Title: Inheritance of Hatred: Chapter 11
Pairing: Eventual SasuNaru
Summary: In the midst of war, Naruto has only one goal: to bring Uchiha Sasuke home. And to that end, he will risk it all to retrieve the one person closest to his heart.
A/N: Special thanks to operagirl76 for being a fantastic beta! The comments and suggestions were invaluable, and helped me fix this chapter up. Thank you so much! Also, thank you to tucuxi for looking this over and giving advice on the plot!
Even as he ran forward with all his might, every step seemed to fall too slow, and the space separating them shrinking too gradually. “Sensei!”
“Truly, the Hatake bloodline is formidable.” The air around the Jounin shimmered and became distorted, locked in the technique. His mismatched eyes widened in alarm as he struggled to form seals, fighting against the vacuum draw. “But you are nothing compared to an Uchiha.” In a whorl of color and air, Kakashi and Keruberosu disappeared from view as the jutsu completed, energy receding back into Madara’s right eye.
“You fucking bastard!” Naruto felt as though he was wading through a churning ocean, pure anger conflicting with sudden grief as his vision and perception narrowed to just one thought: kill Madara. Emotions felt like they were choking him, clouding his thoughts. Chakra burst uncontrollably from his every pore, emitting palpable rage and fury, splintering the ground with each step the jinchuuriki took. Red and black energy began forming a dense layer over his body, vibrating the very air around him. “Let him go!”
Sasuke recoiled in surprise; the sheer energy Naruto was giving off was impossible. Its very presence seemed to burn at the oxygen in the chamber, making it difficult to breathe. Dimly, his mind urged him to attack while the blond was distracted. However, he was aware of a belated emotion slowly rising up within him. He seemed to be absorbing the revelations at a languid rate, information flooding his brain only recognized after a delay. Kakashi’s defeat should have brought him a frenzied joy, or some measure of satisfaction at the very least.
Instead, seeing that Sharingan fade away from view brought memories of Itachi rushing back in a flood. The brother he’d hated with all his might for years, who he trained to kill day after day…who sacrificed himself endlessly for his younger brother. Gone before Sasuke knew his true worth. And now, yet another former pillar in his young life unceremoniously taken away, jarring the foundations of his already unstable emotions.
And suddenly, it was that dark night years ago, when he’d stood on trembling feet before the bloody corpses of his mother and father. Forever gone, forever lost. Leaving an eternally cold void within him that refused to be filled or ignored and catalyzing his downward spiral into lost turmoil.
Then somehow, it seemed like he was thirteen again: overshadowed by thoughts of his brother, outshone by a surprisingly strong Naruto…his own strength too feeble to accomplish his goals. And it was Kakashi who had stood over him calmly, coolly, teaching him a lesson he’d pushed away in the past three years.
In the end, those who tasted revenge were not satisfied. It leads to tragedy.
“Shut up,” he muttered, fingers pulling at his own sweat-damp hair. This was what he wanted, wasn’t it? Everyone crushed, his former friends and teachers slaughtered…
Was this the sweet revenge he’d craved? For it tasted bitter in the back of his mouth, tinged with too many memories and recollections of a more vulnerable time. Unfamiliar regret prodded him insistently like his brother used to, a sharp poke between his eyes with two fingers. Just as he’d done to Sasuke as a small, innocent child; just as he’d done one last time with the final dregs of life in his body.
You’ll only hurt and suffer more, Sasuke. Even if you are successful in your revenge, all you’ll be left with is emptiness.
He didn’t know who was talking anymore: Kakashi or Itachi, it didn’t matter. These were thoughts he didn’t want clouding his judgment just as his revenge was finally nearing completion. He ought to have felt triumphant: Konoha and the wretched legacy of the Senju would be obliterated, the spilled blood of the Uchiha repaid. But why didn’t it fill him up with elation? Why did this angry, aching hole within his soul refuse to relent?
With a dull roar, energy exploded a ways in front of him. Biting back a cry, the dark-haired boy fell as shock-waves rocked the ground, pushing past everything with unblockable force. Naruto’s shouts had become nearly incoherent with rage, chakra slashing through the air like a monstrous cyclone around his body as he blazed a fiery path towards Madara.
Dispassionately, Madara took three steps backwards, letting a flare of chakra flow out of the Rinnegan implanted in his left eye socket. Immediately, six figures drifted out from the shadows behind him in a flanking motion, three to each side. Physically, they drastically different from each other: two were female, a few were older while the others younger, one towered over the rest of them. They each also bore different hitai-ates on their garb; Naruto recognized the emblems of Iwagakure, Kumogakure, and Kirigakure among them. Eerily though, each individual had the exact same eyes staring out from their pallid faces: the unmistakable Sharingan on the right and the ripple-patterned Rinnegan to the left.
With a surprised snarl, Naruto halted, looking carefully at the strange, stiff crowd in front of him. Each emotionless face was unfamiliar to him, and yet he felt gravely discomforted by their presence. He’d immediately recognized the Rinnegan eye, reminding him jarringly of Nagato. Surely the coincidence of six bodies was more than just that. “You-” His nails dug into his palm as he clenched his hands angrily.
“Yes,” the older man said coldly, gaze sweeping over the bodies blocking Naruto’s way to him. “Nagato wasted the gift given to him; I’m just putting it to its intended use.”
The blond’s chakra flared as he stepped forward, preparing to push his way through to his opponent. Instantly the body in front of him – a tall, blond woman with a Kumo hitai-ate- snapped her hand towards his face. Brilliant blue chakra burst from her fingers as she did so, the energy glancing off his cheek as Naruto dodged. She forced him back several more steps, movements quick and precise, before falling back into a neutral position in front of Madara.
“I see you’ve gotten much stronger. But do you really think you’re a match for your fellow vessels?” The elder Uchiha flicked a finger, directing all six of them to form a line before him.
“What are you talking about?” Naruto looked from face to face with a scowl, his instincts buzzing with warning.
“I’m talking about your fellow jinchuuriki.” Madara nodded at each still form in turn. “Rōshi. Fū. Yugito. Yagura. Utakata. Han.” His cruel chuckle echoed quietly in his mask, making the sound more menacing. “Quite a set.”
Horror mingled with the rage bubbling up inside of Naruto as he looked at each face with a dawning realization. Each of these men and women had been jinchuuriki, just like him. Each had suffered, endured hardships, been despised…all because of the monster locked within them. And Madara had killed them all, sucking out their life force in order to obtain the demonic beast sealed inside. Just as he and Akatsuki had done to Gaara, and intended to do to both himself and Killer B. Even more unjust, the older Uchiha had had them resurrected and turned into mere pawns for his use.
Unmistakeably, something within him snapped.
There were fleeting moments in the past where Naruto had considered reasoning with Madara. After all, he believed no one to be irredeemable: this had held true when he’d met Gaara and Pain. And he still had faith in Sasuke. But any similar opinion towards Madara crumbled at once as he gazed upon the six dead jinchuuriki.
The red chakra surrounding his body fluctuated outwards uncontrollably, shredding at anything in his path. “They called us monsters,” he hissed lowly, clenching hands tightly. “But the real monster was you all along. I swear, on my name of Uzumaki Naruto…you will not leave here today.”
Sasuke bit down a scream as surges of stinging energy washed over his body, opening long scratches and cuts all over his arms and chest. His eyes could barely make out Naruto’s blurred form standing ahead of him, the chakra erupting out forming a near-solid wall of force. Struggling to his feet, the dark-haired teen noted the sudden appearance of six more shinobi. The Sharingan could see the chakra emitting from Madara in long ropes like puppet strings, connecting him to each corpse. What kind of technique was this? Moreover, the elder Uchiha’s left Sharingan eye had been replaced by a strange ripple-patterned, pale violet design. It was this new eye that seemed to be the source of the technique, minute chakra bursts visible each time it adjusted and moved a body.
Anger radiated off Naruto in waves, but this new development made him pause. He was severely outnumbered: if Sasuke decided to join in the fight, it would be eight against one. Even if Kakashi was here, the odds were heavily stacked against him. “You’d side with this bastard, Sasuke?” He gritted out, sparing him a glance. Surely the other boy wasn’t so blind? “He’s just using you for his own plans.”
“Sasuke is none of your concern at the moment, Naruto,” Madara interrupted.
Even as those words came out, the older man disappeared from view. Sasuke had barely enough time to flinch before he felt Madara reappear behind him, too close and too fast for him to even think about defense before a hand was touching his shoulder. “Sit this one out.”
And he felt himself drawn backwards into the very fabric of time, his body falling into disconcerting nothingness as everything faded from view. An odd weightlessness seized him, his being drawn by an irresistible pull that drew him through reality. Countless miles flew by like mere inches; he wasn’t sure if hours or mere seconds had passed. Perception was skewed in a manner that left him unable to tell any more. This wasn’t the first time Madara had transported him so: like a rag doll borne adrift in a violent wind. No amount of tries would ever make it a comfortable experience.
Like before, his awareness returned to Sasuke bit by bit. He rose to his feet shakily, dizzy from the transition from there to…wherever he was. This separate dimension was a barren stretch: dimly lit by some unseen source of light and extending as far as the eye could see. Cubical platforms rose up from the black depths of a seemingly bottomless pit, geometrically stark and cold. The Uchiha’s heart was still racing from the fight, adrenaline pumping furiously through his bloodstream. Being imprisoned here- even if temporarily- was an oppressive feeling. And what if Naruto managed to defeat Madara? Would Sasuke be trapped here until the end of his days? That thought brought a surge of panic rising up in him and caused the Sharingan to spin wildly as he searched for any clue towards escape.
“I wouldn’t bother. It seems only Madara can transport us back out.”
The unexpected voice came from his left, making him nearly cry out in surprise: Kakashi.
Sasuke reached a hand to his belt, grabbing reflexively for his sword. It was only when his fingers closed around an empty scabbard that he recalled Naruto knocking it from his grip. Undeterred, he focused the energy to his left hand, feeling it gain substance and tingle with electrical current. The Jounin didn’t blink, didn’t rise from his seated position as his former student charged towards him, the sound of Chidori echoing dully in the wide open space.
With a sharp, ringing noise resembling the sound of a gong, Sasuke’s hand was suddenly stopped in mid-attack. It was a sensation similar to punching a wall, albeit invisible. For a few seconds, the energy from Chidori burned unsteadily before fading, dissipating into harmless smoke. The barrier, though, remained in place: it was completely solid against his fingers and slick as water. Only then did he notice the ring of seals drawn in a tight circle around Kakashi: they’d lit up as a result of Sasuke’s attack.
The Copy Ninja rested his chin on a gloved hand, regarding the Uchiha expressionlessly. He’d suspected that Madara would remove Sasuke from the fight: the teen was hot-headed and difficult to control. Naruto only made such traits worse. “It’s called the Seal of Five Birds,” he said, seeing Sasuke eye the markings closely. “Not a very useful barrier normally, and pointless against multiple enemies. It will only repel very specific, designated attacks. However, if you know your opponent as well I do…” He let his statement trail away, already knowing the reaction it would invoke.
“You know nothing about me.” Sasuke spat out as he moved away, eyes narrowing with unrestrained contempt. He felt the impulse to activate Susano’o, to prove the older man wrong. However, the dark-haired boy knew from the other time he’d been trapped here to not waste energy trying. Madara had layered this dimension with some sort of suppression jutsu: it restricted him from using higher-level techniques that expelled large amounts of chakra, like Susano’o. Every time he’d attempted it, a suffocating sensation would overwhelm his senses, choking off air and forcing him to his knees until he ceased whatever jutsu he was performing. Whether it was a measure to prevent his prisoners from escaping through brute force or simply to coerce Sasuke to rest, it mattered little. He was stuck here until the elder Uchiha deemed it fit for him to come out. Resentment curled hot in his chest at that thought, worsening his already irritated state.
“Well, perhaps I don’t know you as well as I thought I did. After all, you aren’t the first to throw away their life for revenge. But I thought you were better than to be a mere pawn for a man like Madara.”
Baring teeth, Sasuke’s fist slammed jarringly into the barrier, shaking his arm to the bone. Pain immediately filled his fingers, but he was too angry to notice. “Shut up! Don’t act like you know me!” Chakra spurted uncontrollably from his hand, only to be deflected by the seals. “Not while you sit there and openly flaunt that eye you stole from the Uchiha.”
Kakashi stared back evenly, purposefully drawing his hitai-ate down to cover the Sharingan. “The Uchiha barely exist today. Your family destroyed itself over their eyes and power.” He didn’t pause, voice cold even as Sasuke’s energy erupted around the barrier uselessly, pounding relentlessly against the obstruction. “That’s the key difference between you and me, Sasuke. Obito’s eye grants me a way to power, yet my other eye is ordinary. Your Sharingan gives you strength but blinds you at the same time. You can’t walk the righteous path if you can’t see it.”
“I’ve heard that a hundred times, Kakashi!” The dark-haired boy’s nails dug hard into the shield. “You have nothing but useless morals, and I’ve outgrown them. They won’t stop me from killing you, from killing Naruto, or anyone else who stands in my way.”
Wearily, the silver-haired man closed his eyes. “Let’s say you kill us. What then? And I mean it, Sasuke. When everyone you want to kill is dead, what are you going to do then?” Abruptly, he gave a bark of mirthless laughter. “Though I suppose it wouldn’t matter in the end, should Madara get Naruto.”
“What the hell are you talking about?” Sasuke pushed away from the invisible obstacle, flexing his sore hands.
“Madara’s Eye of the Moon plan. You really had no idea?” For the first time, Kakashi looked up with a small spark of genuine surprise. That explained some of Sasuke’s complicity. He’d always thought it odd that the dark-haired boy would go along with such a plan willingly. “He never told you why he was collecting all of the Tailed Beasts?”
“Why the fuck would I care?” Sasuke growled, inclining his chin.
“You should, especially since his Eye of the Moon genjutsu would put everyone under his control. Including you.” The older man peered closely at the suddenly quiet boy, choosing his next words carefully. “An infinite Tsukuyomi. That’s what he has planned for all of us.”
Sasuke turned away, thoughts churning. Was this all true? Had he done as Madara ordered only to be screwed over in the end? “You’re lying,” he whispered hoarsely, refusing to believe his words. In his blind thirst for revenge, he’d trusted the older Uchiha to act in a way to benefit both of them. Was Madara taking advantage of his lack of foresight?
His former teacher shrugged. “It doesn’t matter. At this point, all Madara needs is Killer B and Naruto.” He raised an eyebrow, intrigued at catching Sasuke flinch at Naruto’s name. “He’ll die, you know,” the man said slowly.
“What?” The Uchiha turned back, eyes flashing.
“Naruto. When the Nine Tails is extracted, he’ll die.”
“I look forward to it,” the teen mumbled in return. But when he closed his eyes, he couldn’t help but imagine the blond lying lifeless on the ground, body limp and broken. It was unnerving to see, causing a phantom pain within him he didn’t care to name. He couldn’t kill him three years ago, at the Valley of the End. His hand had hesitated that crucial moment, a split second away from a fatal blow. He felt the same feeling now as he had then: an unwillingness to snuff out the bright life within the jinchuuriki. They’d beaten each other up as new Genin, fought bitterly, and nearly killed each other. But Sasuke never before acknowledged the unconscious line he’d drawn when it came to Naruto. Sakura didn’t matter to him; he couldn’t find a shred of remorse at his attempts to end her life. But not Naruto. Why? Countless times he could and should have reached out and snapped the blond’s neck or put a kunai through his beating heart…but it wasn’t within his will to do so. He wondered if it ever would.
We don’t know what kind of people we truly are until the moment before our deaths
And he hadn’t known the kind of person Itachi was until after he was dead and cold on the ground. It was a regret he’d clutch painfully to his soul for the rest of his days. Would it be the same way with Naruto? Would he miss the overly loud and bold remarks the younger boy always threw at him? Would he reminisce on his brusque manner, on his undying faith in him? Would his voice haunt him too?
Kakashi’s gaze was boring into him intensely, as if reading him like an open book. He hadn’t seen a glimpse of that side of Sasuke in years: unsure and looking too young to be in such a scenario. “You hear Itachi, don’t you.” It wasn’t a question.
The Uchiha exhaled forcefully, almost choking on his own saliva. “How do you know?”
“Because it’s not a simple thing, to take another’s eyes.” The Jounin tapped his forehead protector, above his own Sharingan. “You take a bit of them into your own being, give it new life and allow it to grow. But it’s never truly a part of you.” Kakashi thought briefly of Obito, of quiet ethereal words floating unbidden in his grieving mind. It was a long while before he learned not to shun them as manifestations of guilt, but to welcome the echoes of a treasured life cut short. Over the years that disembodied voice had faded to gentle whispers, soft nudges of conscience that Kakashi had come to cherish.
“Does it stop?” The words came out before Sasuke could stop them. He regretted them instantly, irritated at his lack of control. Once again he turned away, frustrated beyond words.
The Copy Ninja rose to his feet, looking over the other shinobi impassively. The boy’s chakra had ebbed to a slow, faltering flow, hostility all but faded away. More than ever, Sasuke looked as though he was at a crossroads: torn between the path he’d be been running down and the longings of his own lonely heart. “That depends on you, Sasuke.” With a flick of his hand and a brief glow of chakra, he dispelled the barrier around himself. The energy shimmered weakly in the air as it collapsed. “I hate repeating myself, but I’m sure you know: We aren’t the lucky ones, Sasuke. But we are far from the worst off.”
Sasuke didn’t need the man to continue, remembering well the words he’d said next, all those years ago.
Chidori is a power given to you because you’ve found things important to you. That power is not something to be used against your friends or for revenge. You yourself should know what it should be used for.
Did he know? He’d tried to attain power the moral way: it couldn’t satisfy his thirst for strength. All he’d had to show for it was some childish happiness and a handful of friends. And he’d willingly sacrificed all those things in order to defect and seek forbidden advantages. And yet, Naruto chased him regardless, eyes shining with a searing trust that Sasuke didn’t think he deserved. Kakashi, too, displayed a lingering sureness in his wayward student: another team leader might have done his utmost to eliminate the Uchiha for the traitor he was. So what exactly did Naruto and now Kakashi see in him to make them so sure? Especially since Madara had been so confident to label Sasuke a true avenger? Whatever ability he had now was surely ill-gotten at best, bought with vengeance in his heart.
Was there too much blood on his hands?
Naruto coughed painfully as he slammed into the rock wall, breath knocked out of his lungs from the force. He felt at least one rib crack, sending tendrils of pain licking up his side. The injury immediately began to knit itself, though at a slower rate than usual. The majority of his energy was focused into maintaining the Nine Tails Chakra Mode, limiting his healing ability. With a grunt, he pushed off the wall, barely dodging another blast of azure chakra that drilled into the spot he’d been standing in only seconds before.
The towering body of the Two Tailed Cat stalked predatorily in front of him, potent waves of fiery sapphire chakra engulfing it from head to toe like fur. Its mismatched eyes watched the blond ninja closely, tracking.
Madara stood a safe distance away, observing the fight dispassionately. Two bodies lay unmoving on the floor, disabled by some technique of Naruto’s. The chakra he’d directed at Rōshi and Han failed to animate either corpse: it seemed the his jutsu’s effect had been terminated somehow. But no matter. He still had four more jinchuuriki in play, and the Nibi in particular was rather effective at combating Naruto. It was circling around the boy like a cat cornering a mouse, hissing deafeningly as it prepared another attack. The blond dove out of the way again, dropping into a roll and moving behind Yugito. The elder Uchiha sent a pulse of chakra to Fū, who darted forward to latch onto Naruto’s undefended back as the Two Tailed Cat whipped its long tail towards them.
The air practically boiled with superheated energy as the monster cat swung its tail towards Naruto, his attempts to throw off Fū unsuccessful. Gritting his teeth, he quickly made a ram seal and grabbed the green-haired girl by the arm. “Kawarimi.” Their positions switched instantly with a puff of smoke, propelling the female jinchuuriki straight into Yugito’s attack. A vicious slash opened up on Fū’s abdomen, the scent of burning flesh filling the air as she fell to the ground heavily. Such a wound would have been fatal to a normal shinobi, but the undead kunoichi started to push herself back to her feet, undeterred.
Unhesitatingly, Naruto thrust his open palm against her exposed back, blood dripping out from the gash he’d opened there earlier with a kunai. He swiftly traced the liquid like ink following a brush, forming a ragged symbol outlined with a circle: the kanji jiǔ. Chakra funneled along his arm straight from his core, burning through his pathways as he forced the energy out onto the blood seal. “Fūinjutsu no jinchuuriki: Kakuan wa o ushi o kai narasu.”
It felt as though his every pore was aflame as the seal activated: it harshly pulled both a chunk of his own chakra and a portion from the Nine Tailed Fox, creating a doubly reinforced binding. Essentially, the combination of both their energies forcibly surged through the target, locking down chakra points and preventing their use. However, the technique consumed a significant amount of power: at full strength, Naruto estimated he could use it five times consecutively at the most. As it was, he’d been expending chakra to maintain Nine Tails Mode as well as healing wounds and using jutsus. Combined with the fight against Sasuke as well as sealing Rōshi and Han, he was sorely feeling the draining effects. Disabling Fū had brought yet another wave of fatigue washing through him. He didn’t think he could manage another.
Madara smirked, seeing the blond falter, exhaustion evident. It was time to end this. He redirected his chakra with a blink, concentrating it into Utakata. The Six Tails jinchuuriki lifted a bent, flute-like weapon to his lips, blowing a mixture of air and energy into it. The blower emitted a thick stream of transparent bubbles that whirled like birds into the air, surrounding Naruto. They converged around his head as he struggled to futilely to escape.
Flailing desperately, Naruto clawed at the bubbles that pressed heavily against his mouth and eyes. They acted with a life of their own, combining together to form a larger bubble that completely enclosed his neck and face and began to fill with water. He could feel the chakra-tinged liquid seep into his skin and push down his throat, choking the very breath out of him. Black spots swam around his vision as his oxygen-deprived brain began to shut down, unconsciousness pulling him deep into its chilly embrace.
1. Kawarimi – substitution technique/body switch
2. Fūinjutsu no Jinchuuriki: Kakuan wa o ushi o kai narasu (made up) – literally meaning ‘Jinchuuriki’s Sealing Method: Kakuan Taming the Bull’ / Kakuan’s 5th Edict On Enlightenment. Refers to the fifth of the “Ten Bull Pictures” that Yamato’s Hokage Style Elder Jutsu: Kakuan’s Tenth Edict On Enlightenment (a.k.a. Kakuan Entering Society with Bliss Bringing Hands) is based on. Seal reinforced by the power of the Nine-Tailed Fox.
I would like to note that in the manga, Naruto had never met any other jinchuuriki besides Killer B and Gaara; in the anime, I believe he’s also met Utakata. I chose to go by the manga storyline.