‘It’s that day again,’ thought Tsunade gloomily as she took a sip of her sake. She gazed somberly out towards the awakening ninja village of Konohagakure no Sato. She always dreaded this day, not only because it was on a Tuesday, her least favorite day of the week, but because today was the day that the two, soon to be three, people that she cared most for had died; March 15th.
‘Nawaki, Dan, I’m sorry,’ she thought morosely as she absentmindedly swirled around the rice wine in her tray before slowly enveloping it between her lips, the warm alcohol sliding down her throat and lifting a little of the remorse from her shoulders. ‘Sake, the panacea of ninja,’ thought Tsunade bitterly as she poured herself some more of the sweet, sweet, liquor.
It was then that Shizune stumbled into Tsunade’s office, tears falling relentlessly from her eyes and her entire body shaking. Tsunade regarded her nonchalantly, as if she had been expecting her apprentice and assistant to look so disheveled so early
“Tsunade-sama….we…we…just…received word…that…that…Naruto-kun…he’s…he’s…he’s dead,” sobbed Shizune. “He was killed by his own friends!” she sobbed grievously. Tsunade seemed to be deep in thought, however, as she once again shifted her gaze to the sight of the village, her village, being greeted by the pastel dawn. She took a deep breath before turning to face Shizune.
“I already know,” Tsunade responded stoically, trying her best not to show any emotion whatsoever. “I was the one who ordered them to,” she said morosely, slowly swirling the sake in her tray.
“No…no…you couldn’t have…you loved him…you loved him like a brother…you loved him like you loved Nawaki! I don’t believe you!” retorted Shizune angrily as she tried wiping her tears away with the sleeve of her kimono as Tsunade rose from her seat.
“I’m declaring my retirement tomorrow, Shizune. And after I see to it that a new Hokage is chosen and trained, I’m leaving. You can come with me if you choose, but I won’t hold it against you if you instead choose to stay here,” announced Tsunade as she walked past her distraught apprentice and out of the office. As she walked through the hallway of the Hokage Tower, her footsteps echoed off of the walls and with each echo a memory of her adopted younger brother surfacing in her mind; all the times that he smiled, or did the “impossible,” or was just being himself. With each memory her heart become heavier and heavier.
But she tried her hardest to keep back her tears; she was done crying. She was done mourning her losses and looking down on life. She had made mistakes in her past, and she acknowledged them. But tomorrow she would a start a new life, not as twenty fiveyear old Godaime Hokage, but as fifty two year old Ishimatsu Tsunade.
As she exited the massive tower, she felt an impossibly large burst of chakra; something she had felt only a few times in the past, and in much smaller bursts.
‘It couldn’t be,’ thought the Godaime Hokage. ‘It can’t be alive…Naruto’s dead. The Kyūbi no Kitsune should be dead too,’ thought Tsunade fearfully as her eyes widened.
“So you feel it too?” asked an apathetic voice behind her. She whirled around to meet the famous Hatake Kakashi behind her, who was looking worse for the wear. For once his book was nowhere in sight and his sharingan was activated. “It’s back,” he stated, his usually aloof tone slipping.
“You don’t have to state the obvious Kakashi,” snapped Tsunade as she turned to where the enormous chakra pulse was coming from.
“It seems weaker than the first time it came,” stated Kakashi, as he walked next to Tsunade. “It’s probably still in the stage of regaining its power,” stated Kakashi factually.
“You don’t seem to be that worried over dieing,” Tsunade deadpanned.
“Death doesn’t seem like such a bad end,” answered Kakashi with a shrug. “I’ll finally be reunited with Obito and Rin.”
After several seconds of awkward silence, Tsunade resumed the conversation. “He’s dead you know,” she quietly announced, digging her nails into her palms in frustration.
“I guessed as much,” answered Kakashi somberly. “It’s a shame; he showed so much promise as a ninja,” Kakashi stated factually.
“Is that the only thing that you can care about right now Kakashi; that he may have been a good tool to be used for our own selfish reasons?” Tsunade angrily demanded. It was then that she noticed the bags underneath the silver haired jounin’s eyelids and the dull look in his good eye.
“No, but it’s the easiest thing to think of,” enlightened Kakashi with a sigh. This spoke volumes to Tsunade, who hardly ever saw the only remaining member of Team Yondaime downtrodden. “I always thought that I could show him what it was like to be wanted, but it looks like I’ve failed him, just like how I failed my team,” he voiced.
The conversation between the two seasoned ninja stopped there, as it was going in a direction that neither person wanted to visit.
After what seemed like an eternity, Kakashi began to walk away from the Godaime Hokage, but stopped as Tsunade called his name.
“Kakashi, I want you to round up all ninja in the village and evacuate the civilians immediately,” Tsunade commanded as she faced the back of the younger ninja.
“As you wish, Hokage-sama,” Kakashi responded before disappearing in a cloud of smoke.
“I’m sorry Naruto; I couldn’t even protect this village for you,” Tsunade whispered before walking towards where she knew her apprentice lived. ‘If anyone should know the truth, it is her.’
Naruto stood perfectly still, pain erupting from every broken bone in his body. He glared indignantly at the people who he believed to be his friends, standing in front of him. They could hardly bare to look at him, especially Chouji, who had been the one to immobilize Naruto by snapping each of his arms and legs.
“Naruto, I believe I speak in the words of all five of us when I say that we are truly sorry for what we are about to do, and that we do not wish to have to eliminate you,” explained Neji soberly, bringing his sorrow filled glance to meet Naruto’s pained one.
“Why?” Naruto croaked, in wracking pain from having to stand on his destroyed legs and only barely conscious. “I thought…I thought...I thought that we…we were…friends. Why would you…betray me?” he asked, tears beginning to well up in his eyes. He quickly shut his eyes shut, trying not to let his traitorous friends see the inner pain he was feeling.
“We were ordered to, directly by the Hokage,” solemnly answered Sasuke, and for once his eyes were not filled with anger or condescension; but sorrow.
“Baa-chan? No…she…she would never…do…that,” stammered Naruto. “She would never do that do you hear me! She would never break her promise to me!” Naruto screamed at the team of jounin sent to eliminate him: Shikamaru, Neji, Chōji, Sasuke, and Kiba; his closest friends.
“That is the truth, Naruto…my friend,” disproved Neji in a soft voice, grief and sorrow laced heavily within every word. “You are in the realm of my eight trigrams,” somberly announced Neji as he got into the signature stance of the Gentle Fist’s signature move. He then charged Naruto and began his ruthless assault, each strike hitting the exact spot Neji targeted.
“Two palms…four palms…eight palms…sixteen palms…thirty two palms…sixty four palms…” Neji whispered. Naruto thought that the attack was over as pain, chakra blockage, and fatigue began to take its deadly toll throughout his body, but he was wrong. He could never have prepared himself for the pain that would follow.
“One hundred twenty palms…three hundred and sixty one palms,” panted Neji. He then sank down to his knees very uncharacteristically, completely drained physically by the highly destructive jutsu he had just pulled off and mentally by having to kill the person who taught him the true meaning of a ninja. Naruto’s final shout of pain still rang throughout his ears as he gripped at the earth beneath him.
Naruto still remained on his feet, his eyes the same bright azure that his companions had grown up knowing, but now they were empty, holding nothing but an empty battered vessel.
“I’m sorry, Naruto,” whispered Neji. “Please don’t hate us; we were only doing what we were assigned to do,” he pleaded as what seemed to be tears began to form in the Hyūga’s eyes.
“It’s alright, Neji, it’s better that the Council didn’t get their satisfaction of having him exiled first,” Chōji consoled as he reassuringly put a hand on Neji’s shoulder.
Shikamaru then released the kage mane no jutsu that he had been using to hold the blond ninja as Kiba caught Naruto’s crumpling form in both arms; biting his lip violently as he witnessed the corpse that used to be one of his closest friends.
“Uchiha inform the Council that their mission is complete,” Shikamaru commanded, as he struggled to keep his composure, along with the other four.
Just as Sasuke relayed the message to the Council, Akamaru, who was now at least half of Kiba’s height, started shaking and quivering in fear as he sprinted away from the area where the jōnin were gathered. Kiba unbecomingly dropped Naruto onto the ground and quickly backed away from the corpse, his eyes widened in fear and his teeth bared.
“Kiba, what’s wrong?” Sasuke asked.
“It’s Naruto…there’s something not right with him,” shakily answered Kiba as he pointed towards Naruto’s corpse..
“You mean besides the fact that he’s dead?” snapped Neji as began to regain his composure.
“How observant,” an unfamiliar voice noted; a low, resounding, bass voice that came from Naruto’s own mouth. Four loud popping sounds pierced the air, his bones popping back into place, as he stood up on both of legs, his eyes closed. “I always did think you to be weak, Hyūga, but I must commend you on freeing me; no other mortal has been stupid enough to do that since I have been released unto this world,” Naruto sneered as he opened his eyes, which were a sickly shade of crimson.
“You might be wondering who I am, correct?” asked Naruto. “You see, I’ve been sealed inside this…abominable sack of meat…for over the past two decades, and it would do me no good to kill you all without first knowing the sweet taste of complete and total fear.
You may know me as the Kyūbi no Yoko, or the Kyūbi no Kitsune; the maoh of both worlds. Don’t worry though; you won’t suffer for that long, just as long as I keep my interest in you,” promised the possessed Naruto as he grinned ferally and claws and fangs elongated from his teeth and hands.
He then lunged at Chōji and Neji, lashing out with both of his legs. Chōji was able to block the attack and soon was flat on his back, exposed, while Neji was not nearly prepared for it and was sent flying into a tree, his head colliding with a sickening crack.
“How disappointing,” the Kyūbi sighed. “I thought that you could have given me some kind of entertainment Hyūga.” He then seemed to disappear into thin air without any kind of handsigns, only to reappear over Chōji, his hand readied to eviscerate the prone ninja. However, he was knocked off balance by Kiba, who had thrown himself into the demon, saving his friend’s life.
“Don’t think that you can just waltz into our village and kill our friends without us putting up a fight you dumb piece of shit,” spat Kiba as he fended off a rend from the demon.
“We’ll see mutt; we’ll see,” the Kyūbi snickered.
“Otou-sama, what is that?” asked a white eyed young woman, who stood next to her older sister, who was slightly less confused than her sister, and their father, who had a deep scowl on his face.
“That, Hanabi, is the Kyūbi,” answered Hiashi stoically. “The same beast that almost destroyed us all those years ago has returned.”
“He’s dead…Naruto-kun…” whispered Hinata as tears cascaded silently down her face.
‘Onee-san, why do you cry for some boy yet not for yourself, or for me? Why are you so sad now, yet when Otou-sama trains you to the bone, you show no sign of submission whatsoever? Why is he so special?’ Hanabi thought to herself. In actuality, the only time she ever remembered her sister crying was when the Sandaime had died, despite her fragile and meek disposition. “Otou-sama, who is this Naruto that Hinata speaks of?” Hanabi asked.
“He is the one that defeated Neji in his Chūnin Exams, the first one you attended, and he is, or rather was, the vessel of the Kyūbi no Yoko. Apparently, he has failed the one job that this village has ever given him,” explained Hiashi, not a trace of fear in his voice.
“No…you can’t say that he failed,” protested Hinata through her sobs. “After all of the years of dealing with abuse and still being able to say that he was proud to be shinobi of this village. He’s proven time and time again that he was the right person for the job,” she declared, the tears still falling on to her face.
‘Onee-san, why do you defend him, when you don’t even defend yourself?’ furiously thought Hanabi. She then began to walk away from her family and towards the main gates of Konoha.
“Hanabi, where are you going?” Hiashi demanded. Hanabi flinched at the harsh tone, but did not turn to face him.
“I’m going to go protect this village,” she declared as she continued her march. “You cannot stop me, Otou-sama; this is my duty as a kunoichi of Konoha.” Hiashi did not say anything, but merely watched his youngest daughter, now an elite jōnin of Konoha, walked to what would almost certainly be her death.
“And you, Hinata, are you going to go with your sister?” Hiashi asked his crying daughter. For several seconds he received no response except tears.
“Y-yes, I’m going, Otou-sama,” Hinata answered through her tears. “To do my duty.” She then ran to catch up with her younger sister. Hiashi merely watched his two daughters, the only family he ever had, leave for a battle they could not win.
‘I love you both,’ Hiashi thought to his girls, even though he knew they would never hear it, he still needed to do it; he needed to show his love for his daughters before they die. But it was too late, and all he could do was to pray for a miracle.
The two of them stood near Konoha’s gates, observing its seemingly endless width. They were waiting for something, but they didn’t know what they were waiting for. It was then that a man in his thirties approached them, several large shuriken strapped to his back.
“Hanabi, Hinata, what brings you to the gates of Konoha?” he asked, a reminiscent smile on his face.
“It is our duty as ninja of Konoha to do all we can to prevent any harm to come to this village,” Hanabi recited, as if out of our textbook. “Therefore, it is our responsibility to gain as much time as possible for the people of Konoha so they may be able to escape.
“Well then, my duty would be that of a teacher; I cannot allow my students to go into battle unassisted,” he answered. “I have a score I need to settle, anyway,” he said as he absentmindedly traced the scar that extended the width of his nose with his index finger.
As they were about to leave the gates of Konoha, they were stopped by the guard, a middle aged man with short dark hair and a short beard.
“Where do you think you’re going? All ninja are supposed to be assisting in evacuation,” the man gruffly stated, glaring at the three ninja.
“Then you’re not a ninja? You said all ninja are supposed to be assisting, yet you’re sitting on your ass waiting for the world to end,” Hanabi retorted stoically.
“For your information, you snot nosed little brat, I’m doing very important business. I’m making sure that no one gets out and that no one gets in,” he stated.
“Well then you’re doing a shitty job of doing it,” Hanabi snapped.
“And why would that be?” the guard demanded, his thick eyebrow cocked questioningly. Several seconds later the guard fell out of his tower, unconscious, and landed with a hard thud against the packed earth, a senbon sticking out of his neck.
“It’s not fatal,” Hinata assured her old teacher. “It’ll only make him look dead for several days,” she explained.
Iruka, to say the least, was shocked. He could not remember a time before that day when Hinata wasn’t standing in the background. If anything, he would’ve expected Hanabi to pull a stunt like what her sister did. He merely waved it off, however, as he moved on to more pressing matters.
“We should go,” he told the Hyūga siblings, sparing one last glance at the guard. ‘Poor man; at least he won’t be awake when the Kyūbi comes,’ he thought. Without any further signal, the three began sprinting towards where the immense chakra signal was being emitted from, hoping that they could at least buy several minutes for the citizens of Konoha.
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Chapter notes: I don't own Naruto.