AN: Hey, everyone. This is just a story idea that was on my mind for a bit and I couldn't get it out of my mind so I just wrote it down. Tell me how you guys feel about it, whatever. Depending on your thoughts, I may or may not continue it. Don't own RWBY or Naruto. Don't know why we gotta write disclaimers for a site called "FANFICTION" but yea. There.
A Twist of Fate, a Change of Heart
Today is a big day for many seventeen-year-olds: it is the day of Beacon's orientation. It is the chance for many of these youngsters to start their journey on becoming a full-fledged huntsman or huntress. Beacon Academy is one of Remnant's four huntsman training academies, located within the Kingdom of Vale. A massive, sprawling structure which houses, trains and supports the needs of the student and staff present, its appearance is as impressive as its prestige.
"Well, actually, my friends are here now! Gotta go catch up! 'Kay, c'ya, bye!"
Left behind in the dust of her sister and her sister's friends, Ruby Rose found herself spinning out of control from an errant shoulder bump. Ruby braced herself for the impact against the ground, but the pain of falling never came.
"Yang… why did you leave me?"
"Haha. Well, your sister looks like a pretty social person so I would assume she wants to spend time with her friends."
Ruby's eyes slowly opened as the world stopped spinning - or was she the one who stopped spinning? She couldn't quite tell - and was greeted with a shock of blond spikes. Looking down, she found herself gazing into an expressive pair of blue eyes. Soon enough, she realized that those eyes and that hair belonged to a guy, one who was currently holding her in his arms. Blushing to the roots of her hair, she squeaked and leapt out of his arms, nearly bumping into two other people in the process.
Turning around, she apologized to the individual she'd nearly bowled over, gasping in shock at the girl in front of her. A mane of jet-black hair hid expanses of pale skin and her left eye. The high collar of her gray shirt could barely be seen, hidden behind a large black cloak that hid her frame from view. From the bottom of her cloak, Ruby could see a pair of black heels, flat enough to be sensible in combat, but still elevated enough to give the girl a bit of extra height.
She was so pretty!
"Watch where you're going!"
The other girl who she'd nearly bumped into wasn't as nearly as understanding as the black haired one, openly yelling at Ruby with obvious annoyance. Dressed in a form fitting white dress and bolero accented in red with a ruffled collar. Much like the previous girl, she was pale-skinned, but, unlike the raven-haired beauty, her hair was as white as snow.
"What is a child like you doing here?! Where are your parents? Shouldn't they be watching you or something? You almost knocked over all of my Dust!"
Ruby peeked over the girl's side and, sure enough, there was a pair of butlers pushing a bellman's cart with several metal cases of what she assumed to be Dust. At least she didn't fall into those and blow herself to kingdom come. Ruby's eyes lit up as she realized she hadn't even introduced herself to the guy that kept her from smacking her head against the ground. It wouldn't have hurt given her Aura, but it was the thought that counts.
"Oh!" She whirled around, looking at the amused blond who had caught her earlier. "Thank you for catching me." She bowed at the waist.
The white-haired girl sputtered in the middle of her rant as she was accidentally ignored by the shorter girl.
"Are you even listening to me?!" she screeched. To her surprise, no one responded to her.
"Think nothing of it." The blond waved her thanks aside, still smiling. "My name's Naruto. Naruto Uzumaki."
She made her first friend!
"I can't believe this!"
"It's nice to meet you!"
"I think that girl's still trying to yell at you."
Ruby blinked, taken aback by the sudden realization that the white-haired girl was, indeed, still grumbling about disrespectful children and rude know-nothings.
"Oh! I'm sorry." She held out her hand to the irate girl. "My name's Ruby Rose."
"And I'm-," the angry girl was cut off.
"Weiss Schnee, heiress to the Schnee Dust Company, one of the largest producers of energy propellant in the world."
The group of four turned their eyes toward the newcomer - likely attracted to the commotion caused by the yelling heiress - a young woman wearing a black buttoned vest with coattails. A white, sleeveless, high-necked crop shirt protected her modesty. Black low-heeled boots, similar to the ones Satsuki was wearing, black stockings and white shorts completed the ensemble, along with a black bow that sat atop the girl's head.
"At least someone here knows who I am," the haughty girl smirked, crossing her arms and smiling down at Ruby, expecting some sort of reaction from the girl. She was sorely disappointed.
"The same Schnee Dust Company infamous for its controversial labor forces and questionable business partners."
"What?! How dare you- UGH!" With an aggravated growl, she stomped away, her butlers following behind, Dust in tow.
"I'm really sorry for almost knocking you over and almost blowing us up!" Ruby yelled out after the girl. "So cranky. Yeesh." She turned around, ready to introduce herself to the new girl. "Hi! I'm… Ruby… Rose..." To her disappointment, the girl was already walking away, leaving her in the company of the blond and his friend.
"I don't think that girl is a people person," her acquaintance - Naruto, she reminded herself- spoke. "Anyways, I take it you're here to join Beacon? Aren't you a little young?"
"Yea," Ruby admitted, poking her fingers together shyly. "I am a bit young, but the headmaster made an exception for me! He thinks I have what it takes to become a really good huntress so he allowed me to come here with my sister!"
"That's cool." Naruto was cut off when his companion turned away and walked towards the Academy. "But we gotta get going for the orientation."
"Oh! Can I join up with you? At least until I find my sister?"
Subconsciously, Ruby gave the equivalent of the Puppy Dog Eyes Jutsu, looking much like a puppy. If she had a tail, it would definitely be wagging back and forth.
"Uh…" Struck with such a cute sight, Naruto couldn't help but give in to the girl's request. "Sure!"
It's not like he was going to say "no" in the first place.
Fluttering back and forth around the taller teen, Ruby took the chance to take in his appearance. A dark green, high-collared armored vest hugged his chest. Underneath, she could see a blue, long-sleeved shirt. His forearms bore two silver, metal vambraces.
"Your armor is so unique! I've never seen anything like it before!"
His hands were covered in fingerless black gloves, bearing a metal plate along the back of each glove. His navy blue pants, matching the shade of his shirt, bore a crimson battle apron, denoting a series of black flames at the bottom. Black combat boots completed the look, giving him an aura of a battle-hardened soldier.
"What's that on your forehead?" she asked.
"Oh this?" Naruto pointed at the metal plate on his forehead, bearing a strange, stylized leaf. "This is the symbol of my village, The Leaf."
She smiled as Naruto blew at the tufts of spiky yellow hair that draped themselves over the right side of his forehead protector. Her friend is so cool!
"What kind of weapons do you use?"
"These." In a quick movement that she couldn't follow, she found a black trench knife and kunai in the blond's hands. "I'm more of a close-combat specialist than anything, so I don't use anything more than these." He shrugged. "I've never really needed any kind of weapons other than these trench knives and these kunai."
Ruby was treated to the rare sight of a kunai, a simple blade of wrought black iron, its handle wrapped in plain cloth.
"Oh wow! I've only ever seen these in weapon catalogues before!" She took the knife into her hands, getting a feel for the heft and balance of the simple knife.
"Weapon… catalogues?" Naruto blinked.
"Ruby!" Yang called out, waving to her little sister. "I'm… over… here…"
"I've died. And gone to heaven," the buxom blonde thought.
The reason? Her little sister. Her shy, adorkable little sister is currently walking beside a blond hunk. She waited, a little impatiently, for her sister to wave goodbye to the blond, who walked away with a smile and a wave. All the while, she was taking in every detail of his face. That chiseled jaw. Those intense blue eyes. That sun-kissed blond hair. Those whiskers.
"Is he a Faunus?"
"Ruby! I didn't know you had it in you!" Yang proclaimed proudly. "How did you get the courage to talk to a blond hunk like that?"
"It was your fault! You and your friends bumped into me! He just happened to catch me before I hit the ground." Ruby tried to appear intimidating, her hands on her hips and leaning forward. It was more cute than anything.
"Yea, yea, you can thank me later. Now, what's his name?"
"Naruto Uzumaki," her little sister pouted. "He was so cool! Not like 'I can't bring myself to care' cool but just... cool!"
Yang couldn't help but laugh at the way Ruby had described the blond and absolutely missing the point of the conversation. She really was a child at heart so Yang wasn't surprised.
"At least you got his name and didn't end up embarrassing yourself."
"But I did!" Ruby whined. "I fell into his arms and squeaked like a little mouse! How embarrassing is that?! And then I jumped out of his arms, almost knocked over his friend, almost blew myself along with everyone else up because of some crabby girl and her cratefuls of Dust!" Ruby sighed, finally breathing after the long tirade. "It hasn't even been two hours yet and I've already made a fool of myself on the first day…"
"Look on the bright side: at least you made a friend." She patted her little sister on the shoulder. "And a pretty hot one at that."
"Yang!" Ruby really didn't want to know that her sister was eyeing her new friend like that.
The ringing echo of a microphone's feedback quelled the indiscernible chorus of voices. All eyes were drawn to the stage, where a tall, white-haired man stood alongside an older blonde woman.
"Ahem… I'll keep this brief," the headmaster started. "You have traveled here today in search of knowledge. To hone your craft and acquire new skills. And when you have finished, you plan to dedicate your life to the protection of the people. But I look amongst you and all I see is wasted energy in need of purpose, direction."
Yang couldn't help but wince internally as the man's words struck a chord with her. Her Semblance, much like his words had suggested, is power given form, yet not direction. When activated, she becomes nothing more than a mindless weapon, lashing out against anything that caught her attention. Beyond that, she knew his words to be true for her path in life as well. She knew what she wanted to be: a huntress. But anything more detailed than the goal is lost to her.
"You assume knowledge will free you of this, but your time at this school will prove that knowledge can only carry you so far. It is up to you to take the first step." With those… insightful words, the man stepped aside, giving the spotlight to the blonde woman, the one they saw earlier in the airship, Glynda Goodwitch.
"You will gather in the ballroom tonight. Tomorrow your initiation begins. Be ready. You are dismissed."
The noise within the amphitheatre swelled once more as the prospective students walked away, talking amongst themselves.
"Well then. That was… enlightening," commented Yang.
"And pretty weird," Ruby nodded. "He just felt… off."
"Coming from the one that almost blew us off the cliffside earlier, that's rich."
"Oh no," Ruby mumbled. "It's happening again."
Ruby hid behind her sister, keeping her face buried in the wild mane of blonde hair. Meanwhile, Yang took in the appearance of the girl who had spoken up.
"Pfft. Flat," she thought, only realizing what the girl had said a moment later. "Wait, you really did almost blow yourself up after I left you?" Yang blinked. "Impressive."
"It's not like I did it on purpose!" Ruby hid her face in embarrassment.
"You had better not have done that on purpose! If you did, you'd be the one paying for all the Dust that you would have set off!" Damn. This girl needs to grow a pair of tits and stop being so cranky.
"Oh! So you're the crabby girl!"
"'Crabby?!'" Her voice reached an even higher octave, showing her annoyance at Ruby. "You would be 'crabby' too if you almost got blown up by an immature child who thought it would be a good idea to dart around a cart full of Dust!"
"Now wait a minute here!" Yang stood up to her full height, glaring down at the little princess. "My little sister apologized to you already! Accidents happen. Besides, you didn't get blown up!"
To her credit, the bratty girl didn't back down, opting to glare right back at her with.
"Keep that girl on a tighter leash then! The standards must really be slipping if such an accident-prone child managed to get in."
Oh, that was fucking it! She was going to break this little girl's nose.
"Yang! Don't. It's not worth it."
Well, she would have punched in the bitch's nose if it wasn't for her sister. Yang looked down at her arm, which Ruby held to her budding chest.
"Hmm! Fine!" She almost yanked her arm out of Ruby's grasp when she saw the self-righteous smirk that appeared on the brat's face as she walked away. What a little bitch! "You know, if you weren't holding me back, I would've punched her face in."
"It's a good thing I held you back then, huh?"
"Eh~. I don't know about that."
Night came to Beacon Academy rather quickly, something Blake Belladonna was grateful for. People simply weren't her cup of tea. After the speech in the amphitheatre, she had wandered off on her own, away from the hustle and bustle of annoying teens. She roamed the halls of Beafon Academy, learning its layout and memorizing as much of the floor plan as possible.
Now, Remnant's fractured moon loomed over the Academy. It was quite the beautiful sight. Away from the lights of the city and with nothing else to brighten the night sky, the stars came out to play. She had intended to spend a part of the night alone, gazing up at the twinkling lights and envying them.
But things were not meant to be.
When she'd reached the highest accessible point of Beacon through the use of some acquired lockpicking skills, she found herself in the company of someone else. He was much like her, there to watch the stars and get away from the noise of others. That's what she assumed anyways.
"It's rude to stare, ya know?"
Caught flat-footed and surprised by his awareness of her presence, she blushed in embarrassment. Thankfully, his gaze remained upon the stars and not on her, otherwise, he would've seen her blush.
"My apologies. I did not mean to intrude."
"It's okay!" He waved off her awkwardness with ease, something she found herself envious of, if only a little. "I take it you're here to stargaze as well?"
Blake nodded, realizing how foolish the action was a few moments later.
"Yes," she conceded, "but if you want I could leave. You were here first."
"Nah. Come! Stargaze with me. It'd be nice to have some company."
At first, she was apprehensive of the invitation. He was friendly, to be sure, but that usually included being talkative. Talking was not what she came here to do. Thankfully, the veranda they stood on had more than enough room for both of them without putting them awkwardly close.
So, she accepted his invitation.
She stood off to his right, keeping half an eye on him and half an eye on the stars above. She took in the appearance of the blond beside her. He is handsome, she admitted, but it was the set of whiskers on his cheeks that drew her attention.
"Is he a Faunus or are those human birthmarks?"
If he is a Faunus, his senses would tell him that she is one too. If those whiskers were simply conspicuous birthmarks, then there would be no need to call him out on it. Though his smell resembles that of a Fox Faunus, it wasn't as musky as the smell of any Fox she had interacted with in the past.
Shelving those thoughts, she focused on the stars above. They really did shine so much brighter out here than in the city. At some point, she had come to ignore his presence, not out of malice nor any ill will, simply because of how silent he was. Not silent as it pertains to a lack of noise, but silent as in presence.
It was almost like he wasn't there.
The stillness of the night, save for the gentle breeze that blew in from the river that Beacon overlooked, made her smile. It wasn't a brilliant smile, just the slightest lifting of her lips, but it was a smile nonetheless. They have been rare as of late.
"Have a good night."
Her lips moved without her knowledge, replying to the blond reflexively as she was pulled back from her retrospective thoughts. She watched as he walked away, his movements exhibiting a grace and ease she only saw in the most adept of Huntsmen and Huntresses. She was definitely going to keep an eye on him.
"Cute bow, by the way."
"Thanks," she murmured, averting her eyes from the retreating blond.
She reached up and patted the black bow that hid her secret, wondering if he was complimenting her or calling her out for her hidden features. She didn't get to find out, as he was gone by the time she looked up at the doorway, he was gone.
"What a way to end my first day at Beacon."
Those words would come back to bite her in the ass. Like, right now.
She just wanted to read, goddamn it! Internally, she gave an exasperated sigh. She could already tell: this girl wasn't like the friendly, yet aloof blond she stargazed with on the veranda. The tall blonde girl, along with her dark haired friend - sister? - appeared far too bubbly for her tastes.
"Hi." Their personalities might clash with hers, but that doesn't mean she had to be hostile.
"I believe you two may know each other?"
Blake looked up at the blonde, showing no signs of the envy that she felt. That fucking chest! What the hell does this girl eat?!
"Aren't you that girl that almost exploded this morning?" she asked.
"Uh… yea…" the shorter girl shyly admitted. "My name is Ruby Rose."
"Blake," she offered, turning her attention back to her book.
"My name's Yang: Ruby's older sister!" the busty blonde interjected. "I like your bow! It looks lovely."
"Almost as lovely as this book I'm trying to read," Blake not so politely hinted. "Please take a hint, please take a hint, please take a hint."
Sadly, they didn't.
"Oh? What's it about?" The younger girl was definitely the more curious of the two.
"It's about a man with two souls, fighting for control over his body."
"Oh? That's… lovely." The blonde one wasn't as enthusiastic about books, it seems.
She could tell: she wasn't going to get along with the blonde and it wasn't just because of the girl's bigger chest.
"I love books," Ruby offered.
"Oh?" Blake commented - regretfully. "Then why haven't you left me alone to enjoy mine?!"
"Yang used to read them to me before bed every night. Stories of heroes and monsters. They're one of the reasons I want to be a Huntress."
"Why is that?" Ruby wore her heart on her sleeve. There was a reason that wasn't a trait many people had in this line of work. "Hoping you'll live happily ever after?"
"Well, I'm hoping that we all will," the younger girl admitted. "As a girl, I wanted to be just like those heroes in the books: as someone who fought for what was right and who protected people who couldn't protect themselves."
It was a very honest and righteous dream to have, that much Blake can acknowledge, but it wasn't very realistic.
"That's very ambitious for a child. Unfortunately, the real world isn't the same as a fairy tale."
"Well, that's why we're here: to make it better."
There were two likely outcomes that Blake could see in Ruby's future: she will either be crushed under the weight of reality or she will rise above it, stronger than ever before. If she was being honest with herself, Blake was truly curious as to which one it will be.
The sound of a giddy older sibling broke through the quiet murmurs of conversation in the ballroom.
"Ohhh! I'm so proud of my baby sister!" Yang pulled Ruby into her chest, smothering the girl between her breasts.
Ruby fought against her sister's embrace, only getting free when she jabbed her fist into her sister's side. Jerking away from the smothering embrace of her sister, Ruby tripped when her foot landed on someone else's. She would have fallen were it not for the arm that wrapped itself around the tiny girl's waist.
"Hm. Do I have to catch you every time I see you, Ruby?"
Blake's eyes widened in surprise at the familiar voice. She hadn't even seen nor heard him approaching them and she'd kept her eyes on the sisters the entire time!
"Eep!" Ruby squeaked as she blushed to the roots of her hair, too embarrassed to move.
"Whoa whoa whoa. Hello, handsome~!"
Though she wouldn't phrase it the same way Yang had, she had to agree with the blonde. The stranger she'd met at the Main Avenue and had stargazed with was now wearing a tight, form fitting black shirt that showed off his broad chest and arms. Like most of the other guys she'd seen around here, he wasn't bulky by any means, but he didn't have the same wiry frame either. Broad shoulders, coupled with the muscles on his arms that flexed as he kept Ruby from falling over, made him quite appealing.
"Hello to you too." The blond replied, amusement clear in his blue eyes, before turning his attention back to the younger sister he held in his arm. "You alright Ruby?"
"Uhhh… yea!" Ruby replied as she pulled away from the blond's hold.
Blake kept her amusement from showing. Didn't want to embarrass the poor girl anymore than she already was.
"What's going on here? Don't you realize some of us are trying to sleep?!" The Schnee heiress exclaimed as she marched up to the group.
"You again!" Weiss and Yang yelled, obviously annoyed with each other's presence.
"These two are like ice and fire."
"Shh. People are trying to sleep, you two." It was the blond who stepped in to prevent any potential argument from breaking out. "My name's Naruto Uzumaki." He offered his fist to the older sister.
"Yang Xiao Long!" The bombastic blonde bumped her fist against his.
"Blake," she offered when he smiled at her, nodding in acceptance of her name and wont of secrecy.
"Weiss Schnee." The white-haired heiress offered him her hand. To the surprise of everyone present, he shook it and placed a kiss against her knuckles. "It's nice to see that you have some decorum, Mr. Uzumaki."
"Please. Naruto will do just fine." Naruto - isn't that a type of orange? - addressed everyone. "How was your first day at Beacon?"
"Aside from being abandoned by my sister and almost blowing myself up? I got to meet you!" Ruby's childlike enthusiasm seemed to endear her to the blond.
"Met up with some friends and now I'm talking to a handsome guy, so it was definitely a good first day." Yang held no qualms openly flirting with her fellow blond. Naruto, however, didn't appear flustered in any way, merely amused.
"Adequate," Blake answered when his eyes hovered over her, nodding and smiling, seemingly not taking offense against her for being so curt in her response.
"Aside from running into her this morning and nearly getting blown up, it has been a fair day." Clearly, Weiss was still not happy about their encounter in the morning.
"Sorry~." Ruby was equal parts annoyed and embarrassed by the mention of her near accident that morning. "Oh! Where is your lady friend?"
All eyes turned towards Naruto. Blake wasn't surprised that he wasn't single. Any straight girl - and quite a few guys - could appreciate him for more than just his looks. Understanding, approachable, easy to talk to, yet not overbearing. She'll render further judgment once she's seen his fighting capabilities. If he could fight as well as he looked, that'd be another point in his favor. The only thing left would be…
Blake could feel herself blushing ever so slightly at the direction her thoughts were leading. Hopefully, the candlelight would keep her less than pure thoughts from being discovered.
"Oh. She's… around. She's not really a people person." Blake saw his eyes dart over to her. Ah. A fellow introvert. Understandable.
"Aw. That's too bad! She is so pretty!"
Blake had to agree. From what she saw of the pale-skinned girl that stood next to the blond teen this morning, she is definitely a looker. If this girl is an introvert like Naruto has hinted at, it would explain why he isn't incensed by her own clipped responses.
"Well, I just wanted to come over and say 'hi' to Ruby." Ruby whined and pouted as Naruto ruffled her hair. "Have a good night, everyone."
The girls watched as he walked away, their eyes focused on only one thing.
"Damn," everyone, barring Ruby, thought, "he has an ass like granite."
"Well, I know who will be starring in my dreams tonight."
Although they didn't say it aloud, the other girls agreed with Yang. Even the haughty Schnee heiress was thinking along the same lines of that blush was anything to go by. At least Yang waited until Naruto was out of the ballroom before she spoke up.
"Does he not have a girlfriend? This… friend Ruby mentioned?" Blake was all for window shopping, but getting hot and bothered by a taken boy or dreaming about him was a bit much.
"Nah!" Yang shook her head in dismissal. "Did you see the way his eyes changed when Ruby mentioned her? Either they're not dating or their relationship is on the rocks. Either way, he's not happy with her." Everyone around the blonde could only stare at her, digesting the little tidbit of information she'd provided them with. "What? It's not that hard to read him! His eyes are just that expressive!"
"And here I thought you were looking anywhere, but his eyes."
"I can't help it." Yang shrugged her shoulders unapologetically. "Guy has a very sexy body."
"Yang~!" Ruby whined.
"Such inappropriate thoughts shouldn't be shared aloud!"
"Oh, like you weren't checking him out either, Princess. I bet you were daydreaming about what his lips would feel like on some place other than your knuckles!"
Blake sighed. So much for trying to read tonight.
The armored fist of her Susano'o collided against the fist of his Nine-Tails avatar. They stood atop a massive ocean, one that shouldn't exist in the mainland of the Elemental Nations.
They just won. They just banished the biggest threat the Elemental Nation had ever faced.
Yet she didn't want the fighting to end. She wanted the fighting to continue, to bear the burden of conflict. She wanted to become the monster the rest of the world would unite against.
With anger in his heart, he sought to change their fates. For better or for worse.
Naruto jolted awake. It didn't matter if he tried to sleep or not. The memories just won't stop coming back.
He leaned against the tree he had taken refuge beneath within the Emerald Forest, closing his eyes and meditating. Its massive branches could take his weight with ease.
"PTSD isn't just something you deal with in a single day, Naruto-kun. It's something you have to fight tooth-and-nail for," he recalled Ino's words after he had returned from his three-year-training trip. "First step would be the removal of the afflicted individual from the zone of stress and any potential triggers."
"Che," Naruto scoffed. "Kind of hard to do that when she's literally following me around."
"The second step would be professional help. Luckily for you, we live in Konoha. We Yamanakas are great at dealing with problems of the mind."
Naruto raked a hand through his hair. It looked like he was shit out of luck then.
He missed them. Everyone. Granny Tsunade. Kakashi-sensei. Sakura. Ino. Shikamaru.
He missed all of them.
Sighing to himself, he closed his eyes. Instead of sleeping, he delved into the deepest corners of his mind, using one of the few meditation methods Ino and her father had shared with him. Maybe he'll get some peace and quiet there.
"We have been awaiting your arrival, Naruto Uzumaki."
Or maybe not.
His eyes snapped open upon hearing the voice of his ancestor, the Sage of Six Paths. Standing beside the old man are four different individuals, dressed as they would have during their lifetimes. Two males, two females.
On the Sage's right, the Physical Aspects stood, their usually cheery faces now twisted in anger and confusion. On his left, the Spiritual Aspects stood, arms crossed beneath their bust. The two generations of Transmigrants who bear the mark of the Sage of Six Paths. Indra vs Ashura. Madara vs Hashirama. One day, he'll join this band of bickering couples. What a sad day that'll be.
Of course, they were all glaring at their counterparts.
"Old Man Six Paths. What's up?" Naruto waved at the man nonchalantly.
"We have much to discuss."
"Yeaaa. No. We really don't." Naruto crossed his arms. "What's the peanut gallery doing here anyways?"
"We should not even be discussing this. The matter has already been settled by the boy. He had made the decision and tipped the balance of his own free will."
The one who had spoken was Indra Ōtsutsuki , daughter and eldest child of the Sage of Six Paths. Her eyes glowed an eerie crimson, bearing the form of her Mangekyō Sharingan.
"But that doesn't mean the cycle of hatred has ended," argued Ashura Ōtsutsuki . "Peace has not been attained through either of our methods, Indra."
"But peace is not the reason for your actions, correct?" The Sage kept his gaze upon Naruto.
"Nope," Naruto shrugged.
"Then what motivated you to forsake your powers so?" Now, the attention of all those present were on Naruto.
"Forsake them? Old Man, I didn't even want them in the first place. You and yours can keep your damned blessings."
"Yet you accepted my blessings in your time of need."
"Only because I didn't know about the litany of shit that would come with it!" Naruto growled, glaring at the Sage. "If I had known that accepting your damn powers would be so troublesome, I would have just stayed dead!" Naruto huffed. "Why do you give a damn anyways? Satsuki has all of your powers now. The stupid lover's spat going on between these four fucks could finally end. Thought you would be glad for it."
"By giving her your half of my blessings, you have given her dominion over all life, be it in the Elemental Nations or here in this new world."
"So? Even then, she hasn't been able to, or cared to, open a portal back home. So she either can't or won't until I'm dead. Either way, this stupid story of transmigrating assholes ends with us."
"You still do not see the bigger pic-"
"What bigger picture, you old bastard? Huh?" Naruto yelled. "That the Ōtsutsuki Clan are still out there, devouring entire fucking worlds? What did you want us to do about it? Fight them? How many of them do you think there are? A few dozen? A few hundred? Against me and Satsuki? Or maybe you wanted us to raise an army of our own. Travel the universe and devour the same planets we were supposed to protect just to fight the horned bastards."
"He has a point," Madara muttered, still glaring at her former lover and rival.
"That does not mean he should have forsaken his responsibilities!" Hashirama angrily retorted.
"And do what, Hashirama? Their fight would have only ended in defeat. Even you and I at the height if our powers could do little against the Sage if he didn't hold back. You wish to see what an entire clan of people like him can do?" Madara hissed at her former lover.
"For once, I agree with Madara," Naruto added his two cents. "At least she's being reasonable." Naruto sighed, raking a hand through his hair. He's been doing that a lot lately. "Whatever. Satsuki can go do whatever she wants. Hagoromo's heritage has been fully realized. She has the genes and chakra of both lines."
"And so, you have unleashed a conqueror upon the world with nothing to stand in her way," the Sage frowned.
"Oh, don't give me that uppity shit, Old Man. You were the exact same way. No one dared to start anything when you were alive because you were the strongest being on the planet. You just didn't want to be a conqueror."
Satsuki kept her gaze firmly ahead. They hadn't spoken. Not since their last fight. Not a greeting. Not even a single word.
She wanted to speak to him, even if it is just to return her to back to the Elemental Nations, but he hasn't given her the time of day. It was like she didn't exist to him anymore. Angrily, she white-knuckled her Kusanagi.
Yet here he was, talking to strangers like they were old friends.
"Kyaa~! Stop mussing up my hair, Naruto!"
"I can't help it. You're just so cute, ya know?"
There was a time in their past when they were inseparable. Two halves of the same whole. One, feared and idolized. The other feared and ostracized.
Both, equally alone.
Perhaps that was why they bonded so quickly. Kindred spirits. But now…
She glanced up at the person she once called friend. Her last bond. The last connection to their home and her humanity.
He threw his head back and laughed as the tiny girl - this… Ruby - swatted his hands away and fixed her hair. He had his back turned to her. His posture, completely relaxed and unafraid, despite knowing that he, along with everyone else on this world, stood no chance against her.
Was he… mocking her?
Or did he… not care anymore?
That thought left her just as saddened as the day she'd left the village. The day she left him.
Was he taking revenge against her for abandoning him?
They had been more than friends at some point in time. It was a subtle change. The looks they had given each other changed from grudging respect to something more. They didn't hold hands, they didn't kiss, but they could both feel it.
Now, whatever embers had once been kindled by compassion and understanding are left cold and untended by her departure and their conflict.
She hadn't intended for it to be this way. She thought - wholeheartedly believed, really - that the world would be better off united against a common enemy, its shinobi hierarchy demolished. Society would rebuild. No more wars. No more genocides.
It would have been the two of them against the world, keeping the people in line as they oversaw the world's progression into a better, brighter future. She didn't expect him to fight her at every turn. Now, they were lost, stranded, and he didn't want anything to do with her.
"You excited for the test, Naruto?" The busty blonde next to Ruby spoke up.
"Excited?" she mentally scoffed. This test wouldn't even be considered a warm-up for them.
"Not really. There's not really anything in the forest that could provide a challenge."
"Is that so, Mr. Uzumaki?"
Satsuki eyed the headmaster as he spoke, cautious of the power he held within him. You never know when someone might have a power that could absorb or nullify your own.
"Yea, sorry, Headmaster, but this forest isn't worth kindling, let alone giving me a work out."
The headmaster gave a subtle hum, sipping his coffee.
"We shall see," he neutrally responded. "Everyone, line up and stand upon these sigils."
The headmaster gestured to a series of stone platforms, adorned with a pair of unfurled wings. Every student - she hesitated to call herself that - and waited as the headmaster spoke.
"For years, you have trained to become warriors and today, your abilities will be evaluated in the Emerald Forest."
Satsuki tuned out the headmaster, only keeping an ear out for further instructions while she eyed her… friend. Was he still her friend?
What did it matter? She doubted Naruto still saw her that way. She remembered the way he walked away from her. He had poured what chakra he had, along with that of the Tailed Beasts into her. On death's door and devoid of the Sage's powers, he'd still turned his back to her and limped away. What she saw on his face made her heart lurch. Or rather, what she didn't see.
As he limped away with numerous broken bones and a ruptured chakra network, she couldn't see anything on his face. No pain, no emotions, just a bullheaded determination to do one thing: get away from her.
She'd reached out for him, his name just on the tip of her tongue when the Tailed Beasts lashed out against her. They railed against her mind, fighting tooth and nail, bringing her to her knees. She dove into herself, into her very soul and found the Tailed Beasts, or what chakra remained of them, inside her. With a flare of her Sharingan, she had subjugated them, rendering them voiceless once more. But by the time her attention was back on her friend, he was gone. He had used the Flying Thunder God technique in spite of his ruptured pathways, further exacerbating his condition.
All… to get away from her.
For an entire month, she'd searched for him in this foreign land. For an entire month, the Tailed Beasts within her said nothing. Not a single peep, from neither the Beasts or Naruto. At first, she had thought it was another one of his attempts to "bring her to her senses." She was disabused of that notion when she visited the Tailed Beasts.
They lay within her mind, their eyes closed. None moved, yet they were still gathering the ambient energy around them, restoring their chakra at a relatively fast pace.
"What do you want, Uchiha?" The Nine Tails was the first to speak. The rest ignored her presence.
"What is he planning?" The question seemed to catch the Tailed Beast by surprise.
"How does he intend to fight me?" She expected an answer, perhaps defiance. She didn't expect him to outright laugh at her.
"You think he plans on fighting you?" She didn't have a response for that. "You are the Sage of Six Paths. There is nothing he could do to fight you," Kurama huffed.
"What does he intend to do?"
"We may be partners, Uchiha," the fox mocked, "but he does keep some things to himself."
"Then why did he give me his powers? Why are you here?"
"Because he has had enough of your shit, Uchiha!" the Four Tails roared. "He gave you these powers so you would leave him alone."
"If you haven't noticed, ape, he has been the one pursuing me for the last three years. But that does not explain why you are here. What purpose does this serve him?"
"Naruto has washed his hands of the prophecy my father had created all those years ago," Kurama answered. There was no need to hide information from her when she could just use those accursed eyes and demand the answers of him. "The two children who will complete the sealing of Kaguya Ōtsutsuki and change the world. He considers his role within that prophecy to be completed. Thus, he has given up his half of the Sage's powers." The fox's crimson eyes narrowed. "Congratulations, Uchiha. Now you can do whatever you want. You could return to the Elemental Nations and purge the world of shinobi." Kurama scoffed once more. "Truly, it would be a blessing to see that world purged of those disgusting mongrels."
"Of all those born to your world, Naruto was the only one to earn our respect and camaraderie," the Six Tailed Slug stated. "With him gone from that world, there is nothing left for us. To save or to raze, it is your decision to make."
She was slightly taken aback by their apathy. She had expected to see arrogance, annoyance, even anger, but she saw nothing of the sort. Only acceptance.
"Naruto wanted for you to atone, but you only wanted to be alone," the Eight Tails rhymed, a reminder of his last host. "Now, the die is cast; you're alone at last."
Without another word, she'd left them to themselves. She had sought every method imaginable to return home. Nothing worked. Even her left eye, as powerful as it is, could do nothing to tear apart the indeterminate space between this world and hers. So, she searched for him, the one who'd brought them to this accursed place.
When she'd finally found him again, it was as if he didn't recognize her anymore. That familiar spark of friendship and more was gone. Those blue eyes were as cold as ice. He ignored her, pushing her away with inaction and indifference. She had nearly decapitated him, her Kusanagi was pressed directly against his neck, drawing blood.
He didn't so much as blink.
"With that being said," she tuned back to the ending of the Headmaster's speech, burying any emotions she felt, "you will need a landing strategy."
She ignored the shouts of fear and excitement all around her as the students were sent airborne, thinking back to the last words he'd ever said to her.
"I don't even know who you are anymore."