In the world of the shinobi, darkness could either be a man's best friend or the most feared and dangerous of adversaries. It was a time where assassins thrived and, as such, meant that it was usually when a shinobi's guard was at their highest.
It would be surprising to most onlookers, then, to see a man walking outside of a small town near the border of the Land of Fire with his mind seemingly on anything but his surroundings. However, if one were to have any significant knowledge of the world's most powerful men, it would be easy to see why he paid little attention to any possible threats.
The man stood at roughly 180 centimeters with spiky midnight black hair cascading down his back until it reached his waist. He was garbed in impressive maroon armor that was comprised of numerous metal plates along his chest, waist, shoulders, and thighs – the same type of protective garb that samurai within the Land of Iron were often seen in. Under the protective armor was a long-sleeved shirt with a knee-length mantle, a pair of loose-fitting pants that were wrapped at the shins, open-toed boots, and a pair of gloves that were as black as the darkness surrounding the figure as he continued walking forward.
Upon the back of his shirt, though hidden underneath his mane of hair, rested a symbol would stay with him for life regardless of the betrayal that others would inflict upon him.
It was a symbol of a red and white fan – the symbol of the Uchiha clan. Putting this all together led to the conclusion that this man was none other than the legendary Uchiha Madara himself – one of the most powerful shinobi that had ever lived. The man who had been known to destroy what many considered armies in mere seconds, make weaker individuals fall unconscious from his presence alone and was the only other living shinobi to have ever matched Senju Hashirama in single combat.
Despite the fact that there was very little that could bother a shinobi of his caliber, however, his eyes were currently displaying an array of various emotions. Various emotions that seemed to flash within his eyes sporadically before changing just a few short moments later. Frustration, sadness, and anger seemed to be the primary focuses, though there was a look of sorrow and resolve mixed in from time to time as well.
As he continued to walk leisurely through the forest, knowing all too well that no one in the immediate area could possibly harm him, he couldn't help but let his thoughts roam the one man he respected above all others. God seemed to have a bit of a sense of irony in that regard seeing as the same man was also his best friend…and his most bitter rival- that man was none other than Senju Hashirama, the recently-dubbed Shinobi no Kami.
The fact that Madara and Hashirama were close friends was something that very few people knew about. Even fewer knew the fact that they had secretly trained together when were children and had even shared ideas and dreams for the future. This friendship between an Uchiha and a Senju was forbidden of course, but that taboo within their respective clans hadn't stopped them. Their friendship had only been forced to cease when their clans learned of its occurrence and subsequently made them stop for fear of spilling unnecessary blood.
However, despite Madara's acceptance of this in order to protect his family, Hashirama had never truly given up hope for the two of them to truly be friends and live out the dreams and ideas they had shared. This was proven during a heated battle between the Senju and Uchiha where Madara had been struck down and open to kill. Despite Tobirama's insistence killing him, Hashirama had pleaded for the opportunity for the Senju and the Uchiha to come together to create a world where the fear of battle wasn't the only constant in the world.
Yet, despite his childhood dreams, Madara had been jaded heavily by that point due to the deaths of so many of his clansmen. He had told Hashirama he would agree to bring the clans together under the condition that the man either killed his brother or himself. A fitting payment, he thought, since his own brother had been a casualty of war.
However, much to his surprise, Hashirama had readily agreed to the unreasonable terms he had set. Surprising him even further, he had begun to disrobe with the obvious intent of killing himself in order to create peace for others. Seeing the man's resolve and courage, Madara had told him to stop before he went through with the act.
'Hn, I shouldn't have given him a choice in the matter. If I had made him sacrifice Tobirama, this wouldn't have had to happen…' Madara thought as obvious signs of regret crossed his admittedly handsome features. However, this quickly changed as his brow furrowed and his fists clenched – obviously having become quite angry at the thought of Konoha's beloved Nidaime.
Things after that battle had set the course of history for the shinobi world and inspired a change that many clans thought would be impossible – an alliance between the Uchiha and Senju. With a part of the agreement having been to live near one another to promote familiarity with one another, the initial founding of what would later be named Konohagakure came to pass.
Due to the wide-spread power and fame, these two clans had come to accumulate several smaller clans who also jumped at the opportunity to become a part of their alliance. Though there were a handful of individuals who thought it would be wise to leave these smaller clans to fend for themselves, Hashirama and Madara both thought it would be beneficial to allow them to become a part of it.
With the two clan heads mutually agreeing on the idea, clans such as the Sarutobi, Hyuga, Nara, and others all joined alongside the Uchiha and Senju. After the acceptance of the new clans, however, a valid point was raised amongst the clan leaders. Though everyone agreed that clan heads should operate independently of one another, their alliance and their new village needed a leader.
This was only highlighted by the fact that their spies reported the construction of hidden villages in other nations, and the threat of war loomed over their heads once more. A chain of command, to some degree at least, needed to be established to ensure that there were no conflicting orders.
When the day came to elect the leader, a position they decided to refer to as the Hokage, Hashirama had been the first to cast his vote…and he had chosen Madara. It was a gesture that caused even the stoic Madara to crack a smile and an action that the Uchiha would certainly never forget. However, the meaning of said gesture quickly became a moot point as every single clan head then proceeded to vote for Hashirama, save himself.
It became abundantly clear that, though the Uchiha were allied with the others, nearly no one trusted them.
Despite being disappointed at the matter, Madara hadn't gotten too upset over it. Hashirama was powerful, influential, and incredibly charismatic. Though he still thought himself a better choice to lead in the long-term, he wouldn't grudge his friend on obtaining leadership of the village. The Uchiha clan had done some nasty things in their quest for dominance, and he would do his best to lead them in their atonement for it in service of Konoha.
Years passed after that with Hashirama leading Konoha into prosperity – even going so far as to give certain Bijū to other villages to try to ensure peace. The Uchiha clan head did as he had promised and valiantly did his best to bring the Uchiha into the light, though he did so while keeping their pride as well. They would not belittle themselves by asking for forgiveness but the Uchiha would prove their loyalty by feats on the battlefield.
During this time, Madara had even done something he never thought would genuinely happen – he had fallen in love with a beautiful woman. Uchiha Hitomi, a woman whose beauty and grace outshone Mito's and everyone else's in his opinion, had won his heart after several years of chasing after him. He had only been happier, then, when Hashirama announced that making him advisor to the Hokage shortly before they had wed. 6 years after marrying, despite having been told by doctors that it was impossible, Madara had been elated once again to hear that his wife was pregnant with his child.
There were those who had sworn they had seen a ghost that day, for the stoic Madara had worn a grin so large that Hashirama himself would've had difficulty matching it.
He had obtained nearly everything he could hope for at that point. His childhood dream was mostly achieved, the only part that wasn't being the fact that he wasn't leading the village and had a beautiful wife who was pregnant with his first child.
Things couldn't have been better for the leader of the Uchiha clan.
Yet, human nature only allows us such extreme happiness due to experiencing great sorrow. 9 months later, a short 7 years after he was married to his beloved Hitomi, she had passed away shortly after successfully delivering their son. She had already lost so much blood due to the birth that she never even got the chance to see him.
Madara had only known despair close to what he felt that day when he had lost his brother. However, before he lost himself to it completely, he had forced himself to remain above it for his son if for no other reason. He had intended to let Hitomi choose the boy's name, but as she hadn't gotten the chance, he elected to name him after his beloved brother.
Thus, Uchiha Izuna then entered the world. The following years were spent assisting Konoha from his role as an advisor, but he focused his primary efforts on raising his son to proper Uchiha shinobi. It was obvious that the boy came from his blood. Izuna was nearly a carbon copy of his father, though his hair seemed to find a balance between the smooth hair of his mother had and the spiky hair of Madara, with a lighter shade of black than Madara's.
Training for the young Uchiha was intense even by Madara's normal standards. Having wanted nothing more than to make his father proud, Izuna successfully passed the Uchiha trial of adulthood at an astounding 4 years old – only 3 months after he had first tapped into his chakra network.
Thanks to the constant sparring with his father, and constantly having the speed of the sparring increased despite his young age, he awakened his Sharingan at a mere 6 years of age and had progressed to 3 tomoe in each eye just before he turned 8.
However, it was around this time where things began to get dark again. Though they had prevented anything too major from occurring years ago, the threat of war loomed on the horizon once more. Madara grew more worried, then, when he finally deciphered the tablet the Uchiha had held in high-regard after so long and he read that mankind was doomed to repeat history. After the threat, however, came talks of electing a new Hokage.
With high hopes that he would be elected to the position and hopefully lead Konoha through the times ahead, he attended the meeting where it would be decided who would be proposed as the next Hokage to the Jonin Council of the village. Hashirama, once again, tried to push for Madara to become elected. However, much to his displeasure and Madara's fury, they chose to pass him over and elect Tobirama in his steed.
Tobirama, upon receiving the nomination and accepting, then made a speech to the others about not trusting those who hadn't deserved it. The man who would likely become the Nidaime then had the gall to glance at Madara as if sending a silent message. It was something no one else seemingly caught, but to the Uchiha clan head, the message was clear: The Uchiha, after all of their years of dedication to the village, were still not trusted.
Deciding that enough was enough, the powerful Uchiha clan head decided to attempt to leave the alliance that he had formed so long ago and take his brethren with him. After proposing that the Uchiha leave the village, however, he found out that he was alone in his opinion. No one viewed the new policies Tobirama was passing as him attempting to isolate the Uchiha clan, no one viewed the other clan heads as being against them, and no one believed he was merely trying to convince them of doing something he thought was right.
Many even thought he was trying to return to his war-loving ways, causing him to lose a great deal of the trust they had placed within him. The Uchiha, his brothers, and sisters in arms, collectively turned their back on him – most whispering about possibly electing a new clan head shortly while well within his hearing. Angry with the village as a whole, full of sorrow over his clan's betrayal, and full of resolve to remedy the situation, he came up with an idea of how to solve the problem.
The idea was ludicrous, crazy, and perhaps brilliant in the eyes of anyone who was as distraught as he was. After one last conversation with Hashirama at the Naka Shrine to talk with his best friend civilly for the last time, Madara left the village after stating his obvious intent to destroy it and start anew. He left the village peacefully in the dead of night, his sole follower being his son Izuna.
It would be the last time anyone would see the two for nearly 7 years. When he was finally seen again, it was at the Valley of the End as it would eventually come to be called...and he hadn't come alone. After securing himself and Izuna a place to live at the border of the Land Of Fire. he had spent the remaining years in search of one of Hashirama's 'pets.'
In particular, he sought the most powerful of them all – the Kyuubi no Yoko. After hypnotizing the beast using his powerful Sharingan, he had ridden it towards Konohagakure with the intent of razing the village to the ground. However, he was stopped before he had gotten there by the only man who could hope to withstand his wrath. While a small part of him didn't like the idea of battling his best friend once again, he was far too eager to face him in open combat once more. With the benefit of Konoha's destruction as a goal to boot, he happily jumped into the fight.
The fight between the two men would be one that would go down in history. It was devastating to the landscape, horrifying to those close enough to witness a mere fraction of what was happening, and absolutely exhausting to both men involved. When all was said and done, however, Hashirama had proven to be the better fighter once again.
He successfully freed the Kyuubi from Madara's control and had even landed a rather substantial blow on him. However, he hadn't noticed the last moment Genjutsu Madara had used in order to successfully fake his death. It had now been 2 days after the battle, the first of which the legendary Uchiha had used mostly to rest and recover from his wounds.
Now, as he walked up the stairs to a small cabin that was located a fair distance outside of the small village they used for supplies, he couldn't help but feel fantastic. Despite the fact that he had lost the fight, a part of him felt invigorated to an extent that he had never genuinely felt before. Though he was unaware of it at the time, he had unintentionally taken another step to change history by accidentally having gotten a good deal of Hashirama's power mixed with his own through his various wounds.
Thoughts on his battle with Hashirama were limited though as the man promptly opened the door to the cabin without bothering to knock first, a nearly unseen smile crept across his face as his eyes fell upon the form of his son eating dinner as any normal civilian child might.
Izuna had remained very much the same over 7 years, all things considered. He still kept Madara's looks with slightly smoother hair, and he had even inherited most of his personality as well. "Tou-san," the 14-year-old said curtly as he finished a particularly large mouthful of fish and rice he had been chewing on. "How did it go?"
The legendary Uchiha merely stepped forward and took a seat opposite his son, allowing an elbow to rest on the table and rest his chin in his open palm. He was thankful, in hindsight that he hadn't hidden anything from the boy. Having to explain a betrayal to the village he had once been loyal to would be difficult at this point in time. "Not well," Madara admitted as he let his eyes stay closed for a few moments.
"Hashirama can still dance quite well. The Kyuubi is now out of my control, and I believe he intends to seal it in some way to ensure that I can't do it again. With Mito at his side, I have little doubt that he can do so if he desires." Silence permeated the room for a few moments as Izuna processed the information, though it was a testament to his mental fortitude that he still continued to consume small portions of the food as he thought things over.
"I'm now going to be the most wanted person in Hi no Kuni," the elder Uchiha stated as he lifted his chin out of his palm and used the now-free appendage to rub the bridge of his nose instead. A few more moments of silence followed before he spoke again. "We cannot stay here. Though I believe I have fooled Hashirama, Hi no Kuni could easily send an army if word reached them that we still lived within their borders."
"…I know," Izuna stated after a few moments as he elegantly placed his chopsticks to the side. "Truthfully, I had been giving some thought as to where we should go in case something like this came to pass."
Madara's eyes widened marginally at hearing that, but he quickly turned his expression back into a neutral one again. "Really?" The elder Uchiha prompted with a quirked eyebrow. "The very boy who convinced me to settle down near here is now telling me he wants to leave?"
"Yes, well, it would be less risky to move somewhere else", Izuna stated impassively, although Madara could sense some disappointment.
"I see. What did you have in mind?" Madara questioned, choosing to shift the conversation so that he may focus on something other than his possible home-sickness.
Izuna's slightly downcast eyes shot upward at this as he gave a curt nod, "There have been rumors going around that Tobirama had called a stop to peace talks with other villages. According to some traveling shinobi at the bar, Konoha is preparing for war. That being the case, Uzushiogakure seems like it would be a safe place to be considering your friend Kenshin."
Silence permeated the room once again as Madara digested the information. Uzushiogakure seemed like it would be the worst place to be at first due to his missing-nin status in and Uzu's strong ties to the Senju. However, if Konoha was indeed prompting war by calling a halt to peace talks, then the leader of the village renowned for its sealing would be very displeased.
Fortune seemed to stack slightly in their favor due to the fact that the man was a close friend to Madara as well. "…Very well," the elder Uchiha stated with a small nod of his head as he pushed himself up from his position at the table – his armor rattling slightly as a result. "We're fortunate Kenshin was so close to Hashirama and me…as well as the fact that he always hated that idiot Tobirama. Uzu really made a good choice in electing him as their leader. I'm going to go and make sure that he receives a letter detailing our plans."
Moving to the door, Madara paused as he took a deep breath of the fresh air that hit him. "We'll leave in four days," he stated to Izuna without turning his gaze to face him. "I would suggest that you make the most of the time we have remaining in this town…it's quit possible we may never be able to return.." After finishing, the armor-clad man leisurely walked out of the doorway and pulled it closed with a soft click, leaving Izuna alone in the room with a thoughtful expression upon his face.
~4 days later~
The two Uchiha men stood clad with sizeable packs upon their shoulders at the edge of the small town Izuna had come to love over the 7 years he had spent there. The young Uchiha had elected to use his previous 4 days wisely – having spent nearly every second of the day admiring the scenery and places he frequented.
It was in the dead of night that the two men now stood to get their last look of the place. Though Madara had no strong attachment to the area, he knew that his son was another story.
Despite his stern appearance and personality most of the time, even he would not rob his flesh and blood of the opportunity to engrain the scene into his memory if he so desired
"…Let's go, Tou-san," Izuna said with a voice that seemed to be struggling a bit to remain steady as he quickly turned his back to the village and began walking down the path that would lead out of Fire Country.
"Very well," Madara stated as he turned and began to walk a steady pace behind his son who had taken the lead, presumably to hide any emotions that he found himself letting slip past his mask of indifference.
Knowing this, he was content to let Izuna lead until he could bring them under control. "Lead the way."
~3 days later~
As the two Uchiha walked upon the first piece of solid land that they had seen in hours, both found themselves at the welcoming party that had awaited them.
Madara's letter, it seemed, had reached them successfully.
Waiting for them perhaps 50 yards forward and getting closer every second was Kenshin himself along with a guard of 5 shinobi and 3 kunoichi. Though both men had immediately tensed for the possibility of combat, a simple hand gesture from Kenshin had left the guards where they were while he and Madara walked forward to speak to one another. A few minutes into the conversation that even Izuna was not privy to hearing, Madara had waved him forward as Kenshin lead them back to his group of guards.
"We're being given a place to stay for as long as we desire to remain here," the elder Uchiha stated as his son came into hearing range. "Well, so long as I'm willing to grace Kenshin with talks about the good old days," Madara finished with a small smile as he placed a hand on Izuna's shoulder and gave it a soft squeeze. Izuna, in response, merely gazed slightly upwards into his father's eyes and gave him a small smile in return.
'Well,' the younger of the two thought as he gazed at the buildings that started to peek out from the trees that seemingly surrounded the village, 'Looks like it's home sweet home'
Once Izuna was within the walls of the village, he elected to leave his father to talk to his old friend while he decided to take a self-lead tour of the village. Kenshin had kindly offered to have one of the shinobi guarding him escort him around, but he had politely declined to say that he would rather learn the layout of the village by himself. As he toured the place, however, he quickly came to one solid conclusion about the village.
Despite his love of the previous village on the outskirts of the Land of Fire, this place absolutely blew it away in terms of beauty. The buildings seemed to be crafted in a way that made nearly each and every one of them uniquely shaped while the beauty of the trees and surrounding walls gave it the feeling of almost being at one with nature.
It certainly helped matters that the island itself was surrounded by whirlpools that naturally protected its borders unless you knew the proper way to get through them. The walls, meanwhile, were engraved with intricate seals that were only visible from the inside – seals so intricate that Izuna had to shake his head as he tried to follow the line himself from getting lost in the seemingly random and intricate lines. Said walls were constantly monitored by fierce red-headed shinobi and samurai who all kept constant guard on the water around their island to spot any irregularities or hostiles.
Even with its high level of security, however, the island seemed like a miniature piece of paradise. Though he was still slightly saddened at leaving the place he viewed as his home for years, he had to admit that this place just seemed…livelier – almost as if the village had a natural energy that many other places did not possess.
It was while processing this information as he walked along, however, that he accidentally bumped into someone while he wasn't paying attention. Before he had the chance to apologize, it seemed that the individual he had bumped decided to get their two cents in. "Hey, watch where you're going asshole!" A feminine voice shouted at a level of indignant anger that caught him off-guard for a moment. "Maybe use what little of a brain you probably have to actually pay attention instead of daydreaming, huh?! …Answer me, you dickhead!"
The woman who seemed to be so offended at his presence stood at a short 150 cm, had long, flowing crimson red hair that fell just an inch short of her ankles, narrowed violet eyes, and a slightly round face. She was wearing a blue silk kimono with a red Uzumaki swirl embroidered on the back and a sword tied at her slim waist.
In Izuna's eyes, she was the epitome of beauty, but he was still shocked at her overall animosity to admit such a thing. Reigning in his emotions, the young Uchiha quickly schooled his face into a neutral expression before he spoke to her.
"Hn," he grunted in a way that only a true Uchiha could likely ever pull off. "I just moved to the village with my father and was looking around when you bumped into me and started throwing a temper tantrum. To think that this day had been going so well before now…" he trailed off as the typical Uchiha smirk spread across his lips.
However, the smirk quickly left his lips as he saw the girl's entire face begin to turn red from anger and a tick mark made its presence known above her left eye. Having heard of similar scenes occurring from his father about Hashirama's wife, Izuna quickly began backing away from the woman before he turned tail and started to flee as his survival instinct took ahold of him.
"Get back here, you asshole!" Izuna heard shouts behind him but a mere moment later, he continued to run away. "I'm going to make you suffer for saying that!"
~Meanwhile, with Madara~
For the past 30 minutes or so, ever since they had left Izuna to tour the village on his own, Kenshin and Madara had been discussing Konoha and the possibility of war in general. Madara, for the most part, was simply requesting information on what was happening to the Uchiha clan since he had left.
Despite his thoughts on what might've happened, the reality seemed to be worse than he had even expected. The Uchiha clan as a whole was given a district outside of the village to live in away from the other clans as well as ordered to create a Konoha Military Police Force to deal with shinobi crimes and minor bandits. His clan, the one he viewed as the most powerful in the world, was reduced to a mere Police Force.
His clansmen had apparently been in a small uproar about that decision, but it was too little, too late. Apparently, however, his clan was not the only one that disagreed with the Nidaime's decisions on certain matters. When Tobirama had approached Uzu with the intent of asking for help in the war, Kenshin had refused. He had told the man that Uzu will not take part in a war that their ally had helped to instigate.
At hearing this, Madara merely let out an exhausted sigh. Knowing that war was just around the corner, he knew he would need to push his son's training again since he had been somewhat lax with it in the past 7 years. He wouldn't let his flesh and blood experience the horror of war without knowing he was ready…and had hopefully surpassed even him.
"My friend, what troubles you?" Kenshin asked even though the Uchiha's face had remained stoic while he processed his thoughts.
'…I swear that he has learned how to read minds somehow,' Madara thought as he let out a sharp breath from his nose to show his mild amusement at his friend picking up on emotions. "I just worry for Izuna, Kenshin," Madara stated as his shoulders sagged slightly in a show of just how exhausted the legendary man had to feel at that moment since he never allowed himself to do such a thing in public.
"My son…he's the only family I have left. I just want him, and Uzu now that I think about it, to remain safe through the bloodshed that's to come".
Well, I don't think you'll have to worry about such a thing," Kenshin said with a small chuckle and a smile towards his friend. "I don't mean to boast, but Uzushigakure's walls have never been broken through, I think the village will be fine. Your son…he is the spitting image of you, Madara. If his abilities measure up to your own, then I have a feeling that there are few people in this world that could truly prove to be a threat to him."
Madara let a small smile grace his lips at hearing this, and a bit of pride seeped into him again at the thought of his son before his friend continued. "All parents will worry about their children, my friend," the aged man stated with a knowing smile. "Just have faith in your upbringing in your son as a warrior. From the way he carried himself when I saw him, we both know that he isn't a child anym…!"
The conversation came to an abrupt halt when a loud crash resounded at the door before it buckled inwards, prompting both men to rise from where they had been sitting in battle-ready stances. After appraising the situation in a matter of seconds, however, the stances dropped into more relaxed ones as Kenshin decided to speak to their intruders. "Megumi," he stated rather forcefully in an all-too-polite voice, causing the woman who was currently thrashing a man around her own age to freeze with her fist cocked back a for another blow.
"Would you care to explain why you're beating young Izuna there?" The woman's eyes merely widened in surprise as she looked around the room and realized where she was – knowing only now that she had inadvertently interrupted the meeting her father was having.
"Eh…hehe," Megumi chuckled nervously as she raised a slightly bloodied hand to her cheek and scratched it as she rose off of the victim of her beating. "Sorry, Tou-san," she a small bow. "I didn't mean to interrupt your meeting."
Glancing to Madara who seemed to merely have a nearly unseen smile crossing his lips at the scene, Kenshin elected to let out a long, drawn-out sigh before he chose to speak "I suppose it's not a big deal," he stated as he brought up a hand and rubbed the bridge of his nose. "I was just speaking with Madara here about his son."
At the mention of the legendary Uchiha's name, the woman's head snapped to the other individual in the room. Once she caught his iconic red armor, she seemingly warped through space itself and appeared in front of the man faster than even Tobirama could likely pull off. "Madara-sama! Kya! I'm your biggest fan!" She shouted at an intensity that nearly made the Uchiha flinch back a bit.
"How old are you? Where is your son? Is he as handsome are? How old is he?" Finally spotting a small period of time where the woman had to intake oxygen to continue her barrage of questions, the Uchiha took the opportunity to get a word in edge-wise.
"It seems you and my son have already been acquainted," he stated as the girl's eyes widened substantially and followed his arm as he gestured towards the prone form in the that had blood running down his face from his likely-broken nose. "He is my son, Uchiha Izuna."
Glancing from a man she had idolized due to his exploits on the field of battle to his son repeatedly, the woman's face slowly turned red again from either anger or embarrassment from the situation. "WHAT THE HELL –TTEBANE?!"
~Many, many years later, Day of the Uzushiogakure Massacre~
Izuna woke up to a scene that he would secretly never get tired of – staring into the peaceful face of his beloved Megumi fast asleep next to him.
After their questionable first 'meeting', their interactions had gotten only slightly more courteous due to the stubbornness that most Uzumaki seemed to possess. There wasn't a normal conversation between the two of them for quite some time, in fact, if she didn't insult his intelligence to some degree with one of her nicknames.
It wasn't unusual to hear her constantly referring to him as an idiot, a brainless prick, or even mentally challenged in various ways. However, despite the harsh names, the way in which she said seemed to be more in a teasing fashion than a serious one – something he suspected she did due to secretly having feelings for him.
Despite his assumptions on the matter though, Megumi had never made any obvious attempt in displaying her affections towards him. Her opinion of him only became obvious when he had rescued her from Kumo's attempt at kidnapping her. It was a simple kidnapping operation that they would have gotten away with…if Izuna hadn't sensed her chakra moving the gates in the dead of night.
Having gotten suspicious, he had gone to check if everything was okay only to fall into a blind rage and kill the 4 Kumo Jounin that they had sent to ensure the mission's success when he saw what they were attempting. After that event and having carried her back to the village bridal-style, the nicknames he had grown accustomed to suddenly stopped.
When Megumi called to him now, it was usually simply as his name or with the –Kun suffix on occasion – something he had smirked a bit about as it proved his earlier presumption was likely correct. Shortly after the two started talking calmly to one another, they became close friends.
Eventually, he broke down and gave the woman a brief summary of his life during one of the days together. He told her everything from his training to he and his father's leaving Konoha, and even about having to leave his village to ensure his father wouldn't be found, Though Megumi hadn't cried for his trials, as they weren't that connected at the time, it had certainly caused her to see him in a bit of a new light.
After all, knowing that a man given nearly everything for his family and to protect those he loved would cause most people to view them with more admiration. After that day, they had grown even closer to one another. They quickly became best friends and it eventually blossomed into a love that nearly everyone in the village but the two of them had fully expected to happen.
Over the years, they became lovers before it grew further and they became a loving married couple. Eventually, the two of them had elected to try to conceive a child together. However, it seemed that Megumi simply couldn't get pregnant. Their worries had grown to the point of her a check-up with a medic-nin, but she seemed to have a clean bill of health. The medic had simply suggested that they were unlucky, but the young couple still worried that would never have a child of their own for a reason they did not understand.
Madara, after hearing this, saw himself and his late wife in the two of them causing him to chuckle at the news, confusing both of them. Despite their misfortune in the pregnancy department, however, Megumi's mother, Himeko Senju, seemed to have gained what luck they didn't possess. Over the years, the woman had been lucky enough to give birth to another beautiful baby girl of her own – a girl she had lovingly named Kushina.
It was still a fond memory for all residents in Uzushiogakure to see a thrilled Megumi running through the village shouting "I'M GOING TO HAVE A LITTLE SISTER –TTEBANE!"
Kushina would grow into a fine young woman in her own right, nearly looking as if she were a miniature version of her sister albeit with nearly the same features, save for her rounder face that was naturally much redder than Megumi's.
Unfortunately, Kushina would never know what it was like to come into adulthood in the village of her birth.
Mito, Uzu's representative in Konoha, requested for the girl to be sent there in order to take her place as the new container for the Kyubi in order to keep it from escaping when she inevitably passed on.
News of Mito's impending demise had struck Madara somewhat harshly, particularly due to the fact that he still felt rather powerful despite his old age, but he had ultimately fought the urge to see her one last time before she passed on. Despite his past connection to the woman through her husband, Konoha had ultimately betrayed him, and he knew he would not be welcomed there even if it was just to see her. It had been 2 years since Kushina's departure, and despite the village being a bit less lively than before, life had gone on.
Expecting another normal day by Uzu's standards, Izuna reluctantly dragged himself out of the warmth of his bed after brushing a few locks of hair out of his wife's face and leaning down to kiss her pale cheeks. His father was out of the village, having been purposely vague and only referring to having to do 'research' of some sort in a series of hot springs, so he leisurely through the hallways to get to the kitchen while thinking about what to prepare him and his wife for breakfast.
It was only when he had woken up enough to alleviate the peaceful mental stupor that he noticed something seemed off. Concentrating on spreading his chakra to the surrounding area as the sensors in Uzu had taught him to do to mimic their sensor abilities, he registered a great number of chakra signs within the walls that he wasn't familiar with.
Activating his Sharingan and running outside, he had to avoid stumbling back at what he saw. Uzushiogakure, the village he had come to know and love far greater than the one he had stayed in previously, was under heavy assault. Even as shinobi and samurai of Uzu ran back and forth in front of his estate, he silently cursed the sound suppressing seals that riddled his walls for rendering him unable to hear of the attack sooner.
Jumping up to a wall to get a better view of what was going on, a lump quickly formed in his throat at the absolute devastation he bore witness to. A solid seventy-five percent village was already in ruins as allied forces of Iwa, Kumo, and Kiri marched forward at a steady rate with the intent on destroying the rest of it. Quickly assessing his options, he was rendered defenseless as nearly impossible numbers of enemies were within the walls.
Not only that, however, but Uzu had likely already lost a good portion of its battle-ready forces. Already of the opinion that there was nearly nothing he could do, Izuna rushed back and straight into the master bedroom. "MEGUMI, WAKE UP!" He shouted with enough intensity to make his wife bolt up immediately from bed with a kunai at the ready – something both of them always hide under their pillows for safety purposes.
"Uzu is under siege," Izuna continued as he quickly reached under the bed and pulled out a simple but large duffle back as he rushed to the closet and began tossing in clothes.
"W-what?" Megumi asked with widened eyes as her brain began processing the chilling shouts and explosions that were now able to be heard in the house since the door was opened, "Who…who is attacking our village?"
Glancing to his wife for a brief moment, the Uchiha noted that she seemed to be absolutely furious if the whitening knuckles on her fist holding the kunai were any indication. He quickly tore his gaze away from her as he started throwing in scrolls that he kept in a locked check under the bed into the duffle bag as well. "Iwa, Kiri, and Kumo from the look of things," he answered sparingly as he tried to bring his breathing under control while continuing to pack away a small supply of weapons that were hidden at the bottom of their closet. "We don't have time for this now, get ready to leave immediately!"
"Why?!" Megumi shouted as she sprung out of bed with the kunai still gripped tightly in their hand. She turned her gaze away from him only for a moment in reaction to a, particularly close-sounding explosion. "We should be defending the village, not running away from these cowards!"
"BECAUSE THE VILLAGE IS ALREADY LOST!" Izuna shot back with anger towards as his Sharingan flared. His intense expression softened immediately at seeing Megumi flinch at him, but he quickly threw some more items into the duffle bag as he zipped it shut and brought out two pre-prepared backpacks from their closet he had prepared for just such an emergency.
"I love this village too," he stated after a pregnant pause between the two of them. "I would do anything to protect it if I was able to, but we won't be able to do anything but kill a good number of attacking shinobi before falling ourselves. Please Megumi," he stated as he reached out and grabbed her hand after noticing that her body was shaking.
"Trust me on this…I beg of you." The Uzumaki woman seemed to hesitate for a few moments as her body shook and a few tears gathered in her eyes, but she gave a slight nod of her head towards the man before quickly walking to their closet with a sniffle and changing into some clothes suitable for traveling even as the sounds of battle grew closer and closer.
Two short minutes later, the two of them rushed out of their estate together towards one of the secret exits that Uzu had built into its original design in case something like this happened. Izuna had heard Megumi nearly let out a wail of despair at seeing her village so devastated, but she seemed to keep herself calm enough in order to function for the time being.
The male Uchiha, likewise, felt his heart nearly shatter as he saw some of the wounded and dead lingering in the streets – seemingly making their comrades and/or family drop go ahead or having died on the way. Many lovers sat crying over their significant others, sons crying over mothers and fathers, or worse…mothers and fathers crying over sons and daughters. He hated this sensation…being powerless to protect those he cared for.
However, for the time being, he wouldn't allow himself to succumb to that despair. He was an Uchiha, and he would be damned if he would let his wife be hurt by anyone who dared to try to harm her. What he hadn't noticed at that time, due to his deep despair in seeing his wife and village in such a state, is that his normal Sharingan had changed shape into a six-pointed tomoe design that interloped to form a jagged star-like design.
It was only when they had gotten safely outside of the village and onto a hilltop overlooking it that he allowed him and his wife a moment to recover themselves. Their emotions ran more rampant, however, as they overlooked the final stand of the remaining shinobi of Uzu as well as the village's inevitable downfall. The Uchiha forced his own feelings to the side, however, as Megumi dropped to her knees at his side and silently wailed – knowing she couldn't do so aloud in fear of drawing enemies to their location.
However, despite her self-control being at a level to stop herself from crying out, she couldn't stop the tears that rolled down her cheeks in waves. Seeing all of this, Izuna dropped down to a knee and simply held her shaking form in his arms, trying to encourage her to let out all the emotions she could while she still had the chance. From that day forward, he knew that their life would never be as peaceful as they were again.
His eyes shone blood red with restrained rage as the ground under him crack his pressure.
~2 hours later~
A single, tall form stood on the wall overlooking Uzushiogakure – the man having jumped up there just moments ago.
The red, samurai-like armor that covered his form would reveal his identity to anyone well informed about him, but it was doubtful anyone did since he was supposed to have died long ago.
He simply stood with his gaze cast over the village – specifically to the large pile of bodies in the center where smoke rose and carried the stench of burnt corpses on the wind. His eyes closed for a moment as he unashamedly allowed two trails of tears to run down his cheeks as he watched the celebrating armies of 3 of the 5 great villages in the streets of what he viewed as his home.
Despite his experiences with Konoha and the hatred he had for them, he had never felt hatred as strong as he did in that moment. The closest thing he could relate to it was when had lost his brother. However, despite the emotional pain, the loss of his brother had given him, today he had lost both his son and the woman he had come to slowly view as a daughter and proper wife for his boy.
The only people he still cherished and lived for were now dead at the hands of enemy shinobi, killed by the cruelty that their world promoted so blatantly. It was in that moment that Madara decided that he would do whatever was necessary in order to make sure people would never again lose their parents, siblings, or children. He would create a world where there was no such thing as war…a world where everyone was able to live their lives peacefully.
Even if he had to burn the world to nothing but ash to make it happen, he would do so. After opening his eyes once again, he saw the world in a way that hadn't been seen in almost a millennia – through the eyes of the legendary Rinnegan.
The activation of the eyes of the man many claimed was god himself was a sign…a sign that he would change the world to put an end to war and create ever-lasting peace. If for no other reason, Madara would do so for his son; he would make Izuna proud of his father one last time.
In that moment, as he was overlooking the decimated ruins of Uzushiogakure, the fundamental ideas of the Tsuki no Me plan were born.
~8 Years Later~
The 8 years following Uzu's destruction were difficult for Izuna and Megumi. After the village's destruction, nearly all survivors of the initial assault had been mercilessly hunted down and violently killed by members of what had become known as the I.K.K. Alliance. Neither of them knew what Konoha was trying to do to help the survivors, but it clearly wasn't enough.
The systematic destruction of Uzu and the Uzumaki clan in nearly its entirety had served as a catalyst for peace of sorts to bring about the end of the second shinobi world war. Within the 8 years of its destruction, Kumo had instigated the third shinobi world war through its refusal to slowly disarm its military forces. The political fiasco between the great villages made it a difficult time for Megumi and Izuna. With shinobi from various villages traveling through minor villages for various purposes made it nearly impossible to travel through any populated area without the risk of being discovered. If Iwa, Kumo, or Kiri found out there was another Uzumaki alive, Izuna knew they wouldn't hesitate to send a full squad of Jonin to assassinate them.
Despite this bad news, however, it also came with some portion of good news. Tobirama had been killed in action against enemy Kumo shinobi which allowed for the election of the Sandaime. In a vote that was described as unanimous, Sarutobi Hiruzen had been chosen for the position. Hiruzen was a man that Izuna remembered from his childhood, as they had been friends when they were both young. He was hyperactive, loud, and over-talkative, but he was a good person when he had been acquainted with him.
The only thing that Izuna remembered disliking was that he had been taught to try to win everyone over with understanding and love. It was a pretty philosophical idea, but the destruction of Uzu alone showed that it had no place in the Shinobi world. Those with power ruled the world, and those with power made the decisions on who would be obliterated and who would be permitted to live on.
A man's greatest love can later become his greatest source of hatred; hatred was born from love, and if there was to be a winner in the world…then there had to be a loser as well. It was a philosophy that his father had tried to beat into his head, but he had stubbornly refused to believe it until Uzu's destruction.
Speaking of the man, however, Izuna had not confirmed whether he was alive or dead. He had looked as best as he could, given the situation with shinobi on the look for his wife, but he found no rumor of the man existing even with the contacts he usually communicated with.
The fact that his father was dead had caused him great emotional pain, but Megumi had been at his side to help him through the same grief he had helped her through after the village had fallen. In his opinion, however, his father was better off dead. At least while he was hopefully at peace, the man wouldn't have to see how far the shinobi world had fallen.
However, today of all days was not a day for Izuna to wallow in his grief over what had occurred in the past. Today was the day that his child was born. Ironically enough, his son was born on December 24th – the same date as his father's birthday.
As the aging Uchiha looked upon the resting form of his wife and child on the bed they shared, he couldn't help but give a small smile at how peaceful they both looked. Naruto, as he had decided to call him, had a full head of the same black hair as he did but with streaks of his mother's red hair mixed in occasionally. He also possessed unnatural red marks under his eyes that would likely give him a dangerous and exotic look when he was older – though Izuna wasn't sure what to make of those.
He would likely have to get a medic-nin sometime in the near future to make sure that it was nothing that could harm him. His son possessed a rather narrow face for a newborn, though that wasn't completely unheard of in the history of Uchiha. He also possessed a pair of black eyes – eyes that had the potential of unlocking the Sharingan in the future just like his father and grandfather had.
He would be the heir to the royal line of the Uchiha clan, and Izuna could already tell his boy would be a real lady's man in the future if he wanted to be. He had already decided to perform the same training method his father had done with him.
Megumi would teach him academically, as she was more familiar with the way the hidden villages academies worked and had been the top student at Uzu's before she became a Genin. She would teach him reading, writing, mathematics, the history of the shinobi world, geography, villages, political systems, clans, etc.
Naruto would begin his training at 4, and by the time he was a teenager, he would hopefully be one of the most powerful warriors in the shinobi nations. He would make his son powerful enough to protect anything he held dear so that he wouldn't have to go through the same emotional pain they had…and he would make damned sure that he would have the opportunity to do whatever he desired.
He was positive that there was absolutely nothing his son would not be able to achieve in the future.
~ Nearly 3 years later~
"Okaa-san? What are you doing?", slurred Naruto, who rubbed his eyes tiredly. He had been unable to sleep and as such, went to see what his mother was up to after seeing that the light was on in the spare bedroom. He checked and Otou-san was still asleep, so he made sure that he didn't wake him up and crept around the house carefully.
Megumi smiled lovingly at her son, gingerly placing her ink-stained brush down and setting Naruto down in front of her. He frowned but did not fuss, electing to gaze quietly at the pile of scrolls, and tags with intricate black symbols on them interloping in a complex, flawless manner.
They were protection seals, to be placed to keep enemies from entering the new house they currently occupied far on the outskirts north of Kusagakure. There were already many placed within the walls, but, Megumi often found herself restless and full of worry that someone could harm her husband and son, so much so that she was frequently unable to sleep.
Fuinjutsu allowed her to calm herself down, as it required immense focus and was something she had been familiar with for as long as she could remember...It connected her to her past, her lineage and helped combat the grief ever-present in her soul.
Naruto's dark, curious gaze brought a small smile to Megumi's lips and her violet eyes glittered with love. "Would you like to try, Naru-Kun?" she cooed despite his embarrassing protests towards the nickname.
Nodding immediately, the young Uchiha took the brush offered to him, dipping it carefully into the ink and dragging it down an empty tag despite it being too big for his hand. Megumi allowed him to explore at his own ease, resting back and watching him much like how her mother did with her when she was little. She knew that he would eventually grow to love the art of Fuinjutsu; He was part Uzumaki, after all.
Even now, his careful movements with the too-large brush clenched in his small hands were not too bad as the end result vaguely resembled hers in a way that few his age would have been able to replicate.
Seeing her son playing with the brush and letting his imagination run wild brought a wave of sadness to Megumi as she remembered both her father and father-in-law. Neither had lived to see their grandson, her father being the main target as he was Uzukage and Madara presumably dying beside him in combat. Her mother too had died before seeing them. They were killed because of the violence and meaningless killing that ran rampant in the shinobi world.
"What's wrong, Okaa-san?", Naruto's confused frown brought Megumi out of her thoughts briefly. She stared at her son, her beautiful son that never even got to meet either of his grandparents or see Uzu in all of its beauty-now destroyed and abandoned of the life it was once so full of.
"Okaa-san is fine. Why don't we go and wake Otou-san up? We can play for a while,” she offered. At this, Naruto gave a small grin and set off to their bedroom as fast as his tiny legs could take him.
At that moment Megumi decided that, while Izuna would train their son in the rigorous way that his father trained him, she too would teach him all that she knew, both Uzumaki Clan Jutsu and her own, to make certain that he could protect all of those he loved in the way they both had been unable to do. Their son would grow to be much stronger than them. That she would make certain.
Those previous dark thoughts were banished at the sight of Naruto jumping excitedly onto his father's back, nearly giving the poor man a heart attack as he startled awake. He grunted at first before shaking away his grogginess, pulling Naruto down before him and attacking him with merciless tickles as the boy laughed and laughed until he was out of breath.
Naruto somehow managed to escape the hold and pounced on his father's back, hitting him with a nearby pillow. Megumi burst out laughing at the scene of the normally stoic Uchiha being beaten with the pillow until his long black hair was incredibly messy, at which Izuna offered her that smug smirk that made her fall in love with him all those years ago and said, "Aren't you going to join?"
Megumi couldn't even answer before the two dark-haired Uchiha playfully pounced on her and all the sorrow and anger was forgotten in that happy moment.
~1 year later~
After the birth of their first and only son, neither Izuna nor Megumi thought that they would be able to have another child as they were both getting older and it had already been four years since then. They had enough trouble trying to conceive once that the prospect of conceiving again was unthought of. However, it turned out that the many tragedies that they faced paved the way for another blessing- yet another child that would soon be born into their family, something the two were very excited about.
When Megumi and Izuna sat down and finally told Naruto the news of her pregnancy, she was happy to find that her son was very pleased with the news and, upon processing the thought, exclaimed his wish to have an Otouto. Megumi chuckled and said that she would do her best, but asked him about how he really felt about the situation.
It had always been just the three of them and Naruto never got the chance to interact with kids around his age, with the danger that their identities may be found out. Few children traveled outside of the villages that were near, so there were no opportunities for anything like that. Even the simple day-to-day interactions they had with others were mainly for buying supplies. She couldn't help but worry that suddenly adding another child to their family would cause conflict. She knew that Naruto was like his father; well-mannered, calm, and not the type to do such things, but she still worried regardless.
Naruto stared at her for a moment, his eyes full of a seriousness that caught Megumi off guard due to their intensity. "I'm happy, Okaa-san. I don't really care whether it's a boy or a girl...Otou-san says I'm going to start training soon. I'll train hard and protect them. Because I'm going to be their big brother."
Tears welled up in Megumi's eyes at this declaration and Izuna nodded in pride. She knew her son would be a great big brother because he was already such a good son. Contented, she pulled him into a bone-crushing hug that had Naruto squirming around for air and Izuna smirking over his bowl of miso soup, for he had been at the end of many of those embraces and knew his wife's strength was impressive.
"Ah! Okaa-san!...I can't breathe", he sighed in relief when she lessened her firm grip around him and settled for leaving a kiss on his cheek before whisking away the dishes from their small dining table and taking them into the kitchen.
After listening to his son's words and finding himself believing that it was the right time, Izuna spoke carefully, drawing in Naruto's attention immediately. His father didn't say all that much (at least when compared to his mother) but when he did, it was always, always important.
"If you think you're ready, we can begin your training tomorrow morning- but only if you know you are ready. Training is not something we Uchiha do half-way."
Naruto smirked, his eyes lighting up at the possibility of getting strong and finally learning the real thing after all the reading and lectures his mother made him sit through. For his mother and father, and the sibling he would soon have, he would train as hard as he could. Even if he was incredibly young, he was taught the importance of these things early-on and knew that he was ready. "Where will we go?"
~The next morning~
The wind rushed through Naruto's ears as he trudged through the wide expanse of long grasses that formed Kusagakure, with his father at his side. They had awoken early and left before dawn but It was a significantly long time before these grassy fields disappeared and the pair became encompassed by trees and heavy forestry. The alternations between running and walking, as well as trekking, put a toll on his legs but he pushed on- knowing that his father chose this route as a way of warming him up for the training he would be going through.
By the time they finally reached a wide clearing, surrounded by trees and far enough away that no one would disturb them, Izuna deemed it good enough and Naruto's aching muscles were all but forgotten as he surveyed the area. The rays of sunlight were beginning to peek through the branches of the trees and he grinned, setting down the bag full of scrolls, one of which containing the lunch Okaa-san packed for them.
For a brief moment, he felt a pang of worry for her as she was a fair distance away from them, but he remembered the Kage Bunshin Otou-san left for her that would immediately alert them if anything happened and the seals that protected their house. He was comforted, for now.
"Why don't we get started?", Izuna suggested when he noticed the quiet worry of his son. Izuna knew that anyone who happened to disturb Megumi would meet the end of her katana and the wrath of the 'Akai Akuma' or Red Devil, as she had been called by many back in Uzushio- for the way she mercilessly cut down enemies while they were distracted by her entrancing beauty and the long hair swirling about hers, the color of a devil, some said.
"What are we going to do?", Naruto questioned curiously, his dark brows slightly furrowed under the spiky black mane of hair that covered his head. One of his bangs came down to cover his right eye, eerily reminding Izuna of his father. There were many similarities between them and, if it weren't for his slightly narrower face and the red marks under the boy's eyes, they would be virtually identical.
"You're going to access your chakra, Naruto”, Izuna finally answered, simple and to the point. Naruto grinned excitedly at this, listening intently as his father went on to further explain exactly what it was he would be doing and why, though Naruto already knew about the latter.
First, Naruto sat on the ground cross-legged and concentrated, closing his eyes and focusing on his breathing and the slight rustling of the leaves on the trees before Izuna chided him and he focused only on his breathing. It was a strange sensation, but not an entirely unpleasant one. It was not the most interesting thing that he could be doing but it allowed him to relax before his father was satisfied with his stillness and spoke again.
"First, Make this seal", Izuna demonstrated to him, Naruto nodded in understanding before he continued on, "Search within your core, for movement and a strong thrumming sensation...take control of it, seize it and push it outward until you can feel it flowing throughout your entire body."
Naruto took his words in and closed his eyes once more, furthering his focus- only allowing the utmost concentration. It took several minutes, but he felt ready to continue afterward and began searching for this movement his father spoke of, looking deeper and deeper within himself before he felt the sensation of something thrumming, practically vibrating in a way Naruto found indescribably powerful. He nearly got distracted by the force it made these movements with, but, he felt the flow of it, commanded it, and pushed it outward until his entire body was alight in the feeling.
It was a slight gasp from his father that made him open his eyes again.
Izuna looked at his son with a proud, shocked stare before moving his palms downward from their position of covering his head from the blast of wind that shot off Naruto when he finally activated his chakra. His chakra was incredibly strong...potent it's nature. This was not all that surprising, given his lineage- specifically as the Uzumaki clan had been known for their immense stores of chakra and its density. Still, Izuna expected it to take at least a day or two before he would manage to actually access his chakra. His son was truly gifted...
"What now?", Naruto asks, not paying much attention to the shock on his father's face. The sudden chakra that was flowing unbidden through his body gave him a new burst of energy and he was ready to keep going.
Izuna smirked at his son's enthusiasm."Your mother has taught you all of the hand seals, so, why don't we try out a Jutsu? After your new taijutsu katas."
Naruto groaned internally at the katas but perked up at the mention of learning a Jutsu. He knew most of the hand seals and theories behind the Jutsus, even if he didn't completely understand all of them yet. He would definitely make sure he did it right, to make his parents proud.
The 'warm-ups' were far more intense than Naruto believed they would be for his very first time training, but going through several laps of running, throwing kunai and shuriken, taijutsu instructions and sparring with his father afterward and being completely shut down after less than 30 seconds, was energizing despite the new aches in his body. The young boy smiled widely through the sweat dripping down his face when his father finally declared that he had trained enough in these areas for the time being and that he would teach him the Jutsu.
"What is the Jusu called, Otou-san?"
The expression his father wore was sage-like yet sorrowful, as he reminisced on his clan and their betrayal towards his father. Despite this and the fact that he hadn't spent but a small fraction of his life in Konoha with the rest of the Uchiha, he would always honor his clan with the Uchiha fan stitched high on his, Megumi's and Naruto's backs, hidden under their long hair or overcoats but still there, right along with the Uzumaki swirl.
The Jutsu he would teach Naruto was a right of passage and was taught to him by his father, who was taught by his own and so forth. Any Uchiha who successfully mastered the technique was considered a true Uchiha, regardless of whether or not they had awakened the Sharingan, and he told Naruto such, seeing the pride in his eyes and resolve to master it as he was told about its history.
Izuna went through the hand seals deliberately slowly so as to show Naruto, before he turned toward the large empty clearing, where Naruto and their belongings would not be burned. He made the tiger sign and held it up to his lips, a great ball of vivid orange flames spewing from his mouth- its size nearly filling the entirety of the area and charring the branches of a few trees that were far on the other side. When he finally ended the Jutsu, the air that held a nice breeze to it had become scorchingly hot, as if any moisture in the air had disappeared.
Naruto gaped in open-mouthed shock. Izuna chuckled lightly before reaching down and nudging Naruto on his shoulder, “Why don’t you try it out now?”
“Gather chakra and form it in your lungs, mold it and imagine your chakra igniting as it reaches the back of your throat...when you feel ready, breath outward and slowly expel the fire.” Izuna’s explanation was relatively simple, but he knew Naruto didn’t need an extensive one to understand what to do.
Naruto’s eyes narrowed as he concentrated carefully, finding it nowhere near as difficult as before- now that he vaguely understood how to do it. He went through the set of seals at a faster pace than expected, molding chakra in his lungs and focusing at the back of his throat. Seconds passed before he took a deep breath in and imagined it igniting, catching on fire just as he blew outward. A large ball of vicious flames expelled from his mouth, the stream of fire nearly steady before he ran out of breath shortly.
Though he was panting heavily and the fireball had only been perhaps a third of the size his father’s had been, Naruto felt a surge of pride at having been able to perform the Jutsu.
Before he could say anything after finally regaining his breath, Izuna patted him on the shoulder and told him simply, “Good work”. The small display of affection and praise was more than enough for Naruto, who grinned before saying that he would keep working on it.
It was an hour or two later, their lunch eaten and Naruto’s energy finally beginning to return that they began to travel back to their home. Naruto moved significantly slower than before, his energy still being very low and his muscles likely aching. He was still very young so this was to be expected.
He did well, having exceeded Izuna’s expectations and making him very proud, but he would be training again tomorrow. The elder Uchiha wished to get in as many hours of training as he could for his boy before Megumi was too pregnant to be left alone. They had several months and would be making good use of the time, though Izuna wished to find a closer area to train, as he didn’t want to be too far away from his wife during this time.
Naruto had a tough, long road ahead, but Izuna knew he could handle it.
~8 Months Later~
When Naruto first heard his mother’s piercing screams, he immediately went flying into the bedroom, several kunai and shuriken ready to be thrown, his chakra building up in his chest so that he may completely incinerate whoever was hurting his Okaa-san.
It was then he found her hunched over, laying in bed with towels and linens laid out for her, Otou-san was close to her side and his right hand splayed comfortingly on her back, the other hovering over her, glowing a pale green color associated with medical Ninjutsu.
Otou-san looked up at his sudden entrance but Naruto apologized and felt rather foolish as he left the room. Of course...Okaa-san was in labor, and while he couldn’t say he knew what that meant, she briefly explained that it was nearly time for his sibling to be born. She said this several weeks ago, but in his daze of trying to make sure that no one had somehow gotten in and hurt her, he was spurred into action without thinking.
Now, the young boy sat outside of the bedroom, flinching at a particularly loud cry that was not silenced by the closed door. There was a moment of silence that remained for too long, worrying him to the point of wanting to rush into the room and make sure she was okay. But the moment of silence was finally broken by a quiet yet high-pitched cry. His sibling was finally born.
After countless long minutes filled with the sounds of rustling, the baby’s cries and water running in their bathroom, Okaa-san called out his name and Naruto practically came bursting into the room, where his mother now lay in bed covered by a white robe, sweat, and exhaustion present on her face and a tiny bundle cradled in her arms.
“Naruto...come meet your little sister”, she beckoned him over, smiling. Izuna stood by her side, a look of pride and happiness in his eyes.
Naruto went to stand by his father, gazing down at the newborn with a curious stare that soon morphed into adoration when he saw her tiny form.
His Imouto…born May 1st. He really hadn't expected that. He'd been almost sure he was going to get a little brother, but, he smiled despite being proven wrong. A tuft of bright dark red hair adorned her head. She was small, even for a baby, but she looked like Okaa-san and he cries assured him she was healthy despite her size. Naruto gently held her in his arms after his mother nudged him out of his shocked stupor.
He beamed down at her, though she was still crying, whispering with the utmost love and care, “My imouto….”
Otou-san named her “Akane”, after her pretty red hair and equally red cheeks. Okaa-san smiled at the name, saying that she thought it was beautiful and not at all cheesy when Izuna second-guessed himself.
Naruto couldn’t agree more.
~Around 3 years later~
Akane and Naruto, as it turned out, were different as night and day. Where Naruto would be the night; calm, indifferent...cold, even. The few daily interactions he had with people that weren't his family were fleeting with him having little care in their small talk, glaring coldly at them. He was not unkind, but protective- worried. He knew what would happen if anyone found out who they were, especially his mother. It was best to only speak when needed and to leave quickly after they bought their supplies or whatever they went into town for.
Akane was different, she was younger, innocent, and didn't know about the dangers of the world or anything of that nature. She was boisterous, energetic, always seeking people out with her violet eyes glittering with interest. She was a kind child and Naruto loved her the way any big brother loves their little sister- protectively and dotingly. She sometimes watched him train with their mother, yelling and babbling encouragements from the side-lines. She 'helped' Okaa-san pack their lunches before they left.
Every day, when the two finally got home from training, she asked Naruto to read to her or play whatever ridiculous new game she made up while they were gone. And, Naruto could never say no, even when he was forced to drink out of a playset of teacups and pretend like the empty cup held the most delicious tea in the world.
One time, Okaa-san had seen him perched on top of a hilariously small chair, a plastic crown perched on his head, several glittering jewels lining his neck and his pinky daintily curled around the loop of a chipped pink teacup handle. He immediately went scarlet at her amused grin and the click and flash of a camera, stuttering before shouting out that he was never playing that game again.
But one pout from Akane and her puppy-like wide eyes wet with unshed tears and he grumbled before sitting back down.
Throughout the years, filled with training nearly every day, Naruto got much stronger and even began hitting back in the sparring matches with his father. Though he doubted he would have had the same success if his father was still as strong as he had been back in his prime. Still- the man was far from weak. After all, he had a gift that few in their clan had ever managed to unlock- the Mangekyou Sharingan.
When Izuna first told Naruto precisely what it was, activating the captivating spinning red eyes with 6 interloped jagged tomoe, Naruto froze. The man, not bothering to address his obvious shock, went on to explain the abilities it granted him. However, before Naruto could ask how it was that he came to have the eyes, his father broke down, sorrow and hatred vividly shown on his features, a look in his eyes just as unfamiliar as the eyes themselves. It was a look that Naruto had never seen on him before. Pain, deep emotional pain.
He spoke for what could have been hours, retelling when he had first met Okaa-san, what led him and his father to Uzushiogakure- The village's beauty told again in a way that both of his parents spoke of throughout his childhood; bedtime stories of the small but beautiful village, the beautifully sculpted buildings, the smell of the ocean that filled the air, the food stands that almost always sold ramen, and the residents that were almost always redheads. Naruto's dreams were often filled with images of Uzu created by his mother's wistful descriptions and the many sketches she did of their home.
Often, he had woken up yearning for that place, where everyone was welcome and where Akane and Okaa-san wouldn't have to wear a scarf over her head to cover that red hair that could get her killed, where they weren't surrounded by itchy grassland and little color. He knew his parents dreamed of it too, the real memory of that place in their dreams. Sometimes he wished that he could see it again, the way they had.
Naruto knew vaguely that the village had been destroyed and while that had made him upset, nothing could have prepared him for the cruel, merciless killing that his father spoke of. His voice was haunting as he recalled the smoking rubble that buried people under them, the dead littering the streets, piles of burning corpses and death. By the time he had finished speaking, Naruto was filled with many emotions, shameful tears flowing down his pale cheeks.
Naruto always loved his father but never had he felt such an intense rush of it at the sight of the grief so clearly shown in the hard lines of his aging face. Otou-san had never shown such pain before. He kept it hidden, bore the pain on his own for the sake of his family.
This love, a feeling that constricted his chest and nearly suffocated him in its intensity, was followed by a rush of anger, hatred so raw and true. Naruto's head throbbed with all he had been told...If they hadn't destroyed Uzu, they wouldn't have to hide away from the shinobi that wished to finish the job, his mother and sister would be free of their disguises and they would walk together proudly as a family... if they hadn't destroyed Uzu, Akane would have a real-life- a good one...she would be able to make friends, lasting friends, Okaa-san would be able to sleep without waking up in the middle of the night worrying that one of them had been killed, too
...If they hadn't killed everyone Naruto would have been able to meet his grandfather, the man he admired most- second to only his father, now. He, too, grew up on the stories of his battles, his name in countless books and the way he had lost so much and yet remained one of the strongest men in the world... How much of their family had been killed? His grandmother, who Okaa-san sobbed over when she thought no one could hear her, his grandfathers, and countless others from his clan. He knew in the back of his head that this had been true for a long time, but to finally hear it, for it to be confirmed that none of his other family was alive...that they weren't just in hiding like he childishly believed...
The Uchiha clan, too, had been massacred- by one of their own members. The day they overheard the news from traveling Sunagakure shinobi gossiping amongst themselves loudly...Naruto had been deeply upset, even more so than his father.
His mother promised him that when Akane was old enough, they would go back to Konoha so that she could reunite with her sister that she spoke seldom of and Akane could get the education in the academy and friends she deserved in the only place that would accept them. But, what then? There was no clan left for them now and with the attack of the Kyuubi several years ago that he heard his parents discuss over and over again, neither was sure that she was even alive.
Now, the whole story of how his mother and father had to watch their home and their family being destroyed before their eyes...even before all of this tragedy.
"Son...", Izuna murmured. Naruto realized with a jolt that he clenching his fists around the kunai he'd been about to use for Shurikenjutsu before his father told him this. His hand bled from the force he'd been clutching it, the blade digging into his hand as blood dripped down to the dry earth. He did not bother trying to close the wound as it would heal itself in a manner of minutes, and his physical pain was nothing compared to the emotional pain he felt.
It was then that he caught a glimpse of his eyes in the shiny mirrored surface of the kunai and he realized exactly why Otou-san called out to him. The blackness of his eyes had been replaced with a blood-red iris, two black tomoe adorning the outer edge of his eyes. They spun, reflecting the love he felt at that moment.
~1 year later~
"Onii-chan, I'm going to become a medic-nin!" Akane suddenly announced in between him entering their home and her tackling him with the bear-hug that she gave him each day right as he got home from training.
He quirked an eyebrow, though it was hidden in Akane's hair, which was pressed so close to his nose he nearly sneezed. "What brought this on suddenly?", he asked as he deposited his belongings down on the table and took off his overcoat and boots, the powdery white snowflakes coating them melting as he entered the warmth of the house.
She frowned, so Naruto quickly dropped the question, not liking the cloudy expression on her normally happy face. “Well. Is Okaa-san going to start training you, then?”, he questioned with a raise of his brow.
Though his father was proficient enough with medical ninjutsu to the point of being able to assist Okaa-san in giving birth and help her afterward as well as healing some of the broken bones and nasty burns Naruto had gotten after years of intense training, Okaa-san was extremely talented at it.
She’d even tried training him in it after getting bored with watching him excel with Fuinjutsu, no longer needing her help as much. However, he’d failed horrendously at it- as he possessed incredibly large chakra reserves and struggled with the control needed to heal anything more than minor scratches or burns.
It was kind of funny, in a way; he was incredibly gifted at Genjutsu and could easily manipulate this as he pleased, creating images so small and seemingly insignificant, warping even Otou-san’s perception occasionally during sparring, but would sweat at the mere idea of trying to heal a cut. A similar level of chakra control was needed for both of them though it depended on how advanced the Jutsu was, however, Naruto found Genjutsu much easier than the other.
She finally answered, “Mhmm...Okaa-san said I’ll be good at it.” Akane smiled, bright as ever, before turning towards Naruto.
“I’ll be better than you, at least.” She chucked before grinning cheekily.
Naruto huffed but smiled back anyway, "That's not a big achievement, Akane." She muttered something back to him before shooting off to the kitchen where the sweet aroma of their mother's cooking filled the air and grumbled their stomachs.
Medical ninjutsu...it suited her well. She was far too kind and gentle to fight anyone, much less kill them if it came down to it. She would be a good medic-nin. Sometimes, when he came home from training all day, battered and exhausted, her smile could heal him and fill him with energy as it reminded him of what he trained so hard for; His family.
Naruto melted back into a seat, digging into the food waiting for him at the table after thanking his mother. Akane laughed at something Okaa-san said and Otou-san sat beside her, carding his fingers through her long pretty red hair, smiling imperceptibly. Naruto was content to watch the scene quietly before Akane suddenly crept behind him and yanked on the back of his black long hair, claiming that he was starting to look girly with it falling to his back.
A deep scowl made itself known on his face, and before he knew it everyone had burst out laughing. Even Otou-san couldn't hide the chuckle fast enough before Naruto reminded him that his hair was just as long and 'girly'. More laughter erupted and Naruto donned a smug smirk.
When Naruto finally staggered into his bed that night and fell asleep, Akane’s cold feet were soon pressed into the warmth of his back and her head buried itself in the locks of ‘girly’ hair that she laughed at. He grumbled in annoyance at her constantly stealing his bed space, limited as it was, but remained asleep. He knew that he was scared of the dark, and sleeping in her room alone, so he’d humor her until she got over it or he got tired of waking up with a sore neck.
His dreams that night were...unusual...his feet pounded on soft earth, the smell of pine trees filling his nose as his breaths were labored. He ran in a zig-zag path, as if dodging weapons, although there were none thrown at him. It was not unlike the way he trained when Otou-san was too busy to accompany him, but this was a place he’d never been, a strange land. Pine trees were sparse in his home environment, as the few that had ever filled the earth had been razed to the ground for building the homes and such of those who first settled here. There were nowhere near enough to permeate the air with such a strong scent.
He ran down a line of what looked to be incredibly old forms of the training targets he used, his body was not in his control, and yet, he felt like he was this person. It was the most realistic dream he’d ever had that wasn’t a memory. He could feel the earth beneath his feet, the rise and fall of his chest with each breath, the wind rustling through his hair, but he was only a spectator within the body, unable to move or speak. Even as his thoughts came rushing in, he had no input on them, no influence whatsoever. It was a strange sensation.
His hands blazed through seals at a speed even Naruto struggled to follow as fire and lighting obliterated each target head-on. He was powerful. The others could hardly keep up with him, especially his younger brother, his focus more on playing with his friends than learning Ninshu. It was foolish. Ashura could be as strong as him if he trained more and focused… He hadn’t believed that being, suspicious as it had been, but, what it said was true. He had become stronger, his eyes…
“Indra!”, an excited shout interrupted the lightning coated fist that nearly tore through the center of the wooden target. The thoughts of this person, whoever they may be, if but a figment of Naruto’s imagination personified in this dream world, at once ceased in their spitefulness, calming at the sight of a brown-haired, brown-eyed boy. Ashura, a thought came to his head, loving and familiar in such an unfamiliar way.
“Can we train together, Nii-san?”, Ashura’s warm brown eyes curved upward into a smile but Naruto, seeing through the eyes of the elder brother, caught his reflection in the glint of those warm brown eyes and saw something that frightened him in a way that couldn’t be explained.
The elder brother looked frighteningly similar to him with identical features, right down to the red markings under his eyes.
The only difference between the two was that the elder brother’s eyebrows were trimmed short- showing that he must be of some sort of nobility, and the slight difference in their hair, Naruto’s a black that managed to be even darker than his, and significantly spikier, covering his right eye, while the elder brothers was wrapped back in two small bandages.
He felt himself-or rather Indra- begrudgingly agree, but he was merely a spectator to whatever- whoever these brothers were and why they filled his dream. Sufficiently confused, Naruto awoke with a start, breathing heavily. He remained awake for several moments, glancing out of his windows and watching the snowfall slowly as he thought over his dream
It was only when Akane fussed, asking him why he was awake- that Naruto finally fell back asleep, his dreams now filled with familiar grassland and the faces of his loved ones; the strange land and strange brothers forgotten in favor of something real- something precious.
~4 months later~
The treetops that normally shone with pale sunlight peeking through the leafy gaps showed a dark ominous cluster of clouds, bloated and ready to rain down upon them. The sky was almost black despite the time of day, the branches appearing as if they opened to a black abyss. Naruto stood below, frowning heavily as his mother launched toward him in her signature Uzumaki taijutsu stance, “Akai Ten no Uzu” (Red Celestial Vortex), as it was dramatically but accurately named.
Naruto always thought it sounded more like the name of a ninjutsu than a taijutsu stance, but after seeing for the first time how his mother moved so swiftly it appeared as if she were spinning with her long red hair whirling about her before she smashed her first into the ground, leaving behind several cracks in the earth; Naruto realized that the name was fitting in that he would have likely seen a celestial being if he hadn’t quickly dodged and countered with his own moves.
Otou-san fought very differently. Rather than a seemingly endless barrage of powerful punches and spinning movements that easily hypnotized an opponent -Naruto, specifically-, his father's taijutsu was a variation of the Uchiha interceptor fist stance, with fluid movements and flawless counters that only came from decades of experience. Where his mother had a lot of stamina even as it lessened over the years, her movements more of a fast hard hitter, his father moved...as if he were dancing.
There was never any hesitation or pause, his movements flowed like water. Even without his Sharingan, it was as if he could predict each and every movement. Both were very strong shinobi that Naruto aspired to surpass someday, but, even now as he easily dodged his mother’s flurry of punches before grabbing her elbow and launching himself above, he found that he favored his own mix of the two stances.
Though he did not yet possess his mother’s stamina or the coordination of his father, Naruto took elements from each of their styles and made them his own. “Tentai no geigeki” (Celestial Interception), as Akane fancily named it.
His movements were quick, coordinated and fluid from years of sparring against two high Jonin-level shinobi. His ability of prediction that the Sharingan granted only added to this speed when he chose to use it, and, when coupled with his high stamina -from training so heavily and the Uzumaki blood that ran through him- he was able to slowly drain the opponent. This, along with his often deceitful switches between the faced-paced barrage of fists and interception led Akane to claim that he was ‘like a hurricane’ on the training field.
However, Naruto only succeeded in defeating his mother’s herds of Tsuchi Bunshin (Earth Clones), and only managed a single hit against his father and a small cut from a kunai against his mother before he was mercilessly shut down. But, that day, he grinned so widely that it rivaled Akane’s.
His father praised him proudly and it was then that he was given something that he would treasure greatly for the rest of his life: The legendary gunbai once owned by his grandfather Madara. It was still too large for him to use and he did not yet know if he had a wind affinity since chakra paper was hard to come by when they were not actually shinobi or situated within a village where such things were sold. However, Naruto resolved that he would learn Futon Ninjutsu regardless. The gunbai was his only real connection to his grandfather and he would carry on that legacy of strength.
Family. The family was the most important thing in life. When Okaa-san spoke about Nindo and its importance, she once asked him if he knew what his own was or would be. He responded simply, without a shred of hesitation, “Family.”
“Naruto.” The serious no-nonsense tone of his mother ripped him from his musings. “Ah. Sorry,” he apologized before taking up his stance once again, thinking her tone was berating him for his lack of focus- something that he knew would get him killed in a real battle.
However, even as he rushed forward with a burst of chakra propelling him and the beginnings of a Katon Jutsu being formed in a flash of hand seals, she remained so still it was as if she were rooted in place like the trees obscuring them. Naruto halted at once, the horrible expression on her face ceasing even the breath in his throat. Her beautiful features the normally soothed him were pulled into a horrified look, a chalky paleness to her skin that he’d never seen before and her lips pursed tightly as if they were wired shut.
It was silent- utterly still for perhaps a few seconds. “Okaa-”, his question was hushed as she moved at once, faster than he’d ever seen. She threw everything within arm’s length into a storage seal; their uneaten lunch, their weapons, Fuinjutsu scrolls...everything.
Her movements were a blur before his eyes. Naruto stood, throat suddenly dry and his heart pumping nearly as fast as the thoughts that flooded his head as it dawned on him that something was wrong, terribly wrong.
The ability of a sensor-type or rather, the ability to sense chakra was something that he possessed but was limited in. While his mother and father could sense chakra from significant distances, as well as being able to gauge the amount of chakra the person or persons had or its potency, Naruto could only sense a chakra signature within a small distance without being able to tell the amount of chakra or potency.
He hadn’t known, but seeing his mother in her shocked state, he could only guess as to what was going on and even if it wasn’t true, the possibility was enough- more than enough to spur him into action as he launched himself off of the ground, gently pulling his mother until she followed after him, her stupor forgotten. They soared above the treetops and raced through the forestry, the route home taken countless times that Naruto let his body guide him while his head swam with possibilities.
The imminent danger her family was in forced Megumi to bury her worries and racing thoughts as she sped forward, rightfully taking the lead. She already lost her family- her village, her home, and she would be damned if she let anything like that happen again.
Dozens of Jonin...their chakra was…
“Naruto. Please. No matter what happens, take your sister and run. Don’t look back. Don’t worry about your father or me. Just keep her safe.” Naruto didn’t outright respond at first so Megumi turned to him as they continued forward, conveying her seriousness and making certain that he understood her.
What she saw as she gazed sharply upon him was the Sharingan, three black tomoe spinning wildly as Naruto’s chakra was building rapidly in preparation for whoever he would have to fight for his family’s safety. Megumi could feel it- its breathtaking strength and potency so much like Izuna’s.
“No, Okaa-san. I will fight,” he said as his resolve showed upon his face.
If she weren’t so concentrated on getting home...she would have cried. Eight years old…and already… She shook her head sadly, eyes shining with both pride and anguish. Megumi knew that there was nothing she could say that would convince him otherwise. He was Izuna’s son after all. Stubborn and quiet, but so kind and caring even if he didn’t always show it.
She drew her infamous red katana from a scroll at her waist, the weight familiar yet odd in her hands. A distant flash of lightning cracked down from the heavens, reflecting off of the blade as it gleamed crimson in the light. “Izuna”, Megumi whispered, full of worry and love.
Naruto’s jaw clenched and his eyes flashed a murderous red at those who caused this conflict with his precious family.
It was a short but endless time before they reached the outer field that surrounded their home. However, It was as if wool had been lifted from his eyes as Naruto immediately felt and saw the chakras that were scattered around the other side of the home, clearly engaged in battle with his father at the center. He wished he hadn’t. Wished he didn’t know, didn’t see or feel the many chakras that remained as his father fought them all on his own.
He wished he could join in and fight them off with him, but he knew that Akane was his priority. He had to get her somewhere safe if there even was such a place. He'd always thought their home was the safest place for them, but, what he saw proved this to be false.
The field they stood in was almost always abundant with the variety of fruits and vegetables their mother planted and lovingly tended. Naruto and Akane would often raid the blueberry bushes and eat loads of the sweet berries before bringing baskets full of them in for her to use in her baking.
Every last one of the plants was destroyed and all that remained of them was smoking piles of ash. The little apple tree that Naruto remembered planting with his mother when he was little had been set ablaze and the leaves remaining on the branches, scorched. Akane's much smaller one that he helped her plant was completely destroyed.
Naruto’s fists curled in on themselves angrily, as he was all but furious. Akane has been so happy to have her own tree, how much would she cry when she saw it now? Would it wipe the bright grin that always stretched across her lips? Would she sob and be filled with grief? However, rather than answer these questions, he reigned in his emotions until the rage was silently boiling within.
A garden was nothing without his sister to eat and enjoy the fruits with, hiding apples and strawberries in their pockets and blueberries behind their back as Otou-san laughed in amusement and Okaa-san's hands found their place on her hips as she went on lecturing them.
Naruto looked to his mother whose violet eyes betrayed her strong facade with the anxiety, sadness, and horror in the orbs. “Please do as I said, Naruto. Your sister is inside, no one can enter the house The seals will protect you. Get her and run out through the grass fields. Stay low. Stay safe. Your father and I love you both.”
She said nothing more and gave him a warm but fleeting embrace before she ran ahead, her katana gleaming readily in her hands and Fuinjutsu undoubtedly on the edge of her tongue as she weaved the beginnings of a Jutsu.
Naruto did not ponder the what-ifs, though many remained. He knew his mother was lacking chakra reserves and energy. She had been training him since morning and they’d been there for hours, having left home with Akane pressed to Otou-san’s side as they waved goodbye from the door. Now, Naruto could only hope that this goodbye was not a lasting one.
Akane was going to go to the outer fields to pick medicinal herbs and learn about them with Otou-san.
Naruto could guess as to what happened when they were caught outside. His eyes shut tightly in a flurry of emotion before opening again, his Sharingan vivid as ever as he pounced forward, and entered the home through a window him and Akane used to sneak out and chase each other down the fields, playing tag. He ignored the ringing sounds of battle and focused solely on the familiar bright blue chakra that he caught sight of, swiftly landing on his bedroom floor.
Akane hid in his closet, her chakra visible despite the pile of clothes that hid her well beneath them, his Sharingan spinning in a hollow rage as he called out her name and she crawled out of the small space, her thin form wracking with silent sobs, fat tears spilling down her cheeks and dropping to the floor below. She hugged her arms around herself amongst the sobs.
Naruto's eyes softened, but his Sharingan remained activated, wary of the battle that was slowly drawing closer their way. Still, he knew his sister was in shock and he pulled her forward into him. The silence of her sobs ceased and gained volume, but was muffled by the dark material of his shirt. She was scared, but she was safe...
"They found us...Otou-san, he sensed them...I begged him to come inside, but he told me to run. He said they would find you and Okaa-san next if he didn't fight them first. I wanted to go, but he told me to hide and to wait for you both." She gripped his dampened shirt, her small hands whitening with the force in the action.
"Where is Okaa-san?! We have to go and help..!" She reached for the open window, pulling him towards it as the shouts and clangs of metal swords smashing against each other filled the air. Naruto shook his head, the spiky black locks falling over his face with the movement. The action went against every nerve in his body. Desperately, he yearned to- What had he trained so hard for if he couldn't help his family? What kind of shinobi would he be if he couldn't help the only time he needed to?
He knew his sister would not be safe on the field. One wrong move- Even one step and she could die. This was the only thing that kept him from rushing outside and setting the fields ablaze, ruined as they would already be. Iwagakure, Kumogakure...Kirigakure, too. They must have sent several from each village, to finish the job they started so many years ago- before they'd even been apart of this world. And yet, they suffered.
The oncoming rumble of a Doton Jutsu made itself known just a short distance away from their position. Knowing that they'd already wasted too much time, precious as it was, Naruto pulled Akane's hand in his own and helped her out of the home before distant explosion rang and he dropped at once, pulling her close to the ground just outside before Akane smiled wobbly, "It's Okaa-san's. I think they're winning. We gotta hurry and go to them."
Sorrow pulled at the edges of the blank stare he tried to pull while focusing intently on sensing any nearby chakra signatures and scoping out the area with his Sharingan. Their father was still engaged in heavy battle, with at least five other high-Jonin level shinobi. He was closest to them but still a dangerous distance away. Their mother was further away, towards the small stream that surrounded the outer perimeter of their home, but the stream would aid her with her strong water affinity and there were only three shinobi up against her. He could only hope that she was not up against a shinobi of Kiri, or this may backfire on her.
However, the seals that filled their home prevented someone unwanted from entering but did not protect the house itself from any damage...it could be blown up and bury them beneath the rubble nay moment.
The timing was key...
His Sharingan shrewdly observed the moving bodies, chakras surging and falling in moments. He witnessed a man die as chakra stopped circulating throughout his body, a victim of that ominous black fire. His father was using his Mangekyou Sharingan...This was bad.
He dragged his hand heavily down his face before taking a single glace to Akane, a frown and tears marring her face.
Her life...it was the most important, and even though it went against his wishes, he ran with her tucked to his side, his hands trembling pathetically in her own.
The world with all of its sounds and sights was a blur to him as they reached the threshold of grass that held the first small patch of trees that would soon lead to a forest where they would travel and reach the small town they frequented after several miles. Where they would go after that, he didn't know...
Akane's face displayed palpable confusion, "Otou-san is on the other side...We have to hurry...H-his chakra is getting weaker...!"
Naruto broke out in a cold sweat as his fingers trembled like a leaf in her insistent grasp, feeling disgusted at his cowardice and horror at the sight of their father's battle that was reaching them slowly. It was true...Naruto realized with a start. Their father was injured! His chakra was...
"We have to run. NOW!", his tone was cold and yet, full of anger that burned hotter than the flames of their clan. The black gaze that Akane knew so well, always full of love even when he tried to hide it...it was cold and hateful.
She shivered and cursed the tears that continued to fall from her eyes. He always took care of her...but she never did anything for him in return...If they escaped and somehow survived...what would Naruto do? He would be broken...he'd never be the same again. Maybe she was young and weak, maybe there was nothing she could do...but if there was even a chance...
Naruto watched, allowing himself only a moment to witness the flashes of fire and rising walls of thick rock that were erupted to counter them... they were reduced to ash under the heat. The distant rush of water was aimed at him by another followed by crackling lightning...a deadly combination.
It was in his brief hesitation-the unshakable need to see his father arise victorious so that they may reunite and find someplace safer to flee, that Akane threw herself forward and ran out from their cover and into the battle in a flurry of movement. His Sharingan had been off of her...as well as his focus.
"AKANE!!" He screamed, surging forward right as she disappeared among the twisting bodies- the conflict swallowing her whole. A flurry of kunai emblazed with sparks of lightning rained down upon them along with projectiles made of sharpened rock. Naruto danced around them all, deflecting them with the black tanto blade he unsealed quickly from a scroll at his waist.
He saw the widened eyes of his father, covered in blood that was not just his own, and a kunai lodged deeply in his stomach...
It was strange: The way everything could come crashing down in a matter of seconds. How someone's entire world could be shattered in just the time it took to take a single breath. But Naruto didn't-couldn't breathe.
In a blurred image that neither Izuna nor Naruto could perceive in their momentary shock, a man dressed in an Iwa uniform launched forward with his blade in hand, piercing through Akane's chest as blood spilled out onto the charred grass below, her face contorting in pain as she screamed-the sound horrifying, blood dribbling down her quivering lips and tears intermingling with the liquid. It was a sight that rooted Naruto to the ground, his eyes empty but for sheer horror.
He moved to withdraw the blade, but just as quickly as he appeared before them, a giant skeletal hand cloaked with a deep blue glowing light surged forward, clenching around his form and constricting tightly around him until his ribs cracked under the pressure and he was smashed within the grasp, dead.
Blood dripped down onto Naruto's head from the arm of his father's half-formed Susanoo, but he did not so much as blink, the shock, and horror that filled his very being with icy chills and pain discarded as he raced to where his sister lay still in the grass.
"OKAA-SAN!...OTOU-SAN! HELP!", he bellowed from the top of his lungs when tried to heal her with his minute abilities but just barely affected the large wound that seeped blood from her chest. She needed to hurry...AKANE WAS HURT. Nearly everyone was dead...Why couldn't she come faster?
Naruto wept, his body wracked with howling cries, tears swimming before his vision, everything feeling so numb but also as if he felt every painful emotion at once.
"Akane? Akane!", he called out, gently cupping her cheeks, the warmth that normally painted them a light red gone, but her eyes were open, tears dripping from them slowly as she struggled to breathe through the pain in her chest and the coldness that was suddenly present in her body. Ah...if only she'd trained a bit more...then her brother wouldn't look so sad.
"Naru...to?...I'm s-sorry...I-I just couldn't listen...", she choked out, a sad smile on her lips. Naruto hushed her, wiping the blood from her face and cradling her into him as he ran his pale, trembling fingers through her hair; the way he used to when she was younger. She grinned weakly at the action.
Izuna knelt down beside his children, his form shaking as he took a rattling breath at the action. "I'm sorry, you two...I should have made sure they were all dead...I've failed you both as a father." Tears fell from his eyes, the Mangekyou Sharingan was gone with the last little chakra he had left, the black orbs reflecting only a small fraction of the regret and heartache he harbored. His injury...it kept him from keeping his children protected...the most important job he had as a father.
Megumi was nearly there...but it would be too late for him...and Akane. It broke his heart...to think that his daughter wouldn't get to live a full life...to live and experience...to become a medic-nin get the happiness she so deserved...she wouldn't get the education and friendship she so desired...
Not even Megumi could heal her...But he could do something if only to give her enough energy to say her goodbyes, even if the mere thought of such broke his heart and filled him with agony much worse than the injuries he suffered.
Izuna weakly gestured for his son and daughter to move into his side, laying a kiss upon his daughter's cheek and a hug around his son's left side, "I love you both. Akane...I'm going to give you the rest of my chakra...don't be afraid...please tell your mother that I love her. She will be here soon."
Naruto grabbed a fistful of his blood-stained shirt, pupils wide with terror, "Otou-san...?" Surely he could wait before doing anything impulsive...Okaa-san would be able to heal them, wouldn't she? She was talented, after all.
But, once again, he couldn't save a loved one. He failed, in so many ways. One simple job; one thing he'd been asked to do and he couldn't even do that...What kind of son was he? What brother failed to protect their little sister? He trained to protect them but had failed at the first chance he got.
As if he'd been able to predict his thoughts even as he struggled through the pain his wound caused him, his father adopted a look of regret and went on to say that he'd been the one at fault, that he should have been more careful...He told them both that he was so proud of them but, even when he said this with such conviction, Naruto felt worthless.
He should be the one with a kunai lodged in his stomach and wounds covering his body...His Otou-san and Imouto...they shouldn't' have to suffer because of his weakness. Because he didn't kill the bastards that attacked them before the damage was done and his world came tumbling down. What now? How would he live without his sister, the light that filled his life...or his father, the one who taught him the things that his mother couldn't and was the strength that their family depended on? How would he look his mother in the eyes, knowing he had failed- that her sadness would be caused in part by his distraction- his inability to act when the situation called for it, a job that was expected of shinobi, even if he was only one in training.
It was with a final solemn apology and his insistence that their mother was looked after that he pushed every last bit of his chakra into his hands, enveloping them in a bright light that hovered above Akane's form, slowly descending onto her in a blinding flash that Naruto was forced to shield his eyes from even as his mind felt as if it were breaking in two, his being ripped in shreds by the guilt and anger slowly rising within.
Silently, lifelessly, his body slumped to the ground and his hold on them went slack. The dark eyes that Naruto shared, the eyes that gazed upon them all with a love that burned vividly even if his disposition did not give it away, the eyes that watched them grow and live while giving them the necessities and beyond to do so, closed for the last time, a single tear making its quick descent down a pale cheek.
He could feel it now, that pain their father hid beneath stories of a village long destroyed, a village full of people he loved. The pain of losing something precious, something that could never be replaced; a gap, a hole, a cavity that would never be filled.
Naruto's eyes were empty, lost in the pain, but he searched for his sister's gaze, the one thing that would comfort him as their mother remained tied up in battle. It pained him to once again sit and do nothing, but he would not leave his sister's side, whether physically or in conscience. She would win her battle and return to them, the opponent's chakra reserves diminishing by the minute. His sister was the most important thing- even if she was hurt, he would watch over her until Okaa-san could heal her.
She lay curled into a fetal position, still amongst the various weapons discarded along the desolate grassy field. Her hair was splayed outward, the vibrant red strands shielding her face from view, the color as red as the Sharingan. She hated when her hair was in her face, always preferred to pull it back but she didn't move it out of view, now.
Concerned, he pushed the hair out of her eyes and gazed down upon her, her small hands hovering over the wound that seeped blood into a puddle around her, her clothing stained with it, Naruto, too, was covered in the liquid...He hoped that Okaa-san would make it in time...it was a really bad wound.
"Akane? Are you okay?", he asked again, worry starting to grow with her lack of response. He gazed questioningly at her half-lidded eyes, his stomach dropping and heart beating frantically when she didn't so much as blink. Her eyes held no emotion, none of the life that made her who she was. He activated his Sharingan once again. Her chakra was no longer circulating, laying dormant in her body along with the darker chakra that belonged to his father as it began to dissipate.
A harsh, piercing scream ripped through his throat, a desperate, fruitless swipe of his hands through the air was made in an attempt the gather his sister's gleaming sunshine-like chakra and breathe it back into her as it vanished before his eyes. But, even in his state, he knew his actions defied logic and the truth was made glaringly clear to him.
His sister was dead. His father, too...
His hopeful sacrifice of chakra had been for nothing. Akane's body had likely rejected it and attacked itself...combined with the wound, it had been too much for her...
He blinked, the action slowed in the wake of his revelation. A certain sense of panic set in, but he did not move, didn't breathe. His heart may have stopped its beating for all he knew.
The presence of someone's chakra drew near and it was shortly revealed to be his mother's. She stepped out of the tree line and onto the dry earth with unsteady steps and Naruto suspected that she already knew what had happened, as she wore an expression filled with more sadness and pain than he'd ever seen. She dropped down to the ground, her hands covering her mouth with a choked gasp imprisoned behind the folds of flesh and bone as she wept.
Tears swam in her eyes and she remained as motionless as he'd been, nauseated and terrified at the sight of her family's corpses.
It was an expression that Naruto knew all too well; years of mourning wails and heart-wrenching screams muffled behind Fuinjutsu seals of silence but still somehow heard beyond the sounds. The grief over her village and the death she witnessed had only just begun to fade away, a result of Akane's ever hopeful disposition and the happiness that she'd brought them all.
Everything was gone now. Would his mother ever truly be happy again? Naruto did not need to search hard for the answer as it lay before him. The moment he lost focus and his sister left his side, running head-first into the throng of battle, his mother, too, had died. He would never be able to fill the gaps that they would leave, and their family would never truly be whole again.
While it was his inability to react quickly enough that had led to this- caused their deaths, it was the shinobi that killed them.
Iwagakure, Kumogakure, Kirigakure...
Their alliance- founded for the sole purpose of their slaughtering of the Uzumaki; his grandparents, clan members, and the others. The reason Akane's life hadn't been the one she rightfully deserved, the reason his parents suffered almost constant pain.
The reason his father...his little sister...
He'd faltered once. That brought upon the end of Akane's life- Only four years she had, most of which spent gazing longingly past the forest for a place somewhere that she could experience the friendship that she so craved. She was a little girl, one that had never done any harm to anyone and tried so hard to learn so that she may save people, a girl that was always kind and lived amongst the flowers and the make-believe games with him that she loved to play.
Naruto pictured her, remembering the toothy grin that stretched at her cheeks and the violet eyes that glittered with happiness. He'd loved her- loved their dad and his grandparents even if they'd never met. He even loved the village that, too, would have loved them. Akane was supposed to live, to be happy, to go to a real academy and have the happiest life that she could in a world as cursed as theirs.
He'd never falter again, never let anyone take the revenge from his as he'd cowardly allowed his father to do. He would kill them all- destroy their villages one by one and leave Iwagakure last, to wallow in fear as they'd done for so long. He'd find the family of the Iwa shinobi that killed his sister. He would give every last one of them the pain he felt now. They'd understand the hatred he felt, burning him from inside out as his chakra lashed out with unrestrained rage.
"Those with power ruled the world and those with power made the decisions on who would be obliterated and who would be permitted to live on. Whenever there is light, there are also shadows. As long as the concept of winners exists, there must also be losers. The selfish desire of wanting to maintain peace causes wars and hatred is born to protect love."
These were the words of his grandfather, passed onto him by his father. He'd never thought much of them, after all, how could he come to hate and love within the same instance? As long as he had his family, his hatred towards those that put them in their position of fear and isolation would always be overshadowed by the love he held for his family.
But now, he understood perfectly well.
A warm liquid dripped from both of his eyes, the substance thicker than that of tears as it rushed down the slopes of his cheeks, painting them red. In his eyes, his Sharingan had morphed with six large interlocked tomoe forming a black sun-like iris with the ends of the tomoe flaring outwards towards the edge of his eyes. In the center, there held a smaller inner red outline of this, all revolving around a black pupil.
The Mangekyou Sharingan.