Disclaimer: I do not own anything relating to Naruto, except for maybe a poster I have on my wall.

Author's note: This is my very first fic, and hopefully the first of multiple that continue to completion. I thought of it randomly one day and simply decided to start writing on the idea to see where it went. My friend Jin Hikari, another author in this site, helped me a lot when it came to editing this story and making it better, just as I try to do on his sometimes. I hope you enjoy this to at least some extent, so now we move onto the story.


Outside Konoha

Just a short distance away from the large walls of Konoha stood two figures. One was far taller than the other and had blue skin while the shorter of the two had sharp black eyes that changed into a pair of red eyes as they observed the wall, thinking of what ther plan would be.

These two were Itachi Uchiha and Kisame Hoshigaki, two members of the nuke-nin organization Akatsuki.

"Why are we here again?" Kisame asked.

"Because according to Zetsu's clone, the Kyuubi jinchuuriki may be going on a training trip with Jiraiya soon, which may cause problems down the line depending on how strong he gets," Itachi explained.

"Oh," Kisame said, "well let's go then."

The two then proceeded to sneak into Konoha under the cover of a multi-layered genjutsu in order to further their group's goals.


'Why?' a blonde-haired boy wondered as he sat in a bed that was falling to pieces, still feeling a painful sensation from where his best friend's hand was shoved through his chest about a week before.

"Why me?" he asked aloud as he got up from the bed and walked over to the far door, successfully having avoided the numerous broken floor planks.

'Is it really something I deserve?' the boy pondered while he opened his refrigerator, only to be disappointed by the contents, as usual.

"Could I have changed it?" he questioned while he pointed to his window, which showed a view of the monument outside.

"Probably not," he said as dropped his hand and walked over to his front door.

"Wait, is it even my fault in the first place?" he inquired as he put on his sandals.

"Eh, probably," he resigned as he opened his door to the sight of two people, one with intricate red eyes and another with a blue complexion.

"Come with us, Naruto," the red-eyed one demanded.

After a moment of silence where Naruto considered the events of the past few months, the death of Jii-jii, the betrayal of Konoha by Sasuke, and the diagnosis from Tsunade; Naruto made his decision. Itachi then received a response of, "Sure, why not?"

Shocked at the response, there was another pause before the blue one spoke, "Okay, let's go then."

After sticking multiple chakra suppressor seals and a pair of hand bindings onto Naruto, the three began walking silently on their way, first by going down the hall, then down the stairs, and then down the street. Eventually, they pulled off to the left, into a patch of woods. After a few minutes, the question was asked by the shark-like one, "What are you up to, kid?"

Naruto sighed, wishing that he did have some plan to stop the bad guys, and then spoke, "Nothing that would stop you two from completing your goal, actually. If you had come here yesterday, I probably would've run off for help. Hell, I probably would've tried to fight you if I had no choice."

"What changed?" the shorter one asked.

"Well," Naruto started as they waited for a ninja patrol to pass, "I was forced to realize that when everything is against you, it might not be worth it to fight back."

After crossing through a hole in the giant wall around Konoha hand gaining quite a bit of distance from it by traveling through the trees, Itachi stopped, causing the others to stop as well, and began investigating, "What happened that caused this change?"

Naruto tried to think about what it was that had truly caused it, when he came to the conclusion, "I learned what the cost of trying to earn respect through hard work is, now let's keep going."

"You do realize that if you come with us, you will die, correct?" Itachi asked.

"Well, it's not like I'd even have a choice anymore," Naruto reasoned, "and yes, I do. I also realize that a painful death by the hand of your enemy is far better and an excruciating life by the hands of your friends."

"You seem far more intelligent than anything else has led me to believe," Itachi observed.

Naruto gained a depressed look as he thought about his entire life filled with having to put on a mask and replied, "Well yeah, that was the point. I'm not a genius like you or your brother, but I'm not as stupid as people think. What I realized early on in life is that if I acted like an idiot, people took me as just that, an idiot. Whereas if I acted intelligent, I was treated as if I were the very thing that the majority of Konoha hates me for."

"Very well, let us continue on our way," Itachi suggested before he leapt of towards the next branch, closely followed by Naruto and Kisame in that order.

After several hours, the three stopped and made camp. It was a simple set up, with a single large tent and a small campfire. Kisame pulled out some rations for the three of them to eat while he asked Itachi, "How long before Konoha knows that he's gone?"

"A few hours, most likely, meaning that we'll have to be on the move within the same time period," was his reply.

"Wrong," Naruto stated as he remembered the conversation he had with Baa-chan the day before, which surprised the two nuke-nin as it broke his silence of several hours, "they won't look for me for a few days, at least. The last time I saw Baa-chan I asked her to give me some vacation time, which she agreed to, giving me a couple of weeks off. Everyone else I know also wants to leave me alone for a while, mainly because I asked them specifically to do so."

Hearing this, Kisame couldn't take it anymore, "What happened to you, kid?"

"Heheheh," Naruto hollowly laughed to himself as he looked upwards, "that's what I wanna know!" he shouted to the skies, wondering how it was possible for everything to become so bad so quickly.


Flashback-The day before

Naruto woke up on his bed, groggily looking out his window at one of the many busy streets of Konoha while rubbing his chest, trying to soothe the aching he felt all over his torso. He looked around his room slowly, seeing all of the usual mess that came with it. After several minutes of being nothing but conscious, Naruto began to think he should get out of bed.

About ten minutes after that thought, Naruto finally got out of bed and began to get ready for the day. He walked into his bathroom, took a shower, brushed his teeth, got dressed in his normal jumpsuit and ate a wonderfully nutritious breakfast of ramen. He eventually was simply sitting down on the least wobbly of his kitchen chairs and thinking about the past few days of his life.

It began with Sasuke abandoning the village, running off to get more power from Orochimaru. Naruto and a bunch of other genin chased him, got in some fights and eventually completely failed to bring Sasuke back. That stung for Naruto, especially when he saw the tearful face of Sakura when he returned.

After being in the hospital for about a day to make sure Naruto's wounds were completely healed, which they already almost were upon his return thanks to the Kyuubi, Naruto was released and was able to see his friends. Well, that was the plan, anyway. A lot of them were in the hospital, thanks to the mission, which meant that he wouldn't be able to go see them because of the hospital staff denying him entry to their rooms because of who he was. Giving in after deciding that he could see them later, he tried to meet with his friends that weren't in the hospital. He eventually found them all relaxing on the patio of a restaurant and decided to join them.

This plan quickly went to hell when Ino was not so subtly angry at him for failing to bring back Sasuke. There was yelling at him for his actions, followed by words in his defense, followed by more yelling, and eventually followed by Naruto being frustrated and leaving, having realized that he wasn't going to get anywhere.

After a couple of hours of wandering the village, a pair of ANBU appeared in front of Naruto. They told him that he was requested to appear in front of the council, and then they took him there before he could ask why.

Popping up inside the large council chambers where all of the council members and the Hokage currently resided, Naruto was made to give his report of what happened on the mission. After hearing how the fight between he and Sasuke played out, the elders and part of the civilian council tried to have Naruto executed, or at least banished. This was easily shot down by Tsunade and the shinobi council. Naruto was then free to go home, which he gladly did seeing as how the meeting took up most of the day, meaning it was nighttime by the time he was able to leave.

The next day, Naruto woke with a bit of pain in his chest, but nothing that he put any mind to. After training for most of the day, he simply ate at Ichiraku's and went home to sleep.

When he awoke the next day, the pain in his chest was a fair bit worse, which made him think it might be wise to visit Baa-chan about it. Arriving at the Hokage tower, he told her all about it and how it was strange because it would normally be gone after that long of a time, Tsunade ran some tests on Naruto and sent him home, telling him to come back the next day.

Remembering how that was yesterday, Naruto slapped his forehead for forgetting about it and quickly pulled on his sandals to go to her office. When he opened his door, however, and ANBU agent was standing there, about to knock.

"Come with me," the ANBU spoke.

Naruto nodded in response and was then grabbed on the shoulder and teleported in the Hokage's office, only for the ANBU to leave immediately after. "Hey Baa-chan!" he greeted with a smile, only to be surprised when he got no response.

Looking at the Hokage, nothing was said until she finally spoke, "Please sit down, Naruto."

Naruto was unnerved by the request, more used to her telling him exactly what to do. After sitting down, he observed the Hokage far more closely, noticing multiple things about her that he hadn't before.

For one, she looked exhausted. It seemed as if she had stayed up for a long time working on something, going by the blood-shot eyes with bags around them. Another thing was that she smelled a bit more like sake than she usually did, which was worrying. Neither of these, though, were the most worrying thing about her. The most worrying thing about the woman he thought of as a sort of mother figure was the somewhat obvious tear tracks on her face.

"What's up?" he asked cautiously.

"I completed your tests," she started, obviously not wanting to be there at the moment, "and I have bad news."

Naruto's gut instantly dropped. What kind of news could she possibly have about his tests that would distress her so much?

Still keeping up his idiot façade and hoping it wasn't as bad as it seemed, he asked, "What, do I have to take some medication or something? Am I going to be suspended for a while?"

Upon hearing him say the word suspension, Tsunade tensed a bit, something not missed by Naruto. She tried to collect herself for a moment, and then began her explanation, "When Sasuke used his Chidori on you he was using chakra altered by his Curse-Seal, meaning it was very corrupt and impure. You, at the same time, were using a large amount of the malicious Kyuubi chakra. After that, the Kyuubi was forced to rapidly heal the large chest wound, meaning that it had to use even more chakra on your body. This meant that within a very short period of time, your body was exposed to an extremely large amount of very poisonous chakra. This has had very negative impacts on your body as a whole."

"L-like what?" Naruto squeezed out, terrified at what it might be that was wrong with him.

"Well," Tsunade started, with tears building in her eyes, "it seems that your whole body is degenerating, starting with the area of the wound going outwards. If this continues at its current rate, you'll…" she gathered her strength at this point, in order to speak the next words, "die in about three weeks," she told him, barely managing to choke out the words.

Naruto was stunned. There was no way this could be happening, he thought. 'Why?' he asked in his mind, hoping for some answer he knew he wouldn't get, 'Why does all of my hard work have to go to waste?'

"There is something we can do though," Tsunade said, instantly filling Naruto with hope.

"What?!" he shouted, desperate for a solution, wanting to find anything that would save him or at least let him complete his goals, "What can we do? I'll do anything, I'll get shots without a hassle, I'll even be willing to take some time off of missions, anything! What can we do to fix this?!"

Hearing Naruto sound so desperate was not something Tsunade had ever dealt with before, which made it all that much harder to tell him, "The cause of the degeneration is the malevolent chakra flowing through your body, poisoning you. The only thing we can do is slow the flow to a level that will take years to kill you, about twenty."

Naruto automatically jumped at the chance to save his life and give him plenty of time left, "Yeah! Sure, let's do it! Let's do whatever we need to in order to make that happen! Then I can get back to training and bring back Sasuke before the time runs out," he said, though bringing back Sasuke was only one of the many things he wanted to do before he died.

"That's the problem, Naruto. In order to slow it down to that rate, we'll have to restrict your entire flow of chakra," she explained, "meaning that you'll never be able to use chakra again or it will kill you very painfully. Even using it now would accelerate the time tables and bring you closer to death."

Naruto's mouth was opening and closing, failing to actually squeeze out any words. 'Never being able to use chakra?' he thought, 'I'm not like bushy brows, I would have to work all over again from the start, and I just can't do that.' Eventually though, he did get out one single sentence that summed up his thoughts, "Shit, I'm completely screwed."

Tsunade felt utterly horrible, sickened by the fact that she had to crush the dreams of the person that made her realize what a waste her life was and helped her improve it. "We can put on the seal any time, I already have it-"

"Stop," Naruto said while thinking about what his life would be like with the seal, surprising Tsunade, "will it make a difference whether you place the seal on now or in a couple weeks?"

"No, it shouldn't," she said, wondering where he was going with this, "but what do you need to know that for?"

"I'll give you my answer in two weeks, then," he answered, suddenly feeling exhausted, "so please, for these next two weeks, could you just leave me alone, and tell the same to anyone else that asks for me?"

"Sure Naruto, I'll do that," she replied.

Naruto then got up and began walking to the door. The only other words spoken before he left the room were, "Thanks, Tsunade, see you in two weeks."

The lack of 'Baa-chan' shocked Tsunade, showing her just a small portion of how much the newly learned fact affected him. The facts that he hadn't yet accomplished any of his dreams and that this was a mere month before he was supposed to go off training with Jiraiya only made it worse.

Naruto was walking through the streets of Konoha; not really having a destination in mind, just hoping that walking around would help him think. He noticed the glares of the villagers, as usual, but didn't care about it at the time. Eventually, he turned a corner and ran into somebody, knocking him off his feet and onto the ground. He was somewhat surprised when he didn't hear a shout of indignation for this, but actually received a hand to help him up. This surprise was taken away, however, when he noticed that he had run into Kiba.

Once he had gotten up, he noticed that the rest of the Konoha twelve were there, with the exception of Sasuke and those that were still in the hospital. Naruto gave a half-hearted wave, and started to walk away when he heard a shout of, "Wait!"

Turning back, he saw that it was Ino who shouted, annoying him that she seemed to want to yell at him more. "Look, Ino," he said, remembering what happened last time they spoke to each other, "I'm really not in the mood to get into another shouting match with you, okay?"

"I know," she replied, "I just wanted to say that I'm sorry, I know that what happened with Sasuke wasn't your fault and that I was wrong, so I'm sorry. Do you forgive me?"

"Sure," he answered with no real strength in his voice, barely caring at all, "whatever."

He then began to walk off again, worrying the others with how exhausted he looked. Surprisingly, it was Shikamaru that spoke up first, "Hey, Naruto. What's wrong?"

Naruto thought about that question for a moment. 'What's wrong?!' he thought, 'Everything's wrong!' He then turned around quickly and replied with sarcasm dripping from his voice, "Oh, nothing much really! Just getting screwed over by the universe, as usual! I mean come on, I work so hard to accomplish my dreams and what does it get me?!" he was shouting now, not even to anyone in particular anymore, "That's right, it gets me the choice between a painful death in three weeks or an agonizing one in twenty years! Of course this is probably all because I forgot who I am! Naruto Uzumaki! The world's punching bag! Thanks for reminding me of that, Sasuke!"

Everyone around him was sucker-punched by his words. Naruto was dying?

"What are you talking about, Naruto?" Kiba asked.

Naruto stopped, mid-sentence, as if he just remembered that he wasn't alone at the moment. He looked at the rest of the rookies and saw the looks on their faces. Confusion, skepticism, and…worry? Why was Hinata so worried? Naruto pushed it off to the side for the moment, focusing on the matter at hand. "Ah, I rambled a bit," he sighed, clearly far more tired than they were used to seeing, "just, I have a lot of stuff to deal with right now, and I would very much appreciate it if I was left alone for the next two weeks, okay? If any of you have any questions, ask me in two weeks, or ask Hokage-sama about it. For now, I'm going home. Have some nice lives."

When he finished, Naruto walked off towards his home, leaving behind a very confused group of Shinobi.

Soon after, Naruto was home without a clue as to what path he took to get there or how long it took. All he knew was that it was already dark, and he was really tired. In the end, he simply opened the door, walked to his room, barely remembering to close the front door and laid down on his bed, asleep almost as soon as he hit the pillow.


Present time-A week after being taken by Itachi and Kisame

"So, where are we?" Naruto asked as he looked around the giant cave the three of them were now walking through, curious as to where he was since they covered his eyes and carried him near the end.

"It does not matter," Itachi replied.

"Sheesh, Itachi," Kisame commented, "go easy on the kid, he's kinda grown on me these past few days. Too bad we have to kill him."

"Yeah, you guys are pretty cool, actually," Naruto said, thinking of the memories of the trip and what he learned of their personalities, "except for the whole gonna kill me thing, though I don't really care about that anymore."

"You still haven't told us why that is, Naruto," Itachi said as he turned and looked at Naruto, stopping them where they were.

"Eh, I'm already here, so I might as well tell you," Naruto resigned, deciding that there wasn't a real need for secrecy, "I won't tell you why, because you don't need to know, but you guys picked me up the day after it became official that I was being kicked out of the Shinobi forces."

"Dang, kid," Kisame exclaimed, "that sucks! Leaving on your own is one thing, but being kicked out? That just seems like it'd leave a lot of pain in your chest."

It took several minutes before they finally got Naruto to stop laughing.

The three ninja, far away from their homelands, were now in front of a cell. "Home sweet home," Naruto commented as he walked inside, observing the utilitarian cell.

"No expenses spared for you, kid," Kisame said with a laugh.

Naruto then turned back to the two and looked at them as if they were extremely pitiable, "Wow, I'm sorry," he said, "I didn't realize how poor you guys were. Here, if you go into my pocket, I have Gama-Chan in there; the money in him should give you enough to feed yourselves for a couple days at least."

Kisame barked out a gruff laugh while Itachi just gained a barely noticeable smirk, showing that he too had gotten a bit attached to the jinchuuriki in front of them. Naruto went over to the bed to lie down, and then asked the question that had been on his mind ever since they first came after him, "So, what are you guys going to do with me, anyway?"

There was a bit of silence before he got a response of, "Are you serious kid? You don't even know?"

"Does anyone know? All I know is that you guys want me for some reason, and that considering the fact that you're a couple of nuke-nin, the reason and use for me would probably result in my death," Naruto asked in reply.

Another silence followed, which was broken when Itachi explained, "We are going to forcefully extract the Kyuubi from you so we can use its power for our own goals, which will kill you."

"Ah," was the only response he got from the jinchuuriki.

"Well, the extraction is going to take place in about two weeks, so rest up, kid! We'll see you then. For now, we have some business to take care of."

Once they were gone, all that Naruto could do was lay on the bed and sleep, thinking about the mess that was his life until the day he was meant to die.


12 days later

In the main cave of the large system of cavers where Naruto was being held now stood six extremely strong Shinobi. These six were Itachi Uchiha, Kisame Hoshigaki, Kakuzu of Takigakure, Sasori of Sunagakure, Konan of Amegakure, and the many bodies of Nagato of Amegakure, who was also known as Pein.

Each of them stood on one of the fingers of a large statue that was the focus of the cave, with the exception of most of Nagato's bodies.

"Obviously," Nagato started from the body of Yakihiko, "we are here to extract the Kyuubi from its container, though this is far ahead of schedule," he spoke as he glared at Itachi and Kisame.

"Whoa," Kisame said as he raised his hands defensively, "Zetsu was the one who told us that the gaki was going to be taken on a training trip with Jiraiya, we just thought that it might be smart to see if we could get the gaki before he got training from one of the most renowned ninjas in the world. We thought he would just run for help and we wouldn't really have changed the plan at all; we didn't expect him to just come along with us as if he had nothing better to do."

"Well why did he come with you then?" Nagato asked.

"Apparently, he was about to be kicked out of the Shinobi forces," Itachi answered, causing many of the occupants of the room to cringe, while others laughed at his misfortune and some had no response at all.

"What did he do?" asked Sasori, fully covered in his scorpion-like exoskeleton.

"He refuses to tell us, but he informs us that even if he wanted to, there is probably nothing he could do to stop us, with the exception of killing himself, which he sees no point in considering we will do the same."

"And you believe him?" Nagato asked with a raised eyebrow.

"Yes," Itachi replied, "but only after we carefully observed his actions and our surroundings the entire time he has been with us, and have too nothing to suggest otherwise, even when we checked for any tracking seals or anything else of the sort."

"Very well then," Nagato relinquished, "but if anything goes wrong during the extraction, it will be on your heads."

Though they showed no reaction to these words, Kisame, and to a lesser extent Itachi, became nervous at this declaration.

Nagato then addressed them again, "With my other bodies here to bring in more energy, the extraction should only take about two days before it is complete, go bring the Kyuubi jinchuuriki here now."

With that, Kisame leapt off of his position on the statue and traveled to Naruto's cell further in the cavern only to find him in his usual place but the only difference was that he was singing to himself, "I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me?"

"That's the plan," Kisame said, interrupting Naruto's thoughts.

"Hey, Kisame," Naruto greeted cheerfully, "what's up?"

"Well kid, today's the day you die. Well, it will be soon enough."

"Oh," Naruto said, deflating greatly, "really?"

"Yeah, sorry about this," Kisame answered.

"Eh, don't worry about it, it's not your fault that I have a demon sealed inside of me."

With that, Naruto got off of the bed, walked towards Kisame and was then led to the main chamber, where he would soon be forced to face his mortality.


Konoha-One week before

Currently gathered in the Hokage's office were all of the members of the Konoha twelve and their sensei, with the only exceptions being Sasuke and Naruto, the latter of which being the topic behind why they were all gathered. Those that were fresh out of the hospital were each wearing some sort of bandage or using a crutch, but they were all attentive.

"So, the reason you have all been brought here today is known to some of you, but not to others," the Hokage began, "and that reason is the future of one Naruto Uzumaki."

Murmurs broke out between the ten youngest shinobi in the room, which was drowned out by Neji's question of, "What happened to Naruto-san?"

"That's what I was getting to," Tsunade said, slightly irritated, "many of you came to me about two weeks ago after you came across a distressed Naruto, wondering why he was in such a state. At that time, I told all of you to shove it and leave the topic alone until today so all of you could be here to hear this. Now, I will tell you what is currently happening to Naruto, though not in great detail because I wish to preserve at least some confidentiality. The only reason I'm going to tell you this much is because he told you to come ask me about it."

At this point Tsunade sighed and looked at the picture on her desk that held Naruto in a part of it, creating a silence that lasted for several seconds. The silence was then broken when she spoke again, "All that you need to know is that Naruto, because of certain factors from the past and present, is dying."

There was an immediate reaction to this knowledge, but the largest being among three of the girls assembled in the room. Hinata was the most affected, filled with sorrow at the fact that the one she loved was dying and she still had never been able to tell him how she felt, then the next was Sakura, crushed that her one teammate who was still in Konoha was dying, and the third was Ino, thinking about how horrible she had been to him during all of the years they had known each other.

The three of them were about to leave the room when Kakashi asked the question, "How long does he have left?"

"That's the tricky part," Tsunade explained, "it really depends on what he says today. The reason that I have told you all to leave him alone these past two weeks is so that he could make the decision for himself. The only choices he has at this point are to allow himself to die in one week," which caught several gasps and other stressed reactions, "or to allow himself to have all of his chakra sealed, which will prevent him from continuing as a Shinobi and allow him to live on for another twenty years. Now, I'm fairly sure that he will choose the second option, but-"

"He won't," Shikamaru interrupted.

"What do you mean?" Tsunade asked in return.

"What he means," Sakura said for Shikamaru, "is that we've all known him for years, and throughout all of those years, the only thing that we all truly know about him no matter what is that his only dream is to become the Hokage someday, but if you take that dream away from him, who knows what he'll do."

"That's…troubling," Tsunade commented as she leaned back into her chair, trying to think through the situation. "Kakashi," she said, "please bring Naruto here, and tell him that I'm sorry that I wasn't able to give him a full two weeks."

"Yes, Hokage-Sama," Kakashi said before he disappeared in a puff of smoke, only to appear alone again a few minutes later. "He's not there," he reported.

"What do you mean?" Tsunade asked.

"What I mean is that his front door was unlocked and no one was inside, and his scent wasn't anywhere near his apartment when I checked. This means that Naruto either knows justus that I didn't teach him, or he has not been there for quite some time, the latter being more likely."

"We need to find him, Tsunade-sama!" shouted Sakura.

"Well, obviously," Tsunade spoke back, annoyed at the unnecessary remark.

"Kuma!" Tsunade said, calling forth an ANBU from seemingly nowhere, "Contact the Inuzuka, the Hyuuga, and the Aburame, and tell them that I need the three best squads that they have available searching for Naruto Uzumaki everywhere in Konoha and in the twenty miles surrounding it to begin, and that they are to report back to me when they are finished with that for further orders if they are unable to find him."

After the ANBU disappeared, she turned to the group still remaining. "Kakashi, Kurenai, take your teams to do the same, but start by looking everywhere that you know Naruto to visit, and ask around for anyone else who might know something. The rest of you are dismissed pending further orders."

Everyone assigned to search for Naruto was immediately gone, while the rest soon followed slowly, all both anxious and worried about their friend.

In the end, Tsunade was alone in her office, sitting in her chair looking out of the large windows when she whispered to herself, "I hope we find you, Naruto. Please, let us find you."


Konoha-Present

Currently at the Hokage's office, the Hyuuga, Aburame and Inuzuka clan search squads were giving report on how they were unable to find any traces of Naruto Uzumaki, for the fourth time.

"Absolutely nothing, you say?" asked the Hokage, exasperated, "Fine, you are dismissed. Please tell the next group to come in."

The squads walked out, telling the next teams to go on in. These teams in question were the Kakashi's team consisting of just Sakura and him, and Kurenai's team.

"Did you find anything?" Tsunade asked, throwing aside all formality.

"Regretfully, no," Kakashi said, tired from the hard work he had put in to find Naruto, "I assume this means that none of the other teams found anything?"

"Yeah and tomorrow's the last day, according to the results," the Senju choked out, filled with despair.

Everyone in the room looked distraught, and only about half were surprised when Hinata was the first to break, bursting into tears and collapsing onto the floor.

The only sounds in the room for the next several minutes were Hinata's crying and the sounds of her teammates trying to calm her down.

"I'm sorry to say this," the Hokage spoke, "but we have to give up on the search. Even if we found him now, there is no way that we would be able to give him the treatment he needs to live on, and his disappearance may be a message telling us that he doesn't want to."

At this, Hinata started crying even more desperately, and Sakura's unshed tears began to fall down her face, though she made no noise to portray the same emotions.

Once they had gotten Hinata to calm down, Tsunade addressed them again, "To give you time to deal with your feelings of loss, I am giving you all these next two weeks off, during which you will not be required to report for missions unless you wish to do so."

The assorted Shinobi all silently accepted and left the room feeling hollow, except for Sakura.

Turning to the Hokage, with tears still on her face, Sakura asked, "Tsunade-sama, I have a request to make. Would you accept me as your apprentice?"

"Why?" Tsunade asked, surprised by the girl she thought would never take Shinobi training seriously.

"Because Naruto would be disappointed in me if I stayed as I am now," Sakura replied.

The blonde Senju sighed, thinking over the girl's proposal. The fact that she hadn't mentioned the Uchiha gaki as part of her reasoning impressed her a bit, as well as her apparent motivation. A second later, Tsunade spoke, "I am willing to consider this idea, but only after personally testing you to see if you are up to it, which I will do a month from now. At this time, I am going to ask that you take your break, and do your best to prepare yourself and make sure that it's what you want."

"I will, Tsunade-sama, thank you very much."

Sakura then walked out of the door, once again leaving Tsunade alone. Tsunade began to pull out one of her larger bottle of sake when there was a knock on her door, upsetting her greatly. "What?!" she shouted at the person behind the door.

The door then opened, revealing her first apprentice, Shizune. "Ah," Tsunade said, regretting her words, "I didn't realize-"

"It's fine, Tsunade-sama," Shizune said, walking into the room and closing the door behind her. Then, walking to the desk and sitting down, she commented, "He's probably gone, isn't he?"

"Yeah, and we're always going to miss him," Tsunade answered. After a moment, everything became too much for the both of them. The loss of Naruto was like the loss of a brother to both of them, causing their family to be taken away from them, again. The two proud, strong Shinobi women broke down crying, secluded from the eyes of the rest of the world.


Akatsuki Extractions Base, River Country-Two days later

The ritual to extract the energy of the Kyuubi was less than an hour away from completion, and there was only a small amount of energy left to withdraw. Naruto had fallen unconscious from the pain over a day before, which left the room to be fairly silent with exception of the noise made from the extraction.

Suddenly though, Naruto began to cough violently, and the energy, which was still in a stable point in the middle of being extracted from Naruto and being placed into the statue, began to destabilize quickly.

"What's going on?" Itachi asked.

"I do not know," the body of Yakihiko answered, "but it seems that the container is dying of something else besides the extraction."

"Maybe this is why he did not mind coming here," Sasori commented.

"Most likely," Itachi agreed.

"This is a problem," Nagato said, "if he dies before the energy is transferred, the energy will explode and possibly destroy us all."

Multiple members tensed at this, then began to add extra focus and power into the extraction. While this was happening, Naruto's body began coughing more and more, causing blood to begin spilling out of his mouth. Naruto was then awoken by the screaming pain in his chest, only to cough more and more. When the Kyuubi's energy was entirely out of Naruto's body, a string of dark purple chakra started flowing out, which confused everyone greatly, including Pein.

They were about to end the ceremony when Naruto coughed one last time, and died.

The effects of this were immediate. The red energy that was flowing freely through the air, that was about o go into the large statue started going absolutely berserk, lashing out rapidly in every direction while the purple energy seeped back into Naruto's dead body.

"What do we do?" shouted Konan to Pein.

Pein did not respond, and immediately proceeded with the only plan he was able to think of at that moment. The Asura Path of his bodies leapt forward to the deceased body of Naruto, and then proceeded to bring him back to life. This appeared to have fixed the problem, as the energy stabilized and stopped lashing out.

This, however, was quickly proven to be incorrect when the charka formed into a very large version of the Kyuubi, giving off a giant foxy grin and laughing, saying, "Well, well, well, what have we here? I see a bunch of puny little flesh-bags who made a huge mistake!"

The Kyuubi then proceeded to break out into laughter again as the energy burst through the room, this time precisely striking areas in the grand case that would cause a collapse.

"Run!" Pein shouted, not wishing to lose the valuable assets he had helped collect together.

Within seconds, each of the Shinobi were out of the cave and on their way to another base, knowing that capturing the power of the Kyuubi would be a difficult task for another day.

Back at the cave, however, the power of the Kyuubi was still reigning free, tearing up everything within its very long range. After several minutes, the cave collapsed completely, with only a sphere of red energy protecting Naruto.


The same cave-one day later

Naruto woke up, feeling intense pain all throughout his body. For several minutes he screamed, filled with nothing but a blinding pain. Over time though, the pain began to subside to the normal large amount of pain in his chest that he had grown accustom to. When he could finally think, he looked around himself and saw only a red glow.

"How do I get out of here?" he spoke to himself, though upon saying this, the red around him shifted, and burst through what appeared to be a large amount of rocks above him. Naruto was worried about what this energy was, especially because it felt so familiar and yet he could not place where it was from.

Weakly standing up, Naruto gained his balance, something he lost after not moving for three days, and then proceeded to climb out of the large hole he was in. Once he was at the top, he began to look around, trying to figure out where he was, and he also tried to figure out what happened. "Shouldn't I be dead now?" he said to himself.

"You were," a voice behind him replied.

Being startled by the voice, Naruto spun around to look at the source, only so see himself, with red hair, and tails. This, of course, confused Naruto greatly, causing to incoherently question everything, "Wha, who, how, why?!"

"Oh, shut up!" the being in front of him shouted, "I had enough of your stupidity while I was inside of you!"

It was that statement that allowed Naruto to put together who it was that was actually in front of him, "Kyuubi?!"

"The one and only, Kit. I've gotta say that your stupid, suicidal tendencies really worked out for the better for both of us in the end," The Kyuubi said.

"How is this for the better for me?!" Naruto questioned, "You aren't sealed inside me anymore, and now you're gonna kill me in some horrible way!"

"Says who?" Kyuubi said, raising his eyebrow questioningly.

Naruto was surprised by this, and made that clear, "But, I figured that since you aren't sealed inside of me anymore, that you would kill me for trapping you."

The Kyuubi sighed, then sat on a boulder and began to explain, "Okay, first off, I may not be sealed inside of you anymore, but with all of the stuff that happened yesterday, you dying and immediately coming back to life and such, I'm still sealed to you, meaning that our lives are still tied together, but I just exist outside of you now."

Naruto was both shocked and relieved by these facts. Shocked by the knowledge of his death, and relieved by the Kyuubi not wanting to kill him.

"Also," the Kyuubi continued, "I don't hate you. This may seem strange, but I really don't have any real reason to other than you keeping me inside of you, which really isn't your fault. Which comes to my next point; I'm not the reckless being of destruction that everyone thinks that I am. Sure, I've wrecked a few places and I'm made of anger and hate, but that doesn't mean that those are the only things that I can feel and think about."

This information completely flipped Naruto's view of the Kyuubi upside-down, though he was a bit skeptical about it.

"Finally, now that I am only sealed to you, I can have a bit of freedom, such as being able to materialize myself as this body, which will let me help you have fun in life, because honestly, your life has sucked so far. I, however, with my new body shall now help you become awesome, so let's go find a way to keep you alive for more than a year!"

"What? No! I'm supposed to die now!" Naruto said, angry.

The Kyuubi was confused by this anger. When he was inside Naruto, he always had an awareness of what was going on outside, but he could never hear Naruto's thoughts. Hearing Naruto explain how he was smarter than he acted was also a surprise to the Kyuubi.

"Wait, you want to die?" the Kyuubi asked.

"Well yeah!" Naruto shouted, pouring out the thoughts he had built up, "I had and three weeks where I could do nothing but think about my entire life and you want to know what I discovered? Nothing that has happened in my life has been worth all of the shit I've had to deal with! At the rate I was going, I was gonna get myself killed trying to fight someone far stronger than me all because of a promise I have made or would have made, I never would've had a real relationship because I would've been a push-over just because I wouldn't want them to leave me, and I never would have gained the respect I wanted! What's the point in living if that's what's gonna happen throughout my life?"

The Kyuubi was somewhat floored by this, still confused to the idea that his container wasn't exactly the happy-go-lucky fool he had known him as. Taking a step back, Kyuubi tried to reason with Naruto, "Okay kit, listen. Our lives our tied together now, meaning that if either one of us dies, we both die. So, I have a proposition for you; we spend the next five years living our lives. You spend your time trying to find a way to separate us without killing me, while I spend my time trying to find you something to keep living for, how does that sound?"

"It sounds like five years I don't want to deal with, but I will," Naruto said, sighing in defeat.

"Really?" Kyuubi questioned, "With the way you were acting, I thought I might have had to do more convincing."

"Not really," Naruto replied, "because you personally haven't done anything to me to make me feel justified in killing you, so yes, I agree to your deal."

"Well then!" the Kyuubi said, happy that things were working out a bit for him, "Let's go have some fun, shall we? I'm going to use these next few years to help you become a lot more awesome than you would ever have been without me here, so let's start out by finding a way for you to live on for more than a year!"

"Wait, what?" Naruto asked, "I'm still gonna die?"

"Well," the Kyuubi elaborated, "with me out here, my chakra is no longer in your body, which greatly slows down the rate at which the chakra in your chest kills you now that it's just that idiot Uchiha's evil chakra. This means that you would have until about a year from now until your body gives out again and you die, meaning that we have a year to find a way to keep you alive while also letting you use your chakra freely, which means that we can't go back to Konoha. Well, for now, at least."

Thinking of Konoha filled Naruto with a bit of regret and anger, which is why he had tried to do his best to not think of it too much over the past weeks. "Well, what should I call you?" Naruto asked, trying to be positive.

Kyuubi was slightly surprised by the question, but saw the reasoning behind it quickly. It wasn't hard to realize that calling someone "Kyuubi" would draw some looks. "Well," he said, tapping his chin, "just call me Kyu."

"Well then, Kyu," Naruto said, trying out the new name, "which direction shall we start this adventure in?"

"That's the spirit, Naruto!" Kyu commended while using his own alias for Naruto, "Now, as far as I can tell, we're somewhere in River country, meaning that in one direction will be the Land of Waves while in the other will be the Land of Waterfalls, so how about we just go one direction and we'll eventually see where we end up!"

"This is going to be a pain in the ass, but sure! Let's go!" Naruto agreed.

Kyu laughed at his companion's unenthusiastic words, but accepted them anyway. "Yeah!" he said, "It's time for our adventure!"


Konoha-Three years later

Tsunade was happily sitting back in her chair, relaxed at the fact that she hadn't had much paperwork to do today and now had free time until something else came up later, which she knew was unavoidable. She was angered, however, when that thing seemed to pop up as soon as she pulled out a bottle of sake.

"Tsunade-sama/Tsunade-shishou!" shouted her two apprentices simultaneously as they burst through the door to her office.

"What!" she shouted back, angry that her free time was taken away from her before it had even started.

"Look at the new Bingo book from Iwa!" Shizune told her as she threw placed the book in front of Tsunade open to a specific page.

"What's the big deal, there's nothing so important in here that you two can just barge-," Tsunade was saying but stopped abruptly as she saw who it was that was on the two pages in the book.

The following "WHAT?!" was heard all across Konoha that day.


Rock country-The same time

Naruto was looking over the bodies of the three Iwa ninja that he and Kyu had just defeated for answers to why they were attacked when he found a book in one of their pockets.

Flipping through it, Naruto burst out laughing when landed on a certain two pages and saw who it was that on them. "Hey Kyu, Karin, Fu, check it out!" he shouted, "Iwa put Kyu and I in their bingo book!"