Title: Inheritance of Hatred: Chapter 12
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: Thanks again to my awesome beta, operagirl76! She catches my strange mistakes and lapses in judgment XD.
Enjoy, and leave me some feedback!
His lungs burned in agony, the need for air making Naruto dizzy. Water filled his nose and mouth, coating any surface possible and forcing every bit of oxygen out. His vision blurred as the pain in his chest reached an unbearable level, nails clawing uselessly at the bubble enclosing him from the neck up. It was increasingly difficult to form coherent thoughts, reality melding together like raindrops falling on glass as Naruto dropped to his knees, struggling weakly.
Just as he felt the last of his strength ebb from his limbs, his eyes registered Madara approaching, black robes billowing behind him.
The fearsome mask, distorted by his rapidly darkening perception, resembled the hellish countenance of a devil as he gazed down on Naruto in malicious satisfaction. “Looks like I win after all. But don’t worry Naruto: you won’t be alive long enough to see-” His breath caught, sensing the impossible, feeling an additional presence that should have been gone. Madara knew it was too late even as he moved to dodge, the crackling thunder of chakra shrieking through the air-
Sasuke’s hand tore through the man’s chest with a sickening organic crunch, liquid splashing out and sizzling as Chidori burned through flesh and muscle. His target shuddered convulsively, muscles pulsing around the foreign hand. Sharingan blazing brightly, the teen grunted in anger as he realized his trajectory was off. Madara had managed to move several inches before they’d collided: the blow Sasuke had intended to pierce through his heart had punctured too far to the left, piercing a lung instead. He could feel strong heartbeats just barely out of reach, defiantly alive and taunting him without words.
“Sasuke.” The older man hissed, a rare look of surprise in his eyes. He could feel warm fluid seeping out from his wound, soaking the front of his robes. “How-” The elder Uchiha glanced back to Naruto, understanding striking him like a knife.
Kakashi quickly dropped to Naruto’s side, fingertips sparking with red chakra as he hurriedly placed them on the bubble choking the jinchuuriki. Instantly, the orb collapsed, faint wisps of steam evaporating into nothingness. Freed, Naruto inhaled explosively, bracing himself shakily against the floor as he coughed out water and bile. The sweet oxygen rushing back into his burning lungs was a pure blessing, sending relief shuddering through him from head to toe. “Ka-” The blond’s watering eyes shot up in disbelief at the Jounin, looking as if he beheld a ghost. “Kakashi-sensei? H-How-”
“No time for that now, Naruto.” Already, the Copy Ninja was pulling off both of his gloves and discarding them on the floor. “Listen to me carefully, because we have one shot at this.” With terse motions, Kakashi ripped open his tool pouch and drew out nine blank scrolls. Each length of paper was a snowy, pristine white and wrapped tightly into a cylindrical shape.
“A shot at wha-” Naruto’s eyes widened in shock, beholding the two Uchihas locked in combat. “S-Sasuke?” His voice was barely above a hoarse whisper, unsure tendrils of hope seeping into his tone.
Grunting in frustration, Sasuke yanked his arm back, staring at the mortally wounded man. A white substance was dribbling thickly out from the hole Chidori had torn open in Madara’s chest, looking nothing like blood. Moreover, though he hadn’t managed to land a direct hit to his heart, the attack should have been sufficient to bring the older man to his knees, if not kill him outright. “What…” Medically appalling and unnatural enhancements were nothing new to Sasuke: Orochimaru and then Kabuto had both pushed the limits of their own humanity, becoming strange walking blends of man and serpent in their pursuit of immortality. Madara, it seemed, had far surpassed their level of monstrosity. “What the hell are you?”
The masked man chuckled, a low cruel sound in his throat. He pressed a hand to the gory injury, unfazed by the gruesome sight. “I am an immortal presence, Sasuke. And you’re foolish to think it is within your ability to defeat me.”
Sasuke rolled to the side, gravel digging into his back as he dodged. An enormous chakra paw slammed into the spot he’d be standing on only seconds before, creating a small crater in the ground.
The Two Tailed Cat hissed ferociously, mismatched eyes tracking him closely. Yagura and Utakata moved into view, flanking Yugito’s hulking form. Behind them, Madara watched coldly as his kinsman assumed a defensive stance. He’d planned on using the younger Uchiha a bit longer, but it seemed that course wouldn’t play out as he’d have liked. Inconvenient as it might be, Sasuke was no longer a useful pawn. The remaining three jinchuuriki under his control advanced upon the younger Uchiha, circling a cornered prey. “Kill him. Bring me Itachi’s eyes.”
The anger simmering in Sasuke’s blood rose to a rolling boil at the mention of his brother’s name. “Don’t you dare speak his name again.” Energy burst out in waves as his Mangekyō activated, spinning in a fearsome kaleidoscope of red and black. The chakra flowing forth quickly surrounded the dark-haired shinobi, coalescing to form the towering, translucent body of Susano’o. The veins near Sasuke’s eyes bulged visibly, sweat dotting his pale brow from the mental and physical strain. “You’ll pay for manipulating me, Madara.” Chakra solidified into a sword and swung forward with a hiss, splitting the air with a roar of sound as he charged.
Impatiently, Kakashi jabbed the shuriken into the ball of his thumb, drawing blood to the surface. He repeated the procedure to each of his fingers, until a steady flow of crimson liquid collected in his palms and trailed down his arms. Bending over the first blank scroll, the silver-haired man quickly began scrawling a long, convoluted series of kanji, his blood glistening wetly on the paper.
Naruto knelt beside him tensely, watching the fight close by nervously. Every fiber of his being longed to jump back into the fray, but the Jounin had firmly ordered him to leave the fight to Sasuke. “Kakashi-sensei, let me-”
“No, listen to me. We need to do this now, and Sasuke agreed to hold off Madara.” He’d moved on to the third scroll, every passing minute it took him to complete the set of hastily-written characters seeming too long. They didn’t have much time…
“Before, after we fought Kabuto,” he gritted out, eyes narrowed in concentration for the task at hand. Kakashi kept his sentences short and brief, focusing most of his energies into finishing the seals. “In his mind…I saw the truth. The Shodai Hokage defeated Madara in their last battle, but he took some of his cells. His own body was too damaged, so he created a clone from Hashirama’s DNA, most likely with kinjutsu. It seems he managed to find a way to bind his life force to it.”
Naruto’s eyes were filled with a mixture of shock and disgust. “But why is it so hard to kill him?”
“Hashirama’s genetic trait, the Mokuton, is special because it creates living cells. They replicate and grow to repair any damage. With that power, he’s eliminated most of his own human weaknesses.” Kakashi’s hands ached from the numerous cuts, the outflow of blood sapping him of energy, but he forced himself to keep working. “Essentially, his body now is a modified form of the Mokuton.”
“How does that help us? And Sasuke-” The blond winced as the dark-haired teen took a hit to his side, stumbling.
“Sasuke knows the risk he takes in fighting alone against Madara.” The Copy Ninja realized it was a brutal statement, and caught the look of pain in Naruto’s face. However, their only chance at victory lay with the jinchuuriki. “He’s doing it for you,” he added quietly.
“Argue with him about it later,” the older man interrupted, adding the final character to the last scroll. “Give me your hands.” He flipped them both over so that Naruto’s palms were facing up. With another trickle of blood for ink, Kakashi drew two identical characters on his hands: the kanji karu. “That’s done.” He took a step back, standing in the middle of the laid-out scrolls and began performing a complicated set of hand signs. One by one, the crimson-colored words began to light up and glow, resonating with energy. “The Mokuton is highly sensitive to positive energy,” he said, answering Naruto’s other question. “Which means it will react intensely to Yōton techniques.”
Understanding finally dawned on Naruto like light filtering over the dark horizon: Kakashi had to be referring to the energy emanated by his Nine Tails Chakra Mode. Whilst training in the isolation chamber within the Falls of Truth, Yamato’s Mokuton techniques had responded to the outpouring of Yang chakra, the wooden posts maturing almost instantly into full-grown trees. But would the same effect occur with Madara? Kakashi had always been a cunning strategist, but even he was prone to mistakes. And this was the one situation where a mistake could not happen.
“It’s not a simple thing, to take another’s eyes.” Kakashi tapped his forehead protector, above his left eye. “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.”
“Does it stop?”
The Jounin was surprised to hear the hesitant confusion lacing Sasuke’s voice, unsure as an innocent child. It reminded him jarringly of how far too early all of their innocence had been stripped away…
He rose to his feet, looking over the other shinobi impassively. Sasuke’s chakra had ebbed to a slow, faltering flow, hostility all but faded away. More than ever, he looked as though he was at a crossroads: torn between the path he’d 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.”
The Uchiha stood unmoving before him for a long moment, seemingly lost in thought. He only looked up as he felt the older man begin to concentrate chakra together. “What are you doing?”
Kakashi pressed his palms together to form a seal, focusing the energy in his body to his Sharingan. “Going back,” he said simply. “My team needs me.” His other, normal eye looked at Sasuke purposefully calm.
And the dark-haired teen understood the implication underneath the underneath: it was a team he himself had been a part of once upon a time. “How?” Sasuke clenched his hands into fists, indecision gnawing at his insides. “Take me with you.”
The Copy Ninja’s hands parted to reveal the black and red pinwheel design of his own Mangekyō, spinning slowly in his eye socket. It lent a savage ferocity to his appearance that was intimidating, augmented by the low lighting. Any lingering pity or kindness evaporated from his face, replaced by a serious coldness. “Understand this, Sasuke: I am going back to help my comrades.” His mismatched eyes were like shards of ice, as if daring the other shinobi to argue. “If that is not also your intent…” A pregnant pause followed, causing Sasuke to glare back defiantly. “Then I’ll leave you here to Madara’s whim.”
“No. I…” He was acutely aware of the choice Kakashi was presenting him with: return and help Team Seven, or stay in Madara’s prison, powerless to escape. The inner conflict within his mind was chaotic, years of vengeance-seeking warring with a suppressed desire for camaraderie. There was so much blood on his hands, on his soul…
An object dropped at his feet with a metallic clang, making him flinch. It was worn and battered, the steel surface shining dully and familiar. He felt a rush of memories at the sight of it, the hollowness in his heart aching terribly. The carved leaf emblem was bisected with an uneven slash mark, put there by Naruto’s own hand when-
“He kept that this entire time, as a reminder of the good he believes exists in you.” Kakashi glanced down at the old hitai-ate. It’d been left behind three years ago, a memento of the fight that had finally torn his team apart. Perhaps it was meant to be…”What’s your decision, Uchiha?” He used the surname on purpose, highlighting the mental obstacle separating Sasuke from the right choices.
The other shinobi didn’t respond immediately, but Kakashi didn’t expect him to. Sasuke had always been a physically talented individual, but this was a mental challenge that he had to overcome. In the meantime, he kept his back turned to the teen. Whether Sasuke chose to throw in with them or not, Kakashi fully intended to return to aid Naruto…and the key to escape lay with Kamui.
The theory had begun to grow in his mind after their last encounter with Madara, when he’d attempted to use the technique to eliminate their enemy. The elder Uchiha however, had been completely unfazed by the jutsu: “Don’t bother, Kakashi. Techniques like that have no effect on me.”
It caused Kakashi to wonder exactly why that was. Moreover, the similarity between Kamui and Madara’s Space-Time Migration intrigued him, to the point where he’d been turning the possibilities over and over in his head since that day. Only one explanation made sense: the two techniques seemed to operate on the same principle of moving objects from one point to another. Kakashi knew that his body could probably never wield the Mangekyō as effectively as an Uchiha. However, that meant Madara would also underestimate his eye’s ability.
It seemed Madara’s Jikūkan Idō worked as a two-way channel into this alternate dimension: he could transfer objects and individuals into it as well as out of it. Kamui, then, was just an inferior version of the technique: he’d only been able to send targets out and away from his location. However, since they were trapped in the dimension now, perhaps all they needed was a one-way trip out…
Truth be told, the silver-haired man wasn’t even sure if it would work. But it would be preferable to sitting and stewing in this oppressive place. He turned his head slightly, glancing back at the young Uchiha. It seemed Sasuke had made a decision…
Slowly, with painstaking movements, Sasuke bent over, picking up his old hitai-ate with slightly shaking fingers. It was heavy in his hands, like the guilty weight on his blood-stained conscience. He lifted it despite the drumming beats of his heart, feeling the press of smooth cloth against his tingling skin as he tied it around his forehead.
1. Kinjutsu: forbidden techniques (generally techniques that either cause extreme harm to the user or violate the laws of nature).
2. Mokuton: Wood Release.
3. Yōton: Yang Release/Light techniques (e.g. Nine Tails Chakra Mode). Based on the physical energy that governs vitality. Can be used to breathe life into form.
4. Kamui: Kakashi’s special Mangekyō Sharingan technique.
5. Jikūkan Idō: Space-Time Migration
6. Karu: Nine.