Disclaimer: I will never claim rights to Naruto
Warning: fluff is exhibited here
This is a pretty short chapter for me and is just used to introduce more plotlines.
The brilliant morning rays of sun shone through the small windows of the rooms lying on the Eastern wing of the building. This caused two Uzumaki's and an Uchiha to blink their eyes open in annoyance around the same times.
Naruto raised a lone arm over his forehead to provide shade to his burning eyes. "Nagato, are you awake?" All he got was a quiet grunt in response. Naruto sat up to see his friend in the same position as he. Friend, huh? Naruto smiled to himself at this thought and went to close the curtains.
"Nagato, we should try and get an early start today. Maybe we should get Itachi to come help since he wasn't assigned a role last night." Nagato pushed his body up in a sitting position and faced the teen. Naruto thought he saw the annoyed expression deepen into a scowl, but brushed it off as being moody on this particularly over-sunny morning.
"Fine. Can you come here please?" The blonde did as told, but missed the mischievous glint in the lavender eyes. "I'm going to clean up so please bring me to the washroom, Naruto." Naruto knelt down with his back facing the man, but he noticed the lower and slightly husky tone the sleepy man used on his name. Nagato pushed his body up higher and wrapped his arms around the boy's shoulders, then making them go limp. He leaned his weight onto the smaller back and breathed in, pretending to have fallen slightly and be too lacking in energy to right himself up.
The excess warmth and closeness was different somehow from the way Naruto always carries the elder. The ghost of the man's breath tickling the younger's neck sent tiny shivers down his spine. This seemed like Nagato was hugging him from behind, and the boy made sure his head was facing forward to hide the blush coming on. He grabbed the man's thighs after a minute, lifting him, and proceeded to the washroom where he left the man with running water filling a large tub. He missed the smirk still playing on the redhead's lips, too.
Itachi hated mornings and preferred the evening. His eyes were sensitive enough as is, and when he was alive his pale Uchiha skin would not agree with the ultraviolet rays. Of course an Uchiha never complained, but that didn't mean he ever had to like it. And the start of a new day was always a thought that seemed dreadful. Only enthusiastic people are like that. Night was when the air cooled, the skies darkened, and his power was at its highest. Probably because his bloodline is derived from those of the moon. Everything was more quiet and soothing, with only a few situations proving this statement wrong at times (the night he massacred his family for instance).
Itachi rolled off his side and flung the kake futon comforter off. Just as he was about to get up, a knock sounded at his door, causing a sigh to erupt from the once patient Uchiha's mouth. When he slid the door open a couple minutes later, he was surprised to find the Uzumaki boy to be leaning against the wall with his eyes closed in waiting. With the indifferent, but slightly peaceful look on his face, it made Itachi inwardly laugh at the irony of the roles being switched. This boy used to be so rambunctious and impatient and loud, if his battles were anything to go by.
"Naruto? What is it?"
The younger opened his eyes and peered into the other's. "Ohayou gozaimasu, Itachi. You know, that should be the first thing said to a person at this time. Thought you'd be aware of that." Naruto smirked and continued on. "You weren't assigned a role last night. I thought it would be for the best if you helped Nagato and I down in the archives. We're mostly researching fuuinjutsu that will be beneficial against fighting Madara, but the information there is limitless, so it'd be a great help if you looked through some books too, ya know? Are you okay with that or is there something else you'd rather do?"
Itachi needed thinking about it only for a second. Research? Cooler temperatures? No sun? Good company? He inwardly shook the last thought away and nodded his head in agreement. Naruto smiled at that and started walking away, until he stopped a few feet down from the room and called over his shoulder. "Nagato and I should be ready to head there in twenty minutes. Just meet us in our room by then since you don't know the way there yet." With that the teen disappeared down the hall further from the bedroom he shares with the redheaded man. Itachi shrugged it off and decided to take a tour of the residence before the scheduled meeting time.
The trio was now making their way up the grassy steppes to the center of the village. When they came upon a rough patch of ground, Naruto pulled up a large hunk of dead grass that exposed a circular hollow opening with a metal staircase descending down into darkness. An unused torch was laying on the first step, ready to be lit.
"Itachi, would you like to do the honours?" Naruto held up the torch in one hand to said man while trying to balance Nagato in his grip with the other. Itachi put his hands together with his thumbs and index fingers pressed up, and blew a light fire from his lips. The torch lit up and the raven took hold of the wooden shaft, then stepping in front and wending on to lead the other two down the now-lit steps. Once at the bottom, Itachi inspected the open room in awe. Even with many bookshelves spiralling around the room in rows, there was still so much space and it appeared to be well-kept as though the village wasn't attacked and abandoned. The only indication to this was the occasional glint and sparkle that came from the dim light reflecting upon cobwebs. Naruto set Nagato down in a seat at the back of the room and went back to Itachi with two more torches ready to be lit. Both were placed in holders attached to the walls. As the two older men flipped through pages of material on Uzumaki fuuinjutsu, Naruto continued the research left to him by the Kyuubi.
So, I did as you told. Now can you tell me?
The kitsune just scoffed and lifted his head at the new presence. Yes. So you understand everything from the beginning now? About Outsutsuki Kaguya, her sons, and how everything went down and created the world we know today? Naruto nodded and the Kyuubi proceeded.
The Rikudou no Sennin created us from the Jyuubi. He was like a father to us, and we all got along together as much as brothers and sisters can. He told us that someday someone will come, and that person will be the saviour of the world and unite us once again. In his final days he witnessed the feud between his two sons and knew the curse it would develop through time. The saviour will also break the curse. That is what he told us bijuu before he left. He paused to take in his container's reaction. The kitsune noticed some gears clicking inside the boy's head and internally smirked. Brat, just so you know, he didn't say how. You have to figure that out on your own. Though, I am honestly glad that you are the one he spoke of. Not because I like you. Just because it's been a hell of a long wait. The Kyuubi laid his head down onto his giant paws and went silent.
Naruto was speechless for a minute, trying to take in the new information, what it meant, and also the Kyuubi's confidence in him.
And in order to break the curse, you have to be one of the two under it...right? I guess there's no more uncertainty then. Naruto started walking away. Thanks, Kyuubi. Just before he left his consciousness that holds the Kyuubi, he heard something that greatly startled him.
Call me Kurama. That is my real name.
Naruto woke up in the regular wooden chair with a small smile ingrained on his face. "Nice dream?" Itachi stood in front of the boy with a book in hand, expression indifferent. The smile got bigger. "You could say that."
"Nagato, is there a reason why your legs have been injured this badly for this long? Surely there are physicians or medical ninja who could do something, right?" The man turned to Naruto with down-turned lips. "I have tried over the years, but no one could figure out why it wasn't healing naturally. I even learned some medical ninjutsu, but could not figure it out myself. It is a hopeless matter that I have long given up on. Why? Getting tired of carrying me everywhere Naruto-kun?" The last sentence was spoken with attempted humour, but Naruto could tell it was a hard subject for the man.
Naruto stepped closer to the seated man and kneeled down in front of him, never breaking eye contact. "You're someone who's so independent, yet you have to depend on others for movement. It doesn't seem right." He reached for one hand and clasped it in his right, bending both their arms up in what is usually done when one makes a promise with another. "Nagato, I will make sure you feel the hard ground below your feet again." Nagato shuddered slightly from the stern words uttered out of his friend's mouth. It was enlightening; having someone outwardly care so much for him, or care at all. Konan had given up even before himself, saying it was alright and he could depend on her. That wasn't what he had wanted, though.
"Arigatou, Naruto..." Just as the red head was about to pull the blonde into an embrace, a slight cough brought the two out of their reverie.
"Sorry to interrupt, but there's something... curious... outside that I thought we should check out together." Naruto tilted his head at Itachi's words as Nagato glared at the bad timing of the man. After Naruto positioned the other Uzumaki on his back and followed behind the Uchiha, they came to the top of the staircase and gazed upwards. Just as they had arrived to the top, they all had glimpsed the giant clay bird with two familiar ninja riding atop it. It soon disappeared behind a row of houses as it swooped down. The trio decided to travel that way and find out why a certain explosive blonde has circled their way back to them.
It didn't take long for the three ninja to reach their destination as Deidara landed only two kilometres away. Just as they reached him, Deidara was sending his art back in the air to safely detonate away from the village. Behind him, laying on the grassy ground almost lifeless, was someone Naruto nor Itachi had ever expected to see.
Naruto walked towards Deidara and handed Nagato to him, his arm over Deidara's shoulders for support. Naruto swiftly fell to his knees beside the unconscious Uchiha and placed two fingers over the crease of the other's neck to check for a pulse. After a minute of waiting, he felt relieved to finally pick up a faint beating. The same two fingers moved under his nose to examine his breathing, which was equally as faint.
"Itachi, can you bring him to an empty room in the base? He's not doing well at all..." Itachi felt even more worried at the look that surfaced the younger's face. He cared for his otouto even after everything they both did, but wouldn't usually show it. For some reason, he was able to let his true emotions surface in the presence of the jinchuuriki.
Doing as told, he picked up his otouto, slung him on his back as carefully as possible, and strode towards the Akatsuki's/Uzumaki's living quarters. Once there, Naruto pointed out a room three doors down the right side of the first hallway and had Nagato quickly open the door with his Tendou repulsive jutsu. Once everyone was sitting or lying down comfortably, Nagato used the medical ninjutsu he had earlier claimed knowledge of to inspect the young Uchiha.
Little groans and murmurs could be heard every so often over the heavy breathing, and Naruto took the liberty of bringing futon covers to lay on the ice cold body. As soon as Nagato's glowing hands had reached Sasuke's lower stomach, he withdrew himself and sighed.
"What is wrong with him?" Itachi's steady voice broke the silence.
"It is hard to explain, for I don't even comprehend what it is, but a strong jutsu has been placed on him. It seems to me... someone wanted to curse him with endless suffering. I'm not surprised it happened, with his current actions towards certain people." The other two held back their tongues from answering, and either closed their eyes or looked away.
Later that night, the group, including Deidara, sat in the entrance hall drinking and eating their fill. The new presence left much to be discussed with everybody.
"Deidara, how exactly did you find the boy?" Nagato pointed his gaze at the other. The said man put down his drink and folded both arms behind his head, letting out a long sigh before speaking. "I was in the middle of the Land of Waves and spotted him on the shore of some lake looking like road kill. I'm surprised the vultures hadn't gotten to him yet, Mm! Of course I didn't know it was the brat until I got lower. I brought him here instead of finishing him off, since I figured you'd get more enjoyment out of him than me blowing him up when he wouldn't even be conscious to experience it! Mm!" Everyone rolled their eyes or sighed throughout the explanation, and Nagato brought the attention back on himself. "Now that we have him under our watch, he is no longer a threat. Itachi, what do you think of this?"
The raven stared at the floor in front of him in contemplation. "Just as you said. Unless you were referring to something on a more personal level?" At this, Naruto moved closer to the man from his left side and placed a hand on his arm, then faced his head towards Nagato. "I think we should call for Tsunade; she might be able to help. Then he can tell us what he knows about who did this to him and possibly Madara's and Obito's plans." There was silence for a good while as the idea was rolled over in the red head's mind. When Naruto couldn't take it anymore, he quickly added, "I trust her Nagato. And if anyone could heal him, it's Tsunade. If not, then he's a lost cause."
The elder Uzumaki fully turned towards the younger and searched his cerulean eyes, accepting the idea immediately when he caught the unwavering determination in their depths. "Alright." He turned away again, now towards the group, and addressed the entire company. "Does everyone agree with bringing the Hokage here?" There were some murmurs of skepticism, but all-in-all they came to full agreement.
When everyone settled down and the hum of conversation lessened, Naruto interrupted. "I'll take the liberty of contacting Tsunade to come here for Sasuke." He stood up and everyone nodded. With one last look at Nagato, he headed towards their shared room to write the needed message.
And for Nagato, too.
"Raikage-sama, the others have arrived."
"Let them in and bring some tea or something." The man barked at the woman at the door and folded his hands on top of his new wooden desk. The last one broke in his rage with the damn Hokage.
Just then, the young Kazekage Sabaku no Gaara and the lovely Mizukage Terumii Mei walked in. The Raikage motioned for them to take a seat as he began the meeting.
"So as you know, the remaining Akatsuki led by Madara and Uchiha Obito are leading a war against the five great nations. We need to come up with a plan to protect the remaining two jinchuuriki from them and to win the war." He pointedly looked at all the faces in the room, waiting for suggestions.
A deep but feminine voice bellowed in annoyance. "To protect the jinchuuriki, they should be together at the very least, should they not?" The Raikage glared at the blonde woman, but made sure to share it with her supporters.
"I agree with Tsunade-sama. Naruto and Killer Bee-san should stay together in case they are found." The Tsuchikage nodded in agreement with Gaara.
The Raikage noticed the other woman's silence, and hoped she would at least share his views. "And what do you think, Mizukage?" She refrained from talking for a few more moments, clearly pondering something internally. "I think... that if the two jinchuuriki could find a safe, secret place to stay while the fighting occurs, then it's up to them. However, I've heard of their abilities and accomplishments. If they choose to fight, I will fully support them. We will need their strength indefinitely. What does Naruto-san and Bee-san say to all this?" There were many conflicting expressions around the room; the only one fully glad at her opinion: the Tsuchikage.
"Bee is under my watch and care, and his will is my own. As for the Uzumaki..." there was a twisted smirk as the man tried not to sneer, "the Hokage here has lost him."
Tsunade gave him the Evil Eye and held her balled, shaking hands together to keep from her violent tendencies, which were stirred up at the tanned man's words and leering. "I did not lose him. I trust he told me the truth that he is safe and is doing what needs to be done." All this was said through gritted teeth, which started to relax at her next sentence. "A note arrived from him just before this meeting, seeking my help."
"Show me." If Tsunade wasn't as hardened as she was, she surely would've been crushed down to her knees by the pressure the Raikage's smouldering eyes emitted. However, she did slowly reach into a pocket underneath her haori and stretch her hand with the letter out to the bulky man.
Don't tell anyone what is written here.
I need you to do something for me. It requires your medical expertise. You are probably the only one in the world that can help with it, so I beg of you to forgive me for leaving and to meet with me. This messenger hawk knows where to go, so just send your answer with him and it'll get to me.
From your favorite gaki
P.S., there's a huge stash of alcohol here
The Raikage faced Tsunade while he held the letter out to the side for someone to take. He waited for everyone to finish inspecting it. "I thought you trusted the boy. He said to not show anyone, so why did you show us after just having received it?" The Tsuchikage sounded incredulous and sardonic at the same time.
"I do, but there isn't much information here that I can't trust you with. And I also needed you to know in order to ask you this: Can I say yes?"
After a moment, everyone nodded in surety. "Now that the Uzumaki is out of the way, let's discuss war measures. I think we should start rallying up all prospect fighters and convene here in Kumo soon, when everything is ready. With five armies joined together, there is no way Madara can win."
After a half hour of the same topic and its specifics being addressed, there was a verbal sigh emanated from one direction, and a slight cough from the other.
"You know, Raikage, we never made a decision on Killer Bee." Tsunade and Ounoki smirked. Even Gaara's lips twitched a bit. The authoritative man opened his mouth once, no words coming out, before his gaze turned threatening once again and he stood up. "Bee is NOT going anywhere!"
There was a nice breeze that ran through the long fields of grass and the clear streams running through the top of the steppes that led to a small lake further on. A pasture of flowers surrounded the rippling waters as the grass blew below the two incomers' feet. They sat down and looked out at the view, enjoying the cool wind and the cloudy sky that shaded them from the sun.
"Konan...how have you been?" The man asked a bit sheepishly. Said woman faced her head towards him sadly. "You know how it's been - for everyone. These years haven't been kind to anyone... Yahiko."
The brunette tried to conjure up some courage to continue the conversation, instead of changing it. He placed a hand over the paper user's own. "I want to hear it from you, though. What happened after...that? The Hanzo incident." His eyes were pleading and lugubrious. Konan couldn't even pull away from his gaze.
"Nagato and I were a mess. He summoned the Gedou Mazou with his rinnegan and killed all of Hanzo's men. Of course Hanzo himself escaped, but Nagato got to him later. We were broken and in so much pain with your loss, that Nagato altered the Akatsuki's methods for peace. We just found out by Naruto-kun that Obito and Madara had been manipulating us the whole time."
There was silence on both sides, until...
"I've missed you."
Yahiko's head turned up toward the woman's words. With a shaky breath, he muttered ever so lightly, "I'm glad to be back." Yahiko reached around the woman's shoulders and drew her in close to his chest, her hair tickling his chin.
They stayed like that for some time until Jiraiya came up behind them, heavy footsteps giving him away. "Well isn't this a pleasant sight. Skipping out on your duties to rendezvous here alone, huh?" The giant smirk on the Sannin's face said it all and caused his two disciples to blush. The two turned their heads in opposite directions, and when the situation was more than he could take, the brown-haired man coughed loudly enough to rid the air of the awkwardness.
"Jiraiya sensei, is there a reason you sought us out?" The paper user questioned in a soft voice and anxious smile. It lost its nervous edge and increased around the corner of her lips upon seeing her sensei's signature mischievous grin. He started beating around the bush when he purposefully stared out to his left side with that same grin while humming his answer. "I saw Nagato and Naruto being real chummy with each other earlier, and realized it's been happening a lot lately. So I came to gather information!"
The Gama Sennin pointed his gaze at Konan and waited for her answer. As a gust of wind reached the small group again, blowing flower petals in the air, she leaned back on her hands and peered out at the village below. "I've noticed, too. I think Nagato is smitten with him, and that they both share a deep connection with the other. It's obvious they at least value each other as good friends now. But...what is all this to you?"
Jiraiya sat down on Yahiko's right as his eyes followed a couple farmers working the rice paddies, who were a few meters below their steppe. Then he breathed a loud sigh and tightly shut his eyes. "Naruto is my God-son, and Nagato is one of my beloved disciples, just like you two. You obviously have found each other again and find happiness in that, but they're different. I've seen many tragedies, enough for a few lifetimes. A lot has been from people I deeply cared for. And one such tragedy is Naruto. Being a shinobi, and having an unusually tough life since birth, I just want him to have that kind of experience...both of them actually. I want them to truly be happy, if even for a moment. And they have always been connected by fate, so I doubt a conjunction of the two will ever be lacking in tender inclination." The old man raised a lone brow to compliment a wide smirk at his last line.
"If they do share more than a regular friendly bond, I'll support them. Even through this war, because it's now or never." Konan and Yahiko stared at his solemn expression and felt complete understanding, but also pity. "We'll support them, too, Jiraiya-sensei." They uttered in unison.
Don't worry; it's still mainly ItaNaru
And I want to apologize about how long this one took. Updates are random with me. Please review and tell me what you all thought of this chapter and the story so far.