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Zenith

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Summary: As if in answer to Kushina's prayer, the sky splits open and rains stars. From amongst the falling stars comes a small, blonde woman, carrying an enormous hammer.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Anime > NarutoCrunchysunrisesFR1325,42013505,92620 Apr 1321 Apr 13Yes

Chapter One

Content Notes: None

Disclaimer: I have no rights to or within the Naruto or Buffy the Vampire Slayer franchises, copyrights, characters or trademarks. This is for fun, not profit.

Additional Notes: This fic was written to answer Illustrationelle_blessing's prompt: Buffy sacrifices herself by jumping into the portal at the end of season five. Instead of ending up in a hell dimension, she wakes up in a world where there's hidden villages, ninja and a different kind of magic (re: bloodline limit techniques, chakra, etc.) ... How she integrates, meets either/or/both Kakashi/Itachi is up to you. (And a nifty quote for kicks. "I tried to kill a werewolf. I failed. Now I feel like I'm not living up to the best version of myself." ~ Damon Salvatore, The Vampire Diaries) It also fills the "explosion" square on my Hurt/Comfort Bingo card, the "worship" square on my Kink Bingo card, and the "Meteor Shower/Shooting Stars" square on my Cotton Candy Bingo card.



The night is on fire.

The kyuubi is rampaging at the northern edge of the village, shinobi and structures alike burned to black ash in its wake. Minato is inking seals onto Naruto's stomach while Kushina holds the kyuubi at bay, choking out blood and prayers with every breath she exhales. She hates Minato's plan, disapproves of it, but Kushina's body is too damaged to allow Minato to reseal the kyuubi into her before her death.

And Kushina is dying.

In a few seconds, Minato will complete his seal and die with her, leaving their newborn son an orphaned jinchuriki. As he works, Minato prays for Naruto's forgiveness.

The kyuubi gives a particularly vicious yank against Kushina's chains and she screams, staggers, and falls to her knees. Kushina has time for an apology and a prayer before she collapses, her sealing chains fading out of existence.

And then, as if in answer to Kushina's pleas, the sky splits open.

The sky brightens as if the sun has risen even though it is hours until dawn. A star, pale and distant and green, splits open, giving birth to a cascade of shooting stars. They fall to the ground, sizzling out into bright motes of nothingness before they hit anything. The sight is so strange, so incongruous, that Minato stops writing seals on Naruto's stomach and looks up. The kyuubi stops rampaging and looks up.

Against a bright blue sky tinted with green and awash in dying stars, Minato sees a dark figure, falling from the heavens. It looks like a crow, ungainly, awkward, and all too solid against all of that ethereal light. To Minato, the sky looks better for that one, small blot of imperfection.

The figure lands in a neat crouch near Kushina then rolls forward, toward the kyuubi, and finally stands, propping an enormous hammer over one of her shoulders. In her wake, the sky winks out as if the whole astronomical event had been a light to guide her to them. In her wake, it was extinguished.

The night is dark again, only broken in places by the full moon overhead and the kyuubi's many fires.

Minato closes his eyes and opens them, blinking hard to get rid of the afterimages. Ambient light that had seemed bright enough to fight by no longer seems adequate. While his eyes adjust, the woman says something. Her language is odd and filled with too many consonants. Minato, whose eyes are only beginning to adjust to the dramatic change in light, recognizes in her tone both a question and a challenge. Her bloodlust, which is as terrible as the kyuubi's own, buffets them - Minato, Kushina, Naruto, and the nearest shinobi forces. In Minato's arms, Naruto stirs and begins to wail.

"I did," rumbles the kyuubi. Minato is relieved to at least understand him. "What're you going to do about it, Slayer?"

Minato's eyes adjust in time for him to catch a glimpse of the woman by the light of the moon and the flickering light of the fires surrounding them.

She is small, smaller than Kushina even, and blonde. Her clothes are dark, torn, and bloodied. There is a patch of something blue and shiny hardening in a clump of her hair. What Minato sees of the woman, however, is more afterimage than image because, while the air and ground are still rumbling with the echoes of the kyuubi's reply, she moves.

Quick as a flash, the woman brings her hammer off of her shoulder and around into a blow that slams into the kyuubi's muzzle, knocking him back. The kyuubi yelps and whines, falling onto its side from the sheer force of the blow.

The woman is already upon the fox, her enormous, bulky hammer flashing silver in the flicker lights of the fires, before the kyuubi has even finished rolling onto its stomach. The demon fends off her blows with its whipping tails as it staggers to his feet, all fire and fury.

When it growls and lunges at the woman, she nimbly darts out of the way of its flashing teeth, fiery paws, and flying tails. She taunts the kyuubi as she goes.

Minato, his wailing newborn son in his arms and his unconscious wife at his side, watches as the woman and the kyuubi wage an incongruous battle, both giving and taking ground by turns. The woman uses no ninja techniques but she is fast, faster than his eyes can track, maybe nearly as fast as his Flying Thunder God technique. She is also incredibly strong, strong enough to hit a nine-tails fox demon and make it hurt. And, although he cannot understand the content of her words, it is obvious that she is taunting the kyuubi, mocking it for its losses.

When the kyuubi throws back its head and begins amassing its chakra into a demon ball that will surely, surely dissolve the woman, himself, Kushina, and Naruto, and leveled the remnants of the village, the woman darts in to slam her hammer against the fox's forelegs, one after the other, and Minato hears the crack of bones being forcefully shattered.

The kyuubi yowls, its chakra dissipating, and falls forward. It lands on its chest, narrowly missing the woman who had moved only enough to avoid being crushed but no more. From her vantage point, she swings her hammer again and again, raining blows down on the kyuubi's shoulder, its ear, the angle of its jaw, and the side of its snout.

Yowling, the kyuubi frantically rolls away from its tormentor, who chases after it. By the time that the kyuubi regains its feet, one of its eyes has been swollen shut and several of its enormous teeth have been chipped. Demon's blood, which drips from the fox's mouth, sizzles as it hits the ground.

When the fox snarls at the woman, she snarls back and tries to whack it in the mouth with her hammer.

Twice more the kyuubi tries to use chakra attacks against the woman but she is too fast and too unrelentingly vicious to make the demon fox's efforts to amass and focus its chakra worthwhile. The demon is reduced to fighting on her level, its strength and speed matched against her own.

Their battle is like watching two demons fight. At some point, Kushina's cold hand finds its way into Minato's own. When he gives it a gentle squeeze, Kushina lightly squeezes back.

The woman single-handedly does what Konohagakure's might could not, hurting the fox and driving it back despite the frantic snap of its enormous jaws, the savage lashes of its nine tails, and the crushing blows from its massive paws. She avoids most of the fox's attacks, batting aside or staggering under those that she cannot avoid. Every time the fox successfully slams the woman into the ground, she rolls aside from a follow up blow or flips to her feet again before Minato can draw a breath or the fox can capitalize on its temporary superiority.

The kyuubi, however, is not dealing with its setbacks so stoically. It whimpers and limps and favors its injuries, its legendary healing factor unable to keep abreast of the woman's punishing brutality.

Between one breath and the next, the demon fox dissolves itself, turning into a river of fire that whips twice around the woman and then slams into Kushina, trying to find sanctuary in the body that it had so carelessly destroyed when it ripped its essence from hers earlier. Kushina drops Minato's hand as she arches and writhes, her hands clawing at the ground. Her mouth and eyes open wide, as wide as possible, and she screams as if she is being tortured.

Knowing that Kushina is being shredded from the inside out, that her body can no longer house the demon fox, Minato hastily works on his seals again, erasing the bits about sacrificing his life to the Shinigami with a spit-slicked finger and replacing them with the demon's willing confinement in the vessel, his son. Minato finishes modifying the seals just as the demon fox's essence whips out of Kushina.

As the demon's fiery essence whips around them, stirring Kushina and Naruto's hair and singing Minato's coat, a forearm is thrust between Naruto and Kushina. It bars the way between mother and son, its pale underside etched with seals that Minato recognizes as an open invitation to any disembodied demon spirit within the strength of its pull. Wearing such a seal, willingly or not, is like begging to be possessed.

With his eyes, Minato follows the length of the arm up to the girl's heaving shoulder and then to her face. Although her features are hidden from him by blood and shadows, the line of her jaw is set. While Minato had been finishing his seals on Naruto, the stranger had been etching her own seals onto herself with mud, mixed and churned by the blood and body of the combatants.

She was trying to take Naruto's place as the Nine-Tailed Fox's jinchuriki.

For a moment, the demon's essence hovers between his baby's stomach and the stranger's forearm, torn between the two offerings. It darts into the stranger's pale flesh and the woman shudders, her seals flaring fiery red. Minato has time to feel a tangled mix of alarm and relief at the demon fox's choice before the kyuubi's essence comes screaming out of the woman, looking smaller, duller, and more tattered than it had before.

The demon fox throws itself into Naruto's stomach, the seals on his infant son's stomach glowing fiery red as whisker marks carve themselves into the baby's cheeks. And then the seal winks out, fading into Naruto's skin as if it had never existed.

The woman's killer intent flares, the frustration in it tangible to Minato, who looks up from Naruto's face to see her staring at Naruto's stomach, looking grieved. In Minato's arms, Naruto begins to scream and wail again, upset by the woman's killer intent.

Rocking his son with one arm, Minato reaches out. He very carefully smears his thumb through the mud on the woman's arm, breaking the seal. Her skin is very soft under his calloused thumb.

Surprised, the woman jerks her attention from Naruto to him then to the location of his thumb. She grimaces at the remnants of the symbol, her killer intent dropping away as if it had never existed. When she shifts her arm out from under his thumb, Minato lets her go.

He watches as she casually wipes the rest of the seal off and grabs her hammer from where she had abandoned it by Kushina's side during her attempt to take Naruto's place as the kyuubi's jinchuriki - or her final attempt to murder the demon fox. Minato, who remembers how much less robust the demon fox had been after its very brief sojourn in her body, cannot help but suspect that she had been trying to do the second as much as the first.

When the woman moves to stand, Kushina grabs at the stranger's wrist. Kushina's movement is slow and fumbling and her grip is weak. The stranger could easily brush Kushina's hand off. Instead, she kneels there, in front of Kushina and Minato, and gives Kushina her full attention.

"Th-Thank... you..." Kushina rasps and Minato's heart squeezes at the reminder that his wife is slowly dying by degrees.

The blonde woman, although showing no understanding of Kushina's words, nevertheless smiles at Kushina and gently smoothes her free hand over Kushina's long, fiery hair.

With a twist of her wrist, she sheds Kushina's hand and threads her own wrist through the worn leather strap at the base of her hammer in the same movement. It hurts Minato's heart to see Kushina so weak and easily shrugged aside.

Before he can work himself around to feeling anger, the stranger begins the task of gathering Kushina into her arms. Kushina is bigger than the blonde, taller and possessing wider shoulders and more bulk, but the woman lifts Kushina as easily as Minato lifts Naruto, all the while speaking to Kushina in a gentle tone of voice that Minato suspects is meant to soothe Kushina.

It seems to work for Kushina tiredly leans her head against the stranger's shoulder. Kushina smiles at Minato and the now quieted Naruto. When Kushina lifts her arms towards Naruto, Minato obligingly gives their baby to his dying wife. He takes Kushina from the blonde.

The woman stands before him, suddenly awkward and defiant. Her hair is melted in some places and burnt down to the scalp in others. Her face's features are obscured by cuts, burns, and blood. He can tell from the shallowness of her breaths that something is wrong with her ribs and from her weight distribution that she is favoring one leg over the other... or, perhaps, saving her injured leg's strength for one last attack. Her clothes, already in poor condition, are even worse off now and stiffening with blood where they are not torn or melted, possibly to her skin.

She took damage from the kyuubi even as she dealt it, Minato thinks, noting the way that her shoulders are set and that she is holding her hammer's weight with casual ease, despite her injuries. She simply ignored it and kept going, something which the kyuubi was unable to do. She's used to fighting despite the pain of it, to fighting demons, perhaps. She's ready to fight me too, if she thinks it necessary.

Minato, despite his own sense of caution and the swelling sense of grief that he feels as he listens with half an ear to Kushina's whispered instructions to their son, tries to look unthreatening.

When he nods his head towards the blonde and then the remnants of Konohagakure, the woman looks around herself. From her expression, she had not noticed Konohagakure before.

She fought the kyuubi for the three of us, Minato realizes, shocked. Beneath that emotion lurk others, ones that he cannot yet sort out or name, except that he is awed by the strength of Kushina's will to have pulled such a creature from the heavens in order to defeat the kyuubi.

The blonde woman looks at them, himself, Kushina, and Naruto, then around at the desolation surrounding them, and then up into Minato's face. She shrugs.

Minato is not certain what one is supposed to do with a heavenly warrior made flesh but, for this night's work alone, he will take very good care of her. He will carve out a place for her in Konohagakure and create a home for this creature, Kushina's last gift to him, to the village.

When Minato takes his first, cautious steps towards the village, the blonde follows him, step for step.
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