It had to be what he and Sarada were now put under, seeing their surroundings shudder and double with a halo of colors that reminded Sarada of the screen of Boruto's videogame. It was as if the world was glitching out. Between each flicker the surroundings just a little different. Their persons just a little bit younger. Was her Sharingan not strong enough to see through it? She kept her head turning looking at it all as she unconsciously walked backwards to Naruto's side.
His hand fell over Sarada's shoulder, drawing the young genin closer to him. Naruto who was awlful at all practice of genjutsu. That even he could detect something was very wrong about this genjutsu was worrying.
A flare of chakra made the young genin flinch. From the Hokage emitted an energy so strong it held a red vaporous form. Kurama's chakra surged through him as in the back of his mind he heard a hearty growl.
"Naruto.." it growled. The gates hang open, letting forth from its black depths an inky red that swelled and dyed the pool of water Naruto stood on.
Red like the eyes Naruto looked up to. Kurama pushing his being into the consciousness of Naruto's mind. Below his snout whose lips revealed a snare of fangs met a closed smile that slowly opened and grew wider when the demon continued to speak.
" A man of your given title still unable to break through a genjutsu?"
Naruto looked sheepish, relieved to just have Kurama help him break it.
Kuramas head bobbed, eyes narrowing as he laughed at that widening smile his host gave him. His words were to mask the urgency of his interference. Naruto could tell that much, seeing the concern in the entity's eyes.
" I have a sense of self preservation," Kurama excused, voice like a slow rockslide.
Was this the power of the Hokage!? She felt the push of it against her very being! Naruto caught her fearful look, because he relaxed his features and gave her a smile. The chakra was fearsome and angry. That was Kurama.
" This power protects those who are precious to me."
Kurama's silence in his mind was an agreement. Kami help the mental hell Naruto face should he ever aknowledge it to the entity.
Sarada watch in awe as the red vapors of chakra unfurled and whipped out as if to physically strike down the illusion trapping them. When the chakras clashed the very space around them quakes. Sarada stumbled and grabbed Naruto's cloak. His figure doubled into a shaky blur of a younger boy in a blue and orange jacket who for a second looked back at her in confusion before returning to the man she knew.
Kurama roared! The gates slammed closed! Naruto rushed forward, clasping his hands around the wide bars and leaning to look in! He was as shocked as the entity sealed behind them. He opened his mouth to call out his nameー
Sarada screamed, arms wrapped tightly around his person as a loud wind blew against them from underneath. His eyes snapped open. The sky was just as blue.
He was looking up at the sky...
ーThey were falling!
Her face was buried into Naruto's chest, muffled screams overpowered by the roaring of the wind and Naruto was no longer afforded his thoughts. An arm wrapped around her, securing her close. Naruto's body ached in a way similar to how a genin would deplete chakra in one go still learning how concentrate it into jutsu. What happened? It felt tiredly empty, his head was pounding and he didn't have much time to think as the blanket of green below of them was clarifying into a canopy of treetops.
"Kage bunshin-no jutsu!"
Smoke encased them as they fell into the leaves. More smoke burst around them as most clones broke on impact, attempting to cushion their fall. Through them branches whipped into Naruto's back, causing him to squeeze Sarada, shutting his eyes. It hurt, but with the pain he felt their velocity hiccup until the next few branches started to resist against their weight. Sarada whimpered when they finally hit the grass cushioned ground with a thud.
It took a few moments for the arms tightly locked around her to loosen their vice. Naruto slowly lifted them and dropped them to his sides. He panted.
" Are you okay!?" she gasped.
Sarada shakily knelt up and rolled off him, crawling to his face.
Naruto looked up to her, relief filling his eyes that Sasuke's beloved daughter was okay. Sarada gave him space to sit up, face wincing as she saw his back. He noticed. More so, noticed the pain it brought him. The lashes from the branches tore through his clothes and broke the skin. From the look on Sarada's face, Naruto imagined it looked worse than it felt. Kurama's chakra was already seeping into the area, healing it. It wasn't an injury laden with chakra. Even sealed the Nine Tailed Fox's power could mend something like this.
" Don't worry. I can heal from something like this~"
Kurama was again behind that gate.
" What happened.."
Sarada voiced his thought. They definitely weren't in the village anymore, but through the trunks Naruto saw a clearing where a familiar wall stood.
" We ended up outside the village somehow when we broke the genjutsu." Naruto said, standing up. Kurama stirred in his mind, letting out a distant grumble. Naruto was grateful it was just him and Sarada when they were attacked at their training field. He had a clone in his office, but he could no longer sense it, and assumed it had dispersed, meaning he'd have to tell Sasuke and Shikamaru that that there was an enemy inside Konoha's gates himself!
" Let's go Sarada, we have to tell the others!"
Sarada nodded, following the more experienced shinobi's command. But something was odd about the air. It felt a little too homely around him like that feeling when you're hit by nostalgia. To Sarada, she felt an odd familiarity, but not similar to Naruto.
As they ran out of the trees, Naruto was halted by the sight before him. It took a second for it to stop the man, as he simply just saw the mountain in which the faces of the Hokage were carved. The four Hokage.
" Is this still genjutsu?"
Sarada stopped and looked to where Naruto was looking. His face wasn't on it anymore. Her mouth was agape, looking back to Naruto as if he had an explanation for this. He was just as baffled, an anxious feeling weighting in his gut the longer he looked at it.
Kurama was deep in the recesses of the gate, staring down a far away Naruto with wary eyes.
If he could just get closer.
If Naruto could just focus.
He trudged forward. The water behind the gates bubbled red, Naruto's head still cloudy as he tried to envision Kurama. The bubbles started to vary in size, frothing and starting to take the loose shape of a fox's head.
" I messed up." Kurama spoke solemnly, words accented by the popping bubbles that made his form.
" What happened!?" Naruto yelled through the bars.
" It took in a massive influx of my chakra.... Instead of disrupting the flow and dissipating it, it seemed to enhance its powers warping reality."
As if that made sense to Naruto.
" ..It seemed to supercharge it."
" What, like it absorbed my chakra!?"
" I don't know what was happening, but I felt us regressing inside it. As if I was being thrown back decades."
" What are you sayin' Kurama!?" Naruto gritted his teeth, squeezing the bars.
The water was already stilling beneath Naruto. The bubbles that made up Kurama were popping and spreading out.
" I'm tired... Don't get yourself killed, foolish boy."
The two eyes that were the last to remain of his form were closing.
" We're back in time..." Sarada whispered more to herself, feeling it too foolish to suggest out loud. But Naruto heard and looked to her. His brow furrowed in worry as his eyes hesitantly seemed to agree.
Towards an unattended gate the two of them walked, entering the village of Konoha.
Shikimaru was leaving the Hokage's office, having just left a forlorn Naruto with the mountains of paperwork and information needed to enact another agreement between the Leaf and Sand. The Sand's been the most receptive involving affairs with the Leaf ever since Naruto took position thanks to Gaara's similar values and goals, Shikamaru thought. He was thinking a lot. Anything to distract from an odd stillness that grew in the air. It felt like the calm before the storm and Shikamaru just wanted it to happen already. The tension was becoming unbearable. Shikamaru tightened his jaw, taking a slow breath in as he looked around at seemingly nothingー
ーA wave of chakra dispersed throughout the village, recognizable to anyone who's ever encountered the Nine-Tails or Naruto and reality itself seemed to stutter for just a moment.
Shikimaru's quickening thoughts were interrupted, punctuated by the tell tale sound of a dispersing clone.
"-Naruto!" He grumbled, turning heel and racing back to the office.
He was met with dissipating smoke.
" What a drag... I have a bad feeling about Sasuke too..." Shikamaru complained to no one in particular. Spending enough time with the guy because of Naruto to the point where he was actually Sasuke's second friend in this village, he knew when he was being stared down by the man's dojutsu. And it was same time he felt the Nine-Tail's chakra.
" Boruto, find a Jounin and tell them someone's infiltrated the village." Sasuke ordered. His eye widened, the black of his pupil winding into red leaving only a slowing pattern of three tomoe.
" What, no way Sasuke! This is just Genjustu! If they have to use that we can take them!" Boruto argued.
Whoever 'they' were was out of both their sight.
" It isn't just Genjutsu," Sasuke scolded.
He didn't want to have to worry about Boruto. Why wasn't his Sharingan breaking through this!? He couldn't disrupt it with a focusing of his chakra either like genin beside him was trying to do now. Around them small things in their surroundings changed in flickers. Even the weather! For a second, when Boruto peeked his eye open after another failed attempt, he could have sworn he saw a younger Sasuke with two eyes.
Sasuke drew closer to Boruto. He recalled what he learned in the academy and the research he read with Orochimaru. Everything suggested to free oneself from it they already tried or didn't have a third teammate to do. Calm, instead of panicking his mind then considered what was least recommended. There was only one possibility left and it wasn't something Sasuke was confident thinking about, but he recalled his and Itachi's fight with Kabuto. Could he override the genjutsu if he tried to use Tsukiyomi on himself?
The same time Sasuke's three tomoe connect into the Mangekyo Sharingan, at the training grounds Naruto unleashes the Nine-Tail's chakra.