In a way he was many centuries old.
In another way, a little over twenty minutes.
He watched the village sprawl out under him, that village he hated for trapping him, two times in a row, for producing Madara who had manipulated him, Minato who had recaptured him after he had only just been freed and then torn him in two, for daring not to let itself be destroyed when he had decided it shall be.
That village he... (loved) wanted.
It had to recognize him, he would not allow otherwise. And he would not allow the others -- his littermates, his other selves -- to stop him, or manipulate him to their own ends; he was sick and tired of that, not even from them.
But he was starting to think that... truly, the thought of someone else destroying it pissed him off.
It was his to destroy or not -- at his whim, not anyone else's. It was his... his to own.
Fuck Danzou anyway. The old bitch Tsunade was tolerable, because he couldn't be bothered with the little details of daily life, so using an administrator was fine, and she loved Naruto like her own and would cede her place when the time came because she knew who the village truly belonged to. Danzou wanted to own the village and be its absolute master, and there wasn't enough space in this country for the both of them. On this continent, even.
He dug his claws into the rock he was sitting on. The Fourth's head. Take that, bitch, I'm scratching you.
He better not get any hard proof that the man had planned this whole mess from the start, or he'd... hn. There wasn't a lot he could still do by now. Perhaps obliterate his too-cool face from the mountain, but that was about it, and he had the annoying feeling the man wouldn't have cared.
He frowned. Who the hell dared?
A girl, a human female, with brown hair in silly-looking buns. Naruto's age, or thereabout. He couldn't find her in his vague memories of the important ones, if any human could be called so. He let out a low growl.
She arched an eyebrow. "Something in your throat?" she asked, friendly as you please, and started juggling absently with a razor-sharp kunai. Flick it went, cutting the air, and twirling down.
He had the strange thought that she manipulated it less like a potentially dangerous tool and more like a detachable claw.
"What do you want?"
"Just saying hello. It's rare to find other people up here."
She shrugged, took a few steps closer to the edge, though not any closer to him, not watching him anymore. The kunai kept twirling, up and down and spinning on itself all the while. He kept his grumbling that if he threw her overboard there would be one less person under his breath.
If the town was his to do whatever he wanted it to, then its inhabitants were his too.
He would get rid of the useless ones, and the ones who got on his nerves, but this one with her metal claw, perhaps he would allow her another chance to prove herself. So long as she didn't annoy him beyond recognition.
For a half-hour he sat in silence, ignoring her. She didn't talk. Good. He returned to his thoughts.
He was different now. He had been made different. That he had been manipulated into a mold irritated him, made him want to lash out.
He thought it was likely the end result hadn't been part of any plan, and that soothed his pride.
He wouldn't have wanted to go back to the way he was, anyway. This way felt natural already, and besides he was free, and if he had to go human and tailless until he found a way to go back to foxhood, that was better than being a fox in a cage that didn't even exist in the real world and where not even the rats visited him.
He got up, stared down at the village.
His village now. Yes. That was decided.
He glanced back at the girl, sitting on a rock, legs crossed, eyes heavy-lidded in deep thought, perhaps meditation.
She shrugged, a crooked half-smile on her lips. "What can I say, I like the view."
He snorted, walked past her across the Fourth's head, toward the cliff.
"And while we're onto that topic... Mind if I ask why you're naked?"