Categories > Anime/Manga > Naruto > Karakuri
AU. What defines being alive? Naruto wasn't the Yondaime's son, nor was he Orochimaru, Jiraiya or Tsunade's. He was not even born... he was built in a bout of madness. This is his story...
(A/N: Okay, here comes another Naruto fanfic from your favorite bad-ass freakin' Fanfic Overlord. The premise in this one is fairly life-changing.
Namely, what if Naruto wasn't human at all... but instead turned out to be a puppet animated and modified into a state of near-life by a combination of his creator-mother's feelings and the Kyuubi's demonic influence?
From this point on, this change spirals into a completely new timeline. This is a full AU, and as such a lot of things may and will change. If you are not a fan of AUs, stop reading now.
Still there? Then, on with the fic!)
Naruto and all its characters and techniques are property of Kishimoto Masashi, and I claim no ownership over them. Any OCs and original techniques that may show up are mine. That... covers it. Unusually short disclaimer, eh?
Many thanks to:
Moshulel, from The FanFiction Forum, for large amounts of help fine-tuning the background of the story;
SimmyC, from The FanFiction Forum, for hints and tips all over;
H-Man, also from The FanFiction Forum, for more tips;
Everyone else from The FanFiction Forum, for general help and proofreading.
And thanks to you, dear reader, for reading this fic!
("This" is speech. Italics are thought. 1234567890 indicates a scene/perspective change. Underlined locations in italics are a location change.)
First Scroll: Origin
"Wha-what did you just say?"
The young medic nin sighed inwardly at the question. Sometimes he truly hated his job.
Before him stood a young kunoichi named Ibuki Rin, member of the famed Team 3, Kazama Arashi's own shinobi cell. Or rather, member of what once was Team 3. Their most recent mission, which ended up being their last one, suddenly started going very badly when a group of Stone nin sprang an ambush upon them, resulting in one of the team members, Uchiha Obito, being killed in action, and Rin herself sustaining heavy injuries.
Those very injuries were also the reason why she was now there, demanding an explanation. As Fate would have it, the young kunoichi had been pregnant - something she had been aware of, but hid from everyone, presumably to surprise the father. Unfortunately, the wound she had sustained during the mission had caused a miscarriage, and upon hearing the news she'd gone into what was best described as full blown denial. Not surprising, seeing how the child's father - Uchiha Obito, in fact, something which surprised everyone who thought the kunoichi had been pining for Hatake Kakashi - had also died in the mission.
Ninja may have been used to loss, but there were times when they simply lost too much in too little time. And when that happened, it was not unheard of for them to snap.
That seemed to be the case with Rin right now.
"I said, the wounds you sustained were more severe than we thought," the medic nin explained patiently. "They caused a miscarriage. You lost your child - I'm sorry."
"No... no, this can't be true..." Rin muttered, taking several steps backwards. The rational part of her understood what was told to her all too well - after all, she was a medic herself. Unfortunately, that rational part was currently being drowned by grief and denial. In one swift motion, she turned around and bolted out of the hospital, the medic nin uselessly trying to call her back in order to make sure she was healthy enough to leave.
The medic nin shook his head as he watched the young kunoichi dart away. He knew better than to attempt to force a grieving woman to do something. He resolved to report the situation to the Hokage and Rin's surviving teammate, Hatake Kakashi. Surely, they could handle her better than a complete stranger would...
Unfortunately, the unnamed medic nin's hope turned out to be wishful thinking. Talking to Rin and trying to get her to accept reality did not make things better - in fact, it exacerbated them. The kunoichi rejected everyone's contact, and cooped herself up in her home. With great reluctance, the Hokage was forced to take her off active duty, and Team 3 was officially disbanded.
Several weeks passed, and a disturbing rumor reached Kakashi's ears. Wanting to make sure of its reliability with its own eyes - both the natural one and the one he had inherited from Obito - he made his way to Rin's house and hid outside a window, peeking in without being seen.
What he saw startled him. Rin was leaning on a rocking chair, a happy smile on her face. In her arms was one of the most life-like wooden puppets Kakashi had ever seen... sculpted to look just like a toddler. Rin was smiling at it, caressing the finely sculpted wooden head and making cooing noises at it.
Kakashi's eyes took in more than that - they took in the aura of contentment and happiness surrounding Rin; the immaculate state of the previously disheveled apartment; the absence of any and all ninja equipment. And at that point, he realized that Rin was lost to him and their sensei forever.
It was not that it would be hard to force her to face the situation; it could be done, simply by taking the puppet away and showing it to her for what it was. With his Sharingan, Kakashi could have easily done it now.
No, it was the simple fact that for the first time since the incident, Rin was smiling and happy. Kakashi instinctively knew he had neither right nor reason to take that away from her after the grief she had gone through. Even if he did shatter her delusion, one of two things would happen.
She would snap completely, and become a danger to all those around her, possibly to the point that killing or isolating her would be the only course of action; or she would return to sanity - and hate him and everyone else in the village until her dying day for taking her last little consolation away from her, even though it was nothing more than a lie.
For you see, the wounds she had sustained that day had not only robbed her of her child, but also made her barren. The wooden child in her arms would be the only one she would ever hold and call her own.
With a sigh and a heavy heart, Kakashi lowered his hitai-ate over the red wheel of the Sharingan in his left eye. Turning around, he spared his former teammate a last glance, and saw her giggle at the puppet child.
I hope you will be happy this way, Rin, he thought sadly. You, of all people, deserve it.
And then he was gone, as if he'd never been there at all.
Konohagakure: One year later
Screams and cries for help filled the air, only to be drowned by the unholy howl of the beast looming over Konoha. People fled away from the terrifying sight of the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox, even as the brave ninja of Konoha rushed to their deaths in an attempt to slow the monster down.
Amidst the ruin, a lone female figure was struggling to move in the opposite direction to that of the panicked, fleeing townspeople. Rin's mind was filled with a sense of horrified urgency that drowned out everything else, including her sense of self-preservation.
Her child was still at home. The same home that was almost directly in the path of the rampaging monstrosity that had attacked the village for no apparent reason at all besides the glee of wanton destruction. There was only one thought in Rin's mind as she saw the scene, pushing out all others.
She had to save her child.
Drawing on old skills that laid dormant for more than a year, Rin stopped trying to struggle in the human river on the streets, and took to the rooftops, launching herself towards her home even as the monstrous demon drew near.
On a nearby rooftop, a single, scarred Sharingan eye saw her movement. With mounting dread, the eye's owner took off after her, hoping that he would make it in time.
Hatake Kakashi never thought he'd experience a fear more paralyzing than the one that had gripped him when Obito laid dying in his arms. He had been wrong. The mere presence of the savage fox demon was enough to make him shiver.
To his credit, he was not the only one. He suspected that even Yondaime himself couldn't help but feel fear's cold grip tighten around his heart. But his sensei had taught him well.
Only a fool does not experience fear in the face of death, Kakashi, Arashi's words echoed in the silver haired ninja's mind as he desperately attempted to redirect the panicking, fleeing civilians to the exits in an orderly fashion. The difference between bravery and foolishness lies in acknowledging the fear... and standing up to it anyway, regardless of the price.
As he and his longtime friend-rival, Maito Gai, directed the crowd to the nearest gate, Kakashi spied a familiar shape jump on a rooftop and begin to move towards the monster instead of away from it. He paled, recognizing who it was.
"What is Rin doing?!" he croaked out as he took off after her, signaling for a nearby Chuunin to replace him. "She will get killed! ...don't tell me... she's going back for that puppet?!"
As the silver haired young man rushed towards Rin's house, anger and envy washed through him. Anger, because he was watching his old teammate quite possibly throw her life away over an inanimate doll.
And envy, because even in her delusion, Rin was capable of loving something - or someone, in her eyes - with such intensity.
Obito, he thought bitterly as he approached the former kunoichi's house, this is one of those moments when I really hate you for being the one who died. Had it been me, none of this would have happened--
That was when part of the Hokage's monument crashed on Rin's house.
Upon reaching her house, Rin had pulled the door open with enough force to tear it off its hinges, in her frantic urgency to get to her 'son'. Ignoring the ominous rumbling from outside and the distinct sensation she had of being followed, she made a beeline for the room she had prepared for her child.
When she entered it, her heart almost stopped. The window's wall was gone, and rubble littered the small room. Rushing forward, she began to frantically claw at the pieces of wall surrounding the small crib before her, ignoring the lancing pain from her nails shattering against the hard stone. Ripping and pulling, she finally opened a pat to the crib, reached it and looked inside.
An enormous sense of relief washed over her as she reached inside and pulled the wooden child inside in her arms. Cradling it, she made soothing noises as she moved away from the crib.
Ultimately, that was the action that kept her from dying on the spot. A loud crash was followed by an enormous shadow blocking out sunlight. Looking up in horror, Rin saw a large piece of the Hokage's stone monument falling on her house.
The former kunoichi did not hesitate. Turning around, she dived in a corner, protecting the child puppet with her body as best as she could.
A shaking rumble.
Kakashi let a strangled sound escape his throat as he saw a part of the First Hokage's giant stone face reduce almost all of Rin's house to so much rubble. Going even faster, he began praying, Please be alive, be alive, be alive, damn it Rin, you can't die like this!
Reaching the destroyed building in record time, he darted towards the small patch of it that hadn't been ground into dust under the giant stone face. If memory served, that was the zone where she'd made the room for her 'child'.
He really hoped she'd found it.
Upon reaching the ruined room, he immediately spotted a blood stain near what was left of a corner, surrounded by rubble. Dashing over to it, he paled as he saw Rin's unconscious body pressed under a large section of the wall.
This is Obito all over again, he couldn't help but think as he used every ounce of his strength to push the piece of wall off his old teammate. With a grunt, he shoved the concrete slab off the woman's body and quickly checked her out.
He immediately realized her condition was critical. Her lower body and most of her left leg had been caught under the falling debris, and the leg was almost completely ruined and bleeding profusely. Her torso had escaped the same fate, but she sported cuts and bruises all over, and it was obvious she had some internal injuries from the trickle of blood seeping out of her mouth.
Ironically, the same puppet she was attempting to rescue had been crushed in a way that probably saved her life. It had acted as a prop to another section of wall when it slipped a little to the side from her grip, and had kept the wall from completely crushing Rin. Kakashi eyed the construct with a mix of bitterness and gratitude. You saved her life for the time being, he thought, but she's dying anyway, and all because of you...
With gentle care, the silver haired ninja attempted to pick Rin up. He knew that moving victims of internal injury was not wise, but leaving her here, right next to the still-rampaging demon-fox, was more dangerous.
As he lifted her in her arms, Rin gasped awake and reached for the puppet spasmodically. Kakashi attempted to get her to let it go, but she would hear none of it, and after realizing her struggles were only making her bleed more, he gave up and settled the wooden child on her breast. Following that, the former kunoichi calmed down almost immediately, and began to lightly hum as if in a trance.
Worried about her state, Kakashi made his way towards the Konoha hospital at the highest speed she could take. He remembered that his sensei was there, as his wife was supposed to be giving birth today. Of all days to be born, Kakashi thought somewhat morbidly.
Behind him, another piece of the Hokage monument fell, crushing the remains of Rin's apartment. Kakashi increased his speed and did not look back.
"Sensei! Rin is..." Kakashi shouted as he burst in the room, then fell silent as he saw Yondaime stand over two very still forms covered by white cloths in a bed, one much smaller than the other. The silver haired ninja froze, dread once again spreading through him.
"Sensei... are they...?" he hesitatingly asked. "Is your wife...?"
"They didn't make it."
The hollow tone in the man known as the Yellow Flash of Konoha chilled Kakashi to the bone. He sounded as if he had finally and utterly be defeated. Kakashi silently watched the man who had taught him the ninja way as he quietly grieved for his losses.
A rattling cough from the woman in his arms brought his attention back to the situation at hand, and made the Yondaime snap out of his trance as he looked over at Kakashi and saw who he was carrying - and in what condition. Eyes wide, he rushed to his former pupil's side, and his face took on a grim expression as he realized Rin's condition.
As he quickly helped Kakashi set Rin on a nearby empty bed (after being dissuaded from trying to remove the puppet from her hands, lest she freak out again), Arashi moved to call for medical attention, when a young nurse ran in the room.
"Hokage-sama, the beast is coming this way!" she said in a shrill, almost hysterical tone. "Is there no way to stop it? There are still wounded and seriously sick patients here... we can't move them!"
Arashi froze for a few long moments as he pondered the situation. Then, a resigned, yet determined look washed over him, and his gaze settled on the terrified nurse.
"Were any other children born today besides my son?" he asked. The nurse blinked, then hesitated as she thought it over.
"No, Hokage-sama," she finally shook her head. "Your son was the only one. I'm sorry for your loss..."
"Not as much as I am, and for more than one reason," Arashi muttered. Kakashi blinked, then his eyes widened.
"You aren't intending to use that, are you?"
"What other solution do you see, Kakashi?" Yondaime shot back in an almost vicious tone. "That abomination is practically invincible! Shiki Fuujin... it is the only technique I can think of with enough power to stop that /thing/!"
"But you will die!" Kakashi argued. "And you still need a container for it! Nothing artificial will do..." he trailed off as he realized the reason for Arashi's earlier question. "...you were thinking... of sealing that in a newborn, sensei?!"
"It's a necessity," Arashi explained tiredly. "An adult's already-developed chakra coils would not be able to take the stress of adapting to the Nine Tails' overwhelming chakra. And as you said, a common artificial container will not do... a child is the only thing that can possibly contain that demon without it breaking free immediately--"
"Take my child."
Arashi and Kakashi tensed up and whirled around, finding themselves face to face with a Rin that observed them with terrifying intensity, ignoring the nurse attempting to calm her down.
"Take my child, sensei," she repeated as she held the puppet up with both hands, the strain from that simple action enough to make her breathe in ragged, gurgling gasps. Yondaime eyed her with a sympathetic expression.
"I appreciate your offer, Rin-chan, but--" he began, but a gasp from Kakashi interrupted him. Looking at his side, he saw him stare with wide eyes at the puppet, his lone Sharingan spinning wildly. "What is it, Kakashi?"
"That... child..." he gasped incredulously, "it's laced with chakra! So much of it, it's probably harder than steel... of course, that's how it supported tons of concrete from falling on top of Rin..."
Yondaime regarded the puppet thoughtfully, then stepped near it, laid a hand on it and concentrated. Almost immediately, a green spark arched from it to his hand, causing him to draw the offended limb back with a sharp intake of breath.
"This might work," he murmured as he slowly, almost reverently took the puppet child from Rin's hands. "It might really work... Rin-chan, how did you create a vessel this strong...?"
"I loved... him," she responded with a labored breathing as her hand fell back on the bed. Arashi gave her an alarmed look and paled as he saw her cough up blood. Looking at the nurse, he felt his heart sink as he saw her slowly shake her head. He returned his gaze on his former student, feeling frustration and impotence well inside him.
"Sensei...?" Rin's weak voice shook him out of his dark thoughts. When he returned his attention to her, she continued, her voice gradually becoming weaker.
"I know... it's not my real child. But I wanted... to live for something. To have something... someone... to love and care for.
"When Obito died, I was left... with nothing but ash in place of my... dreams. So... I turned to this wood child.
"I have no regrets... I have lived and loved. Even... if it wasn't alive... It made me... happy..."
As Rin's breathing became slower, she focused a suddenly lucid gaze on Arashi.
"Please... do not... destroy it. It has my happiest memories... and... give it... a..."
As Rin closed her eyes and exhaled her last, her final word left her lips, just loud enough for the two ninja in the room to hear it.
For several moments, a heavy silence followed. Then Yondaime's features set into a determined mask, and after gently swiping a lock of hair from her dead student's face, he turned around and marched out of the room.
"Sensei...?" Kakashi called out as Arashi left the room. The youngest Hokage of Konoha stopped in the doorway, his shoulders suddenly looking as if he'd become infinitely older in a single day.
"...Naruto..." he murmured. At Kakashi's blink, Yondaime glanced over his shoulder.
"It's what I would have named my son... Naruto," he explained. "Rin's final wish... Kakashi, see to it that it's carried out, and explain it to Old Man Sarutobi. And... tell him I'm sorry for what I'm about to do..."
His gaze settling on Rin's face, he smiled softly.
"I never did tell you how proud I was of you as a student, did I?" he whispered. "I'm sorry to say that I won't be able to tell you on the Other Side, either... but if you can hear me, know that I was proud of all three of you."
With those words, the Yellow Flash ran out of the room. Moments later, a loud bang followed by a whooshing sound signaled his departure on Gamabunta's back... towards the battle, and a different destiny.
Behind him, unseen by Kakashi and the nurse, Rin's body seemed to shimmer. It was only a moment's notice, and anyone would have ascribed it to hallucination.
But if someone caught the moment and looked closely, they would have found it to be almost... disagreement.
Konohagakure: One week later
With a sharp intake of breath, Kazama Arashi shot upright in the bed he was lying, wide eyed. he almost immediately regretted his action as a violent vertigo caused him to fall back down on his pillow, groaning.
As he blinked, squinting against the morning light coming in from the nearby window, his ninja training kicked in and he attempted to assess the situation as best as he could. Slowly looking around, he saw that he was in a semi-damaged hospital room, hooked to various life-monitoring devices and with several needles sticking in various parts of his body.
Okay... so this is Konoha's hospital, I suppose, he thought. Now, what was I doing? I remember that gigantic demonic furball attacking... it was killing a lot of people, and I...
Arashi groaned as one memory he would rather not have recovered emerged - that of him rushing in the hospital room his wife and newborn son were supposed to be, only to find a thin white veil covering both their unmoving forms.
I was hoping at least that was a nightmare... he thought as he blinked back the tears. He would grieve later. For now, remembering was more important.
Slowly, agonizingly, more details came back to him. Kakashi showing up with a critically injured Rin. Himself deciding to use the forbidden /Shiki Fuujin/. Rin offering her puppet-child as container before expiring. And then...
Arashi's eyes shot open again as the memories suddenly came back all at once, and he gasped in shock.
It can't be... the Death God... refused to take me? he thought. And then, just as I was passing out... no, that must surely have been a hallucination...
His musings were interrupted by a gasp from the door. Looking at it, he saw the same nurse he'd met when Rin died look at him with a half incredulous, half-ecstatic look. Moments later, the nurse took off at speeds that would have made Maito Gai envious, shouting at the top of her lungs.
"He's awake! Yondaime-sama is awake!"
Within seconds, the room filled with familiar faces, all wearing concerned expressions and asking about his condition. Kakashi had been the first to show up, not even ten seconds after the first shout. Old Man Sarutobi, bless his soul, had arrived only moments later, wearing an expression of both relief and disapproval.
Arashi had winced at that. He could tell that the old man would chew him up as soon as he would be well enough to take the scolding. Maybe I would've been better off dead, he idly mused before discarding that thought. If what he suspected was true, it'd have been tantamount to insulting a deceased person's memory to even think such thoughts.
Several other jounin and chuunin had filed in and inquired about his state before the nurse had come back with a really angry expression and chased all the curious onlookers off, with the only exceptions of Kakashi and Sarutobi.
The old man nodded at the younger ninja, who walked to the door and locked it. A quick silencing jutsu later, the two men seated themselves before the convalescent Hokage, regarding him intently without a word. Finally, Sarutobi broke the silence.
"I will not tell you how incredibly irresponsible it was for a promising young man like you to think of throwing your life away like that," he began, causing Arashi to wince again, "but I would like to know how you survived the /Shiki Fuujin/, and more importantly, what to make of the story Kakashi told me and the... being... we found on the battlefield under your arm when we found you unconscious."
Arashi blinked. "Being...?"
"Show him, Kakashi."
Without a word, the silver haired ninja got up, approached a nearby tent and pulled it, revealing a small bed for infants, with--
Arashi gurgled as he stared at the sleeping face of an almost exact replica of his son. His son, whose little, lifeless body he had held only one week before in that very same hospital.
His son... whose peaceful smile as he slept in the small bed next to him looked so much like Rin's... and whose skin, while human looking, still had a decidedly wooden-like appearance to it.
As he stared incredulously, the last, impossible scenes he'd seen as he sealed the Nine Tailed Demon Fox returned to his mind...
"/Your soul is not necessary, mortal,/" the Death God's voice boomed as he awaited his fate at the hands of the powerful entity. "/Another has already offered to pay the price for you. She bade me to tell you - never forget your promise!/"
Arashi's head shot up incredulously, and his eyes widened as he saw a shimmering figure coalesce before the Death God. Briefly, he was able to make out Rin's face, a sad smile directed at the puppet at his feet. Then, her eyes met him, and a silent request echoed in his mind.
"Remember... you promised."
Then, the Death God reached for the woman's soul. Arashi began to move, extending his hand with a scream. Before he made a single step, a blinding flash enveloped the area, sending a bolt of searing agony through him as the Death God's power filled the area and dropping him on his knees.
As he collapsed forward, he thought he'd seen a violent flash of green and red light wash over the puppet as it opened its mouth... and before he lost consciousness, a high-pitched wail penetrated the haze of his pain-wracked mind.
Then, all was darkness.
Arashi stared incredulously at the sleeping wooden child. It was as if his son and Rin had mixed in a single being. Had the Kyuubi's chakra reacted with Rin's leftover chakra in the puppet's body, his own and the Death God's seal? Realizing that Rin had given her own soul up to ensure he'd keep his promise, he felt sick in the stomach.
"This... isn't how it was supposed to go," he whispered as his vision began to be blurred by tears. "Rin, you idiot... why didn't you let me do it? Did you even have any idea what your fate was going to be...? And why all this... for a child of wood?"
For the first time in the last three years, Kazama Arashi, Yondaime Hokage of Konohagakure, let himself go and cried. For his lost wife, for his lost son, for his lost students.
And for the small creature, the unnatural life born from a mother's unnatural, grief-filled love, which peacefully slept next to him.
(A/N: Um. Wow.
I normally don't write pure angst like this, but this... just came over me in a single night of insomnia, and here's the result.
The next chapters will be more lighthearted, I hope... but hey, this first one was pure tragedy. :-/ Oh well.
R&R... I'm curious to hear what you think of this. GH out!)
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