Naruto Chapter 696 – 697 Breakdown: Heart to heart, fist to fist.
Hey guys. I decided to do something different for this double breakdown. So, instead of writing the normal banter I’m sure you’re all used to by now, I decided to write a short story based on Naruto’s perspective, as a hypothetical look as to what might have been going through his mind as he clashed with Sasuke.
I hope you all enjoy it. ^ ^
From Naruto’s POV:
At first, that was all I could see. It was a blinding light, purer and whiter than any other that had ever met my eyes, though strangely, despite its radiance, it lacked any sense of comfort or warmth. I gazed into it, trying to search for him, but the attempt was as folly as looking into the very sun itself, and only served to bring pain-filled tears to my eyes.
I squeezed my eyes shut, blinking the tears away, feeling the gentle tingle of their warmth as they streamed down my cheeks, a sensation that contrasted starkly with the coldness that seemed to emanate about me. Part of me wondered if it was only the light that brought those tears, or if it was something else entirely.
It was only in that moment, enraptured by my own wandering thoughts, that I noticed the absolute silence that had enveloped me. It was as if the entire world and everything in it had suddenly fallen away, leaving only the sound of my beating heart as any proof of my existence as it raced frantically in my exhausted, anxious state.
I felt… alone… and at the mercy of such a hopelessly familiar sensation, the tears stinging at my eyes threatened to fall once more.
“Quit being so loud, would you?”
My thoughts were jarred by the sudden interruption and I opened my eyes, noting curiously how the once blinding light that had met my gaze before had now become a soft, gentle hue. I blinked away the water that clouded my vision and there in front of me, looking as despondent as ever, was none other than my life long friend and rival, Sasuke.
“We’re no longer kids,” Sasuke spoke again, breaking the silence once more. “I… understand what you’re doing and you understand me too, don’t you… Naruto…”
I knew it was more of a statement than a question, and yet in my mind, I couldn’t help but question it myself. Did we really understand each other? If two people truly understood each other, then surely there would be no reason for them to fight. If they understood each other, then…
‘No…” I thought to myself. “It’s because we understand each other that we have no other choice but to fight.’
In my heart I knew it was true, that our battle was inevitable, but part of me still hated being trapped by that inescapable reality. And so I questioned it and I questioned Sasuke. I questioned our need to fight and the purpose of his goals, but the more we talked and the more he answered me, the more it reaffirmed the cold, bitter reality that my heart had already long since foretold.
“Then are you planning to stay in that hell, all alone for the rest of eternity, being hated by all?” I finally asked, as if grasping at one last, tattered thread of hope.
Sasuke’s answer was absolute. “Well, that’s what being Hokage means to me.”
With only those words left ringing in my ears, the white light that had enveloped us was suddenly swept away. In its place, a vivid stream of colours flooded my vision, accompanied by a fierce buzzing sensation as the jutsu Sasuke and I had clashed with only moments prior dissipated in a final, brilliant explosion, pushing the two of us far apart.
For a moment, I was overwhelmed by the torrent of sensations that enveloped me, and by the thoughts of Sasuke’s last words to me as they raced through my mind. I shook my head vigorously in an effort to bring myself back to my senses and after some struggle, I somehow managed to reign in my anxiousness and lose myself to the nurturing embrace of the elements that surrounded me.
The soft, gentle caress of the wind was a welcome reprieve as it brushed over me, tickling the bare skin on my arms, face and chest, and the warm rays of the sun soaked into every fiber of my being, as if reinvigorating my senses. Slowly, my nerves began to calm and my mind became clear again. I took in a deep breath, savoring the sweet smell of the air and relishing in that final moment of calm that I had been afforded.
I knew it was not fated to last.
I felt a pang of pain in my chest as I watched Sasuke draw the last remnants of energy from the trapped Bijuu that I had long since come to call friends, knowing that to him, they were nothing more than tools to achieve his ambitions. Still, I knew I couldn’t afford to hold back, and so I formed a familiar hand sign and summoned clones in the hopes of tipping the odds in my favor.
“That Jutsu is nothing more than a sign of just how lonely you are!” I heard Sasuke shout, his face distorted in an arrogant sneer.
His words were like a knife cutting deep into my chest, and yet despite it, I could find no argument to counter them. I truly did feel alone at that point, and as much as I was struggling against Sasuke in a clash of both strength and will, I also felt like I was in a battle with my very own self. The emotions I was trying to desperately keep at bay began to overwhelm me once more, and it was all I could do to simply keep fighting on.
It wasn’t long before the two of us clashed once again. Sasuke was relentless in his assault and spared none of the power he had afforded himself. It almost seemed as though he had fallen into a state of desperation in trying to kill me, as if he were rushing against his own resolve with the fear that somehow, if given long enough, it might act to betray him.
From that moment onwards, everything was a blur. I can’t remember how long we fought or how many jutsu we hurled at each other, but to me, it felt like an eternity. Still, even as strong as we were, with the avatars of our power showing in the forms of Susanoo and Kurama, neither of us were capable of maintaining our momentum indefinitely, and after one final, violent clash, we were both brought out of our sovereignty in the heavens, down to the gritty, hard earth below.
It was as if we had fallen into hell itself…
I felt my body crash against the rocky dirt with a resounding thud. The air was knocked violently out of my lungs and I felt as if I was choking as I desperately heaved in an attempt to alleviate my burning chest. Every bone in my body ached from the force of the impact and for a time, I even pondered on the idea that many of them might have broken.
The faint sound of soil shifting nearby reminded me that I did not have the luxury of wasting my time on such thoughts, and so with an agonized grunt, I shuffled up into a kneeling position – being too tired and sore to even stand – and looked over the dust filled clearing before me.
“Dammit, you’re still alive,” I heard Sasuke huff, as my eyes met his.
He didn’t sound happy that I had survived the fall, and yet strangely enough, I found myself overwhelmed with relief that he was still alive. However, I wasn’t completely dismayed by the fact that he did not look much better off than I felt. At the very least, it meant that I still had a chance to beat him.
It was clear, however, that as much as I was desperately trying to save Sasuke from his own darkness, he was just as dedicated about killing me. The dark, suppressing flames of Amatarasu were more than enough to eradicate any thoughts I might have had to the contrary, as they threatened to engulf me whole. I was lucky that Kurama’s cloak was enough to ward of the attack, but I’d soon learn that hope was a fickle existence, one that could be snuffed out with as little as a single breath.
We were both spent, and any attempt to use jutsu from then onward proved to be futile, with both of us lacking the energy to carry it through. Still, neither of us was willing to give in, and so our battle that was once marked by the thunderous sounds of clashing jutsu, gloriously lighting up the sunlit sky, quickly devolved into a clash of fists, muddied by the soil of the earth and stained with the blood of our flesh.
I lost count of how many times I got hit, or how many times I hit Sasuke. All I know is that with every exchange, I grew that much more numb and exhausted. Each blow I received was accompanied by a painful crunch or a gut-wrenching splat, as bones broke and blood vessels ruptured. My vision became strained as my eyes began to swell and I could feel the dull ache of bruises beginning to form all along my arms and chest, which had since lost the protection of my jacket. Despite that, I carried on swinging hopelessly, investing every last bit of will and strength I had left into my fists, even as the bones in my knuckles began to shatter from the punishment they endured. Even then, those last vestiges of resolve were too eventually spent.
It was already nightfall by the time we had exhausted ourselves completely. The full moon, which had once been an ominous sign of doom the night before, was now simply a tranquil observer to our silent suffering, passing through the sky and sharing its gentle light as it reflected in the shimmering water beneath us. Sasuke and I were both kneeling in a small stream, the last, insignificant remnant from the once mighty river that marked the Valley of the End. We both leaned on each other for support as we heaved in short, sputtered breaths. My fist was connected to his forehead and his to my stomach, neither of us having the energy to move and yet both hoping that our last, pathetic blows might somehow leave their marks.
I could feel the cold night wind gently caressing against my back through the fishnet shirt that I wore, causing my skin to curl and my hairs to stand on end. Part of me welcomed the soothing relief it brought to my burning cuts and aching bruises, and yet it could do nothing to alleviate my overwhelming fatigue. I was so utterly spent that I didn’t even have the energy to shout out in anger, yell in frustration, or to even cry in sorrow.
‘Is this it?’ I thought bitterly to myself. ‘Is this all I have left? Nothing…’
But there was still hope. I could feel it. Kurama had been waiting patiently, and despite my suffering, my actions were not without some measure of purpose. Each moment I held Sasuke at bay, was another precious second afforded for Kurama to restore his own chakra. I could feel its warmth welling up in the pit of my navel, spreading throughout my body, slowly revitalizing me. I knew that with it, I could finally put an end to this battle once and for, and to all the battles that might have followed.
“Just hang in there!” The great fox growled, as if to reaffirm my thoughts. “Just a little bit longer and I’ll be done preparing my chakra!”
I readied myself, using every last bit of will I had to get my arms and legs to move in preparation for the final attack. I felt a sense of warmth fill up in my heart, knowing that this was the chance that I had been waiting for, that I’d finally be able to bring Sasuke back, but just when I thought that everything would finally be resolved, a horrible, sickening sensation overcame me. It started at the pit of my stomach, but soon my entire body was overcome by it. I could feel Sasuke draining my chakra from the place where his fist had connected with my body and with it, any last vestige of strength I had remaining left me altogether.
After relieving me of my power, Sasuke then stood, pulling his hand from me and leaving me to fall into the cold water below. Without any support left to hold me up, it was all I could do to simply raise my head to meet his gaze, only to see him staring coldly back at me in my pitiful state. It wasn’t long before the signs of my impending doom made themselves known, with the telltale hiss and crackle of lighting emanating throughout the air and echoing off the nearby cliffs. Looking over to his left hand, I could see Sasuke preparing his Chidori to strike me down and in that instance, my heart sank heavily.
I guess the only birthday present I was getting today, was another chidori to my heart…
Hope… it is a fickle existence indeed. In just a moment, its bright light can be taken away from us, leaving us trapped in an inescapable despair. Yet, even in the face of certain doom, I could still feel something gnawing at my aching heart. It was an uncertain feeling… and yet… somehow…
Perhaps hope was not dead just yet… or perhaps…
“Farewell… my one and only… friend!”
Well guys, that’s the end of my story breakdown! I hope you guys liked this fresh take on a breakdown, even though I picked a strange time to try it, being three chapters from the end of the series and all.
Here is the winner of last week’s Bubbliton Contest!
Well done Gavin, that was a stroke of pure genius. You have won what may very well be one of the last Naruto Bubbliton Contests we’ll ever have.
Given the gritty nature of the previous chapters, I decided not to include a Bubbliton Contest this week. But I will include one next time to give the rest of you a last shot at it, before the series comes to an end.
See you all in the comments! ^ ^