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And the Lake Will Run Red

my original chapter sans commentary can be found here at fanfiction.net:

Chapter 2: Tsukuyomi, Tsunade, a Bet, and Rasengan


Gai pulled the sinking Kakashi out of the water with a confused, worried frown. Kurenai, who could not stand it anymore, opened her eyes and gasped; Asuma immediately did the same. He stared. 'What in the world happened here?' Kurenai bit her lip, grimacing as she tasted the blood from earlier. 'We were practically useless against Uchiha Itachi... Though it seems like Kakashi-san drove them off. But how? And... the lake..."

            GAI, YOU ARE VERY LATE. HOW UNYOUTUFUL IT IS! XD If you remember, Kurenai bit through the skin on her lip earlier to break out of a her own genjutsu, as Itachi reversed it and made it backfire on her instead. I am very particular about details! XD Also, Asuma and Kurenai were both very strong jounin, but just... not enough, for Itachi and Kisame were stronger than Kakashi who was stronger than them. And none of them really had much experience fighting against Akatsuki, with its freakishly-strong not-quite-human members. XD

He hefted the unconscious jounin effortlessly onto one shoulder while Asuma and Kurenai informed him of the barely finished battle. As the grim-faced group silently left the lake, making their way to the hospital – whatever had happened to Kakashi looked bad and Asuma and a nasty cut on his shoulder – the same thing weighed on all three still-conscious jounins' minds: Where had all that blood come from?

            More bits of details from canon – Asuma fighting Kisame earlier (which reminds me – there's no Gai vs Kisame now, which is rather a pity... ah well!)

Ripples spread and disappeared, and then the lake was calm once more. The only sign of battle which remained was the scarlet-stained water which lay with a deathly stillness...

            ......might be a little dramatic for an ending line. *wry* 

Eleven days later, a small, orange-clad body disappeared from the bottom of the lake with a muffled poof. 

In small clearing many kilometres away from Konoha, Uzumaki Naruto bolted awake, eyes wide. As he made sense of the information that had just crashed into his mind, he paled.

Oh gods, no.

He was a fool. (A fool and an idiot and just so damn stupid!)

            Naruto is Very Pissed at himself. :/

And he had just screwed up.

Very, very badly.

Naruto swore. 'I had no friggin' idea something like that would happen. Damn you to hell, Uchiha Itachi...' He channelled chakra into his right hand and slowly formed it into a sphere, muttering distractedly to himself.

            Rasengan training! :DDD

"Sasuke didn't say anything about the havoc his brother wreaked." He snorted. "'Course he didn't. He was way too focused on trying to kill his brother – and he failed, anyway. But I did ask him if things were all right in the village... and surely he would have known?'

            (How and why he ran into Akatsuki AGAIN is revealed later. Some very observant readers picked up on this puzzling matter and were confused... until the later chapters. (: )

Naruto scowled at his hand. "Damage's already been done, though. All thanks to me. Why, oh WHY did I think it was a good idea to use that? I haven't quite gotten the hang of using it, either." He grit his teeth, trying to swallow the lump in his throat.

'And now Kakashi...'

He tried to focus on the orb of chakra in his hand. 'From what happened to Sasuke, Kakashi-sensei... is probably in a coma too. He did get away, right...? He has to be all right. Yeah. He has to.' The guilt made him wince. He was just so damned stupid sometimes...

His chakra whirled in the sphere furiously, glowing a faint blue which threw small, dancing shadows about his face. It was probably around the middle of the night, as he had fallen asleep earlier while taking a short break from training. He had no care for the time, though.

            Pretty!Rasengan-lights. I JUST COULDN'T HELP WRITING THAT XD

Naruto continued to stare in fascination at the Rasengan, as if it held all the answers in the world...

Huh. And it just might.

Tsukuyomi. Tsunade. Bet.



There was only one way to do it then. His eyes filled with a grim determination as he slammed the imperfect Rasengan into a nearby tree.

"I can't take any risks. I have to master this thing," he vowed firmly. "I have to be able to do this quickly, easily, and only using one hand. Like how Ero-Sennin does it. Like how the Yondaime did. It's the only way to completely ensure the old lady keeps to her bet. And..."

            Naruto decides to Work Very Hard. A slight change from canon: he barely managed it, but he did master the one-handed Rasengan eventually. Not too important change at this point of time, but may bear some significance later on. It depends.

He raised his head and glared at the moon with fierce defiance and will. "I need this jutsu if I'm ever going to become stronger – strong enough that I can hold my own against people like Uchiha Itachi in the future, and strong enough to protect the people who are precious to me!"

            Moon symbolism! :D *amused at self*

His sensei had been devastated. He would never let it happen again. Never.

He formed another Rasengan.

You better be okay, Kakashi-sensei... 

            Very brief Orochimaru and Kabuto fight scene. 

He was dying. It hurt to breathe. He hated it.

And it was all because he was stupid again, because in the high of his vicious and victorious glee at finally mastering – finally! – Rasengan he was careless, and Kabuto managed to get in a killing blow.

Why was he always so damned stupid?

He had no energy left to fume at himself, but he still did.

He could not breathe. He was going to die, really die this time and then what? He was no blood clone. And if he died he would not be there to make sure the old lady kept her promise, he would not be there to make sure Kakashi and Sasuke would be okay, and...

He still had to apologise to Kakashi-sensei, dammit!

'I don't want to die. I don't want to die. Idon'twanttodieIdon'twant...'

What the hell was the bastard fox doing? Why did it not help him? Did Kyuubi not want to live?

Bitterly, he realised that he had been taking his regenerative abilities for granted. He became used to healing fast, used to taking a few hits and getting up again in no time, used to being careless.


But now he was dying and what could he do?

He did not want to die. He still had to help Kakashi.


Something stirred.

He vaguely noticed something red in the blurriness – the fox? – and... there was something green, and as he reached out and pulled on all the strength he had left, he found something blue as well.

            The 'something red' was Kyuubi chakra, the 'green' was healing chakra, and the 'blue' was his own. The 'green' may and may not also be something more, however. Hint: linked to a concept featured in With the Sky in His Eyes.

And then he could breathe again, as sweet, cooling air rushed into his lungs, and he was alive.

He couldn't help it. The relief was overwhelming. Savouring the simple joy he felt from just being alive, he grinned.

He forced his arm to move, ignoring the stinging pain – ouch! – from the kunai wound. Remember the bet! The bet was the most important thing.

            ;_; So very Naruto-ish of him to focus on the bet and make sure Tsunade's coming back to Konoha to heal people, instead of the fact that HE WAS PRACTICALLY DEAD 5 SECONDS AGO. D:

"Thanks... obaachan..." he cracked open an eye and grinned at her, his hand firmly grasping Tsunade's necklace.

"I won... the bet..."

Smiling sleepily, he let himself drift off.

Everything's gonna be okay. Yeah. Good... 

Tsunade could see genuine, frantic worry in the boy's eyes as he urged her to heal Kakashi, barely paying attention to the expressionless Uchiha sitting stiffly in the hospital bed once it was confirmed that the other boy was out of his coma. She could not help but wonder... just what had made him so desperate to get back to Konoha as fast as possible, and why was he so anxious that she kept her promise? 

            Just a brief one. 

Naruto grimaced.

 The guilt was smothering. He had not meant to scare Kakashi-sensei like that, and he was pretty damn sure his teacher believed him to be dead. Stupidstupidstupid Naruto, why couldn't you have left a normal Kage Bunshin instead of a blood-leaf one that could actually die realistically...

(Who cares about all that improved quality and period of existence crap!)

            More self-rant.

Once Gai had half-dragged Tsunade off to help Lee, Naruto stepped out from behind the curtains and observed his teacher warily. Kakashi was pale, his eye was blank and hollow and Naruto was so damn worried he did the first thing that came to mind. (Which was probably very stupid.)

He pounced on the man and hugged him tightly.

            ...squee? Also, silly boy? ^^;;

(Of course it was very very stupid.)

"Kakashi-sensei! Gosh I'm so sorry are you alright you look terrible and I'm really so sorry and please be okay I didn't mean to I'm sorry it looked so damn real and – Sensei? Oi!" Naruto began to panic. " – Kakashi-sensei! Calm down, it's me! Can you hear me? Sensei!"

            Rambling, panicking, and a lot of (mental) flailing.

The jounin was frozen in shock.

"Kakashi-sensei, calm down!"

He was not breathing.

            YEAH WELL HE JUST SAW A GHOST. And only just got un-Tsukuyomi-ed. And this Tsukuyomi was even worse than canon, in some ways. D:

Naruto swore.

Shaking the jounin hard, he tried to get the man to relax and just get some damn oxygen.

"It's me, sensei! I'm okay – really, I am – please calm down and just stop hurting yourself okay? I'm really fine and I'm really really really so sorry 'cause I shouldn't have left that blood clone in the village but I got worried and I had no idea something like that would happen – but it's just an overly-realistic clone and I'm not dead, do you hear me? I'm fine. I'm not dead. I'm fine."


Naruto acted on impulse again, punching the man in the arm. He pulled up Kakashi's hitai-ate, and froze.

"Wha – ?"He stared at the strange shape that had formed in the scarlet eye, replacing the previous circle of three tomoe. It looked like... a three-bladed shuriken, he supposed, though it also vaguely resembled a pinwheel. He pushed his bewilderment aside – there were other, much more important things to deal with at the moment.

            Mangekyou Sharingan. A slight deviation from canon, again.

Naruto gripped Kakashi's shoulder firmly, and glared fiercely into both his eyes.

"It's okay, I'm okay and you're okay, everything's alright now..." he murmured.

The Sharingan began to spin, and Kakashi sucked in a deep gulp of air. The other eye focussed on him dazedly, and he hoped it was a spark of recognition he saw in the distracted, cloudy black-grey.

Naruto sagged in relief, even as the jounin's eyes closed and he passed out from exhaustion.

At least he was breathing evenly.

He gently shifted Kakashi into the centre of the bed, as they had come dangerously close to falling off while Naruto tried to snap him out of his shock. Pulling the blanket over him, the boy sighed. Somehow, he felt it would not be a very good idea to leave his teacher alone. Pulling up a chair, he tried to make himself comfortable, and pondered over the recent events.

Which would be better described as the recent state of chaos, really.

            In a nutshell, yeah.

He sighed. 'Nothing every goes right... nope, not even when I try to help.' A corner of his mouth twitched slightly and gave way to a crooked grin. 'Especially when I try to help.'

            ...In your defence, Naruto, you were just... really unlucky. But also too reckless.

There was also the issue of Kakashi's new Sharingan. Whatever it was, it reminded him of what Itachi's eyes looked like when... He winced. When all hell broke loose, he thought wryly. It looked more... intricate than Itachi's, in a way. Naruto's brow furrowed in confusion. 'What did he call it? Mangekyou Sharingan? It's supposed to be some powerful new level of Sharingan, or something like that. Is Kakashi's the same? Similar?' He had absolutely no idea.

Naruto sighed heavily again. He would have to wait for his teacher to wake up before he would get any answers.

Tsunade reappeared with a worried frown, but relaxed a little when she saw that whatever disturbance that took place earlier was over, and both Kakashi and Naruto looked relatively fine. She opened her mouth to ask a question, but the blond shook his head. She nodded, and moved over silently to heal the slight bruise on Kakashi's right arm, raising an eyebrow at Naruto's momentarily mortified face.

            *giggles at mortified!Naruto* XD

The boy shot her a sheepish look. 'I'll tell you later.'

            Silly boy! :3

She nodded again, having somehow understood.