Fixing the cracks in the future, starting with the problems in the past - Chapter 1 - Justignoreme21 (2024)

Chapter Text

There is a certain sense of familiarity humming lowly in his veins as he gazes at the skyline of the land of fire, despite the fact that it looked nothing at all like the country he was born and raised in.

Having trained with a sannin, all of which had been prone to wandering around instead of staying in the village, Jiraiya especially so, Naruto had been bound to experience more corners of the world than perhaps some of his peers. Given the fact that Jiraiya was a bit of a hedonist however and preferred the pleasures of the flesh more than staying in rainy forests, they never really explored woodlands or mountainsides. They´d slept in inns, wandered through the larger and more technologically advanced villages.

So seeing nature in full bloom, in a way he never really has before, was beautiful.

Naruto was seated at the edge of the cliff-side, which would soon display the faces of the shinobi and kunoichi given the duty of protecting and caring for the village. From his vantage point, Naruto had a clear way onto the forest below, where there was no city yet. No apartments scattered across the edges of the would-be villages, no Hokage tower stretching proudly into the sky.

Instead, where the tower once was, or rather where it would soon be, there stood a magnificent willow tree, with a bark as wide as half a dozen of himself. Its branching were swaying peacefully in the winds, leaves dancing without a single worry in the world.

He let his gaze sway to the side, to where once the arena had been in which they held their chuninn exams. Trees upon trees filled his vision, fitting for the Village Hidden in the Leaves. Occasionally he´s spot a meadow peeking out from between the wooden barks, letting flashes of color seep into his field of vision.

Basking in the rare sense of tranquility he was feeling as he sat on the stones, letting his legs carelessly dangle from the edge, Naruto thinks he could understand why Hashirama and Madara chose this place for a village. Of course, there was a tactical advantage to be had, since any shinobi that did not grow up in these hands would have trouble tracking any enemy through the trees a Konoha shinobi would, too unused to the many trees obscuring their field of vision and the nature practically soaked in chakra messing with their senses. But he doesn´t truly believe that the tactical placement was the entire reason for this choice.

The sense of peace that is inherent to the landscape, even in a time of war and bloodshed, is one that Naruto would always hold dear to heart. These forests are Home. They´re familiar and, most importantly, kind to its inhabitants. They´re a safe haven, always have been, for a Konoha shinobi.

It would make sense that this place made the perfect spot for a village meant to nurture and protect, meant to bring about peace and set an end to war.

A gust of humid air blew into Naruto´s face, making the strands of his hair playfully flutter behind him. He smiled a tired smile, leaning back to support his weight on his arms. Fatigue has settled in his bones in a way more obvious to him now than ever before. There are deep, dark circles beneath his eyes, soreness clinging to his aching and overexerted muscles, blonde strands of tangled hair falling messily into his face and scars of varying stages of healing scattered all over his skin.

Four days. He´d been here for four days, back in a time-period that wasn´t in own, back in the time where it all began, after having left behind how own future. Two of those days Naruto hadn´t even been capable of moving a single muscle. While he was used to jumping through space, courtesy of his father´s hiraishin technique, jumping through space and time, particularly over a distance as large as this one, was draining in a way nothing else could probably ever be. Not to mention he had already been lower on chakra, by his own standards, than he would have liked even before the jump, so the bone-deep exhaustion, while not a surprise, was incredibly unpleasant.

Worst of all, it wasn´t just his own reserves that had been drained to this degree.

Kurama´s presence was nothing more than a mere tingle in the back of his mind. His chakra paths were robbed of all the warmth that usually cursed through them and what little was left stayed simmering beneath the seal on his abdomen. Like the remaining flickering light clinging to burned pieces of coal, trying it´s best to stay alive after the fire has already been extinguished.

The fox´s usually powerful pulses of chakra have been reduced to nothing more than occasional prickling sensations. Any attempts of communication on Naruto´s side had been left unanswered. Having been robbed of almost all his chakra, especially as a being made purely of it, is a dangerous ordeal. Naruto´s efforts to contact him subsided and he left him to rest and gather back his strength.

Which, unfortunately, left him to deal with this mess alone.

But Naruto had time.

If Tobirama´s and Hashirama´s accounts of this time period could be trusted, and Naruto never doubted that they could be, then he should have about a year before history repeats itself. He had a year to save Izuna from being pierced by Tobirama´s sword. A year to stop Madara´s descend into madness and his activation of the mangekyou sharingan. A year before all the pieces for Zetu´s plan finally click together and his evil wiles come into fruition.

All those things wouldn´t happen this time around, if Naruto had any say in the matter. And he did, he reminded himself, feeling the many little chakra signatures dancing around in the edge of his consciousness. After all, he´d made a promise, and Uzumaki Naruto is nothing if not a man that stays true to his word.

Hashirama would know, Naruto muses as his senses sharpen and focus in on the warmest, most potent chakra signature on his radar, seeing as he´d entrusted Naruto to save the future of the world and keep his promise.

“Madara was not inherently a bad person. He was simply plagued by the grief of losing his last brother, that is all there is to it. When we had been children, his dream had been just as innocuous as mine. Creating a peace in which our brothers and all the children after us could grow up in.

Yet it took me some time to realize that while my dream encompassed everyone, Madara´s peace was for his remaining brother. With Izuna killed, Madara´s only ever reason to work towards peace was gone. Any lesser man would have abandoned that dream and set out to wallow in hatred, and yet Madara didn´t. He stayed, despite his loss, and helped build the Village of Konohagakure at my side.

Well, he tried, but time and grief turned my friend into a jaded man. There is only so much loss a person can take before their world is swallowed by darkness. And with this Zestu creature actively targeting and manipulating him for so long… I´m surprised he held out as long as he did. Well, then again, Madara is stubborn and thick-headed to a fault. It was always something I admired him for.

So while I can understand why Madara did what he did, and while I still consider him my friend, because of all the things that have unfolded I cannot forgive him.

I ask of you, Naruto, to please stop him from becoming a shadow of what he was. I failed to see his suffering during my time, too caught up with the happiness of finally having achieved what I had been yearning for my entire life. I had been blinded by what we gained, only to find that I missed what I lost.

Perhaps it is selfish, but I want to ask you to save him. Peace was a path that I wanted to walk with Madara by my side, for it had been a dream we shared together since childhood. And out of all people who I have admitted this to, I believe that you understand best. I can see myself and him in you and your friend.”

The brief flashback is interrupted by the current Hashirama´s chakra flaring up in indignation, which causes a surprised chuckle to slip out of Naruto´s mouth.

The fist Hokage had certainly had a way with words, no one can deny that. He was a born leader, a shinobi with a dangerous amount of charisma who had managed what no one before him had – to unite war torn clans into one. Naturally, Naruto held Hashirama in high regard. In the end though, as much as those words might have moved Naruto and pulled at his heartstring, those weren´t what finally convinced Naruto to leave it all behind.

No, Naruto thinks to himself, letting his awareness wander from Hashirama´s flickering chakra to another, almost just as strong chakra signature on the other end. A signature much kinder than it was during the time Naruto had known him personally, not yet corrupted by darkness and hatred. War-hardened, certainly, but not jaded. Madara´s chakra is a steady flow of heat, sharper than Hashirama´s but matching in warmth. Whether they realize it or not, but clan heads´s chakra pulses in synchronization.

He lets his eyes fall closed, imagining someone else´s chakra in Madara´s stead, a certain raven-haired shinobi that had meant the world to him, with eyes red as blood.

No, he thinks again, this time more resolute, the true reason why he left was because there had been nothing to leave behind after all. The moment sharingan-red eyes fell closed and the ever-steady presence of his other half had faded out of existence, vanishing with nothing more than a pained, weak exhale, Naruto knew that there was nothing binding him to the future.

The moment Naruto´s soul was cut in half was the moment he not only understood, but also resigned himself to his fate. Resigned himself to what he knew he had to do, even when in pain and lonely.

And he knew they knew the moment it had happened.

With Sasuke dead, the only people Naruto had kept by his side were the edo-Hashirama and edo-Tobirama, who stuck by him as he tried to battle Kaguya all by himself. After all, what else was he to do when no one else was left?

Surprisingly, it had been Tobirama who pulled him aside and put a cold hand on his shoulder. The lack of warmth seeping through his clothes would have been unnerving, had it not been for a fact that Naruto recognized it as the gesture of comfort it was meant to be. The look in his eyes had been grave and the silence between them had said the words Naruto would have rather left unspoken. After all, while Time Travel had always been an idea, an epiphany born of madness and desperation, none of the people who knew of its possibilities necessarily wanted to make use of it.

And yet…

“Peace was never impossible. It took me a while time to realize that.

While my elder brother and Madara could see what a peaceful future would look like, I couldn´t. I was born and raised in war. I was not narrow minded, not at all, but I failed to see where two clans like the Uchiha and the Senju, who clashed as often as they did with so many losses on each side, could ever live together in peace.

Specifically with the Uchiha, I found myself wary. Contrary to what they thought of me, I was not a monster who wanted each and every one of them dead. I am a shinobi, not a killing machine. But the Uchiha, out of all the clans I have faced in battle, were the biggest threat to my clan, and therefore it was my responsibility to make sure there would be no harm coming to my clansmen, even if that meant cutting the threat down with no hesitation.

I always believed them to be honourable and with a strong sense of justice, which is why I assigned most of them to the police force during my reign as the second Hokage. Hikaku, a cousin of the Uchiha brother´s and the person who acted as the clan head after Madara deserted the village, since neither Madara nor Izuna had heirs, was the one to confirm this decision.

I took on an Uchiha child, Kagami, as my student. He was talented and a genius when it came to fuuinjutsu, which was my forte. He was a bright soul with good intentions, and I never regretted giving my life for him and the other students during the second war.

If we could have come to an agreement sooner, if I would have never wounded Izuna fatally during our last battle, perhaps Madara would have never turned on Konoha. So while I am aware that I am not the sole reason for the resurrection of Kaguya, I am not blameless in this and I do not count myself as such.

As selfish as it might be, I ask of you, for the sake of the village, for the sake of my brother´s happiness, for the sake of the children that suffered and lost their lives in the process, put an end to this war before it even began. Dreamers, like you, my elder brother and Madara, are the only ones able to inspire this kind of massive change.”

They both knew that Tobirama wouldn´t have resorted to opening himself up and to being vulnerable, had the times not been dire. Naruto saw the sadness in the Senju´s, the kind reserved for when shinobi look at their fellow comrades, knowing they were not very likely to come back, and knew with certainty that it was finally time.

So he had promised Tobirama too. Both Senju brothers had but their fate in his hands and had trusted him to fix things when they themselves couldn´t. And if the pride in the first Hokage´s eyes was anything to go by, then maybe they even trusted him more than they trusted himself.

To prepare him for his mission as best as possible, they had sat him down in a rare moment of temporary peace, in which Kaguya was off licking her wounds and recovering before launching yet another attack, and told him of their time. What manners were appropriate what clans were at odds with one another, which clans had an alliance and even of some key moments between the Senju and the Uchiha respectively, that shaped the way the founding of the village went.

As violent as the warring states time period seemed, Naruto was certain that nothing in the history of shinobi had ever been as violent as the Fourth Great Shinobi War and consequently the resurrection of Kaguya.

This time period did however come with its own problems. The kind Naruto would rather avoid because politics were always a rather unpleasant business, and unfortunately you cannot just punch certain politicians because of a pesky thing called “status” and “law”. Regardless of the fact that Naruto could talk anyone under the table rather easily if he wished to, that didn´t mean he liked to do it when it came to politics.

Moreover, Tobirama repeatedly tried to ingrain in him in the importance of understanding that he would be living in a time where peace had never been something that was known. Naruto himself had grown up in peace, in a village mostly held together by loyalty and a sense of unity. This time period however was a time where shinobi were divided into clans and compounds. There persisted a constant fight for land, treasures and resources. A time where not even giving your full name was a safe thing to do. Where in each corner, you had to be prepared to fight for your clan. Where a sacrifice on the battlefield was deemed noble and honourable. A time where there had been no time to grief, no matter for who. Where the life expectancy reached only up to forty. Where women mostly had the purpose of producing and caring for their children, only for those children to be sent out to fight at a horribly young age.

Naruto grimaced, and pushed a greasy lock of hair out of his face. No matter in what time and on what scale it raged in, war was always such a horrible thing.

But he takes a deep breath, notes the lack of blood in the air, the lack of corpses lying around on every patch of the earth and knows it will be different. He would make it different.

For the people of this time as much as for the people of his own time.

For his team that fought by his side, for his friends that gave their life for him in battle, for all the shinobi who had come together in an alliance to stop the world from being taken over. So that all of their efforts will not have been for nothing at all, So that he can take their wishes and let them live on, even at the cost of his own happiness and his sanity.

Because no matter how exhausted Naruto was, how much more he would soon be, he was still Naruto. Never will he ever go back on his word.

Because that was his ninja way.

Fixing the cracks in the future, starting with the problems in the past - Chapter 1 - Justignoreme21 (2024)

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