I've recently been smack in the face with a whole lot of inspiration and this is one of the things that happened as a result. This is basically going to be a series of connected one-shots, however, they are not going to be in chronological order. Basically a whole lot of time travel shenanigans that are going to be more serious than I make them sound. Most of the time. Some of them are probably going to end up being exactly as silly as I make them sound.
What We Do Now Echoes in Eternity
In which everyone's dead, Naruto has a Plan, and the Bijuu are just along for the ride.
Ten figures gathered around a giant seal – one in the center and nine in a circle around him.
It was a scene the nine were familiar with. One they thought about often, in their dreams, during their long years of imprisonment.
There were Nine and they had stayed Nine this time instead of being One broken into Nine parts. He had kept them separate – as individuals with names and faces and feelings and talents. But now he was the only one left, the only one in all the world still capable of fighting and without his other half, without his soul bonded brother, there was no hope of winning this fight.
Naruto smiled at the gathered Bijuu and pulled his fist away from their gathered claws. "You think you guys can remember all that?"
Kurama huffed at him. "Still underestimating us, brat?"
Naruto smirked. "Nah, you guys got this," he said, voice full of sincere confidence despite the exhaustion that was clear on his face, "The nine of you together kicking ass and taking names? Please. They won't know what hit them."
"I don't like this," Shukaku grumbled, "Working with those old meat bags from before…"
Matatabi whacked him with one of her tails. "And this is a better alternative? Put old grudges aside."
"Whine later, you damn brat," Son Goku growled.
Naruto laughed at them even as his strength faded and he faltered. Kurama caught him, carefully lowering his former host to the ground. The blond smiled up at him in thanks as Saiken eyed him critically.
"Your strength is failing," the Rokubi said in an uncharacteristically solemn voice.
"He's dying," Kurama hissed, stuck between grief and fury.
"It's fine," Naruto said softly, "I knew this would happen when I let you all out."
"You are sure this will work?" Isobu cut in when it looked like Kurama was gearing up for another argument about his host's idiocy.
Naruto nodded. "Yeah. I'll send you back as far as I can, but then it will be up to you guys. You have to work together," he said, turning to stare down each of them, "Not just with each other, but with your jinchuuriki too. You're stronger together."
"Yeah, yeah," Kurama said, rolling his eyes, "Those who abandon their friends are worse than trash, blah, blah, we get it."
Naruto snorted. "Stop worrying so much, fluffy," he said with a sly grin as he held out his fist, "You're not getting rid of me that easily."
Kurama narrowed his eyes, knocked their fists together regardless, face falling into naked surprise as he felt the chakra flow into him.
"It won't be the same," Naruto cut in, smirk gentling into a smile, "But it won't be that different. You're my friend, Kurama. Always."
The two stared at each other for a long moment. The others were silent, letting them be. This was hard for all of them and none of them were particularly keen on the idea. But with Sasuke gone, there was no way to seal Kaguya. This was the only option left to them and they had to take it or let her win. And Naruto refused to let her win even if this option guaranteed his death.
Already they could feel his life force fading, the only thing keeping him alive were the barest remnants of their chakra. Just enough for this last task, this last act.
"Alright!" Naruto cried, clapping his hands together, "Let's do this. You guys ready?"
The blond smiled at them, soft and sincere and so full of faith. "I believe in you guys. Take 'em down, alright?"
For this boy they would.
He who called them by their names. He who called them friend, who treated them as comrades, as people, but never weapons, never tools. He who told them that they were so much more than that, that they deserved so much more than that.
For him they would succeed.
A surge of chakra, a flash of light and the bijuu and seal were gone.
Naruto sat back, already feeling the pull of unconsciousness, his mind becoming sluggish. But that didn't matter because it worked.
There was a shift in the air and Naruto turned to see Kaguya stepping through a rip in space, finally having worked her way around his barrier. She gazed at him with eyes so like Hinata's, so like Neji's, that it made his heart ache.
"What have you done?" she asked as she knelt by him, voice soft and smooth and gentle like he always thought a mother would sound, but for the wrongness the tone stirred in his gut. She reached out and cupped his cheek, a frown pulling at her lips. She felt it, he realized. She knew he was dying, knew that he didn't have the chakra left to sustain his life any longer, knew that there were nine presences missing from his body. Nine presences that should be hers – that were hers – and they were gone now.
He grinned up at her, all teeth and sharp edges and feral victory, eyes burning with a will that had never diminished no matter what she had thrown at him, even as he felt himself slipping away.
Thoughts? Feelings? Concerns? Let me know!
Until next time,