A/N: NEARLY THREE HUUUUUUNDRED REVIEWS! This story is nearly at that mark! You guys are the best! When I first created this story I never once thought that it would graduate to become the massive and phenomenal hit that it is to day! And to top it all off, this is my longest chapter to date! Reviews inspire me to write like this so I just want to say...
...THANK YOU SOOOOO MUCH!
Still I return again! Things have been absolutely crazy for me as of the last few months what with the surgeries and all, but now at long last, I feel I can devote my attentions to this fic anew as I've intended to do! Of course, now that they're not cutting me OPEN anymore to work on my heart I've also come up with a quite a few new ideas! I can promise ya'll that the next few chappys are going to be nothing short of absolutely brilliant! So sorry for the wait!
Now that we've addressed all those issues, I just wanted to say: Thank you. To all of you who reviewed and have yet to review, and especially those who noticed my improved writing style. I look forward to hearing more from you as we continue down the strange, convulted path that is this story. I honestly cannot believe I've already gotten so many reviews for the first chapter alone, and now its so damn high I could cry with joy! Hopefully I won't dissapoint you guys! And with that...
...onto the next chapter! =D
Also, lets address a minor issue here in the previous chapter, Itachi placed a genjutsu on Naruto to make him panic, causing the chaos you're about to see in the pages below...
"There is only one thing that can thaw a frozen heart...
Let it Go
Elsa didn't listen-wasn't listening-couldn't bring herself to hear anything but the hammering of her own heart as she ran. It pounded in her ears like the drums of a great hunt, out for her blood, promising only pain and suffering if she turned around now. And so she ran with everything she had, thrusting herself through the throngs of adoring-and now panicking-admirers to reach safety. Some cried in fear out as her power brushed at them, other shrank away as the cobblestones frosted at their
The lake lay ahead but once again she couldn't be bothered to stop; so she ran right over it, the waters frosting into ice as she made her escape.
There it was again, her name, softer now, receding into the distance.
Had she been listening, she might've detected the sounds of battle raging back in the palace; would've heard Naruto roaring in surprise and rage, crying out for her as the cloaked men ruthlessly took advantagoe of her abscence and attacked, ambushing him with cruel efficiency, forcing his own escape in a different direction. Perhaps had she turned back she would've put two and two together. Perhaps she would've noticed the abject terror in his voice, the hurt in his eyes as she left him to his fate.
But, Elsa wasn't looking. Even if she had, she certainly wasn't inclinded to listen at the moment. Her cheek throbbed painfuly where he had burned her, the angry red welts rising on the pale skin of her face threatening to make her break down and cry outright. That was the last thing she needed. So she ran. She ran until the lake was long behind her, all signs of civilization vanishing into the mountaintops. Still she ran. Ran from him, those strange cloaked men, from Anna, Hans, everyone and everything.
She was only aware that she'd reached their peaks when the drifts reached her feet, when she could climb no further. Adrenaline abandoned her, leaving only a bitter exhaustion in its place. She could run no further, all of her stamina spent in a matter of minutes, a thin coat of ice forming at her feet. Almost dreading what she would find there, she glanced down.
Finallly, she dared to look at herself. Dared to touch her cheek. Pain! She cringed aside almost immediately, sobbing at the starburst of agony behind her fingertips. There could be no denying it. Naruto had burned her, seared her skin with his power. To make matters worse, she'd hurt him! Her spike of ice would've sure cut open his throat were it not for his own gift, and even then she'd seen the angry red line she'd drawn across his face, the bloody tear in his whiskered cheek a silent testament to what she'd done. Even if she could overcome this growing fear in her heart, she was certain he'd never forgive her for hurting her.
Let it go. A small voice cooed in the back of her mind, begging for release. How long had she held back her powers? What good had that done her.
Elsa shook herself, shivering not from the cold-it had never bothered her anyway-but fear. There was so much fear.
Let it go!
"What have I done?" her words were broken, a naked whisper in the night. "What have I done?" She collapsed to her hands and knees with a sorrow-filled sob, the purple cape flying from from her shoulders as the last stitch gave way, soaring to freedome somewhere amidst the broke crags of Arendelle. Elsa barely noticed it; because that wicked little voice was still urging her to do the one thing she daren't do:
LET IT GO!
The two opposing elements collided in a wave of steam, fire and water vying angrily against one another until the former inevitably yielded. A geyser of angry mist erupted between the two combatants-creating a dense fog betweenthe pair; an inescapable haze that shrouded the mountains themselves and for the briefest moment, afforded one of them safety.
Until a sword came screaming down at his head!
Naruto scrambled backwards like a drunken spider, his body still steaming from where the wave had crashed down upon him. He'd managed to burn most of it away, but the fact remained; fire was virtually no match in the face of overwhelming water. He'd tried every trick he'd learned over the last eight years but to no avail; he simply couldn't find a way to beat this guy! Every fiber of his body burned from the strain of calling out his power in its fullest form, the trio's clashing raging through the palace and up into the mountans. His Kisame's to be more precise.
Itachi hadn't made a move since they'd driven him out of the castle, he seemed more content to watch and wait then take any action. For now.
Now, as Naruto twirled away on a spool of flame, he found himself almost grateful for the man's dettachment. Kisame-as the fishman had introduced himself to the amnesiac blond-was proving more than capable in his own right! He'd no desire for another fight!
"Weeeeeell now," Kisame cackled cruelly from within the mist. "Looks like you've done a fair bit of powering up since we last met."
"Ha?!" Naruto scowled as the fog began to thin out between them, revealing his fishy adversary. "I've never seen you before in my life!"
"Oh, you don't remember me? I'm hurt!"
"What the hell is wrong with you?!"
"Careful Kisame," Itachi called from his vantage point. "We don't want to kill him."
"He won't miss an arm or a leg, right?" His partner turned to regard him and in that instant his prey struck.
Naruto opened his mouth and spat; a massive blast of dragon-shaped flames slamming into the unprepared fishman with all the force of a cannonball. Caught unawares, Kisame was thrown violently backwards into the snow, his damp body a shell of its former self. At least, that was what the blonde thought...untill he started to heal. Broken ribs and charred flesh stitched themselves back together effortlessly, blue flesh replacing their blackened counterparts in a speed that put his own regeneration to shame.
"Ahhh," he drawled, getting back up. "Samehada loves those flames of yours. What happened to your chakra, kid? It tastes exactly like a biju!"
Naruto drew back with a hiss.
"Biju?! I have no idea what you're talking about!"
"Oi now, playing dumb ain't gonna help.
"He's probably lost his memories." Itachi drawled from his vantage point. "It makes sense, given what happened to Sasuke."
"The hell is that?!" Naruto growled, fireball still swirling in his hand.
"Its chakra most likely remains in that fire bloodline of his." The Uchiha theorized, continuing. "We can extract it back at the base."
"Music to my ears. Might wanna get out of the way, though. This next jutsu's gonna be a big one."
Whatever euphoria Naruto might've felt at Uchiha Itachi's retreat faded as the swordsman began to change. Naruto felt his flames flicker and fizzle as Kisame became...something else. Samehada's hilt slithered into his wrist-its scales swirling into his skin-his body becoming more and more fish-like as the blond looked on. No, that thing wasn't a fish...it was a shark! Dead fish eyes fixated on him, the strange crature grinning to reveal row upon row of deadly teeth, sharp and gleaming for blood.
"Well...that's not fair at all." Naruto muttered.
"You know, its funny." the sharkman snickered, his breath frosting in the mountain air. "The Eight Tails put up more of a fight than this. I'm almost dissapointed in you, Kyuubi. Ah, well." Realizing on an instinctive level what was about to happen, Naruto hurled all his not-inconsiderable firepower at the swordsman. Too little, too late. Kisame ducked, the deadly balls of fire whistling over his head, as he sucked in a great breath. Naruto swore and started forwards at him-
"Suiton: Dai Bakusui Shōha!" (Water Release: Great Exploding Water Colliding Wave!)
The jutsu that came next was nothing short of massive; a roiling sphere of water that swallowed up everything in its path!
Naruto stomped the ground and burst backwards, a jet of flame extending beneath him and launching him away in retreat, but too late. The encroaching sphere of water snared him before he'd gone more than ten feet in the other direction, the monster's technique swallowing him. He'd just enough time to take in a deep breath before everything faded to black around him. Blood in the water. His mind found this strangely funny when Kisame slammed into him, fins shearing away even more of his lifeforce, more of his energy.
'Bastard...!' The blond tried to grab him but too slow, the shark slithered out of his grasp before he could grapple with his opponent. Kisame's watery cackle mocked him as he slipped away, retreating so a safe distance once again, intent to let his prey tire itself out.
"How long can you last, I wonder?"
Naruto growled, a line of precious bubbling escaping his throat. Power gathered in his fist, but all that emerged was a thin line of superheated water, easily avoided by his adversary. Kisame struck agains, steeling more of his strength, sapping evermore of his stamina. This was it, then. No choice. He did have one technique...but it was little more than a delaying tactic. Doing so would exhaust him utterly, leaving him vulnerable to this foul creature and whatever machinations it held for him. But it was either that, or die a slow death of drowning. With that thought in mind, Naruto scrunched his eyes shut and gave himself to the flame.
'C'mon, Elsa...wherever you are...please see this!'
"Why did I hurt him...why...why?!"
The tears flowed freely now, despite Elsas valiant attempts to rein them in. And why should she, the voice whispered? Her world was falling apart around her. Naruto was gone. Gone. Gone! There was nothing she could do to stop it. Something had happened to make him attack her, and in that instant, the tenuous trust she'd held in him had all but shatterd. Even if he hadn't meantto harm her, even if it had been an accident, and that was a big if, she knew he'd never forgive her for hurting him so.
I...can't hold it back anymore.
With a scream she just...let it go. All of it. Once she would've gladly tested the limits of her powers in solitude, probed them and broke through. That was neither here nor there. Not now. There was no gentle release of her frost and wind; a massive blizzard, ice erupted from her body in a violent explosion of anger and sorrow, terraforming the misty peaks in a shower of glacial tundra, sparing none. Her crown and bun flew free in the sudden unleashing of her powers, her eyes glowing, blindingly white. And then it was done.
As swiftly as it had been released, so too did her powers fade.
She stood there a long momenet, clad in an alabaster gown of ice and snow, hair swinging free in a loose braid. She could feel it everywhere-ice flooded her every pore, tingling at her fingertips, ready and waiting to be unleahsed upon whom or whatever she desired. And yet the heart that beat was a human one, despite a massive outpouring of her power, she hadn't been able to freeze it. It still cried out for her favorite blond, for her friend, for the one person she longed to see more than anything else in the world. But that longing was now interposed with pain, a terrible yearning she would never be able to satisfy.
But no. She was alone. Alone yes, but free. Or so she'd like to think.
'I'd give anything just for things to be normal again.'
Scarce had the thought entered her mind than she saw it; a sphere of massive water down below the peak. And there, within it, burning despite being surrounded by gallon upon gallon of freezing liquid. Even from here she could sense him, feel the heat pouring outward in waves of hot, angry air. He was down there. Fighting for his life.
Naruto had the vaguest recollection of pain, of being surrounded by water; but it came from far away, as though he were outside himself. There was no longer any distinction between himself and the flames; no conduit of flesh by which he might separate his gift from himself and remain human. With that barrier removed his power welled forth as it never had before. He was the fire. The fire was him. Heat. Destruction. Life. He was all these things and more. He was light. He was the fire. A burning brand in the black, flames searing an unholy shade of deep azure even surrounded by the Kisame's massive water prison. Fire came in many forms, heat, was but the purest of them. So he became the heat.
He became the fire.
"Yaaaargh! You little shit!" Kisame yowled as the water boiled around his skin -a gurgle of angry bubbles escaping his gills and into his prison- the relatively cool liquid superheating violently as the blonde's temperature skyrocketed a hundredfold, turning his prison of water into a roiling sauna of volcanically hot water.
Samehada, still fused with him at it was, didn't know what to make of it. There was simply too much energy for it to absorb; too much, for it to even think of gorging itself. For every second that it feasted, more and more of the blonde one's energy escaped into the atmosphere, more food left wasted. It hadn't tasted such delicious chakra since the Hachibi! But now that chakra was escaping. And when its master invevitably took the life of the Kyuubi host, that delicious buffet would be all but lost forever.
When faced with such a feast-and all but unable to sense nor feel the pain its master was experiencing, Samehada reacted as any sentient sword would when its new favorite food was slipping away.
It got the hell away from Kisame, tearing itself out of its master and all but leaping onto Naruto. A lot of things happened at once, after that. Naruto immediately flailed at first, not realizing that the sword was actually giving back the energy it had stolen, therby bolstering his own flagging reserves. The moment he realized that, the water began to burn tenfold. Kisame, deprived of both sword and advantage, suddenly found himself being broiled in his own jutsu, and not liking it one bit.
Now, he was no stranger to pain, but that was without having his body boiling from the inside out! And with each second he tarried, his body continued to burn, with no Samehada to heal him. Thusly presented with the possibility of becoming a fish fillet or ending the jutsu, he chose the lesser of the two evils.
Releasing his hold on the jutsu left him with a bitter taste in his mouth; he hadn't expected the boy to turn the tables on him so easily.
Naruto flopped out of the prison with a watery-ha!-gasp, fingers wrapped firmly upon Samehada's hilt. Drained though he might be he still had the gall to spit a spat fireball at the ex-swordsman, reminding Kisame that while wounded, his prey was still very dangerous. With Samehada lending more and more chakra, the kid was going to be back up at fighting strength, in a matter of minutes. Didn't matter. Kisame was out for blood in the purest form of the word; but first of course, there was his sword to retrieve. Samehada was an important part of his strategy without it he was a mere shell of his former self. And if that damned brat held onto it-no way in hell could he take that chance.
Time to end this.
"Ahahaha!" Kisame cackled, advancing ruthlessly, showing none of the quiet fear he felt. "A little fight in ya! I like that! But this ends now." Snarling, he pressed his hands together and exhaled mightily. "Suiton-
"You stay away from him!"
Some miles away, Uchiha Itachi sighed in silent satisfaction as he watched all hell freeze over. A slight smile crossed his otherwise dour features.
"All according to plan..."
The shark-man bristled as the water around him froze, the sheer cold entrapping his element within layer upon layers of frigid ice. What in the world?! The Akatsuki craned his neck towards the voice in dismayed disbelief, baffled by the cold and her sudden betrayal; both his legs inexplicably frozen, the chilling permafrost creeping rapidly over him as he struggled to swing an arm down and break free from the confines of his new prison. He may as well have struck steel for all the efforts, his clenched hand rebounding harmlessly off the impervious ice.
He'd just enough time to catch sight of blindingly bright eyes before the predator became prey. Hunter, hunted. It was that girl, the one from before. Honestly, he didn't expect her to have this much steel in her spine, much less confront him head on. Still, with his body now frozen to the waist, he had good reason to worry.
"So you saw through our little trick...
It was the wrong thing to say; Elsa's placcid expression went from serene to murderous. A singe word hissed out between clenched teeth.
Kisame snickered quietly, oddly unafraid as the ice lunged up to snare his chest, following his arms. Itachi should've bailed him out by now. That the Uchiha hadn't done so told him exactly where he stood. He'd always suspected the man to be a traitor, not that it mattered. One turncoat amidst a number like Akatsuki meant nothing in the end. If he was going to go out like this, then so be it.
"You can kill me, but your little boytoy over there won't have any peace." he mocked, dead eyes snapping to Naruto. "Pein and the others will still come for him...soon enough. Your kingdom will never know a moment's peace, not while you shelter him! We will have the Kyuubi, whether I die or not!"
Elsa said nothing; she didn't even flinch as the ice moved to encompass Kisame's head.
'I honestly didn't expect to die like this...Madara-sama,' was his last thought before he was frozen solid. His last sight was that of Elsa stalking towards him hand raised, fingers clenched into an angry fist. Kisame never felt himself shatter, never realized that his soaked skin made him even more fragile than glass in this climate. There was simply a swing of the arm and he was gone, crumbling into so many shards down the mountains never to be seen nor heard from again. A fitting death, for a man so callous and cruel.
She didn't have long to savor her victory, however.
"YOU MADE IT!"
Elsa cried out as someone -Naruto?!- slammed into her from behind; powerful arms wrapping round her body in a firm hold, strong hands searing into her through the fabric of her sleeves to scorch shoulders. Pain. Her very soul cried out. Almost immediately a struggle took place as she fought to buck him off, wanting nothing more than to get away from the aweful ache his prescence inspired. It hurt. It hurt! Touching him hurt! Panic flared up in her every pore, and her ice alongside it.
"Sorry." he murmurred into her neck, ignoring the frost as it crept across his face, only to melt beneath his heat. "I'm so so so so soooo sorry."
Elsa panicked; her mind refusing to accept that he'd forgive her so easily. He couldn't. It wasn't possible! He was afraid of her, like everyone else. He couldn't be trusted!
"Get...off." she couldn't bring herself to put any force behind the word. A tiny part of her wondered how he'd managed to steal the swordsman's sword-it was now bound firmly to his back, as though it had always been there, from the very beginning. Then she was reminded of the blond pinning her, and renewed her efforts to escape.
"I said let go!"
Her powers lashed out at him feebly and instinctively but to no avail, the ice all but melting before it could reach her beloved the blond. It seemed he'd suffered through some changes of his own she realized. Indeed, his suit was a brilliant bloody orangish-red, tongues of flame dancing from the edges of his shoulders, steam curling where they touched. They didn't hurt anymore. If anything his flames felt plesant now. But still she despaired. This was a trick. It had to be-there was no other explanation for it.
"I...I hurt you...
"It was an accident." His arms tightened around her waist. "We can fix what you did down in Arendelle. What we did." He risked a glance down over the horizon, and what she saw there nearly caused Else to weep. The land had been torn apart by the simultenous releasing of their elements; one side of the idyllic little kingdom-the side which they currently occoupied-was wreathed in winter, the other, scorched by the sun. Plants were dead or dying and those that hadn't were suffering at their hand. They had done this. Unleashed magicks the world was never meant to see.
"And what make you think you have the power to stop this?" she despaired, her gaze swinging back to him. "To undo what we've done?"
Before she could blink, before she could even think, Naruto spun her around, touched a smoldering hand to her cheek, and kissed her. Truly kissed her. Elsa gasped into the sudden liplock, her spine stiffening with shock. This kiss was nothing like before, no gentle touching of the lips was this. His mouth was fire itself; warm tendrils of otherwordly warmth shooting through him ,and into her mouth, down her spine, into every fiber of her being, leaving her begging for more. He drew back just as suddenly, a tiny mewl leaving her lips at being denied his affections.
When the fear rose in her again, he lopped off its head with a single sentence.
"Because I love you, Elsa." his words sent her heart to racing, the entire world to swooning. "That's why." Love. The word-the emotion-flooded her body, curling her toes and warming at her nose, filling her to the brim with hopeful and elation. Her heart soared; in that instant she wanted to shout his name to the heavens. Elsa wanted to weep! Tears of joy!
Yes! A thousand times, yes!
Before he could say anything more he felt her arms tighten around him and her breathing quicken, her breasts heaving up and down against his chest with the force of her sobs. Naruto was baffled, confusion flitting off and on his visage like a flickering flame. Had he said something wrong? He turned to regard Samehada on his back-if the blade had an opinion, it wasn't offering it. As such, he was completely shellshocked by her reply such as it was:
"I...love you, too."
He grabbed her with such force that Elsa actually squeaked, flushing brighter than a certain Hyuuga. Remarkably, she didn't faint.
"Na-Naruto! That hurts!"
"Sorry." she apologized as well. "I'm...new at this."
She kissed him again and wiped all the words away. New she might be, but damn was she learning!
Alas, she had to breathe, and end this wonderful moment, if only for a heartbeat.
"Better?" he asked as they, his forehead brushing hers. His body was glowing a radiant blue, azure flames licking at the nub of her nose-oddly enough they didn't burn. They were warm. Pleasant. They danced upon her with impish impunities, tying them together in more ways than one. He had complete and utter control of them-of her in that instant-he could've asked anything and she would've done it without hesitation. But for now, Elsa settled for answering his question.
"B-Better." she replied, breathlessly, nuzzling her head into the crook of his neck. "Never leave me alone again."
"On my life." Naruto swore. Suddenly he smiled-as if noticing her for the first time. Perhaps he had. "Wow. Did I mention how beautiful you look right now? You should let your hair down more often, babe." Elsa colored brightly beneath his praise, bare shoulders shivering slightly as his hand glided across the skin of her collarbone. Her lips met his again in a chaste kiss, savoring the moment, their bond they'd forged. It didn't matter if the world arrayed itself against them; so long as she had him, it didn't matter. They would set down off this mountain together and come what may; they would find a way to fix this-
"This is all very touching," a new voice murmurred. "But...
Naruto jerked back as if he'd been scalded, pivoting to place himself between her and the newcomer.
Uchiha Itachi stood before them, dark eyes regarding the pair intently. He'd discarded his Akatsuki cloak and hat, although those brooding orbs of his made him look no less menacing. Naruto bristled, his new blue fires flaring furiously at the sight of the one who had put him through such pain.
"Calm yourselves, the both of you." the renegade murmurred, his hand raising in placation. "I'm not interested in fighting either of you and I apologize for placing you under genjutsu earlier, Naruto-kun. But my time in Akatsuki is done. Believe it or not, I am your ally, here to pass on a message on behalf of your friends." If he'd been hoping for a reacon, he didn't get one; Naruto just stared at him as though he'd grown an extra head or something-given his loss of memories, that was quite possible.
"And what message might that be?"
"You need to leave Arendelle and come home with me." Itachi warned. "Now."
There was a silence. And then.
A/N: And there you have it! Dun-Dun-Dun! Events are spiraling rapidly towards the center. Naruto and Elsa have faced their first true hurdle in their blossoming relationship and overcome it with flying colors! Kisame is dead, Itachi has pulled a double agent-never was loyaly anyway-and Akatsuki wants Naruto for the Kyuubi, unknowing whether he still has the Biiju inside him or not; and all of Arendelle is already experiencing a major hot and cold swing from the chaos that Akatsuki has wrought! What will happen next? What will Naruto's answer be to Itachi's ultimatum?! Will he stay or will he go?! Its anyone's guess from here on out! Regardless...
...The events of Frozen ought to be quite different with them involved...will Naruto and Elsa make it out of this one alive? But the story doesn't end here! Now remember, we will eventually see the Elemental Nations in this ficlet! Naruto is the LAST jinchuuriki remaining, and all bloody hell is about to break loose!
So...in the immortal words of Atlas...
...Would You Kindly Review the story of this humble man?