Chapter 28: Denial

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"Then I guess. . ." Nagato took a deep breath as his body shuddered, death nearing the gates for the older Uzumaki. "I will put my hope into you, Naruto Uzumaki."

Naruto looked at the broken man in front of him, the head of his main Path that made up the body of his deceased friend, Yahiko, in his hand. "I didn't want to fight." Naruto said to the red-haired man in front of him, his Rinnegan was dim and devoid of light. 

"You killed my only friend left in this wretched world. You massacred my village in mere seconds. You killed women and children too." Nagato said as he met his fellow Uzumaki's impassive gaze. "Who are you?"

"I'm Naruto Uzumaki," Naruto responded. "I'm from a different future from this one. One where you killed  Kakashi-sensei," He took a step forward. "One where you flattened my village with a single Almighty Push." Another one. "One where you killed Jiraiya-sensei." Nagato could hear the restrained anger in Naruto's tone. 

"I'm not sure how that's possible," Nagato spoke hoarsely. "But it seems you've had your revenge. You also ended the Hidden Rain's cycle of hatred by killing us all." Naruto nodded.

"I'm not the naive boy I used to be," Naruto replied as he walked forward, dropping Yahiko's head to the ground as it barely bounced and simply rolled over, his eyes burnt out and facing Nagato. "I'm willing to make the decisions I need to in order to create peace." 

"Heh," Nagato chuckled out before wincing in pain. "Y-You sound exactly like I do. Tell me, what happened to me in your old reality?" Naruto frowned.

"I convinced you to go with a different way for peace. Then, you revived everyone in the village except for Jiraiya and died." Nagato's eyes widened.

"I see. You must have been quite the speaker to have convinced me to change my ways and give up my life to return the ones that I stole. Tell me, Naruto Uzumaki, why didn't you try the same method?"

"I wish I could," Naruto responded honestly. "I really do. But time isn't on my side and I couldn't wait. I need the Rinnegan to prevent Madara from rising again." Nagato shook his head.

"You're too late, Madara has already risen." Naruto crouched down, getting eye level with the broken man. 

"How strong is he?" He spoke in barely a whisper, but his voice filled Nagato's ears as the man frowned in disdain. 

"He beat me in two seconds. His jutsu are incredible and he is the strongest man I know." Naruto cocked his head to the side.

"Stronger than me?" Nagato glared at Naruto.

"You took fifteen seconds." He sighed as he pulled his arms out of their holds. "And it seems, that I was never a god, just a disillusioned man who was bested by a child." He let out a mirthless laugh. "Naruto Uzumaki, you and I are exactly the same. We are willing to do anything in order to maintain peace and order. A part of me abhors your very existence but another is impressed that your will is so strong." 

"Going through hell and watching everyone you love die can turn even the softest of people into pure steel." Nagato nodded, agreeing with the statement. He looked up at the grey stone ceiling above him and sighed again.

"Hold on, Yahiko, Konan, I'll be returning to you soon." He looked back down at Naruto. "Just kill me already." 

"Any last words?" Naruto spoke as he brought out a kunai from his weapons pouch. Nagato let out a shaky breath.

"My only regret is that I couldn't shape the peace Yahiko had envisioned. But maybe it was never my path in the first place. Perhaps I was only a pawn in a larger game." He shook his head. "No matter, I'm ready to die by your hand, Naruto Uzumaki." 

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