40 – Chapter Notes and Spoilers

Author Notes:

Hi guys! Sorry about the radio silence for so long. Life sort of stepped in the way of writing for a while. But it’s all good now, and I can get back to finishing these chapters! So no worries — not writer’s block, I’m giving up on the ship/series, and I’m not abandoning any of my stories. I’m in it for the long haul. Thanks so much for the kind notes and encouragement along the way. Readers checking in – it’s means a lot. It absolutely helped me stay connected to the story when I couldn’t write. Just knowing that a reader still cared, even a year on? Crazy awesome. I didn’t want to respond with empty promises about when and how I’d post again, so instead I just wrote. Little bits, here and there. I wrote and wrote. And eventually it was done. Thanks for hanging in there.

There are lots of chapter notes and spoilers at the website. Notes to myself so I don’t forget what I’ve put in there and why. So you’re welcome to look over my should and see where I’m going with all this. And check there for extras and early previews. And please read and review!

Chapter Notes:

My mixtape for this chapter: Hybrid: Disappear Here, Break My Soul, Last Man Standing, Hooligan Spirit.

So this chapter was meant to be painful, and it really was hard to write! Probably the hardest of all so far. There are some unanswered things at the end, questions about Katsuro’s situation that will be answered in the beginning of the next chapter. But this one is setting the stage for a very new, very different Naruto. This is Naruto of the Akatsuki.

It’s important that Naruto not be the same as he was before (in the manga) when he’s in Akatsuki. The Akatsuki are cold blooded killers, monsters and maniacs. Often when Naruto is shown going to the dark side he is either evil or a monster or both. And most often he’s the full-on hot-tempered, blood-thirsty demon. But in this chapter Naruto is shown more like Itachi — the cold-blooded killer. (Again, not the safe, big brotherly, mentoring Itachi from the end of the manga. This is the Itachi from the beginning, the one who mentally tortured Sasuke before snapping his arm.) So I’m exploring the idea of what if Naruto wasn’t like the kyuubi but was instead like an early-manga Itachi. What if instead of hot-tempered, Naruto was ice cold, methodical and brutal? To me, that is much scarier and much more powerful. So with that in mind, I am shaping a new Naruto. And Katsuro got the first taste of this.

As for Katsuro, in this chapter there are things happening right in front of Katsuro’s nose, but he can’t see it. Jealousy, anger and possessiveness have all blinded him. The answers are all around him. But he’s refuses to see them. Next chapter, he’ll see the whole picture.

Last bit: this chapter and the beginning of the next could practically be Part 1 and 2 because there are several themes that connect them both. But in terms of identity, and not being too confusing with the identities of Naruto and Katsuro, it’s best to end it here. But I’ve taken a lot of time to resolve this part of the storyline in the next chapter, so hopefully any lingering questions will be answered.

Future chapters: Without giving too much away, the next chapters are going to be more about how a traditional shinobi or ronin travelled to different lands. So I’m going to be exploring some of the lands in then Naruto-verse that are only mentioned in passing. I’m looking forward to writing about the surrounding world rather than having things set in a camp!! If you have suggestions of places (real or from the story), please let me know! Also, we will be seeing Sakura in Konoha too, and how she’s changing. (An area I want to go into, especially since the manga dropped the ball on her development and her choices.)

• From the moment they stepped back into the camp, Katsuro should have known things weren’t going to end well. — So an obvious spoiler for the end of the chapter! Plus, it’s a bit of foreshadowing for a phrase that becomes important. “This is ends here.”

• Itachi strode through first, cold and aloof, as usual. His soundless footfalls, the sure marks of his shinobi training, never strayed from their purpose. — This is important. It marks what is considered a shinobi. So I’m focusing on this in a few different places because it’s not about showing off your power that makes you powerful. It’s about how you hide it.

• The blond carried himself differently too, betraying a muscular build beneath his cloak. His shoulders were a bit sturdier, his hands just a fraction wider, and he didn’t bother to hide the soft pound of footsteps. That subtle display of strength was a marked change from Itachi, whose willowy form and fluid movements always masked the extent of his power. — So Naruto is the clone. He doesn’t bother to hide the sound of his footsteps. He is simply following Itachi. Literally walking in his footsteps. But he’s learning….

• Maybe it was the yellow hair and blue eyes that gave newcomer an air of vigor. Or maybe it was the sun-touched skin that made Itachi’s normally pale face look even more pallid. — A nod to Itachi’s illness in the manga. I’m not sure if I’m going to make that a part of this story. But I thought it added an interesting facet to the contrast between dark and light that exists between the Uchihas and Naruto.

• Katsuro walked back to the pot, smiling at their distraction as he helped himself to another bowl…all thanks to Naruto. — Food is important in this chapter, because it’s normalcy for Katsuro. But as soon as he’s pushed out of his comfort zone, food/regular meals are one of the first things to go. It’s a bit of a parallel from being a sheltered soldier to being someone of Itachi’s level who goes after bigger fish. Food then becomes a low priority. So Katsuro makes that choice as he moves through the chapter.

• Now this new guy comes, does nothing but walk through camp and throw a few punches, and they practically worship him?!? Katsuro huffed to himself and put the bowl down with a thud. — Classic Naruto jealousy.

• Katsuro shoved his hands in his pockets, relaxed his shoulders, angled his face up and muttered, “You lookin’ for me?” He chewed on his fingernail, waiting for an answer. — This is a very ‘Naruto’ response. So I’m trying to make Katsuro still look like the manga character of Naruto here. The image of him chewing his fingernail, that immature little nervous gesture, will come back again.

• The unfairness of it seared him. And this time he knew it was no campfire. Something was changing inside him. Deep and dangerous. Jealousy was taking hold… — Making a point to say jealousy here, so later he can understand Sasuke and how jealousy drives you to revenge. It’s deep and dangerous…but it’s not the kyuubi. It’s jealous, which can be just as bad. Also making the distinction here that it’s not the demon driving him, but his own rage.

• Katsuro felt like he could sink into the forest floor and no one would even notice. Katsuro realized he was so far behind. Even though he’d trained hard, this man showed him none of it mattered. He still had so far to go, so much more to learn and perfect. It made him feel sick. But he couldn’t look away. None of the men gathered there could. — Katsuro is mirroring Sasuke’s jealousy of Naruto (and of Itachi) in the manga.

• More than powerful…Naruto was skilled. Observant. Even calculating. His movements were as precise as a machine, his emotions as unruffled as Itachi. — Naruto is being described as the perfect shinobi, free of emotion. He is a body without a soul, a tool without a mind of its own.

• It was a plan within a plan. This was Itachi’s strategy. Naruto had executed it perfectly…and Katsuro had fallen for it. — This sentence could be about the whole chapter.

• Katsuro stared into the flames, growing colder and emptier than ever before. All that mattered was Naruto. He couldn’t shake it, no matter how hard he tried. It was as if unraveling Itachi’s plan had become his curse. — So specific language here. Katsuro is growing colder and emptier. Cold as in Naruto, and empty as in a vessel.

• Giving in to the blinding rage, Katsuro forgot about Itachi’s orders. Instead, he began plotting. He laid low and watched. Dark creases lined his eyes, but he no longer slept. A feral hunger roared in his ears, but he no longer ate. He stayed focused on his goal. — Katsuro is changing here, turning into a cold-hearted shinobi, who’s only focus is the goal, the ‘mission,’ at all costs. He foregoes eating, which is a sharp contrast to the beginning of the chapter.

• Suddenly Katsuro was standing in Itachi’s tent again. The door flapped in the breeze, ruffling his hair. Itachi was reaching for his scroll. Naruto still stared straight ahead, his back to Katsuro. — Katsuro’s wind thing at work again. It’s happening without him knowing it.

• He should have known. It was always leading to this. From the moment Naruto set foot in the camp, Katsuro had been slowly losing control. But that ended here. — The parallel lines from the end of the chapter.

• Katsuro laughed. “You’ll never get what you came here for. It’s mine.” Anger laced his every word. “All of it.” His mouth curled into a dark smile. He thought he could feel the demon’s blood course through his veins. “This ends here.” — Again, the line that is used against him.

• Katsuro smiled to himself, finding some measure of satisfaction in finally being acknowledged. — Of course, this is a spin on the manga. Naruto always wanted to be acknowledged. But there’s a down side to that too.

• This was what Katsuro had wanted, wasn’t it? To be acknowledged? But now, there was no escaping it. — In the manga, Naruto always wants to be acknowledge. But that’s really the opposite of being a shinobi. It only works because he’s so strong. But for every other ninja, being acknowledged or “noticed” by your opponent is a death sentence. So this is an imagined scenario of how every other normal shinobi must feel.

• This was the end. Naruto would finish him off, take his place, take everything that was his and erase him completely. — So from the beginning, Katsuro says it’s not going to end well. And it isn’t. At least, not yet. So this is a tie in to that line. But this specifically is a line that changes depending on the POV of the speaker. Right now, Katsuro believes this is going to happen to him. And he’s not wrong, it is. But he has more development to go, and in the next chapter he might come to see this as a necessary thing.

• Somewhere deep, deeper than the ruins of the demon’s cell, in the pit of his stomach that was wholly himself, he found the will to continue on. Anger, deep and roiling, rekindled a small fire within him and gave him purpose. — So even in this moment, he realizes he is drawing on himself, his own power. This is true strength and resilience. He’ll remember this later.

• That dagger. That’s what started it all…. He’d die before he turned it over to Naruto…. — That dagger, this possession, controls Katsuro. He learn from this too.

• So he gave in. He screwed his eyes shut, took a breath, grit his teeth and let the pain take him. Break him. He would have his revenge. Even if it killed him. Because if this was it, if he was going to die here, then he wasn’t going to go alone. — Life lesson about giving in to revenge and how dangerous it it. How it can drive you to kill yourself. Or rather, not save yourself. How it consumes everything, until it consumes you. It never ends. This will return later when he sees Sasuke’s path. But this is his moment of being like Sasuke.

Spoiler notes:

• Katsuro and food — I’ve made several references to food in this chapter, how hungry Katsuro is, how he doesn’t get enough, and how it’s his number one thought most of the time. This is a contrast for in the future when he has to live the life of a true shinobi. Food isn’t readily available, and when it is, it may not be what he wants. He may not be able to focus on eating because he might be so hyper-focused on the mission, on living or dying. He might have to go days without eating, and when he does eat, it’s just enough to sustain him because he has to keep moving. So the idea here is that food — the cooking of it, the long time eating it, the seconds and thirds — this is all something that exists within a camp. Or a village. But not for someone who is a lone shinobi. So this will be a big change for Katsuro in the future.

• Naruto and waiting — there are a few times where Naruto the clone is shone to be waiting. Standing in Itachi’s tent, listening to orders, even when he’s fighting Katsuro in the end. He’s absorbing and listening. It’s a character trait that Naruto/Katsuro will deal with later on too. It shapes him now, the power of waiting (observing, listening and learning). Later on, he will have to find a balance between being an observant outsider and fighting for a cause you believe in.

• Naruto, waiting and how he fights — Katsuro always makes the first move. Naruto “waits.” But really, he’s not waiting, he’s learning. He’s absorbing. Then he filters through is new learned behaviors and turns them back out again, just in a perfect version. He learns Katsuro’s fighting technique and turns it back on Katsuro, in a flawless form. This is the pattern of the fight, that Katsuro is too angry to see.

• Katsuro’s pains — He is literally breaking apart. The facade of his body is too small. So the demon is trying to break out. Katusro doesn’t know this, so he’s fighting against the pain, trying to hold it together. Itachi knows, and is impressed the kid has held it in as long as he can. He was going to give him a reprieve and tell him to break the jutsu early, but instead he’s changed his mind and decided to test his skill, to see how long and far he could go with it.

• Naruto doesn’t use the demon’s power. Just technique. — Because the demon’s power isn’t available to him. So this is a clone of Naruto at his purest. Without the aid of the demon. This is what makes him the perfect vessel. He is a brilliant shinobi in his own right.

• Itachi is faintly pleased because he knows what’s in store for him. He’s testing Naruto to see how he’ll do, and he’s testing Katsuro to lure him in to a confrontation.

• Naruto employs the plan within the plan strategy. He knows this from his inherent gained knowledge from Katsuro, yet he’s also learning from Itachi. So to Katsuro it looks new, but really it was in him all along. Again, jealousy is controlling him, and making him not see.

• Itachi and Naruto were as a formidable as a battalion of soldiers. The other men were right: Naruto exuded power. It was a bitter truth that Katsuro couldn’t deny. Naruto looked more at home next to Itachi than he ever had. — So it’s important to show Naruto from the outside. For Katsuro to see him as this perfect soldier. As the worst possible version of himself, or perhaps as what Itachi has envisioned for him. That way, Katsuro can determine the type of person he wants to be. In the future, the idea of Naruto becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Katsuro can be that strong because he’s already seen himself do it.

• They approached without a sound, only their cloaks making a whisper of noise. Naruto was learning — he had adopted Itachi’s silent steps. Katsuro admitted he would have never known they were coming. — Key info here: Naruto is learning. Gives some idea to the fact that he is a clone and he is learning new info all the time.

• Katsuro was playing his part. He and Itachi both knew it. So when the amazed crowd swung their heads back to Itachi, Katsuro wasn’t surprised to see the hint of a smirk on his face for a split second. — Itachi too has a plan. So yes, he knows Katsuro is faking it, but there’s more going on underneath the surface with Itachi.

• In clockwork response to Itachi’s voice, Naruto came to life. He nodded, accepted the dagger, fastened it beneath his belt without a word, then returned to his soldiers stance, awaiting his next order. — Again, language that implies that Naruto is responding only to Itachi.

• There was a low gasp among the group of men. A wind gusted through camp. The fire jumped and sparked. Itachi turned to go, a secret smile curving his lips. Naruto followed suit. The two men left as quietly as they had come, their cloaks trailing noiselessly over the ground behind them. They never looked back. — Katsuro’s anger spilling over, causing his wind nature to arc out of control. Katsuro/Naruto does not yet know this about himself. But Itachi does. He is smiling because he knows he’s gotten what he wants…which is to make Katsuro mad. This is his real plan.

• That thought snowballed. Katsuro considered every aspect, ran through different scenarios and tried to think like Itachi, working it out from every angle. Only then did he start feel like he was in control again. — Katsuro is demonstrating the strategizing that Naruto will also exhibit. But in his veil of jealousy, Katsuro will not see that it’s a character trait they both share.

• He knew those moves too, of course, all shinobi did according to Itachi. But Naruto made it look effortless. And the longer Katsuro watched the more he found himself wondering if he should be training harder. Revisiting those old forms again and brushing up on his technique…. — Naruto is inspiring him to work harder, be more. This will be like Harry Potter and the Patronus. He does it because he knows he can, because he’s already seen it.

• Brow furrowed, Katsuro took it all in. He ran a hand through his mop of hair, leaving it even more unruly. He chewed his thumbnail to the quick. Then he shifted his attention to analyzing Naruto’s choices. — Katsuro analyzes like Itachi does, and in turn like Naruto does. He’s observing, but he immediately switches to analyzing, just as he’s seeing Naruto do it. Katsuro is looking into a mirror but he doesn’t realize it. His jealousy has deceived him.

• He knew those moves too, of course, all shinobi did according to Itachi. But Naruto made it look effortless. And the longer Katsuro watched the more he found himself wondering if he should be training harder. Revisiting those old forms again and brushing up on his technique…. — Later, seeing how powerful just those basic moves were, the real Naruto will begin to train and refine. So, already Katsuro is seeing that he should train harder. He’s getting a glimpse into what he could be like.

•  Naruto spars with Itachi — In the sparring scene, Katsuro is forming ideas about Naruto that he will use in the future to shape himself. Using his own skills, no special weapons or chakra. Just relying on his own ability. Being relentless in wearing down his opponent. Then, always having a surprise move. Using Itachi’s strategy of always having another secret plan — All of these were things he knew, just didn’t always utilize to their fullest, or hindered them by being hot-headed and emotional. Naruto the clone uses everything that’s in Katsuro’s toolbox, just to the best of his ability. In the scene, Naruto is cool and methodical, while Katsuro is basically freaking out. He’s chewing his nail, running his hand through the hair, and finally squatting down on the ground. So there is a huge contrast between the two of them.

• It was a plan within a plan. This was Itachi’s strategy. Naruto had executed it perfectly…and Katsuro had fallen for it. — This sentence could be about the whole chapter. It’s in the spar, and on the surface seems like it should be about Naruto and Itachi, but it’s really about Itachi and Katsuro. Itachi knows Katsuro is going to be jealous, so he’s using Naruto to push Katsuro over the edge.

• Naruto retrieved the folded Akatsuki cloak and slid it over his black fatigues. It fit perfectly, masking the outline of his lean form, but it didn’t hide his power. Katsuro thought the cloak actually made him look more intimidating. With those red and black clouds rippling around him, there was no doubt that Naruto was Itachi’s equal. — Katsuro sees Naruto as an outsider and equal of Itachi. This image will help Katsuro decide who he wants to be.

• Everyone took note when he passed. Some men bowed, some went as far as to offer a greeting. The newcomer never answered, but that didn’t matter. The men bowed anyway, out of respect, fear, or a mix of both. — Naruto never speaks. This is because the clone hasn’t learned it yet. So, it’s a small detail, but it’s there.

• Katsuro stared into the flames, growing colder and emptier than ever before. All that mattered was Naruto. He couldn’t shake it, no matter how hard he tried. It was as if unraveling Itachi’s plan had become his curse. — So specific language here. Katsuro is growing colder and emptier. Cold as in Naruto, and empty as in a vessel. He is slowly growing more like Naruto, the soulless killer. Itachi’s plan is consuming him, as Itachi hoped it would.

• Katsuro narrowed his eyes, examining all the possibilities. Naruto could be a figment of Itachi’s jutsu. Or he might be something else altogether. Something unimaginable…like a body, somehow brought back to life…. — It seems farfetched to Katsuro, but that’s exactly what Pain is. So he will meet up with ‘the unimaginable’ soon enough.

• Red firelight slashed his face. His hooded eyes were focused on the deepest part of the fire. Pain and jealousy crashed over him, warping him, turning him inside out. — Changing the imagery here, to heat, red, shady eyes and anger. So this is the demon trying to break out of it’s too tight shell.

• The blond walked directly to the tent where Katsuro waited, hidden between the multiple folds of the canvas door. When Naruto pulled the outer flap back and ducked under, Katsuro let the inner flap down, stopping him. Then, in that split-second moment, that pause of being caught between the two doors, Katsuro darted his hand through and slid the blade out, unfastening it as fluidly as if it were on his own belt. — Katsuro employs the same techniques as Naruto, using skill and smarts to outwit his opponent. Katsuro doesn’t realize that he’s doing the same things as Naruto.

• Only through his superior knowledge of both the blade and the tent door could he have pulled off this deception. Only he could have done it. He didn’t need blunt force like the soldiers or an elaborate display of chakra like Itachi or one of his Akatsuki shinobis. This was all him. — This little paragraph asserts that Katsuro is splitting his identity from Naruto the clone and Itachi’s level on shinobis. He feels a measure of success in doing things his own way. This is important, now and later. Now because he is splitting from the idea of Naruto being a version of himself, which makes it easier to fight him. And later, when Katsuro/Naruto has to decide what type of shinobi to be.

• “Immediately,” he added bravely, but his courage faltered. All new recruits were afraid of Itachi. “I’m sorry, t-that’s what he said, and…he sounded,” he glanced around before whispering the last word, “mad.” — Itachi’s not mad, not really. This is just all part of his act to push Katsuro over the edge.

• For the space of a breath, Katsuro puffed out his chest and squared his shoulders in his own version of Naruto’s stance. But he felt ridiculous. He immediately shoved his hands in his pockets, slouched his shoulders and looked away. — So Katsuro still looks like the kid, but more importantly, he still acts like a kid. He is nothing like the shinobi beside him embodied in Naruto. Itachi sees this and is pushing Katsuro to fight him.

• “Naruto,” Itachi said quietly. The blond looked up as if snapping out of a trance. “This is the one who took your weapon. He is your opponent now.” — Again, visual of Naruto only responding to Itachi. He is an empty soldier waiting on a command.

• More on the fight scene — When Naruto finally acknowledges Katsuro, finally turns and looks at him, this is to show just how scary Naruto can be, using no power at all. Just the suggestion of what he could do. Katsuro gets it first hand. In the future, he will remember these interactions with Naruto the clone, Itachi’s perfect soldier with no emotional ties, and it will help him chose how he wants to be. So on one hand, he is afraid of Naruto because he is still identifying himself as Katsuro. But in the future, he will no just how scary and powerful he can be as Naruto, because he’s already seen it.

• The wind whipped higher, as thick and red and choking hot as a desert sandstorm. It buffeted him, cracking his exposed skin until pieces began to peel back and rip off in the wind. — So in this scene the demon is starting to break through. This is happening in his mind, but it ties in to the manga where the demon break somewhat free and his skin starts to peel off. So it’s out of context here because he’s by himself, but it’s the same kind of horror and pain.

• Defiance coursed through Katsuro’s veins. Naruto was the reason for all of this. He was here to replace him. To erase him. But the pieces of his life, blurring around them in the clouds were his. And his alone. He’d never let Naruto take them. — Use the term ‘erase’ because right now Katsuro is fighting for his identity. In the next chapter, K/Naruto sees what happens when someone is killed in their camp. They are ‘erased’ – all their stuff is divided up. It’s like they were never there. At first he doesn’t want it, but then, without his emotions, he realizes that it’s exactly what needs to happen.

• Suddenly, the scenes flew back to Katsuro’s body like a magnet. The fragmented images folded in on themselves, melting back to Katsuro’s skin as if closing the pages of the book. Katsuro was left whole and smooth. Clouds still scuttled past, but now it merely ruffled his brown hair. — His vow to never let Naruto take them from him recements his identity and the jutsu for a little longer.

• He should have known. It was always leading to this. From the moment Naruto set foot in the camp, Katsuro had been slowly losing control. But that ended here. — The last line is the one that Katsuro uses on Naruto. But Naruto has now turned his eye on Katsuro and is learning. It becomes the line the Naruto uses to kill him. And later, when Naruto makes his first kill, he uses it again, to signify that he’s fully living into his role. “This ends here” is also referenced in the first line of the chapter.

• The pain was gone, blown away with the clouds. All that was left was a clear path. Revenge. He felt the demon’s heat rise within him, sure and confident. It wanted what he wanted. Just like it always had. He left the tent. He knew now what he had to do. He’d meet this Naruto guy tonight. But it wasn’t going to go the way he expected. Forget Itachi and whatever he was planning. Katsuro would do things his own way. Just like he always had…. — Katsuro turns to revenge. The demon wants it too. Because the demon always wants blood. Katsuro is wrong about it wanting what he wants. The demon wants what it wants. He is only trying to use Katsuro as a tool too. A means to exert some little bit of force, controlling Katsuro from its cell. So Katsuro takes it as a sign. That it’s going to work out for him, just like it always has. But he’s naive and inexperienced. And he’s relying on the demon too much.

• Because even if everything went wrong, Katsuro had the strength of the demon at his disposal. Its power knew no ends, and he could access it whenever he needed. That was his secret weapon. The ultimate weapon. — The terms of vessel, ultimate ninja and ultimate weapon are used more often from here on out. They represent some conflicting ideas about shinobis and control. Namely who has the right to use whom. Katsuro is being trained to be the ultimate ninja, but that also means being the ultimate tool at someone else’s disposal. But he in turn is using the demon like that. So this is the first whiff of Katsuro behaving toward the demon as Itachi and Pain will behave toward him. As a weapon to be sharpened and used, and nothing more.

• Katsuro laughed. “You’ll never get what you came here for. It’s mine.” Anger laced his every word. “All of it.” His mouth curled into a dark smile. He thought he could feel the demon’s blood course through his veins. “This ends here.” In the darkness, Naruto stopped. He squared his shoulders. It was as if, for the first time, he’d really heard Katsuro. — So the whole fight is a mirror of Naruto and Katsuro. Naruto is an empty shell, a clone, just merely using the techniques he has already come equipped with. Katsuro learns from him, seeing these things so perfectly executed. And when they fight, Naruto starts to learn from Katsuro. The fighting style is the same, the set up of the fights is the same. Only when Katsuro gets really angry does Naruto start to listen. These are fighting words, and therefore tools he can use. So he replays the same things back to Katsuro. When Katsuro lets go, starts fighting at a new level, and feels like he’s channeling the demon, Naruto mirrors that same energy. Katsuro is channeling his own energy though. Not the demon’s. It’s why Naruto takes notice and is able to mirror it back (because Naruto the clone has no demon energy), and why Katsuro feels like the demon has failed him…he wasn’t really helping him to begin with. This was all from him. And the fact that Naruto the clone is so strong on his own is all a testament to the type of shinobi he could be, if he really tried.

• Worse than that even, because he was smashed in. And broken vessel was no use to anyone. — Okay, so this is a twist on his as a vessel. A tool, an object with a purpose. He does not think of himself as a human yet, or as someone separate from the demon. So this one line is specific to his development, and will have a direct link to the final chapter.

• Naruto watched him, popping his knuckles and stretching his neck. Taking his time and toying with him before the kill. Cold and brutal. But the power was his now, he could do with it what he wanted. — So this is about Katsuro later understanding what it is to be a cold killer, and how he will turn away from that. He will be an assassin, but he won’t be cruel.