figured out why I've brought you all here? Why I intend to fight and beat every single one of you into the ground if I must?"
Onoki narrowed his eyes at the blonde. He felt like he was being mocked. He hated being mocked. "You're an arrogant fool attempting to make a name for himself. What else is there to this? You're strong I'll concede to this, but no one is untouchable. Once I find your weakness I'll exploit it… and then I'll destroy it."
"Always quick to anger aren't you Onoki. And I'd watch how you throw around the word arrogant Old Man, it's a sin for the pot to call the kettle black."
Naruto was quick to move as Onoki launched the kunai at his head. Standing to his feet the blonde stared down the elder ninja who only had hatred in his eyes for the blonde. "There's a certain privilege that comes with leading a village for as long as before you were even born boy. What you see is not arrogance, but wisdom!"
"I wouldn't call living through two shinobi wars a privilege. I wouldn't call watching your people die on the battlefield a privilege. I wouldn't call going senile in your age because you have let your life get ahead of you a privilege! I call that a curse." Naruto stepped forward the tiniest bits of anger lighting his voice. "You're accomplishments far exceed their writings Onoki, but what of the man you have become? Foolish, vain, blind, proud? You are a lot of things Onoki I just can't decide which one I hate the most!"
"And what of you! To what right do you have to stand before me? You are still naught but a child! No better than my granddaughter waiting to take my seat!" Onoki shouted.
"I wonder if you still remember…" The blonde asked losing his temper. Onoki growled not bothering to respond. "Do you still remember the First Tsuchikage's words to you?"
"And what would you know of our First Tsuchikage?"
"I know you thought of him a cheap old man. I know he showed you that the stone that represents your village is the testament to the unmovable will of the shinobi in your village. I know that you once possessed the will and courage that was needed of a Kage and that with every adversary you faced you did so with determination."
"Do not lecture me on things I already know." The short man's face was red with anger. "And I have lived by those words ever since they were bestowed upon me. I face every enemy of my village with the determination to destroy them!"
"But what about the determination to protect? In the name of the village why don't you protect those under your care? You've become so focused on being remembered, being famed among history you've lost the man who merely wanted to protect his village. You've lost the most important thing you held as a young man: the power to look past the now and into the future."
"I may be young and I may not always be right Onoki, but did you mot once make the same mistakes? You must trust that the younger generation will continue upon the legacy that you've created. Something is coming and more than anything I believe you already knew that. You're a crafty bastard if nothing else. Lead your village. Be the man you were Onoki. I have the confidence that when the time comes you'll know the decision you must make."
Naruto turned and began to walk away. "Boy!" Onoki called out. "Uzumaki!"
The blonde turned and cast a glance at the aging man. Blue eyes pieced the Tsuchikage and searched for something. In the end he grimaced. He wasn't sure yet. He wasn't sure if he had gotten through to him. He could only hope that he did because he couldn't waste any more time here.
"Time's up Onoki. We got to go." Onoki was about to call out to him again, but the blonde vanished before him as if he was never there. And before he knew it the Tsuchikage was opening his eyes again with the sounds of fighting blasting through his ears. Similarly his senses were coming alive again as if he had been asleep for hours.
"Tsuchikage!" Onoki looked and saw Akatsuchi fighting with the fox hot on his heels. The giant Iwa nin was calling out a warning to him.
The Kage quickly felt a chakra signature appear above him, but by the time he looked up there was no time to react. The last thing he saw was cold blue eyes staring down at him from above with a ball of chakra spinning violently in his hand.
"He won." Choujiro said.
"Again" Kankuro added.
Gaara smiled. "You had any doubts?"
At this Mei laughed at her fellow kage. "Kazekage I think we have all come to know of your unexplainable faith in the Naruto Uzumaki."
"Uzumaki-Namikaze" Gaara corrected harmlessly.
"Yes, my mistake."
Tsunade looked at the clone of Naruto that stood silently behind them. "Can you take down the dome now or are you on orders from the original?"
The clone said nothing as it made the ram sign and took down the barrier. "Kiri be prepared. It seems as if the original would like to move quickly in starting this next battle."
Mei looked at Choujiro and Aoi who both nodded in confirmation. "Whenever Naruto is ready we will be as well."
Tsunade looked at Mei, "Do you think you'll win Mizukage after watching him beat two villages already?"
"Does your village not have the confidence that you'll win if I lose?" Tsunade had the decency to look away at that and return to her own body guards.
"It wasn't a bad question though Mizukage. Do you think you can win against him?" A asked. The Kumo team and just about everyone else had their eyes focused on her now.
"Yo Mr. Nine-o has now beat both Iwa and Kumo, what does Kiri have hidden on the down low?" Bee backed supporting his brother. Yugito was quick to hit her friend and apologize for his bad rapping.
"Kitty-chan!" Bee received another punch. "Shit that hurt!"
"I told you don't call me that!"
"But you let Mr. Nine-o do as he pleases yo…" The eight-tailed Jinchuriki waggled his eyebrows.
Everyone sweat dropped at the duo. Still Mei turned to the Raikage and gave him her answer, "I don't have the arrogance that both you and Tsuchikage had going in. Is that answer enough?" Mei said preparing for a volatile response from A. It was none to say she was surprised when he started to laugh instead.
"Then I will sincerely enjoy watching you lose." A finished walking back to make sure Yugito didn't kill Bee or Darui who had decided to try and intervene.
On the other side of things Kakashi stepped up to his Hokage. "Tsunade-sama…."
The blonde Hokage was silent. Her hazel eyes watched as Naruto approached closer and closer to the group. "I know Kakashi…"
"What are we going to do if he doesn't want to come back?"
Tsunade felt her heart tighten. "He has to. And if not…. will make him."
Kurama walked back with Naruto to where the other Kages were waiting. He seethed at his partner. "What have I told you about using that technique Naruto?
"I didn't have any other choice Kurama…" Naruto said hefting Kurotsuchi up higher on his back. She was still knocked out cold from her encounter with his clone. And trust that when he got the memories back from the battle he was none too pleased. There was nothing to do about it now though. It would have to be handled later.
"No other choice my ass Uzumaki. You're lucky I realized what you did and placed the genjutsu over to cover you. Now tell me how long you were in the mindscape." Kurama growled from under his breath. He didn't understand his container's need to throw away everything on a whim for stupid prophecies.
"About an hour and a half…" The Tsuchikage which was held under his arm grunted in discomfort.
"Naruto!" Kurama stopped and glared at his container. Naruto sighed and eventually stopped as well.
"It won't happen again Kurama, but we're running out of daylight and I'm running out of patience. I need you right now and I won't take a risk like that again."
Kurama growled but took the answer for what it was. "This isn't over Naruto we'll talk about this when this is all over. Did it at least work?"
Naruto bit his lip. "Not exactly, but I did everything I could." He glanced down at the unconscious Kage in his arm. "Whether Onoki likes it or not though I know he'll do the right thing… and if I've failed I'll take care of it but no sooner." He finished hastily. The blonde walked ahead of the fox and all Kurama could do was shake his head.
He wanted to protect Naruto he truly did, but how did you help someone who refused to be helped?
As Kurama trudged after his friend he grumbled, "How the hell did I get stuck with potbelly on my back?"
Naruto walked up to the other Kages quietly. Walking up to A Naruto softly dropped both Onoki and his granddaughter Kurotsuchi. Kurama was quick to let the Akatsuchi fall to the ground as well.
"Fat ass dusted my fur." The fox complained licking himself.
The blonde looked at A quietly. "I've healed them so they're out of danger. Onoki should wake up soon, but I'm unsure of his two escorts."
A nodded and Gaara stepped up next to his friend. "We'll watch them Naruto."
The missing-nin nodded his thanks. "Two down three to go." Grabbing a bottle out of his back pocket he shoved two soldier pills down his throat. His body felt heavy and he was beginning to feel the drawbacks to using that particular jutsu.
He would just have to delay it best he could until after the battle. With the two most stubborn kages out of the way Naruto imagined that things should get easier. At least that's what he hoped. Things never did go as planned.
"I assume the Kiri team is ready?"
Mei smiled without a word. With her hand on her hip she walked out towards the field. Choujiro and Aoi were close to follow. Kurama watched and smiled wolfishly. "I have a feeling this will be fun." He told Naruto activating their mental connection.
Naruto frowned. "You'll take Choujiro and Aoi. I'll take Mei." Kurama's grin turned to a scowl, but he more or less saw it coming. The duo walked up to the center of the field or what was left of it anyway.
The past two battles had left the land scarred beyond return. Naruto had always thought that nothing good could ever come from when people fought, but they were ninja. What else were they supposed to do?
As the blonde man walked by Mei she was quick to grab is wrist. He stopped only momentarily as she whispered something softly to him.
"I have a lot of questions Naruto and I'm not leaving here without answers…"
A/N: So what did ya think? Good? Bad? Not so good? Drop a review and let me know. Going along with the second fight I'm still kind of new with these types of scenes. So if you could critique or give me some advice that would actually be great. I can't get better if you don't tell me what to work on.
Moving along I have to apologize for the wait again. I'm working on it and I'll try to get the next chapter out a little sooner. And regarding my other stories I'd appreciate it if I got some more reviews for Konoha Underground. And with Keep on Keeping On I've gotten a few people asking me to continue it as an actual story so what do you think? Should I leave it as a two-shot or add on to it?
With this chapter I hoped you like what I did with Kurotsuchi. I kind of wanted to focus on that a little bit more cause I actually really enjoy her character and wish she'd gotten more time in the manga. I'm also curious to see what you think about the interactions between Naruto and Onoki. Either way I hope you enjoyed the chapter and look forward to the next chapter because I'm going to have some fun playing around with Mei's character.
If you have any questions or ideas you'd like to give me just shoot me a pm whenever. Thanks!