Kurama vs Naruto, Naruto's Test pt 2
Chapter Three: Kurama vs Naruto, Naruto's Test pt. 2
Word quickly spread across the village about the death of Uzumaki Naruto at the hands of the last loyal Uchiha. However, reactions were mixed.
A good portion of the civilian population were relieved, the threat of the Kitsune was no longer hanging over their heads. However, they had the good sense to not be overly obvious about this as there were those amongst the shinobi populace were clearly mourning the boy- the Hokage, in particular, had taken the boy's death rather hard.
A small amount had completely forgotten about him, now that his pranks had ceased when he became a shinobi. Sure he was still the load mouthed, hyperactive idiot, but now that the boy had a focus he was more tolerable. They were surprised when they heard of his victory over the prodigy of the Hyuuga Clan during the Chuunin Exams and the role he played in the Oto/Suna Invasion. While they were not particularly fond of him, they were saddened to hear of his death in the line of duty and a small few even wished they had been nicer to the boy while he was still alive.
Most, however, were indifferent. They cared little for the boy as he was a constant reminder of what they had lost all those years ago and now that he was finally gone from their presence, they breathed a sigh of relief. It brought peace of mind to a small portion of these people that their family members could finally rest in peace as with the boy's demise, the Kyuubi no Youko had died as well.
In the months since he graduated, he had gained a modicum amount of respect from the shinobi populace.
This had started after Team 7's first 'C' Rank, turned 'A' Rank, mission to Wave- or rather shortly after when the Hokage had sent out a team to collect the difference of mission pay (considering the still poor state of the economy of Wave Country, Sarutobi only charged them with a 'B' Ranked mission fee and waved the fines that usually resulted when a client was being less than truthful about the parameters of a mission.).
It had been quite a shock to see the massive bridge and an even bigger surprise to find it was called "The Great Naruto Bridge" and bore a plaque dedicating the bridge to the efforts Team 7, Naruto especially, took in order to bring their country out from the tyrannical, iron fist rule of Gatou.
Then there was the fact that not only was he a rookie Genin being nominated for the Chuunin Exams, but he also defeated a scion of the Inuzuka Clan, one that had constantly put Naruto down for a good portion of his time at the academy. There were also rumors that he stood his ground against Orochimaru single-handedly, but not many were all together sure about how true that was.
Since Naruto hadn't mentioned it, many assumed that it was speculation since Orochimaru had specifically targeted one of his teammates during the exam.
While his victory of the Inuzuka Scion was unexpected, it was completely dwarfed by the Jinchuuriki's victory over the Hyuuga Prodigy. The fact that he not only overcame their Jyuuken fighting style, but could consciously control the power many had feared even a decade after the Kyuubi's attack on their village caused many to reevaluate their opinions of the boy.
Many even expected him to be made a Chuunin right along with the Nara boy and Sabaku girl and were shocked when that didn't happen as it was well known that Uzumaki Naruto was a favored shinobi of the Godaime Hokage.
It was needless to say that the Shinobi force as a whole mourned the death of Uzumaki Naruto as they had many fallen comrades that had come before him and acknowledged the fact that he had died a hero in the service of Konohagakure no Sato and her people.
Naruto was simmering with barely repressed fury.
This... This... Person was underestimating him like all those back home! Well enough was enough! People were going to start respecting him even if it killed him!
Of course, in his anger, Naruto forgot that he was already dead.
In typical Naruto fashion, he did one thing. He charged at Kurama head first intent on giving the red head a thorough thrashing.
"Rrraagggghhhhh!" Naruto yelled in fury as he charged. Kurama had yet to look up from his book. Naruto jumped into the air, but before his fist could connect with Kurama, the red haired kitsune vanished.
"Wha-!" Naruto said intelligibly in wide eyed astonishment.
"I thought you said you were going to hit me?" asked Kurama turning another page. Naruto spun around in surprise before getting angry once more.
'Kuso!' Naruto thought.
The prospective Reikai Tantei growled, and sprang backwards, spinning in midair to try and strike Kurama with the backside of his right fist. Kurama bent backwards, dodging the blow, however, Naruto's left fist was coming straight for him. Kurama just barely managed to jump out of the way of the blondes fist as it crashed into the ground shattering the stone it struck.
Naruto jumped forward again and swung at Kurama. The Kitsune caught Naruto's fist and pushed it away from him. Naruto rode the momentum of the counter landing on the ground on his hands and then pushing himself off in an attempt to deliver a devastating mule kick to Kurama. However, Kurama managed to twist his body to avoid what was potentially a crippling blow.
Naruto landed on his feet once more, skidding backwards slightly, the expression of anger still on his face. He grinned slightly as he realized that Kurama was no longer paying attention to his book, however, the brief rush of satisfaction he felt was quickly squashed as he realized that Kurama was STILL not taking him seriously!
The Kitsune had not gone into a defensive stance, nor had he put his book away! He was 'fighting' Naruto one-handed. And the bland expression on his face... That cursed looked of apathetic boredom... It was almost as if he was facing another Kakashi!
That only made Naruto even more furious than before. "Take me seriously!" he shouted springing at his opponent once more. "Bastard!"
Naruto's fist was blocked again and Kurama pushed it away, again. Remembering something he saw Sasuke do once or twice while sparring with Kakashi-sensei, Naruto used the momentum to deliver a quick, but powerful kick to Kurama. However, the red head blocked that as well. Naruto, thinking quickly, drew a kunai out of his side pouch hoping to impale it on his calm adversary. Had he stopped to think, he might have wondered how his spirit had access to his weapons, but he was too focused on his anger to think about anything other than giving Kurama the beating of a lifetime. Kurama managed to dodge the kunai, but had to use his book to block it.
The blade pierced the book's hardcover, and was instantly incinerated, slightly singing Kurama's hand despite the fact he had hurriedly released the book on contact with Naruto's 'weapon'. Still, Kurama managed to grip the sleeve of Naruto's jacket and tossed him away.
Naruto tucked into a roll, tumbling twice before coming to his feet. His hand immediately reached into his pouch and he flung three kunai at his kitsune adversary. What he hadn't expected was for them to be glowing brightly with blue energy and traveling at speeds much faster than he'd thrown them. Still, Kurama dodged them with practiced ease.
Naruto froze in shock.
"Near instinctual control over your reiki," said Kurama, "It would be more impressive had you realized what you were doing. A shame."
Naruto's shock was replaced by anger. He clenched his fist. He didn't know it, but his reiki aura was beginning to glow brightly, blue flames of pure energy seemed to roll off him with a destructively fluid grace.
Kurama's eyes widened slightly in shock, not that Naruto noticed. Even Yojimbo's red, ethereal eyes seemed to brighten a fraction.
"Don't. Underestimate. Me!" Naruto growled through. A bolt of energy surged up Naruto's right arm.
Naruto thrust his arm forward, sending six bolts of kunai shaped energy at Kurama. Kurama jumped to his right, narrowly avoiding the attack when Naruto followed up with a second barrage. Kurama spun away from the second barrage, the sleeve of his shirt getting slightly cut and lightly burnt from the proximity of the Rei Kunai.
A growl alerted him to the swiftly approaching Naruto.
The Yondaime Hokage's son jumped at him and struck at Kurama with a solid right hook. Unfortunately, for the deceased shinobi, it was blocked, as was the follow up punch and the one after that. Finally, Kurama was able to kick Naruto's feet out from under him.
Kurama jumped backwards, putting distance between himself and his opponent as Naruto did a handspring and crouching into a somewhat crude stance. Kurama didn't have to wait long as Naruto jumped back into action, blocking each strike as it came and dodging each kick. After quite a few near misses, Kurama lashed out with a palm thrust to Naruto's sternum, knocking the blonde shinobi back.
"KUSO!" Naruto shouted in frustration. "Take this!"
Kurama's eyes widened in shock as a large amount of Reiki began to gather itself into both of Naruto's open palms, the bright glow of his aura returning even more intense that it had been moments earlier.
He then thrusted both hands forward, bringing them together. "REIHOU!"
A large beam shot from Naruto's hands barreling towards Kurama. Kurama simply faded out of existence as the beam went to connect, shooting right through him and blowing up a large boulder and uprooted a couple trees.
Naruto was dead tired, but kept his guard up should Kurama reappear. Had he been more cognizant of what was happening, he would have noticed that he seemed to flicker slightly out of existence, becoming translucent for a moment before becoming completely solid once more.
"Interesting..." Yojimbo's deep voice echoing through out the orchard. "Even with no knowledge of spirit manipulation, you still managed to create two unique techniques, and a variation of the first one you demonstrated. You were completely outclassed, yet you refused to give up. Even through your anger and frustration, you were victorious against that spiritual avatar."
"So... Does that mean I pass?" asked Naruto panting, dark rings, reminiscent of Gaara, around his eyes, giving them a sunken in look. He felt more tired than he ever remembered being when he was alive. Perhaps a side effect of having Kyuubi with him all those years.
"You pass," said Yojimbo. "However, remember one thing. Had that been the true Youko Kurama and not a mere imitation, you'd have lost. He'd not have toyed with you as this imitation had. You are powerful, but as you are, your powers do not compare to those of a demon of his caliber, nor are they enough to face off against a creature like Orochimaru. And though you seem to have some natural talent, your skills are far below those of your enemies. You must tread lightly for the path ahead of you will be even more difficult than when you were a mere Jinchuuriki."
"It's my dream to be the Kage of my village, and there is no easy path to becoming Hokage," said Naruto with a determined tone. "I know I have to work hard. That's why I train and protect my precious people, even at the cost of my life!"
Yojimbo's glowing red eyes dimmed slightly. "You do not fully understand, nor will you until you are ready. Being Reikai Tantei is unlike any occupation you will ever find in Ningenkai. You shoulder a responsibility like no other. Add to that, you will be a being unlike any other. Not truly human, yet not a demon. You are no longer a Jinchuuriki, yet you are both like and unlike a hanyou."
"Then... Then what am I?" asked Naruto. He looked directly into the Ancient Shinigami's eyes.
"That is something you must realize on your own," said the Shinigami, "Only then can you truly understand your powers and the responsibilities that come with them."
He then turned away from Naruto and began to leave. There was a barking noise and Naruto looked to see a strange dog-like creature that looked similar to a foot stool run at Yojimbo. The creature stopped short, wagging it's tail in obedience as Yojimbo reach down to scratch its' head. "Now go. You do not belong here."
"W-Wait! What about Kyuubi's power?" demanded Naruto.
Yojimbo did not turn back, He merely waved his hand. A ball of sickening crimson power began to form in front of Naruto. It slowly spiraled into an orb a bit larger than a soccer ball. Once the chakra was a compact orb of compressed malicious power, a small force field appeared around it, containing it. Even though there was a barrier between Naruto and the Kyuubi's raw hateful power, he could still feel the negative feelings that seemed to ooze off of the ball of youki.
"Koenma will know what to do..." said Yojimbo.
Naruto barely payed him any attention his focus almost completely on the crimson orb that was surging with repressed power. Power that was wild and tainted. Power that could not be contained. Power that was and would forever remain untamed.
It was whispered, but Naruto still heard it. He looked up at Yojimbo, but the old shinigami was no longer there. Hesitantly, he reached out towards the orb, barely touching it. As he placed his hand on the orbs surface he felt it was cool to the touch. He then reached out with his other hand and firmly gripped the orb containing the Kyuubi's powers.
Naruto gulped as the orb surged underneath his touch, yet he did not pull away from it. He felt invigorated, energized in ways he never felt possible. The power of the Kyuubi was now his to control, his and his alone. It was an addictive feeling. With it, he felt as if nothing could possibly stop him.
Naruto shook his head. He had to focus. Somehow, he felt as if this was going to be a lot harder than he initially thought.
"How is Tsunade-hime holding up?" asked Jiraiya, there was no mistaking the genuine concern in his voice. There was no jokes, no attempted groping and not event the slightest inkling of an intention to go out to conduct his research. Shizune quietly closed the door to Tsunade's room as gently and quietly as possible.
Shizune shook her head. "I-I'm not sure she'll ever recover... Naruto-kun... Naruto-kun was her reason. Her hope..."
"Her third chance," Jiraiya interjected.
Shizune sighed and nodded.
"Damn gaki..." Jiraiya turned to look out at the cloudy skies outside. It had not stopped raining since Naruto's death, as if the heavens themselves were crying out for the loss a great hero. "You can feel it, can't you?"
"Hai... The village... It seems rather subdued, empty..." said Shizune.
Jiraiya nodded. "If you look at the village, it's almost as if nothing's changed. People are going about their daily business as if nothing was wrong, like Konoha didn't lose one of her greatest and most precious heroes."
"Yet everything still feels wrong," said Shizune, "It almost seems as if the village has lost its' spark."
"After what happened when Kakashi returned back with Naruto and the Uchiha, even the most stubborn Naruto-haters are having trouble finding fault in the boy," stated Jiraiya. "I can't imagine what the reactions of the village will be once we reveal Naruto's heritage."
"I wish we could have told him before... Naruto-kun told me of how he always wanted to know about them," Shizune sighed sadly. "I hope he at least realized how many people truly cared about him deeply."
Jiraiya shook his head. "I doubt it... His team were the closest he had to family besides us, and based on their recent actions, I don't think any of them fully appreciated him for what he was until it was too late. Even Kakashi began to take him for granted. The Hyuuga girl was a shocker though. She seems to have cared for him longer than the others, but Naruto can be so thick headed sometimes... A lot like his mother at the same age. Same determination, same heart, same lack of common sense."
Shizune clenched her fists and eyes closed as tears threatened to spill forth. Her bottled up feelings finally came out in a torrent of emotion when Jiraiya brought her into a one armed hug, one meant purely for comfort with no impure intentions or ulterior motives.
Four figures sat around a table looking at a crimson orb.
"It's incredible how something so hateful and destructive can look so beautiful," commented Botan.
"You don't know the half of it," stated Minato, "In Ningenkai this power has the ability to devastate countries on a mere whim. It could obliterate mountains and cause large tsunami's. The Kyuubi's mere presence was enough to decimate the local flora and fauna. Its' malice could wilt plants and it's killing intent could send lesser beings into cardiac arrest."
"So, Minato-san, how do you wish to proceed?" asked Koenma.
"I'll make a modification or two to Naruto's current seals to help better facilitate the absorption of Kyuubi's youki. Then, I suppose we can add a few spiritual bindings in place for when the youki enters Naruto's body and place the rest of them once it's inside his spiritual body." Minato then turned to look his son in the eye. "I won't lie to you Naruto, the process will be nothing short of extremely painful."
Naruto, however, looked as determined as ever. "Let's do it."
The remnants of the famed "Rookie Nine", as they were currently being referred to as since the Chuunin Selection Exams (though after the Sasuke Retrieval Mission, thanks to the efforts of Rock Lee and Hyuuga Neji, it seemed as if Team Gai was being included as well, changing the name of the group to the "Konoha 12") along with Lee and Tenten, were all camped out in the room of Inuzuka Kiba.
Missing were the distraught Haruno Sakura and Hyuuga Hinata, the under house arrest Uchiha Sasuke, the critical Akimichi Chouji and Hyuuga Neji and the deceased Uzumaki Naruto.
They were all uncharacteristically silent, not knowing what to say to one another. Kiba was sitting up in his bed, his abdomen heavily bandaged from his nearly fatal, self inflicted stab wound. Lee was sitting in a wheelchair, his physical therapy set back several weeks because of his fight with Kaguya Kimmimaro. Tenten was perched by the window looking out to the dreary looking Konoha, Ino was next to her, but was idly playing with hair. Though it was still rather short from her fight with Sakura months prior, her bangs were still quite long.
Shikamaru was perched in the far corner of the room. Though Sabaku no Temari had talked some sense into him, there were many issues he still had to work out. Shino was perched at the end of Kiba's bed. His typically emotionless visage seemed to have a perpetual scowl ever since he had heard of what had happened. Not only had he missed out on the mission of a lifetime- for a genin- but several of his comrades were injured and one dead, killed by the hand of another comrade.
A sigh penetrated the silence.
"It just seems wrong, doesn't it?"
Everyone in the room turned to the one who spoke, it was Tenten, who was still looking out the window.
"I mean... I barely knew him and even I can sense how the village has changed without him in it..."
"I don't think anyone really knew him, except maybe Hinata," commented Ino, "The rest of us all looked down on him and treated him like the dobe he'd always been. We all made fun of him and put him down, took him for granted. Even though he was the weakest of us all in a profession that is kill or be killed a lot of the time, I always thought he'd always be there, giving us that same dopey smile and spouting how he was going to be some 'awesome, bad-ass shinobi' one day."
"I was one of the worst ones growing up," Kiba took over, "He'd been at the academy longer than anyone, yet he was such a screw up. Kaa-san warned me about him before hand, told me how he was trouble and to stay away from him. But really, I don't think I ever saw or heard about anything he ever did that said I should stay away from him. Other than him constantly challenging Sasuke, I think I only ever saw him get into one fight, and that was to stop a bunch of older kids from making fun of Sakura."
Kiba winched when he shifted in the bed slightly to get more comfortable.
"After sizing him up, I decided to see just what he could do. I made fun of him and went out of my way to make his life hell until he started getting back at me and everyone else playing all those pranks," Kiba remembered, "I guess I kind of started to respect him back then. Some of those pranks were awesome. Me, him, Shikamaru and Chouji all became running mates after a while, but we weren't all that close. Even after all that, I still couldn't call Naruto a friend. He was the weak screw-up... The dobe. It took him beating the crap out of me to realize there was more to him than all that orange and his shouts of 'ramen' and 'Hokage'."
"You know, when I think about it... I've only seen Naruto give up only once," said Shikamaru. "When all those people constantly made fun of him and put him down, saying he was a nobody and his dream of becoming Hokage was impossible, he always got up with that same grin on his face daring people to keep telling him those things. All those dates that Sakura turned him down for, all those challenges he lost to Sasuke... Every now and then when either me or Chouji would stay at each other's houses, on our way home we'd sometimes see Naruto working himself to the bone trying to overcome whatever the obstacle of the day was."
Shikamaru had been staring at the floor the entire time, but the looked up at the others briefly.
"Whenever he would screw up in class, our senseis would almost always say it was because he never worked hard enough, or he never trained, but honestly, I think Naruto probably worked harder than any of us while at the academy. It's no wonder how he has so much energy all the time."
"When put into that perspective, it is easy to see why Hinata seemed to always admire Naruto from a distance," said Shino. Many, including Kiba, looked confused at Shino's line of thought.
Shino continued on. "In many ways, Uzumaki Naruto was the anathema of Hyuuga Hinata. Where Naruto was brash and outspoken, Hinata was timid and shy. Where Naruto always sought to be noticed and acknowledged, Hinata always hid herself away from others, keeping herself from attracting too much attention. Naruto never saw himself as weak and always sought to become stronger. Hinata, despite being deceptively powerful and skilled in her own right, never considered herself as such. For much of his life, Naruto has been alone, no family and, as stated earlier, few friends- if any. Hinata was much the same, just as lonely as Naruto, despite coming from a well populated and prestigious clan. In many ways, Naruto was everything Hinata wanted, but couldn't bring herself, to be."
Kiba gave a small pained chuckle. "Remember when we first became 'Team 8', Shino? Hinata would train as hard as us to a certain point, and then she'd just give up. I couldn't understand it. It's part of the reason I was scared she'd get paired up with either Neji or Gaara during the exams. It was a real shocker to find out how well she did against Neji, despite the fact she still lost. After she recovered though, she was a whole different person. Just a few weeks after Tsunade-sama helped speed up her recovery, Hinata ran us all into the ground and was even encouraging us to try harder."
"Nothing we said or did could break through Hinata's barriers. No amount of encouragement, even from Kurenai-sensei, could bring out her potential," added Shino, "Yet a few words from Naruto and Hinata became a whole different person."
"It's because he acknowledged her," said Ino wistfully, "She was always hoping, in secret, that he would notice her and he did."
"Naruto wasn't much different," said Shikamaru, "It's the only reason I can come up with why all of his pranks were so elaborate. He just wanted to be noticed by someone, anyone."
Ino frowned. "But Hinata noticed him. She's always noticed him, even when the rest of us took him for granted."
"True, but Hinata went to great lengths to make sure he was unaware of this fact. Her shyness and fear of rejection from Naruto, kept her from being a better friend to him," Shino replied.
"There's also the fact that Naruto has been so focused on getting Sakura to find him, he missed all of the subtle hints that Hinata was sending him," added Shikamaru, "And let's face it, Naruto was a good guy and could be insightful at times, but subtly for anything outside of pranks was lost on him. He wouldn't be able to recognize any of the signs that someone likes him unless they hit him in the face with it and announced it to the world."
This got a small chuckle out of those present. They fell into a short, comfortable silence after that.
"I always thought there'd be more time," said Shikamaru, "Kiba was right, except for me and Chouji, none of us could really say we were really close, but we were all still friends to some degree. The days we would skip class and just hang out were some of the best we'd ever had and I figured we'd always have time in the future for days like that. Days where we really didn't do anything but just hang out, maybe going to the Barbeque Shack or that ramen stand Naruto always talked about, or even just laying around watching the clouds. I always knew there was a possibility that something might happen, but I never really considered that anything might happen to any of us..."
"I know what you mean. I was so jealous when Sakura told me about their mission that got bumped in rank." added Ino, "We hadn't even gotten a 'C' Ranked mission yet, and here they were coming back from an 'A' Ranked one. Looking back at it, they could have died, and for what? Because some stupid client lied about the mission to cut costs on the ninja he was trying to hire!"
Kiba sighed. "Everything was so simple back then... And we were all ready for anything, ready to take on the world if we had to."
"After hearing the mission debriefing, I think the only one of us who was really prepared for anything to happen was Naruto," said Shikamaru.
There were confused frowns around the room. Seeing this, Shikamaru elaborated.
"Sasuke didn't beat Naruto, Naruto let him win. I don't know all the details, because a lot of it is classified, but apparently Sasuke was trying to gain a higher form of his Sharingan. Don't ask me how, because I don't know. I'm guessing it had something to do with trying to kill Naruto, but I can't be sure." the shadow user speculated, "Anyways, I guess Sasuke decided he couldn't got through with it, but Naruto forced him to. Before that, they were both evenly matched."
"Naruto-kun is an example for us all," said Lee. "Like me, he was the dobe of his class. A drop out, a loser, yet he was able to surpass us all, defeating the strongest Genin in Konoha showing everyone that through determination and hard work, one can overcome any obstacles. We have all changed and are better for knowing him. Even in death, his flames of youth burn brighter than most."
This brought up the somber mood in the room. Tenten, despite the fact that she often loathed and became easily annoyed at both her sensei and teammate when they talked about their "Flames of Youth", couldn't help but smile.
"Well said, Lee."
Elsewhere, unbeknownst to the assembled shinobi, their friend was dimensions away sreaming out in horrible agony...
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