This is the final final final final revised version, love it or hate it but this is how it ends. Some of the nastier complaints (outside of valuable constructive criticism) I've been getting about this story have been making me quite depressed, almost to the point of suicide, so I have to do what's best for myself, sorry guys. I've tried my best to make this story realistic and entertaining to read and I just can't rewrite anymore of it. I can't make everyone happy as much as I would like to.
I love constructive criticism but sometimes the feedback comes down just too negatively and it's hard to deal with, you know.
There's going to be a sequel and that's what I want to write, and what I'm going to be working on. Period.
I changed some character histories PLEASE DO NOT YELL AT ME FOR ANYTHING AU. This is fanfiction and I will adapt the characters to how I think they will react in the circumstances I give them. Thank you. Enjoy.
Big thanks to Goldglow for willing to beta this chapter! Also I'd like to thank RandomCruiser for unofficially being my editor for these last few chapters. Her feedback has definitely helped me in finishing this story.
"TEME! Let me go!" Naruto screamed as he tried evermore to wriggle out of Itachi's restraining jutsu. He was sitting on the cold moist ground of a familiar cave interior, his arms restricted behind his back by what seemed to be invisible ropes while his feet were forced straight in front of him, bound together invisibly from ankle to hip, preventing even the slightest bit of separation. All he could do was jostle back in forth slightly, atop the moist grimy dirt of the cave's floor.
He sat right at the edge of the light that shone down from the ceiling, illuminating a familiar stone lectern. The Myael tablet. Even though he wasn't close or high enough to see clearly, Naruto knew that his name fell under the farthest column to the left.
After all, he had signed it in there himself, so many months ago.
When he finally recovered from his coma after his grueling battle with Kaguya, Naruto was devastated to hear the news of his friends.
The official word that night was that two unidentified masked people had broken Sasuke out, disarming and injuring hundreds of ANBU Shinobi in the process. Both individuals had kept their chakra masked of any identifying features, they'd used Fire, Wind, Earth, Lightning and Sand jutsus but they'd all been rudimentary level techniques, those that any adult shinobi would know upon graduation, so no one had definitive proof of who had actually rescued Sasuke.
But everyone, including the vindictive Raikage, had a fairly good suspicion, considering that the Uchiha's female teammate could not be located almost immediately after the man's escape. People suspected Kakashi too since no one knew about his whereabouts either, after that night.
Some thought Naruto had a hand in it too; that he'd woken up at one point but continued to feign unconsciousness until the rescue. Some suspected Tsunade, who since the breakout, was constantly bombarded with inquisition in the form of letters or censuring representatives from the other Kages, especially that of Kumogakure. Other suspects were anyone that may have ever been on amiable terms with the Uchiha: Ino, Rock Lee, Neji, Ten-Ten, Gaara, etc….
But no one had any concrete proof and Sakura was the biggest suspect.
Only Tsunade and Kakashi knew the truth of what had happened that night, the former had to explain to Naruto since the latter was still missing.
Naruto had been belligerent.
He'd exploded at Tsunade for not doing enough to help Sakura, for abandoning Sasuke to the Kage's extreme sentencing. He'd screamed that if she'd actually cared about Sakura she would have done what Gaara did, actually joining them in their rescue! If his perverted sensei had still been in Konoha, he would have yelled at him too.
Shizune had tried explaining Tsunade's difficult position to the boy: about how the woman couldn't have directly helped in Sasuke's escape because she'd be the first person people would suspect if she didn't have an alibi that night.
If Tsunade had done anything the woman would have given Kumo and Iwa an outright excuse for attacking Konoha. The brunette had explained about how even with the ambiguous circumstances surrounding Sasuke's rescue, Tsunade was already facing threats of war from Raikage A and Ohnoki. The prior because of his hate for Sasuke and the latter because of Suna's suddenly indisposed Kazekage.
Suna was well known as the Leaf's best and strongest political ally ever since Naruto saved Gaara from the Akatsuki, and there was an unspoken agreement that if you messed with Konoha or Suna, you were messing with the other as well. With Suna busy quelling insurrection spurred by questions of Gaara's ability to rule anymore in his current health (he apparently couldn't even step out into the sun anymore to address his citizens those days), Ohnoki wanted to use this rare chance to attack and destabilize Konoha.
Shizune had explained to Naruto that Tsunade couldn't even risk actually finding Sasuke or Sakura because then she'd be forced to turn them in, so all the Hokage could do was just send out the standard missing-nin reconnaissance team to avoid suspicion.
Perhaps under better circumstances Naruto would have been more inclined to listen, to even see that Tsunade was doing her best under the worst circumstances but at that time all he could see, in his mind's eye, was how his two best friends in the whole world were undoubtedly suffering right now; no home to return to, no one to help them, no one to even come to their rescue if they needed it, no family or friends…
Truth be told, Naruto blamed himself far more than he blamed Tsunade.
Why couldn't he have stayed conscious long enough to help Sasuke? As a war hero, he surely could have helped in pleading for the man's clemency. Or at least, given him a lighter sentence! Even if Sasuke was still given the same sentencing, with Naruto and Kurama's immense power, he could have easily broken the man free by himself, and then Gaara wouldn't have gotten injured!
Just because he'd been too busy sleeping…
Naruto had to squeeze his eyes shut that day, in the middle of the Hokage office, standing right in front of Tsunade and Shizune's melancholy forms, to staunch the flood of tears that threatened to burst from his eyes.
It was all his fault…
Naruto had vowed that day that he would make up for his mistake; that he would make sure all his friends came home safe and healthily, and that he would make the Kage's acquit Sasuke somehow.
But before he could do that, before he could even embark on locating Sakura and Sasuke's location, Naruto knew he needed to go to Suna first, to check on Gaara's recovery. He might even be able to aid in the man's recovery; ie, providing a chakra transfusion.
Tsunade had only told him about Gaara sustaining an injury from the night of Sasuke's rescue, she wasn't aware of the specific extent of his wounds, but they had to be pretty severe if even half the rumors about the ailing Kazekage were true.
It was only after Naruto arrived in Suna and after being repeatedly rebuffed by both Kankuro and Temari, and after breaking into the healing chamber where he'd been told Gaara was being treated and finding no one did Naruto finally learned the truth from the oldest sand sibling.
Gaara had died during the rescue mission: after he'd sent Sakura and Sasuke out of the window of the wind factory and sealed off the exit so no one could follow them, he'd been completely surrounded by all the remaining ANBU. Either because he was trying to keep his identity hidden by not using his most powerful sand jutsus or because he'd genuinely been overpowered by the sheer number of ANBU all attacking him at once but whatever the reason was, Gaara had been mortally wounded that night. Intent to not drag Sunagakure down -for this one decision that could have devastating impacts on Suna's foreign relations- Gaara had used every bit of his strength that night to escape without giving away his identity.
He'd saved Sasuke and Suna but not himself, dying that same night in both Kankuro and Temari's arms.
Naruto had refused to accept this as the end; refused to let his friend die just because he couldn't wake up soon enough. His thoughts had immediately thought back to Grandma Chiyo and how she'd been able to exchange Gaara's life for hers. Naruto was willing to do that, if it meant he could atone for his absence, but turns out the resurrection Chiyo had performed on Gaara that day only worked on very recently deceased people.
And Gaara was already too long gone.
Refusing to give up, Naruto had scoured the shinobi world during the year of Sakura and Sasuke's absence, eventually learning from Kabuto about the First Myael that if done properly could forcefully regenerate a deceased's body and push their soul back into them, thereby bringing them back from the dead. Kabuto had never seen it performed in front of him, only knowing about it through legends, rumors and old notes he'd collected during his espionage career under Orochimaru.
He'd warned Naruto that the jutsu was considered a plight upon nature, and may cause repercussions that they would not expect, unable to go into specifics because he only knew so much from his research.
But Naruto had been determined.
He would bring Gaara back; he would save his friend, no matter what.
And so Kabuto helped him summon the stone lectern, the legendary tablet that all Myael invokers needed to sign first before they could even attempt one of the rituals. Kabuto knew there were two other Myaels but he knew nothing about the other two and Naruto hadn't really cared to find out, because he was only interested in the First.
And perhaps, Kabuto regretted helping Naruto. Or was scared by the boy's resolve to do anything to save his friend. Or maybe he felt fearful that someone else would come along, in the future, asking him again how to call upon this evil jutsu. Or maybe Kabuto was just sick of being the conduit for a determined individual to do what they thought was the right thing, at any cost.
Whatever the reason, two months after the ceremony was complete, Kabuto killed himself.
Naruto only found out about the man's demise after he'd succeeded and had received a note in the mail from Kabuto, imploring him not to tell anyone what he knew about the First Myael, that Gaara's revival had indeed caused "ill-events" to start occurring in the world, without going into specific details. He'd gone onto explain that he'd de-summoned the lectern now, and that when Naruto died the secret should die with him –because by the time he was reading this note, he should have killed himself already.
Naruto had been floored by Kabuto's farewell note, choosing to detour even from his worldwide search of Sakura and Sasuke to return to the snake cave in which he'd first found the blue haired man again.
It'd been sealed shut from the inside out.
And so Naruto wasn't even able to bury or even thank the man that had helped him bring back Gaara.
He had no idea how Sasuke had managed to learn the secrets of the Myael with the cave sealed and Kabuto already passed, how he'd managed to bring Sakura back or even the circumstances surrounding her death.
He'd been in Otogakure, thinking Sasuke and Sakura might have retreated into one of Orochimaru's past hideouts, when he received notice from Tsunade: Sakura had been located but she was no longer with them in this world.
A corpse that was more than half eaten and revoltingly decomposed from scavenger rats, insects and vultures the like. There had been nothing physically identifiable on her, save for her clothes: Konoha's headband and the Lead medic ID for Konoha's hospital she'd had on her person. She was found next to a demolished home on the summit of Ghorma, next to a similarly decomposed, Fourth Raikage A's body.
The house had apparently been Sakura's Aunt's but due to a falling out with Sakura's father, the Aunt had severed all ties to them and so after her passing, no one knew the house was connected with the Haruno family, until now.
No one knew how Sakura and A had passed but forensics were able to ascertain that they had died on the same day, within hours of each other in fact, and people suspected they had the same killer.
Naruto had theorized Tsunade knew more about Sakura's death, or at least the circumstances surrounding it, than she was letting on, but no matter how much he pressed, the blond Hokage refused to divulge anything. Though, by the way she spoke, and the self-deprecating look in her eyes whenever someone brought up her deceased student's name, Naruto had wondered if Tsunade had played an unintentional part in Sakura's death.
He suspected Sasuke too, after all he was last heard of with the kunoichi, but had nothing concrete to support his guesses.
The suspicions and uncertainty drove Naruto to leave Konoha, determined to find out the truth of Sakura's death. He'd wanted to use the First Myael on Sakura, and even tried summoning the lectern on his own, but without Kabuto, the tablet would just not appear.
He eventually gave up and set off on a quest to locate Sasuke, hoping that with the man's vast intellect, and past history with Orochimaru, he would be able to bring Sakura back.
Uzumaki had expected that he'd have to spend quite a bit of energy convincing the Uchiha to bring their teammate back from the dead –Sasuke always found Sakura annoying and pointless as far as he could remember.
And so imagine his surprise when he first found out from Tsunade, again through postage, about Sasuke breaking into Sakura's grave, trying to revive her. It turns out the Hokage knew about the Myaels all along, and had described ambiguously in the letter how one could bring back the dead with them "but at a terrible price," and spoke about how she immediately recognized what Sasuke was doing when she witnessed him invoking the jutsu inside Konoha's east cemetery.
He'd set up some kind of force field so that no one could interrupt him while he was calling the First Myael, with a weakened also revived Tobi at his heels, but for some reason…the ceremony had failed.
Sasuke had been belligerent but managed to escape again without anyone catching him.
And then the rest was just a blur to Naruto, he had no idea what had went on from that point on with Sasuke for the man wasn't sighted again until several months later, cradling an unconscious though very much living Sakura Haruno, as he escaped pursuing ANBU.
Sightings of him were scattered from that point on, and even rarer in frequency, were sights of Sakura. The few and brief times she was supposedly seen, she was always in Sasuke's presence and always it was the Uchiha that took her away again when he sensed someone was watching them.
Naruto hadn't believed the reports about Sasuke having 'a fierce protective and possessive' nature over the pinkette until he'd finally seen it for himself in person. He'd returned to Konoha by then, scouring alongside the ranks of Konoha's ANBU in their search for Sasuke and Sakura.
By then, the natural disasters had already been getting quite severe; besides the giant whirlpool in the Land of The Sea that had claimed more than 800 lives, including Sakura's parents, the Land of Iron had experienced a very devastating earthquake and Konoha's agrarian economy was facing an unprecedented drought. Tsunade had explained with mortified admission to Naruto that Sasuke must have invoked multiple Myaels in his bid to save Sakura.
Naruto hadn't planned like all the other ANBU to send Sakura back to undo all the natural disasters. He hadn't planned for anything in fact. All he'd wanted, when he set off with the ANBU was just to locate and help Sakura before anyone else got their hands on her, to protect her in case someone tried to harm her again. And also save her from what was reportedly 'mistreatment at the hands of Sasuke,' as the reports of the few sightings of Sakura had also -to Naruto's bewilderment- described.
Naruto had no idea why Sasuke would be both 'mistreating' and 'possessively protective' of Sakura. Those things seemed paradoxical in his mind. He fathomed, most likely, that one of the reports written by the ANBU had probably just been wrong, or someone had misinterpreted the man's actions.
Which is why he'd been determined to find the Uchiha himself and get this entire matter straightened out personally.
He knew that with the man's strong IQ and Sakura's genius intellect, the two of them could surely discover some way of diffusing the world's nature problems without sending either Gaara or Sakura back to death. They were always so much smarter than himself!
But Naruto hadn't been expecting the level of Sasuke's psychosis when he finally caught up with the man. He'd proclaimed with the utmost look of obsession that Sakura was his woman now and that no one was taking her away from him.
Naruto had asked him why.
"Wh-why are you suddenly like this with her?" Naruto had asked in genuine confusion, blood dripping from both corners of his lips as he spoke. His entire body was adorned with nasty looking cuts and hemorrhages that were just weeping blood no matter where he moved but he still refused to stop. He was determined to save Sakura, and the man in front of him currently fighting him once again –just like they'd fought all those years ago at the Valley of The End.
And once more, he was determined to save the Uchiha from himself.
Sasuke, who was just as battered and injured as Naruto but also equally unwilling to give up, refused to answer the blond man's question. He just sent a chidori straight towards the boy's chest.
But the boy disappeared, being only a shadow clone and reappeared a few feet in the opposite direction.
"Sasuke, you're hurting Sakura, can't you see that?" Naruto had tried pleading again, only once more to be met with silence and another masterful hack from Sasuke's kusanagi. This attack came a second too fast for him to prepare enough chakra to defend and Naruto's left kunai knife got sliced in half, right in his hand.
Breathing heavily, Naruto looked at the weapon for a second before tossing it on the ground, clutching onto his one remaining knife now.
As always he had to beat sense into this man.
Naruto rushed forward, seemingly going on the offensive with a chakra infused fist to the man's left jowl, the man dodged it but realized too late it was only a fake offense and orange chakra tendrils, almost looking like kurama's tails shot up from the ground to wrap around his entire torso, immobilizing him.
Naruto landed right in front of his bound form. "Sasuke, I don't understand…why did you suddenly change? You never had an interest in any girl, let alone Sakura…"
The Uchiha squirmed furiously in the kurama tails, desperate to get free.
"…not until her death-"
"SHUT UP!" Sasuke had suddenly exploded, completely obliterating Naruto's chakra bind in that moment, and blasting Uzumaki straight into a tree behind, then another tree, and then one last trunk collapsed as Naruto's body slid down from it.
Before he even had time to recover, what felt like 10,000 needles went sent piercing through his skin, on all parts of his body, and Naruto screamed in absolute agony. He literally left skin and bits of his clothes stapled to the tree as he forced his body into the air, a second before Sasuke's kusunagi came slicing down to cut down the deforested trunk even more.
The entire left side of Naruto's left leg was bleeding as that was where he'd lost the most skin and his blood dripped down onto the forest as he suspended himself in the air, arms crossed in front of him as Sasuke came charging at him again.
This time his chakra was ready for him and Sasuke's katana clanged against his chakra shield, summoned by the juxtaposition of his forearms. While they were close to each other, Naruto used that moment to speak again: "Did something happen between you two-"
"I SAID SHUT UP!" the Uchiha screamed furiously, katana charged once again to hit his friend.
Naruto's reverie broke off as green light engulfed the his entire vision, emanating straight from the lectern that Itachi was doing some fancy jutsu signs in front of. The light lasted for 3 seconds before being sucked in by Itachi's folded hand signs, resonating within the middle of his pressed index fingers as he continued to chant.
Itachi was still as complex and enigmatic as when they first met, though it did seem like everything he did now was for in the best interest of his brother -Naruto would give him that.
But still such an ass.
The bastard Uchiha had kept him imprisoned and sealed away in some sort of mind trap for 95% of the time he stayed with him, and even worse, he freaking pretended to be Tobi/Obito the entire time!
Actually, he wasn't even sure the entire extent of Itachi's mind controls during his entire time with the man. Most things seemed kind of a blur now that he was thinking about it and those that he had recallable memories about he wasn't exactly sure about them actually having occurred.
Like, vaguely, he recalled seeing Gaara at one point…but then the man had to leave for a reason he refused to say? Naruto wasn't sure if that was real or not.
Even now Itachi was still keeping him restrained! The man was performing some sort of jutsu that required the Myael tablet that would supposedly undo all of Sasuke's reanimations that were plaguing the world and naturally mitigate most of the natural disasters.
Leaving only the disasters caused by his own, Gaara and Sakura's revival.
And Itachi said he had a plan to deal with those too, but again refused to go into details for Naruto.
"TEME! BASTARD! SON OF A-" the blond man wasn't able to say anymore as Itachi, who had finally grown sick of the blond boy's tirade cast a silencing jutsu over his lips.
Naruto found himself wandering into Konoha about two days later, dazed and with no coherent recollection of what had happened between him and Itachi inside the Myael cave.
He just had a very definitive feeling that Itachi had used him somehow to undo all the reanimations.
Or at least, he'd taken part somehow.
And indeed, all the attacking reanimations were undone along with all the heavy frequency of naturally occurring disasters.
Years passed and he became Hokage, marrying Hinata soon after.
Every day, in addition to his leadership duties, Naruto poured his energy into research and seeking out his friends. He sent out reconnaissance team after reconnaissance team but no matter how much time passed, no matter how much man hours he poured into the effort, no one could ever find a trace of either Sasuke or Sakura. Or even Gaara for that matter.
The former Kazekage had said he would come back after a year (or so his fuzzy memories led him to believe) but his red haired best friend had never fulfilled this promise.
Itachi couldn't be found again either. The last of the Uchiha clan seemed to have ended with his younger brother and there seemed nothing anyone could do about it.
Naruto poured his energy into being a loving husband, devoted father, and fairly competent Hokage for the rest of his life. And indeed he was remembered in history as one of the best Hokages to ever exist.
The same could not be said about Sasuke.
Whether it was this generation or the next, people never forgot about the tale of that cruel and sadistic Uchiha that had nearly destroyed the world, just like his countless ancestors before him. "The cursed clan" everyone called the now extinct bloodline.
History recorded him along with his clan as one that carried the blood of a million innocents, because time eventually beget obscurity and people eventually forgot the stories a certain blond Uzumaki man told about his tragic best friend and how the man had at one point saved the world from Ten Tails and Kaguya. How he regretted never being able to find out what had happened to his best friends, Sakura and Sasuke, before dying of old age.
How was Itachi revived?
It is in the story (the scene where the The Third Myael was confronting Sakura over her grave) that Itachi was revived by Sasuke (without the younger Uchiha realizing it) because the process to summon the man was delayed due to the fact that he'd been revived before by the Edo Tensei already, so his soul took a lot of time before it found its body again.
By that time Sasuke was already focused on reviving Sakura with the Third Myael, and only her, (because he thought Itachi couldn't be brought back period) and knew that he could only ever invoke The Third Myael once in his lifetime, so he chose to bring back Sakura instead of his own brother.
It is implied that at some point after Sasuke invoked the Third Myael, Itachi managed to depose the real Tobi/Obito and took his place by wearing his mask and keeping his identity a secret to the world.
THERE IS A REASON WHY ITACHI DIDN'T RESCUE SAKURA DURING THE YEAR OF HER CAPTIVITY. A reason I will reveal in the sequel.
I decided to take out the Third Myael fight Scenes all together for now, I'm going to probably include them in the first chapter of the sequel as a flashback, maybe.
I will try to answer any and all questions you guys have in the sequel.
Someone told me I really shouldn't write a sequel, implying I would be unnecessarily elongating the story line.
But you know, in a lot of dark stories, it ends with like an epilogue of how the abused girl sort of grows to forgive the man, or implies that with time she was able to forgive him, just sort of left ambiguously open.
I dislike that. Sorry.
Very obviously Sakura is in limbo with how she feels for Sasuke. She can't decide whether to hate or to love him, and she's not even at the point of deciding on 'can I forgive him' or 'cannot I not forgive him.'
And if she can't forgive him, how will she deal with his obsession? He obviously cannot handle rejection to any extent.
Sasuke too is also in a sort of character purgatory. Yes, he "apologized" to Sakura, but notice how he only did that when he had no other choice/method of keeping/convincing her to stay? LOL
Yeah, so as a last resort, Sasuke is willing to admit his wrongs. That doesn't sound very repenting to me. Sakura was right when she accused him of trying to manipulate her again lol.
So those two, among a lot of other unanswered questions/unrevealed mysteries, are the reason why I want to write a sequel.