Title: Inheritance of Hatred: Chapter 3
Pairing: Eventual SasuNaru
Summary: As the Fourth Shinobi World War rages on, Naruto has only one goal: Uchiha Sasuke. He’s trained, he’s chased, and he’s hoped through the past few years, all for the sake of his wayward teammate. But it will all end here.
A/N: I kept getting sidetracked writing this chapter. >_< I always double check my quotes and events by either re-reading the manga or Narutopedia, and I tend to get so engrossed I forget to finish writing…lol. I decided to work in a bit of chapter 535 in here, so this will be spoilerish for people not caught up. Then again, I’ve been saying that every chapter…
Team Ten watched the man in front of them unfold a large map, laying it flat on the sandy ground. Ino turned at a small sound behind her, spotting two more shinobi approaching. She waved as Sai and Sakura quickly ran the remaining distance and stopped amidst the group.
“Kakashi-sensei, what’s going on?” Sakura briefly smiled at her friends, more out of habit than anything. They’d all been called off the battlefield abruptly by their division commanders without explanation and sent to the rear of the army’s position.
Seeing her team leader up close for the first time in days, the pink-haired kunoichi was shocked to see how tired he looked. His spiky silver hair was more disarranged than usual, and the Jounin’s skin was noticeably paler. But his eyes were still bright and alert, sparked with determination. He motioned for the group to come closer, clearing his throat.
“We don’t have much time, so I’ll be brief. Naruto has left headquarters.” He paused as the young men and women around him gave cries of surprise and alarm. Kakashi waved off the questions that instantly were directed at him. “He’s gone after Sasuke.”
Closing her eyes, Sakura drew in a shaky breath. Naruto, you idiot, she thought wearily. Frankly though, she wasn’t surprised at all by this, but had hoped her friend would have learned to not be so rash. And the shinobi joint forces couldn’t spare any fighters as it was, especially with Madara’s army outnumbering them.
Tapping a spot on the map, Kakashi started speaking again. “Our scouts indicated Madara’s base to be around here. It’s a forested area that dips into a canyon, so they’ll be underground.” He slid his finger a few inches back. “Naruto evaded capture this morning, just an hour ago, and was following the slope-line down here. I estimate he’ll find Madara’s hideout some time tomorrow afternoon.”
Shikamaru leaned in closer, studying the map. “We’re going to intercept?” He traced a finger over a thin wavy blue line, indicating a body of water. “Along the river?”
Kakashi nodded. “Right, Shikamaru. Naruto chose a route that is more heavily forested, probably to avoid detection by Madara or Kabuto. And luckily for us, that will slow him down a bit. We’ll be following this river inland. It’ll probably be more closely watched by our enemies, but it’s a more direct route towards the base. With any luck, we’ll be able to get Naruto back before he gets there.” He straightened up, gazing briefly at each of them. “Bring him back at all costs. We cannot allow Naruto to be captured.” Here, he looked sharply at Sai and Sakura. “Do not hesitate to incapacitate him if it’ll help you bring him back. Hokage’s orders.”
Sai nodded, expression blank. Beside him, Sakura bit her lip, but also nodded in understanding.
Kakashi turned to the young man standing next to him. “Any suggestions, Shikamaru?”
The dark-haired Chuunin nodded, pointing at groups of three. “I suggest we split into two groups, and travel separately towards the hideout. We’ll stay in range for our communicators, but let’s send one team slightly ahead.” He paused a moment, running quick calculations through his head before pointing to a spot on the map. “Likely, we’ll intercept Naruto around here tomorrow morning. We should have my team as the further back team, and Team Seven will loop forward then back.” He nodded at his teammates. “We have a good chance of grabbing him with either my Shadow Bind or Ino’s Mind-Body switch. If we lose him, he’ll most likely head further south, where Team Seven will be waiting.” He looked to Kakashi, who nodded in agreement. “So we’ll have two chances to catch him. Choji, Ino, and I will do our best but…you know how Naruto can be.” He let the words sink in before stepping back a step.
With a flick of his wrist, Kakashi rolled the map back up, slipping it back into his side pouch. “Right. Set your radio frequencies to channel 3, and let’s move out.”
As the sun set slowly in the hazy sky and cast long shadows over the grass, Naruto stopped for a short rest by the river. Scooping up a handful of crisp, chilly water, he quenched his thirst quickly. With a sigh, he dried his wet hands on his pants. The last of the sun’s rays glinted off the surface of the water, lighting up his rippled reflection. Seeing the hitai-ate tied to his forehead and the engraved leaf emblem shining, he thought of his other teacher who’d tried to stop him.
You’re like a little brother to me.
The emotion that suddenly came welling up made him blink several times, deeply touched. Iruka had been the first person to acknowledge his existence as a person, rather than just the vessel for the Nine Tails. When he was young, he hadn’t realized that the scoldings and strictness the Chuunin had constantly issued towards him was born out of a brotherly affection. And though he was running away now, Naruto knew that he would eventually return to his family: to Iruka who was so much like an overprotective older brother; to Sakura who was as close as a sister to him; to Kakashi, who was much like an eccentric uncle that hid a noble heart. And to the rest of his friends, who made up his Konoha family.
But this family was incomplete. Sasuke- whom he cared for closer than a sibling or a lover- was absent from their home. The one he’d chased for so long had never before seemed so far off…but Naruto believed he had enough hope and love to break through whatever hatred Sasuke had inherited. And if he didn’t, then the very least he could do was die with Sasuke and spare future generations from their suffering. After all, meeting his parents had made one thing clear: life was precious, and worth sacrificing to save. And as the son of Minato and Kushina, he refused to let even one salvageable soul slip away.
Straightening up, he brushed some dirt off his knees. Evening was falling quickly over the land, and Naruto debated whether he should continue his journey or stop to rest. On reflex, he drew in a quick breath, focusing his concentration and allowing the Nine Tale’s chakra to flow forth. Bright yellow light flared and swept over every part of his body, creating a flickering, flame-like shroud. Instantly, his awareness rushed outwards, heightened by the surge in energy. far off, he could feel the maelstrom of chakra bursts surrounding the area where the brunt of the fighting was taking place. Ghostly signatures that were the Zetsus fell one by one as his friends pushed attack after attack forward. But more kept coming.
For a fleeting moment his desire to find Sasuke wavered, replaced with the yearning to just turn back and help his friends and fellow shinobi in the war. But thinking of his friends reminded him of Sasuke, who he could not allow to join the fray.
He didn’t need any more blood on his hands.
Naruto looked up suddenly, peering directly behind him. Six distinct chakra signatures were moving steadily towards his location. With his Nine Tails augmented perception, he could easily make out the members of Teams Seven and Ten. Clearly, Tsunade had picked Team Ten as backup for Kakashi for their unique array of abilities. He frowned, releasing the fox’s chakra and allowing it to recede back into its seal. They were here sooner than he’d thought; guess there was no time for a break. And while Naruto was fairly certain he could overpower whatever method they planned to use to restrain him, he preferred to save his energy for his upcoming confrontation with Sasuke.
After all, he doubted the Uchiha would come quietly.
A small speck in the darkening sky, the owl soared gracefully along on the cool winds. Its keen amber eyes easily spotted the orange-clad youth standing still by the river. It watched as the boy suddenly flared with unusual yellow light, looking behind himself. After a minute, the light faded, and the young shinobi resumed his quick pace away.
Taking all this in, the owl suddenly jerked, faltering in mid-flight. It plummeted several feet before the bird seemed to regain its senses, flapping wings with a sharp screech.
Hundreds of feet below, Ino’s eyes slowly opened as her consciousness quickly returned to her own body when the Mind-Body Switch disengaged. Her legs moved unheeded beneath her in a rapid run, keeping her in pace with her teammates. “Thanks, Shikamaru.”
He nodded at her, allowing the shadow controlling her body’s movements to shrink and withdraw. “Did you see Naruto?”
As an answer, Ino quickly fingered on her communicator. “Kakashi-sensei, it’s Ino.” She waited a moment for the Jounin to answer. “I spotted Naruto, but I think he detected us. Should we change our plan?”
Static buzzed lowly for several minutes. “We’re very close to the enemy base. Whatever new strategy we may come up with, there isn’t enough time to put it into motion. Stay on your current course.”
The blonde girl looked over at her dark-haired teammate, silently asking his opinion. Shikamaru frowned, but shook his head. No, Kakashi was right.
“Affirmative. Team Ten out.”
Not too far off, Kakashi was running past trees and leafy foliage, Sakura and Sai close behind. His sharp eye could see that Sakura’s expression was troubled after Ino’s report. Already, there was a kink in the mission. But it couldn’t be helped. He pushed his hitai-ate up an inch, taking a quick look around them before sliding it back down. No enemy scouts so far.
A lowlife outsider like you has no right to go around showing that eye off!
The Sharingan in his left socket twinged at that memory. Kakashi sighed, reflexively squeezing the bridge of his nose to alleviate the headache oncoming. Obito, he thought solemnly, what would you do in my place? The Copy Ninja wondered if it was merciful that his best friend had died so young, and not lived to see the tragedy that his family had become. Kakashi hadn’t had time to pay a visit to the memorial stone before leaving Konoha, so he looked now into the soft evening sky, offering up a silent prayer.
Save us from this history of hatred.
Fatigue and overexertion burned at his limbs, at his eyes like hellfire, making every movement labored. But he stubbornly stood his ground, leveling a cold gaze at the yellow-haired boy walking closer and closer.
“Our battle will be inevitable, if you really do attack the Leaf.” Naruto stopped less than a foot away, standing effortlessly on still water. “So keep your hatred, let it fester…and hit me with it full force.” He raised a hand, reaching out and taking Sasuke’s.
The Uchiha tried to jerk out of his grip, but his hands refused to obey. Exhaustion seemed to weigh down his muscles like molten iron, rendering him immobile. He could only watch as his ex-teammate pulled his hand close to his chest, placing the palm directly over his heart, as if indicating to Sasuke where to aim his strike.
“I’ll bear the burden of your hatred…and we’ll die together!” And Naruto smiled, an expression that was both pitying and determined. “I’m coming for you, Sasuke.”
He opened his mouth then, to scream at him, to make him understand that his quest to save him was foolish. But his lungs filled with stale air, and Sasuke jerked awake. The coarse blanket that had been covering him fell away, piling noiselessly on the ground. His breaths came in short pants as the dark-haired young man sat up in the darkness. Just a dream…
Goddamn Naruto and his obstinate ways. And his smile…it infuriated him the most. Partly because it never wavered, but also because it reminded him of someone else.
Physically, Naruto was the exact opposite of Uchiha Itachi; he was loud, bright, and ostentatious while his brother had been reserved, dark, and burdened. But when the blond smiled, it was in a way that was hauntingly similar to his dead brother’s all those years ago when they had been young: confident, but tinged with pity towards Sasuke. And that was what piqued his anger, the pity. Because he didn’t want their pity; he wanted them to suffer and bleed and cry out in anguish as he had all those years after the slaughter of his clan.
He slowly felt his face, fingers tentatively tracing the bandages covering his eyes. Itachi’s eyes had been successfully transplanted into his own sockets, and Sasuke could feel a new sense of vigor flowing from them. He estimated his recovery to be nearly complete, and the first thing he aimed to do was find Naruto and wipe the smile from his face.
Because that smile always managed to cut straight into his soul, to a part of himself he’d spent years trying to choke off. Because he could always clearly see the undying affection in those blue eyes, directed towards him. And he didn’t want it; he’d stopped wanting it the day he found out his family was dead on a whim of Konoha’s leaders.
It was as if the Mangekyo Sharingan let him see the merciless truth of the world: since its awakening, he could clearly see the line between the Uchiha and everyone else, and they were clearly battle-lines. To them, the Uchiha were the outsiders, treated with barely veiled fear and distrust. More than ever now, Sasuke saw that distinctly.
Except Naruto. The blond always knew exactly how to get under his skin and through his cold exterior, chasing after Sasuke with dedication born of something the dark-haired boy didn’t know how to name. And when their eyes met, he could always see a fondness that refused to be changed or altered, and that disquieted him. Vengeance was a frosty sanctuary he’d taken refuge in and hidden his lifelong pain, but Naruto threatened to change that. Starting with his maddening smile…
Sitting up caused his recently-operated on eyes to throb, and Sasuke lowered himself back onto his bed, fighting against sleep for a few minutes.
He didn’t want to see that smile tonight.
A/N: Whoa, it’s Sasuke! Mwahaha.