The Fifth Master
"Statues? That's it? Where's the meat?!" exclaimed Sokka, wholeheartedly disappointed in the lack of meat within the room.
"I am no statue." said a voice at the center of the room. The entire group turned to find a young looking blonde haired man with three whisker like scars adorning each of his cheeks. He stood taller then them all, at 5'11" and was dressed in clothes none of them had ever bore witness to. His eyes were an unusual blue, brighter than Katara's that seemed to peer through your very soul. But, he had a relaxing and calm air about him, despite the over all feel of strength emitting off him in small waves that slightly unnerved them.
"Hello, young Avatar, and friends."
Chapter 2: The Fifth Master
"Wh-who are you? How did you get in here?" Katara asked, not taking her eyes off of the mysterious blonde even for a split moment, though a slight blush did appear on her dark cheeks. It wasn't her fault that the male before them attractive. And, he looked to be a bit older than them, perhaps eighteen or nineteen.
"Get away from him!" Sokka called out, unsheathing his machete. "He could be Fire Nation!" He hurried himself between his sister and Aang and this stranger.
"I am not affiliated with the Fire Nation." the man simply said, looking at Sokka, surprised at the will and determination burning in his eyes. He had the air of a warrior about him, but was still like a new born child when it came to the harsh truths of being one. In a way, the young teenage boy reminded him of himself in his younger years; putting himself directly in the line of danger in order to protect the ones precious to him. It made him smile brightly internally.
"Are you the person Monk Gyatso said I would meet in here?" Aang asked a bit hopeful.
The blonde looked down to the young Avatar, his cerulean eyes softening some for he knew the what had happened to the man he spoke of. Kami-Sama had told him the fate of the Air Nomads, and the sad fact that this young twelve year old boy, was the last of his kind.
"No, I am not young Avatar." he said, noticing the slight disappointment that came over the young boys body, "I am, however, here to help you." this got a small gleam to come over the Avatar's eyes. "Sorry, I'm Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze, and to answer your earlier question young lady, I am here because this is where I was summoned to be." He said with a slight smile. Kami-sama had said specifically to leave out that she had sent him there. After all, to say that God was the reason he was there would sound a bit outrageous bordering on ludicrous.
"Summoned? What's that supposed to mean?" Sokka asked, still not stepping out of his defensive position.
Turning his gaze to the young warrior, Naruto said, "Yes, summoned. In simpler terms, I was poofed here from my world in order to help the Avatar once he arrived." Letting his eyes move back to meet Aang's, he said, "Though, you've arrived much later than I thought." Despite asking, Naruto knew very well what had happened to the Avatar (he had witnessed the memory thanks to Kami-sama). How he had run away from the responsibilities of being the Avatar and ended up in a storm which in the end forced the Avatar State to surface, thus leaving himself and his Flying Bison in suspended animation for a hundred years. The only reason he brought it up was because he needed the boy to see just how much his choices affect others, and learn to always make a conscious note on the effects his decisions will have among others. Directly or indirectly.
"I- I got held up." he said weakly.
"For a century?"
"I was sort of… trapped in an iceberg."
"An iceberg…? How… peculiar." Naruto said sounding expertly surprised with this not-so-new news. He wasn't a shinobi for anything; his lying skills had to be that of a Master. He also knew that this particular story was something that he would eventually need to confront the young Avatar about, but it was unwise to push such a thing. For now, he would wait. "A story for another time, then? Anyway, you are here now, as am I."
"Right, you just happened to be summoned to help Aang?" Sokka said, still skeptical over the blondes sudden appearance.
"Yes." Naruto said simply. Was it truly so hard to believe?
"What are you supposed to help Aang with? You said you're not the person Monk Gyatso said would meet him in here." Katara asked, her tone of voice reminding him of his best pink-haired friend, Sakura. She would have been a person to ask something like that, as she always was more perceptive and diplomatic than most.
"Alright, an explanation. As I am sure you know, the Avatar is to learn and master the four elements." he began getting nods from the three before him. "There is another art which has been forgotten by your people, the use of Chakra." The moment he said the foreign term, he could see the question marks floating around their heads, so he elaborated. "Chakra is a form of energy which all living objects naturally produce and is contained in chakra coils. It is similar to that of your Chi, but different in nature. Essentially, it is the moulding of physical and spiritual energy within the body, whereas Chi is simply your spiritual energy." he explained, now seeing vague expressions of comprehension from the two benders; Sokka, on the other hand, looked completely clueless to what he was saying. "Chakra manipulation is a powerful tool that is essential for the Avatar to learn should he even begin to hope to end this war. The reason being because there are times in which bending is weak, vulnerable. Young waterbender, surly you have noticed that your waterbending is extremely weak during the new moon?" he asked Katara.
She looked at him for a moment, slightly shocked that he realized she was a waterbender, but quickly brushed it aside and thought about it. Her eyes widened when she realized what he said was completely true. Waterbenders relied on the moon, it was their source of power just as the Sun was to Firebenders. During the daylight hours, her bending was slightly weaker than it was during the moonlit night. Nodding slowly in agreement, Naruto continued.
"Unlike bending, Chakra isn't weakened during certain times, it remains as strong as you train yourself to be. There is a point, however, where the excessive use leads to chakra exhaustion, and in severe cases, depletion."
"Why is that bad?" Aang asked extremely interested in this chakra Naruto spoke of.
"Chakra depletion means death." he said bluntly, shocking the three teens. "But, there are ways to avoid such, especially for the Avatar who can fall back on bending should his chakra run low." This in turn relieved the group, though Sokka was still tentative on stepping out of his defensive stance.
"Alright, if you were summoned, who were you summoned by?" Sokka asked.
Now that was a question he hoped to avoid for a while.
"The Spirits." he said simply, mentally patting himself on the back for his quick thinking. If the Kyuubi were still sealed inside him as he had been during his lifetime, he was certain the fuzzball of a fox would have been cheering for him as well. After all, in the latter years of his life, he had actually been able to call the mangy fox demon a friend.
Both Aang and Katara seemed to buy the explanation. Sokka, however, did not look convinced.
In a very Shikamaru Nara-esqe way, Naruto thought, "How troublesome."
"If you're not who Monk Gyatso said I would meet here, then who is?" Aang asked Naruto, hoping for someone else to be in the room.
His cerulean eyes softening, Naruto motioned his hand around the room, "I believe he wanted you to meet yourself." he said.
It was then that the group took their eyes off of the blonde stranger and took a closer look at the statues that spiraled around them. Each were lined up according to the Avatar cycle: Water, Earth, Fire, and then Air.
"These... all these are your past lives, Aang!" Katara exclaimed rather shocked once she realized the people were all placed according to the Avatar cycle.
"Wow~" Aang said in awe, "They're so many."
"Past lives? Katara, you really believe in that stuff?" Sokka said, finally letting himself stand normally, though his machete was still grasped firmly in his hand.
"It's true." Naruto said, "When the Avatar dies, he, or she, is reincarnated into the next nation in the cycle."
"Right~" Sokka said dryly. It was clear that this young water tribe boy didn't appreciate the Spirits. But, that was common among the nonbending community, or at least that was what Kami had told him.
Looking over to where Aang had walked off to, Naruto noticed he seemed to be in a trance, his eyes unblinking as he stared into the last statue.
"Aang...? Aang! Snap out of it!" Katara said, her protective instincts taking over and shook the bald airbender back to reality.
"Who is that?" she asked, looking at the statue of an old man.
"That's Avatar Roku, the Avatar before me."
"You were a Firebender? No wonder I didn't trust you when we first met." Sokka said, moving to stand behind his friend, his arms crossed over his chest..
"There's no writing." Katara stated, "How do you know his name?"
"I'm not sure." the young Avatar admitted, "I just... know it somehow."
"You know his name because at a time, you were him." Naruto said, pitching in his two cents to the conversation. "In fact, you have ever memory of your past lives locked away. I'm sure, should you meditate hard and long enough, those memories would become available to you."
"...You just couldn't get any weirder." Sokka deadpanned.
Before anyone else could say a thing, a sudden noise caught their attention, causing them to turn around and see a shadow heading toward them. As if on instinct, the three teens rushed to hide behind a couple of statues.
"Firebender... nobody make a sound." Sokka whispered.
"You're making a sound!" his sister exclaimed in a not-so-hushed whisper of her own.
"That Firebender won't know what hit him." Sokka said confidently as he held onto his machete
"Um, I don't think you have anything to fear from that." Naruto said, completely amused by their antics.
Upon hearing this, the three teens turned to peer at what Naruto was looking at. Instead of a Firebender Sokka thought it to be, there stood in the doorway a small monkey-like creature.
"Lemur!" Aang exclaimed, just as Sokka said, with a drool dripping down the edges of his mouth, "Dinner."
Completely forgetting Naruto's existence, both boys went off to chase the small creature, Aang in hopes of making it his newest pet, while Sokka hoped for it to become his meal.
Naruto couldn't help to hold it in any longer, so he began to laugh genuinely as the two boys chased after the lemur. How long had it been since he laughed like that? He hadn't a clue. Time in Kami's realm was nonexistent, so he didn't even know how long it had been since he passed on.
Katara had looked onto her brother and newest friend with an exasperated sigh, when she turned to stare wide-eyed at the new blonde man. He was laughing... really laughing! For some reason she had taken him as a rather serious person, especially after his explanation of who he was and why he was waiting for the Avatar. Yet, here he was, laughing and looking so childish. His whisker-like scars had stretched, causing his grin to look more child-like. The sight brought a slight blush to her cheeks when he turned to look at her, his grin seeming to threaten splitting his face.
"Come, let us go and catch up." He said, beginning to walk over to the entrance of the Sanctuary
"Uh, right." she said, beginning to walk beside him. She wasn't quite sure what it was about the strange blonde, but something in her gut told her that she could trust him entirely. It was obvious the man was strong, it practically emanated in waves around him, but something else was there. Something she couldn't describe. Whatever it was made her feel...safe. "My name is Katara, by the way." she said to him, realizing she, nor her brother or Aang had introduced themselves.
"A pleasure to meet you, Katara." said Naruto, holding a kind smile, "I'm assuming the other Water Tribe boy is your brother?"
"Yes, that's Sokka, and-"
"The Avatar is Aang." he finished for her, while she looked at him slightly surprised, "He was referred to as such a few times in our conversation moments ago." he answered her unspoken question.
"Oh, right." she said a bit embarrassed she thought he didn't pick that up.
It didn't take long for Naruto, Katara, and Sokka to catch up with Aang, who had taken the lead in the great Lemur chase. Though the end destination wasn't what any of the group had expected. In a small crumbling building laid the remains of numerous Fire Nation soldiers, with one single Air Nomad skeleton with unique beads handing around his neck.
From the memories he had bore witness to, Naruto knew exactly who the Air Nomad once was: Monk Gyatsu.
Naruto was disgusted at the sight. The Fire Nation didn't even have the decency to bury their own! They simply left the remains to rot...
It was sickening.
Before he knew what was happening, Naruto along with Katara and Sokka were blown back by a sudden gust of wind and were forced to take cover behind the rubble. Aang was floating in a sphere of air, his arrow tattoos glowing brightly as did his eyes. Eyes widened, Naruto realized that this was the true power of the Avatar: the Avatar State.
But he had no control over it.
Right now, Aang was running purely on his anger and grief.
And that put those closest to him in extreme danger.
Using his chakra to keep himself from being blown back by the wind Aang was generating, Naruto began to walk toward the young Avatar, Katara and Sokka screaming their protests and concerns.
"Aang!" Naruto yelled out, causing the Avatar's glowing eyes to look down at the blondes blue with stinging anger. "I know." he said softly, his voice as gentle as a silk, "I know what it's like, Aang. The anger. The sadness. The unbearable loneliness." he paused, "I know. But Monk Gyatso and the rest of the Air Nomads fought to protect you from the Fire Nation. They gave their lives in order to keep you out of their grasp. They loved you, just as Katara and Sokka do. Even though they are gone, you still have a family." As he said this, Aang's form began to lower, landing right in front of the blonde blue-eyed man, "You aren't alone." he said, his hand on the Avatar's shoulder giving it a comforting squeeze, looking over the boys shoulder to see that both Katara and Sokka had begun to make their way to their friend.
"Katara and I aren't going to let anything happen to you. Promise." Sokka said to his friend in a calm and gentle voice.
"I'm sorry" said Aang, his voice small and slightly broken.
"It's okay, it wasn't your fault." Katara said, pulling the boy into her embrace, trying to be as comforting as she could in this situation.
"You were right." Aang said, his voice slightly trembling. "And if the fire nation found this temple, that means they found the other ones too. I really am the last Airbender." Naruto could hear it. His voice reminded him of the rare moments when Sasuke would talk about his family without going into a blind rage. He was broken.
Now, all he had to do was help glue back those pieces together again.
Once everyone had calmed down, Naruto, Sokka, and Katara began to pack up, preparing to leave the Southern Air Temple. As soon as they were done, Katara said she was going off to find Aang so they could leave, to which both Sokka and Naruto nodded to. Just as the young water bender was out of earshot, Sokka turned to the blonde.
"Just so you know, I don't trust you." Sokka said to Naruto, his voice firm.
"I would be worried if you weren't, Sokka." Naruto admitted, "Just know that I mean no harm and am to be a teacher to Aang. It is my duty to do so. And if you would like, a teacher to you as well."
"Wait... what? Why would you be my teacher, too?" the young Water Tribe boy asked looking at the blonde incredulously.
"Because, Sokka, you have the means to learn the techniques I will be teaching to Aang as well. I can sense it, your chakra, it's enough for me to train you in the Shinobi arts, but only if you are willing. I will not force it upon you."
"Uh huh... Well I still don't know what this Shinobi art thingy you're talking about it. You haven't shown us anything." he said, still skeptical about the man before him.
"Ah, you're right, I haven't shown you anything." he said a bit sheepishly, embarrassed he hadn't shown them anything he could do and what he hoped to teach them. "Well then, how about a little demonstration? Here, this is one my my favorite techniques, and I'll be teaching you a less powerful version of it." he said bringing his hand into a familiar seal, and said, "Kage Bushin no Jutsu." In a puff of smoke, there appeared right next to the blonde was... him. Sokka felt as though his eyes were about to fall out of their sockets. There, right in front of him, were TWO Naruto's!
'That... that's impossible!' thought the boy as his eyes darted back and forth between the two. Curiosity getting the better of him, Sokka began to poke the Naruto that had emerged from the small puff of smoke, only to see that it was real!
"Are you done poking me?" said the second Naruto, a bit annoyed at his poking.
"It talks!" Sokka exclaimed, so shocked he fell to the floor. The sound of his bottom hitting against the stone floor creating a small thump.
"Sorry 'bout that." Naruto said, rubbing the back of his head before dispelling his clone.
"What was that?"
"That was my favorite technique, Kage Bushin no Jutsu, otherwise known as a Shadow Clone."
"A-a clone?" Sokka said, staring at the blonde blue-eyed man unsure what he had just witnessed.
"Yup! But that's just one of the many things I can do." Naruto said with a wide grin, his whisker-like birth marks stretching along with the grin. "I can help with your hand-to-hand combat skills, and sword skills among other things."
"...Okay." Sokka said while picking himself up from the floor. "I accept your offer." Even though he was still weary of the blonde before him, he couldn't hide the evident excitement in his voice. For once, he was going to get training, and it seemed as though this Shinobi art was even better than bending! He wouldn't be left behind in the dust by his sister, or Aang. No. Now he could protect them with his own strength and skill.
"Great! I'll start to explain it further when we set out to leave.." Naruto replied, his grin never leaving his face. "Com'on, let's go find Katara and Aang."
"Everything's packed." Katara said, finally finding Aang in the Sanctuary as he stood in front of his past incarnation, Avatar Roku. "You ready to go?"
"How is Roku supposed to help me if I can't talk to him?" asked the Air bender, a bit crestfallen.
"Maybe... maybe Naruto can help? He said the Spirits brought him here to help you. He might not know everything, but it's better than nothing, right?"
"Yeah! You're right, Katara!" Aang said excitedly. Naruto could help him! He did say that he was supposed to be his teacher, after all. It might not be for the Avatar stuff he hoped for, but he could know something to help him out.
"There you two are, ready to go?" Sokka asked, making his way toward the pair.
"Yeah, let's get going." said the Air Bender, smiling all the while.
A sudden monkey-like sound caused the group to look toward the entrance where the Lemur that had eluded the two younger boys, stood carrying something in his arms.
Rather quickly, the lemur bounded toward Sokka, dropping a small assortment of fruits at the boys feet.
Quicker than Naruto had ever witness the boy move, Sokka was crouching, his hands grasping two of the fruits as he began to devour them. All Naruto could do was laugh at the sight.
"Looks like you made a new friend Sokka." Aang said with a wide smile plastered on his boyish face.
"Can't talk. Must eat." he muttered between mouthfulls of fruit.
"Hey there little guy." The small lemur had made it's way onto Aang, his hands grasping the sides of the boy's bald head.
"So, suppose we should head out now, right?" Naruto asked the group who nodded in return before beginning to make their way back to Appa and leave.
As they were walking, Naruto noticed a small shift in the young Avatar's step and before long, he walked beside him.
"So, you're going to help me, right?" Aang asked hopeful with a twinge of caution.
"Yes." Naruto replied with a small grin, "Though I may not be all-knowing on the Avatar side to your training, I will help you in every way I can."
"...Thank you." Aang said softly, his eyes dropping to stare at the floor.
"You are welcome, Aang." the blonde said happily. Before long the group had mounted Appa and began to make their way, leaving the Southern Air Temple to once again be engulfed in the clouds.
'And so it begins.'
A/N: I don't know if that's what Chi really is... but I'm going to go ahead and leave my explanation as is, hope it's alright with everyone. Please let me know what you think and ways I could improve this story! Also, if you're interested, I replied to all your lovely reviews! You can find them on my profile ^^.