Legacy Lost, Legacy Found
Chapter One: Legacy Lost, Legacy Found
Uzumaki Naruto, age 12. He's supposed to be the hero of this story, but ironically enough... He's dead...
"Well... Now what?" Naruto asked himself as he hovered aimlessly in the air. His face took an expression of deep concentration as he thought about what had happened just moments prior.
Kyuubi's chakra wrapped around him like a kitsune shaped gossamer veil. His canines had slightly elongated, the irises' of his eyes were blood red and had become slitted. The whisker marks that adorned his face were widened and lengthened. He currently looked the part of the mighty Youko sealed within him in human form.
Across from him in the valley was his "brother". A boy approximately his own age looking very much like a demonic harbinger of death. He was as twisted and tainted after having fully given in to the whisperings of the mark inflicted on his neck by the Snake. Not even his doujutsu, the mighty Sharingan, was spared from this twisted mutation. Instead of the usual blood red, it was golden in color and in place of the normal three tomoe that had formed in his eyes earlier in the fight was a black ring with three 'thorns' protruding from it.
The two had been deadlocked in an epic struggle of mortal combat that would prove fatal for either one of them should one of them falter.
The blonde, panting heavily, began to gather as much of his chakra and the Kyuubi's demonic youki, as was safely possible, into his right hand, forming a spiraling sphere of pure energy.
The ivory haired boy charged up his own finishing move. The cursed chakra from the snake's seal coursing through his veins tainting it, forming a blackened surge of pure electricity that sounded like a flock of one thousand birds flapping their wings all at once, vice the normal chorus of one thousand birds chirping that was the norm.
Both charged at one another at speeds that would have impressed even their own sensei.
It was over in a flash.
In Konohagakure no Sato, Tsunade, the Godaime Hokage, could not concentrate on her work. She had a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. Something horrible was about to go wrong. Suddenly, there was a small tremor and the sound of a cracking stone. She looked out to the Hokage monument and saw something that made her pale ghostly white.
Next to the Sandaime's newly repaired face was a large crack in the face of the Yondaime Hokage. Only one other time had such an omen ever happened in Konoha and Tsunade couldn't help but feel that this time would not be any better and had hit closer to home than she wanted.
Miles away Hatake Kakashi felt a tremor, the sudden spikes in both of Naruto and Sasuke's chakra and the sudden disappearance in the former. He hoped beyond hope that he was wrong as he and Pakkun sped up their pace.The now ebony haired boy was looking at his blonde teammate with an expression of horror. Said teammate had blood drizzling from his mouth.
"I... I've given you th-the power you wanted... G-go back t-to Sakura-chan, tell her... Tell her, I k-kept m-my promise..." he said to his "brother".
The now ebony haired boy did not respond, his focus was solely on his own right hand that was deeply imbedded in the chest of his best friend. The same friend who had admitted earlier that he felt that they were like brothers. The same friend he had told the secrets of the Mangekyo Sharingan earlier on in hopes he might understand his motivations for leaving Konoha. The same friend who had just granted that power. He could not shake his gaze from his right hand that was exactly where his "brother's" heart should be.
He watched helplessly as his best friend slowly slid off his arm and slumped unceremoniously onto the ground, the fire leaving his eyes. Uchiha Sasuke barely noticed the small content smile on the face of Uzumaki Naruto as he could only stare at his blood soaked right hand.
This was the scene Kakashi happened upon. Sasuke standing over Naruto's lifeless body, staring at his hand in absolute terror.
His one eyed widened.
"No..." he whispered. "No..."
Once again, he had failed.
"Dobe..." said Sasuke quietly.
"Dobe," he repeated more forcefully, "Get up..."
He nudged the lifeless body of his friend, "C'mon... Get up..."
Kakashi watched sadly as Sasuke tried to revive his teammate in vain.
"This isn't funny..." said Sasuke, his voice cracking, "GET UP!"
The Uchiha prodigy slumped to his knees rubbing his left hand against the burning sensation in his eyes. After futilely rubbing his eyes to rid himself of the pain, he noticed something in his reflection in Naruto's hitai-ite.
Upon closer inspection, he noticed something he hoped to not see.
The Mangekyo Sharingan.
In the final charge, Sasuke, who had been more than willing to slay his best friend for power, decided he would not be his brother's tool. He wouldn't become his brother to defeat his brother. He had slightly altered the course of his final attack, even if it resulted in his own death. Instead of slicing straight through the heart of his best friend, the jutsu was supposed to land in the upper part of the right lung. Still potentially fatal, but his best friend still had a chance of getting medical attention before anything happened.
What he didn't expect was for Naruto to prove, once again, that he was Konohagakure's Most Surprising Knuckleheaded Ninja. He watched as Naruto's final attack dissipated. Everything became painfully slow as the two came closer and closer. Naruto, instead of attacking, grabbed Sasuke's right arm re-directing it. At the speed Sasuke was moving, he was helpless to do anything about what Naruto was doing.
He was helpless as the Chidori pierced Naruto's chest. He was helpless as he watched Naruto's life force slowly drained from his body. He was helpless as he watched his friend sacrifice himself to save the one he called his brother for the girl he loved, but took no noticed him.
'Oh Kami... No...' thought Sasuke, who could only thing of one possible thing to make things right. Without hesitation, he pulled a kunai from the pouch strapped to his leg, twirling it in his hands. With the pointed end pointed towards him, he was going to attempt to find absolution for his sins as he gripped it tightly in both hands.
Suddenly he found himself disarmed and lying flat on his back, looking up at his sensei, who was glaring down at him with his one eye.
"Why?" he demanded angrily.
"Because I will NOT allow his sacrifice be in vain," said Kakashi equally angrily. "I can tell from your actions that no matter what happened here, you didn't intend for this to happen. However, it has, and I will not allow you to just throw away everything he fought for because of your overwhelming guilt."
Naruto saw none of this as he was distracted by another presence.
"Well... Now What?" he asked himself.
"That seems to be the question," a voice replied.
"Wa-!" shouted Naruto in surprise. "Don't do that! You scared me to death!"
"Actually, you're already dead," said a blue haired girl in a pink kimono. "And as far as I know, you can't get any deader."
Naruto growled in annoyance.
"That's not the point!" shouted Naruto, "Now who the hell are you?"
"Well, you're rude," said the girl with a frown.
"Says the person who just snuck up on someone who just recently died," Naruto shot back.
"Oh fine! My name is Botan and I'm a pilot of the River Styx!" she introduced herself.
Naruto looked at her confusedly.
"You know... A shinigami, the grim reaper..." Botan listed off, "And a bunch of other names people give apparitions like me. Basically I'm Death!"
Naruto shot her a look of annoyed disbelief. "Do I look stupid to you?" Botan went to answer, but she was cut off. "Listen, assuming you ARE a shinigami, where's your shroud? Aren't you supposed to be all bony like and creepy not bubbly and as pretty as Sakura-chan." Botan couldn't help but blush at that statement. "Your kimono isn't even black, it's pink."
"Where do people keep getting all these misconceptions about us shinigami?" asked Botan as she sighed.
"So... Since you're Death... Does that mean you're going to take me to Reikai or Makai or wherever it is I am supposed to go?"
"Well... You see... It's like this..." said Botan uncomfortably, "youwerentsupposedtodieandsothereisnoplaceforyouineitherplace!"
"What?" asked Naruto.
"You... You weren't supposed to die... So we haven't actually prepared a place to send you..." said Botan hesitantly.
"What do you mean I wasn't suppose to die!" demanded Naruto.
"Well, it's just that... When you and Uchiha Sasuke charged at each other that final time, he was supposed to puncture your right lung, not your heart, and you were supposed to scratch his hitai-ite," said Botan, "Then he was supposed to join Orochimaru while Kakashi took you back to Konoha. Your ultimate sacrifice has thrown everyone for a loop, and now no one knows what's going on right now."
"Oh just great! Only I could screw up dying!" said Naruto sarcastically.
"Well... There is ONE bright side," said Botan cheerfully.
"As if anything could get any worse," said Naruto, "You know I did just die not too long ago."
"Well, since you weren't supposed to die and we have no place for you at this time... You get to go back!" said Botan excitedly.
Naruto's brow crinkled in concentration as he looked down to where his corpse and Sasuke were. Both were gone at this point.
"You said Sasuke was SUPPOSED to go to Orochimaru and Kakashi was to take me back to Konoha, right," at Botan's nod, he continued, "So then... Where is Sasuke now?"
Botan answered uneasily trying to figure out where Naruto was going with this. "He's... On his way back to Konoha with Kakashi right now. He's also carrying your body. He wouldn't let Kakashi even touch it."
"What about Neji, Chouji, Kiba, Lee and Shikamaru?" Naruto asked.
"Chouji and Neji beat their opponents, but are in critical condition," answered Botan, "They will pull through though. Kiba, Lee and Shikamaru were all saved by Sabaku no Gaara and his siblings. It was a close call for Gaara and Lee, but they are practically uninjured. Kiba's lost a lot of blood, but he'll survive and Shikamaru merely suffered a broken finger before Sabaku no Temari jumped in."
"Thanks, but no thanks," said Naruto.
"Huh?" Botan asked dumbly.
"I didn't get to become Hokage, but it's all right... To be honest, I didn't think I'd be able to make that dream come true anyway..." He said that with a bit of sadness in his voice and Botan could tell that he was lying, mostly to himself to make what he was about to say a little easier. "Everyone's going to be all right and I kept my promise to Sakura-chan. Sasuke's got the power he needs to kill his brother, so he'll stay in Konoha and maybe he and Sakura will get together... Maybe even name their first child after me." Naruto said this with a wide smile, one that she Botan instantly saw through.
'Poor thing...' she thought sadly. "What about the others? The people who care about you?"
"Humph... Shortest list in all of Konoha..." Naruto said bitterly. "Baa-chan will probablly have the toughest time, but Shizune-nee-chan and Ero-Sennin will be there for her and they'll have her too! Iruka-sensei is still young, so he'll be sad for a while, but he'll move on, maybe even get a girlfriend now that he isn't always hanging around me. It's hard to say with Kakashi-sensei, but I doubt he'll miss me too much. And Sakura-chan... Sakura's got Sasuke... She'll probablly barely even notice I'm gone..."
Naruto looked about to breakdown at that point but didn't.
"It's better this way," said Naruto, "If I'm not there to annoy her, maybe she'll... Be happier... Without me..."
'Poor boy...' thought Botan, it took everything she had in her to not pull they distraught boy into a gigantic hug and smoother him to death (not that, that was possible, after all the boy was already dead).
"Listen, Naruto," said Botan, "Since we don't have a place for you just yet, why don't you take some time to think things over. If you decide you want to stay dead, I'll take you to wherever I'm supposed to take you. But if you decide you want to go back, well... We'll talk about that later, all right?"
"Sure," he said, "But I doubt I'll change my mind."
"An opportunity like the one you now have, only comes, at most, once a century," said Botan, "It's a very rare thing indeed. However, it's often enough that I know from experience that you might just be surprised."
"So what do you think I should do?" asked Naruto.
"I suppose you could head towards Konohagakure," suggested Botan, "It's off in that direction. If you hurry you could probablly beat Kakashi and Sasuke there."
"How, they left a long time ago?" asked Naruto.
"Well, even if they are traveling in the trees, they still have to follow the terrain. You, however, as a ghost can not only go through the terrain, but also fly over it like you are now," Botan informed him.
"Well... I guess this is it for now..." said Naruto hesitantly.
"Don't worry, I'll be able to find you in a jiffy if I need to," Botan said reassuringly, "I am, after all, a shinigami."
Naruto sighed, "I don't think I'll ever get used to the idea that something that's supposed to be so creepy and scary being so... Well not creepy and scary."
"We'll definitely have to work on your compliments," said Botan giggling, "Even though it was sweet, women don't like to be compared to other women, and I appreciate the fact that you're not afraid of me or find me creepy."
"Well... I guess I'll get going then..." said Naruto, "I'll catch you later Botan-chan!"
Naruto then zipped away in the direction of Konoha to be there for his precious people when they got news of his death.The scene he had expected was very different when he arrived than what he had seen. In all honesty, he wasn't sure what to expect, but what he saw wasn't it.As Botan predicted, he had gotten to the Konoha Northgate before Kakashi and Sasuke. There Sakura was waiting for them, as was Hinata and Ino."What's taking them so long... Everyone else is back all ready!" asked Sakura aggravatedly.Ino sympathized with her pink haired friend, the only two who had not shown up was both of her teammates and her sensei who was said to have gone after them. What worried her even more was the crack in the Yondaime's face on the monument. Everybody in town had been talking about what it could mean, but she heard no definite theory. The only thing everyone could agree on was that it couldn't mean anything good.Hinata on the other hand, knew something had happened. Something horribly bad. That fact that it had caused the Yondaime's face to crack was equally disturbing, because that's where Naruto always went when he wanted to be away from the village but not go too far. She had her suspicions, but she hoped beyond hope that she was wrong and that Naruto was all right."Hey, it looks like Kakashi's coming back!" shouted one of the Chuunin Guards.
The three kunoichi looked in the direction he pointed. Off in the distance they could see Kakashi walking back and one other person accompanying him, who was carrying something. Curious, Hinata activated her Byakugan and instantly regretted it. Her gasp made Sakura and Ino turn towards the now distraught girl.
"N-Naruto... kun..." she whispered as a sob escaped. Both Sakura and Ino looked back towards Kakashi who was much closer now. They could make out the dark hair of his companion who was carrying an orange object.
Sakura paled. Ino stood rooted in place with a wide eyed expression.
"S-Sasuke-kun... Wh-What happened?" asked Sakura.
"N-Naruto... I... I killed him," he said, not able to look her in the eye.
"No!" shouted Sakura. "No... Why would you say that!"
"Sakura..." said Sasuke quietly.
"No! Even if we didn't like him, or found him annoying, we wouldn't have wanted him dead!" shouted Sakura, "The Sasuke-kun I know wouldn't have killed Naruto!"
"I don't want to hear it... murderer!" Sakura said scathingly.
"Naruto... Before he died... He said... He kept his promise..." Sasuke said, actually looking at Sakura.
Sakura's blood ran cold.
"I... I didn't mean to... We were charging at each other, and then he... He grabbed my arm..." said Sasuke with a pained expression on his face.
"To... To keep his promise..." Sakura said, "To me..."
The pink haired girl shut down and faded into unconsciousness, the strain had been too much for her. Her last coherent thoughts were, 'I killed him...'
Ino did know what to do or think. Hinata was staring blankly at Naruto's corpse, her eyes glistening with tears just waiting for the right moment to breakdown. Sakura on the other hand fainted.
Kakashi's words summed it up perfectly. "Shit..."
Things went from bad to worse as Naruto watched on.Tsunade and Iruka had both gone hysterical and even seemed to be trying to out drink each other. He'd expected it from Baa-chan, but to see Iruka-sensei becoming a lush boggled his mind to no end.
Ero-Sennin couldn't even do his research properly, and for once Naruto wasn't sure it was a good thing. Every time the pervert tried to conduct his research he'd look around him, almost expecting something that never came.
Naruto quickly realized that he was waiting for the blonde Jinchuuriki to come interrupt his research to train him. It made Naruto happy and sad at the same time.
Hinata had shut down. He couldn't understand why, the two barely spoke and she always fainted in his presence. She had tears in her eyes and every so often she'd whimper his name. She didn't move, she didn't do much of anything and that made Naruto feel guilty.
Shikamaru had even gone as far as to nearly stop being a ninja. His best friend was critically injured, as was Neji. Kiba was merely severely injured and was in shock from blood loss and Naruto... Naruto was... Dead...
He remembered the days when the four of them, Kiba, Chouji and himself led by Naruto would skip out of class and even the occasional detention. Naruto the prankster, Kiba the 'wild child', Shikamaru the slacker, and Chouji the loyal friend.
Such were good times and the lazy genius had thought that there would be time again for such days of no responsibilities or duties. However, the Sasuke Retrieval Mission had disillusioned him to that notion as two friends lay in the hospital and the third in the morgue.
Naruto made a mental note to give Sabaku no Temari the biggest hug and kiss of her life for verbally slapping some sense in the newly made Chuunin.
Naruto's observations quickly came to the his team mates.
Naruto had discovered the reason Kakashi was always late, as the man spent several hours of the day just staring at the Memorial Stone. He floated in silence as Kakashi would gaze remorsefully at the stone and every now and than mumble something nearly incoherent. Once, Naruto thought he heard an apology to him. He'd have discounted the notion if he didn't see the remorseful gaze the man had on is face.
Naruto wanted to scream and shout and drag Sasuke back to the Valley of the End to kick his ass again when he learned the Uchiha Scion actually insisted he be executed for crimes against Konoha.
Naruto didn't go after him to drag him back to Konoha and Sakura-chan only to have him killed then and there.
His thoughts then turned back to his distraught teammate, the kunoichi of the team. He had told Botan that he was sure she wouldn't even notice he was gone, that at the sight of Sasuke she would, once again, forget he existed. He couldn't have been any more wrong, though seeing her current state, he wished he had been right.
This Sakura was far from the bright and budding kunoichi she had been when Team 7 first formed. She had bags under her eyes and her eyes were red and blotchy from crying almost non-stop. Ino never once left her side despite Chouji's critical condition.
The guilt he felt made him wish he had chosen different last words, as she now blamed herself for his death. Sasuke was guiltier than she was, he's the one whose hand had pierced Naruto's chest. But Naruto didn't blame Sasuke because, like Botan said, had he not intervened, Sasuke would not have killed him.
Ino could only consol her friend as she kept hysterically repeating that she'd killed Naruto, that she and her stupid promise had killed one of her best friends, whom she never had shown even the smallest fraction of gratitude."So... What do you say?" asked Botan as she hovered to him. Naruto was currently sitting on the Yondaime Hokage's head."I... I'll do it. Whatever you want me to so I can come back..." said Naruto sadly."I thought you'd be happier to know that so many people care about you," commented Botan."But look at them... I'm going to spend the rest of my life making up for this..." he said looking down at Konoha. "I've always gone out of my way to not hurt anyone. I tried to give them what they wanted. Ero-Sennin could do his research with me bothering him, Baa-chan wouldn't have to deal with me begging for missions, Iruka-sensei wouldn't have to look out for me anymore, Kakashi-sensei could focus on training Sasuke and Sakura-chan wouldn't have to worry about me 'getting in the way'... It wasn't supposed to be like this...""All you can really do is just move forward," said Botan. "Now C'mon, we have to see Koenma-sama before they do anything with your body.""Huh?" asked Naruto dumbly."You're funeral, you didn't forget did you?" asked Botan, "We have a VERY time sensitive schedule, so it's best we hurry. So hop on."Naruto jumped on Botan's oar and held onto her waist as they took off for parts unknown.Little did Naruto, or anyone else, know, the adventure was just beginning.