Authors Note:

Hi Everyone. Thanks for checking this story out. It's an idea that's been living rent-free in my head for a while, and I finally decided to write it.

It's definitely out there and pretty original. I plan on world-building and creating original conflicts. So if you see village names or locations you don't recognize it's probably because I've created them. Things will deviate from canon, things other than the obvious original character fourth Hokage. Some I will give reasons for, others I won't.

Friendship, adventure, action, depression, loss, and romance are all genres I plan on exploring. I do plan on having a pairing for the main character.

I also plan on having interlude chapters that explore the main character's backstory. The story starts off with the MC as an adult. Part of the fun is the mystery of how the main character became the Fourth Hokage. How did he develop a specific skill? How did he get a certain nickname? Who the heck is Kaito? The interludes will be chapters where I try to explore fun and interesting ways of giving you all the backstory that I've developed.

The cover image is actually the main character Kaito.

Please tell me your thoughts or ask questions by leaving reviews! I love to interact with readers and will do my best to respond to your review via private messaging in FFN.

Now, on to the action!

Chapter 1: By Your Side. Now and Forever (Kaito)

October 10th should have been a day for celebration. A day he and his wife could cherish forever. But, instead, it was a nightmare beyond imagination.

Kaito landed gracefully on a rocky outcropping jutting out from The Hokage Mountain. Small tendrils of wind-natured chakra spread out from his feet, dampening the landing. Before him, a scene of absolute chaos ensued. A deep orange glow emanated from the many fires raging through his village. Smoke rose into the sky, forming an oppressive blanket that blocked out the light from what should have been a beautiful star-filled night.

How could this have happened?

He had taken all the necessary precautions to safeguard his wife during her labor. But somehow, he slipped in. The man with the mask. The intruder successfully separated Kaito from his wife by forcing him to make a horrible decision. Save his son or his wife from the explosion. In a split second, Kaito had gambled, believing the man was there for the Nine-Tails. Kaito dove after his son, hoping the intruder wouldn't immediately take his wife's life. He had been right, but the consequences were dire. He managed to save Kushina, but only after the Nine-Tails was extracted.

A large orange tail broke through the veil of smoke, crashing against the ground, and then swung sideways, taking out the entire western market district. He had to distract it. Keep it from destroying anymore.

An earth-shattering roar emitted from the Fox. The reverberations rolled through the village and shook every bone in his body. His hands burst into action, weaving hand seals so fast they appeared a blur. A dull blue glow emanated from his body as he built up a large amount of chakra. Just as he finished the seals, the hair on his arms raised in alarm. He looked up to see a dark ball forming above its gaping maw.

He had to hurry.

Kaito pulled a storage scroll from his vest and unsealed a large Fūma Shuriken. Rotating it in his right hand, he maintained the last hand seal in his left and began pumping wind-natured chakra into the shuriken. Wind began forming around the blades, extending the cutting range and increasing the rotational speed. A shrill noise reverberated from the shuriken like wind gusting through a small opening.

More, I need more.

Kaito pumped even more chakra into the blade, causing the weapon to go from the original diameter of three feet to an enormous rotating wind shuriken of fifteen feet. Finally, satisfied and seeing the tailed beast bomb reach halfway in size, he backed up, gaining more space between him and the ledge. Then, rocking on his heels to gain a bit more momentum, he sprinted forward, rotating his body to build speed to aid in his release.

With one last step and a grunt of effort, Kaito swung his arm and released the enormous wind shuriken. Sliding to a stop just before the ledge and almost getting caught up in the shuriken's wind-induced wake, he crouched on one knee and watched his technique fly. It raced forward, reducing in altitude to gain more speed until it passed mere feet above the shingle-topped roofs of his village. The void it punched in the air caused shingles to fly off the roofs and windows to shatter as the glass panes were sucked from their mountings.

The shuriken traveled the entire length of the village in ten seconds, gaining altitude again as it closed in on its target. Then, at the last second, it veered sharply up and impacted the bottom of the growing beast bomb, causing cracks of pure white energy to propagate along the surface of the dark orb.

A sharp increase in the glowing light emanating from the cracks let Kaito know his plan had worked. He stood up as the integrity of the bomb failed, and an enormous explosion erupted, blasting the Nine-Tails to the ground and stunning it. Because the bomb was high above the fox's head, it limited the damage to the village to only a small radius around the beast. But the incoming shock wave would shatter thousands of windows.

Kaito raised his arm to shield his eyes from the incoming wave. His cloak flapped madly behind him. The stun should be enough to buy some time, and judging by the significant buildup of chakra he felt from the Third Hokage below in the city, Hiruzen thought the same. Kaito watched as a black staff extended from Hiruzen's position, impacting the stunned Nine-Tails in its side and pushing it out of the city.

For now, he'd have to leave the Nine-Tails to Hiruzen and his ninja. The masked man must be located and stopped, or it didn't matter what they did. The man could just re-summon the beast into a different location.

A slight rustle of fabric behind him sent chills up his spine. Kaito rotated while dropping to one knee and unsheathed his katana from his back, whipping it towards the noise behind him. As his head caught up with his rotation, he saw his blade pass through the intruder's torso effortlessly and exit the other side of his body. The masked man caught Kaito's arm and squeezed hard. Kaito felt the bones in his arm creak in strain.

"I've got you now." A sinister baritone voice said from behind the mask.

A vortex then appeared in front of the eye, distorting the space in front until it reached Kaito. Kaito felt his body tear and stretch as he started being pulled into the void this man's technique created. With his free hand, Kaito quickly formed the two hand signs required.

"Wind Release Wind Walker Jutsu!" Kaito yelled, willing the chakra inside his body to become wind.

Kaito's body was immediately surrounded by wind chakra. He pushed off the ground with his legs, sending chakra surging through his feet, causing a blast of wind to come from the souls of his shoes. The force was enough to tear his arm free from the man's grip. Kaito flew backward, tendrils of wind following in his wake. The cloak of wind surrounding his body added an almost translucent quality to his form. Just as he plummeted over the edge, he saw the masked man disappear into the void emanating from his singular eye.

Kaito whistled to signal his summons and shortly after heard the familiar whistle of air that foreshadowed the arrival of his companion. Tachi burst through the veil of smoke above him and plummeted down to his master. Kaito rotated in midair, orientating himself to grab onto the saddle on Tachi's feathered back, a move they had practiced thousands of times. Grabbing onto the pommel, he swung himself into the saddle and immediately pulled up, signaling the hawk to level out before they hit the ground. Kaito felt the increase in weight due to the change in direction. He clenched his legs and core to keep blood from flowing out of his head and pooling in his legs. Even with this, tiny grey specks formed in his peripheral vision, signaling that he hadn't completely halted the blood flow.

"Status!" Kaito yelled above the howling noise of the wind rushing past them.

"Kushina and Naruto are safe. No intruders in your home. I've been watching them from above the entire time. However, the Nine-Tails is beginning to regain its senses." The hawk said as it glided toward their destination.

Kaito looked to his left and saw the Nine-Tails standing up. Thankfully, Lord Third managed to push it outside the wall, but it wouldn't stay there long. Not while it was under the control of the masked man.

"Where is the intruder?" Tachi asked below him.

"He vanished like last time. But he's been tracking me ever since I rescued Kushina. So set me down in training ground three, and he will come."

Tachi tilted his wings, causing them to change angle and plummet toward the ground. Then, pulling up and flapping his mighty wings mere yards from the ground, Tachi halted their descent, allowing Kaito to jump off and land on the dirt with a thud.

"Stay close. This won't take long."

"Of course, Lord Fourth," Tachi said as he flapped his wings, gaining altitude and kicking the dust off the ground.

Kaito crouched and closed his eyes. Then, taking a deep breath and exhaling, he spread a thin veil of wind-natured chakra from his core. The veil was so thin it was imperceivable as it spread wide, covering a spherical mile in every direction with him at its epicenter.

Focus, Kaito focus, he said to himself in his head. What do you know so far about your enemy? His powers, demeanor, and every little detail could mean the salvation of the Leaf.

The masked man could phase into the compound, getting past his elite anbu guards. He then successfully extracted the Nine-Tails and summoned it to the middle of the village.

Only one man ever exerted that type of control over the fox. But that was impossible. He was dead, killed by the First Hokage for his betrayal.

Perhaps a descendant, maybe.

Next was his abilities. The man could phase in and out of existence, allowing objects to pass through him unhindered. He could also suck himself and others into a void emanating from his singular eye.

A disturbance in his wind sphere alerted him of the emerging presence and cut his theories short. Kaito took another deep breath, stood up, and faced his opponent.

"You're certainly troublesome to track as you fly through the air, Kaito Furukawa. Or should I say, Wind Walker? I always admired that nickname. A perfect description of your deadly abilities." The masked man said, amusingly through his mask.

"What is your goal, Uchiha?" Kaito spat, cutting off any further ramblings that may have come from the man. A sudden stiffening of the shoulders informed Kaito that his hypothesis was correct.

"My, my, nothing gets past you. You're truly deserving of the title of Hokage. But telling you my goal won't make a difference. You will die here, today, on this cursed training ground." The man spread his arms wide, and a chain dropped from under his cloak. He hunched over and sprinted forward toward Kaito.

Kaito had to test the man's technique one more time to be sure. He sprinted forward, unsheathing his katana. Kaito slashed downward as the man came into range but watched as his sword passed through the man's body. The man, however, continued and ran straight through him. As the last of his body passed through Kaito, the chains wrapped around him, tightening around his torso and trapping his arms against his body.

With a quick succession of one-handed seals, Kaito activated his wind walker jutsu cloaking himself in wind-natured chakra. Then, with a short burst of his chakra, Kaito took on the very essence of wind and dashed out from the chain trap, skidding to a halt fifteen yards away.

His hunch was correct. The man always re-materialized when ready to strike. So he'd have to catch the masked man by surprise when he thought Kaito couldn't strike back.

"What a troublesome ability that wind walker jutsu is. But then again, it allowed you to annihilate hundreds of stone ninja in the Third Ninja War." The masked man said annoyingly.

Kaito turned. His timing would have to be perfect, and if the man was indeed an Uchiha, he'd have to hide the hand seals. Kaito reached into his kunai pouch and began forming the hand seals with his right hand hidden from the intruder's watchful gaze. Slowly, the wind spear formed in the air high above the battlefield.

Once done, Kaito pulled a kunai from his pouch, playing into the deception. With his katana in his left hand and a kunai in his right, he sprinted forward. The masked man matched his stride.

Again, Kaito slashed his katana, and again the man phased out. Again, the blade and Kaito passed through his body. This time Kaito ducked under the chains and twisted his entire body, gaining momentum and aiming to implant his kunai to the hilt in the side of the man's head. But his kunai fell short as the man's hand caught Kaito's forearm tightly. Kaito brought his other hand up from below, attempting to cut the man from hip to throat with his katana, but again an iron-clad grip latched onto his left forearm, halting his slash.

The man leaned forward. "Is that all you got?"

Kaito made an almost unperceivable curl in his left index finger, pulling the wind spear waiting above down. The spear plummeted without a sound, wind chakra tearing away from its shape as it shot down and through the back of the man that had caused so much destruction. The spear continued through and exited his torso, embedding itself into the earth between the interlocked pair.

A pained gasp exited the man. The sound of blood drops hitting the hard earth below reached Kaito's ears, and he smiled.

"No, it wasn't."

The man coughed, released his grip, and leaped away. Kaito gave him no time. He re-activated his wind walker jutsu and, with a burst of chakra, traversed the distance between them in milliseconds, skidding to a halt before the man and grabbing him by the throat.

"Now you die!" Kaito yelled.

Kaito pooled a large amount of chakra in his right hand, condensing it in as small a space as possible, then thrust his palm into the man's stomach and released. Like a rubber band snapping, the tension of the built-up chakra released all at once. Wind chakra exploded out, tearing through the man's stomach and exiting out his lower back. The smell of burnt flesh reached Kaito's nose, the sudden release of chakra creating heat that singed the man's skin.

Kaito looked down at his hand, now covered in the masked man's blood. An odd white-colored material seemed to ooze out of the gaping wound. Kaito raised his gaze and looked into the man's singular eye to see the red glow of the Sharingan. The eye was wide, a mixture of shock and pain swam between the swirling black tome.

"WHO ARE YOU?" Kaito yelled.

The man's body shuttered as a pained laugh escaped from his lips. "It doesn't matter who I am. The deed is done. The Fox has been released, and he will burn the village to ash!"

Reality started to shift in front of the man's eye, forcing Kaito to let go and jump back. He watched the man's destroyed body distort and disappear into the vortex, leaving blood and white flesh scattered across the dirt.

Kaito wiped the filth from his hands. He pulsed his chakra, signaling to his hawk summons. He didn't have time to rest. His village and family needed him. Tachi descended from the sky in seconds, landing with a thud on the ground.

"Take me to my home."

"Yes, lord fourth."

At the speed they were flying, it took very little time to reach his home on the outskirts of the ninja district. Leaping off Tachi's back and skidding to a halt in his front yard, Kaito sprinted inside, almost knocking the doors off their hinges, not stopping until he reached the nursery room.

The sight that awaited him shook him to his core with sadness. His beautiful wife curled up in the crib, holding their newborn son to her chest. Kaito walked up silently and leaned over the crib wall. He reached down and brushed his fingers across Kushina's soft cheeks, wiping away a stray tear in the process.

"He's perfect, Kaito. He's got your eyes and hair." She said softly between coos.

"He's got your beautiful nose, though," Kaito said lovingly, threading his fingers through little Naruto's navy-blue hair.

This is what their future should have entailed. He, Kushina, and little Naruto together. But a roar in the distance knocked him back to the present. Dust and particulates fell from the ceiling due to the tremors caused by the beast outside.

Kaito looked sadly at his wife and child. They would never be able to live the life they dreamed of.

"Kushina. I need your help."

Kushina tore her eyes from Naruto and looked up at him. Those beautiful violet-blue eyes he fell in love with all those years ago pierced into his own.

"I don't have the sealing knowledge required to seal the Nine-Tails. I can pummel it all day with my ninjutsu, but it will eventually regenerate."

"I know, Kaito. I knew this would be the outcome as soon as the fox was torn from my body." She said softly as she stroked Naruto's cheek. The boy had become restless with the addition of Kaito in the room.

"I'm sorry. If only I'd paid more attention to Jiraiya's sealing lessons. If only I'd gone to a couple more lessons with you and lady Mito."

A snort from Kushina pulled him out of his ramblings. "I fear the day the world sees a sealing technique come from you. You'd as much destroy the world as save it." She said.


"Sealing was never your strength, Kaito. You belonged to the world of ninjutsu and flying the skies with your summons." She brushed another stay strand of navy blue hair from Naruto's face. "And I wouldn't have it any other way."

Kaito leaned down and kissed his wife on the forehead, lingering just a bit longer than usual to savor the familiar lavender smell of shampoo she always used.

"But Kaito, I don't have enough chakra to seal the entire fox. In my current state, the seal won't hold and will break halfway through the attempt."

Kaito swallowed the lump in his throat. He knew what he was going to say next, Kushina would object to. But it had to be done for the sake of the village and Naruto.

"We'll have to split it. Half inside you, half inside Naruto."

"Kaito, no! It's not fair to Naruto. It's too heavy a burden to place on him. He won't have us to guide him!"

"Kushina, there is no other way. Without the fox, the village is at risk. The balance of power between the villages will tumble into chaos. The masked man will come back, and without the power of the Nine-Tails to oppose him, there's nothing the village could do."


"We have to trust in our son Kushina. It's the ultimate role of a parent, isn't it? To trust the future to their children."

Kushina's lower lip quivered as she pulled Naruto even closer, the infant's head resting under her chin.

"What about the sealing technique?" She asked.

"I know the seals. I just don't know the theory behind it. You will have to lead the way Kushina, while I supply the chakra. We will create the hand seals together."

"You understand that the reaper will still take you even if you aren't leading the technique. As soon as it tastes your chakra, the reaper will claim you as well."

"I know."

Another roar erupted in the distance, sending a shock wave through the village.

Kaito watched as hundreds of emotions battled in those violet-blue eyes until they settled in resolve. Kushina gave him a nod and, with his help, sat up. She pulled Naruto into her arms and stepped out of the crib. Kaito walked her outside of their home, where Tachi was waiting. The hawk leaned to one side to make it easier for Kushina to climb on.

Kaito bit his thumb and performed the seals required to summon another hawk. A small puff of smoke erupted from where he placed his hand on the ground.

"4th Hokage!"

"Ebi, when I de-summon you, I need you to tell lord Okunen and lady Kazeda that I will be summoning them."

The little hawk hopped from one talon to the next, nervous about the request.

"Both of them! What for?"

Kaito tilted his head towards the raging Nine-Tails and watched the little hawk stiffen in understanding.

"Without delay, sir!" she responded.

Kaito released her, and the hawk disappeared in another small puff of smoke. He then climbed onto Tachi and settled into the saddle behind Kushina. He wrapped his arms around her, securing her, and signaled Tachi to fly.

As they rose into the air, Kaito hugged his wife tighter. "How is Naruto?"

"Sleeping soundly." She said.

Kaito smiled. Despite the chaos, Naruto felt safe enough to sleep in his mother's arms.

"I'm going to drop you and Naruto off several miles outside the village. I'll then bring the Nine-Tails to you. How much time do you need to set up the seal?"

"Not long. I'll be ready when the fox arrives."

"Good," Kaito said. He almost laughed at the ridiculousness of the situation. Now he just had the small task of bringing the mountain-sized Nine-Tailed Fox to his wife and child like a present.

After several minutes of flying, Tachi landed gently in a large clearing far from the village. Kushina slid off the hawk with Naruto in her arms and turned to him. Kaito reached down and extended his arm, and Kushina took it, squeezing it. He squeezed back, trying to give her as much assurance as he could muster.

"Be careful," Kushina said to him as he let go. Kaito nodded and signaled to Tachi that it was time. The hawk spread its wings and flapped hard, sending dust up from the ground and both into the air.

Within seconds, Kaito was racing back toward the village. From the growing flames, he could tell the fox had returned to the village and was climbing over the outer wall. The Third Hokage and ninja had done their job and slowed the fox down. But there was no stopping a force of nature with ninjutsu and kunai. It had to be sealed.

Kaito pulled back on the pummel, telling Tachi to gain altitude. He'd have to catch the fox by surprise, which meant summoning the two hawk lords at the last possible moment to avoid detection. So they climbed higher and higher until the air grew thin, and his breath out of his mouth condensed into vapor.

Kaito stood in the saddle and unsealed two fūma shuriken from his flak jacket. He slid them under his arms, pinning them to his side with his elbows to free his hands for seals. His hands began creating the same seals he had done earlier when standing on top of his head on the Hokage Monument. He pulled chakra out from his core and began changing its nature with each successive hand seal. He continued to pull more and more chakra until he was satisfied. He then grabbed both shuriken, one in each hand, and spun them, feeding wind nature into the weapons. They took form, growing in size and increasing in rotational velocity. The surrounding clouds began to distort around the spinning shuriken, getting pulled into their rotation and sheared apart. Kaito didn't stop pumping chakra into the two weapons until he had two enormous spinning shuriken. Both were spinning so fast that they appeared a blur.

He tapped his foot against the saddle, letting Tachi know he was ready. The hawk dipped forward and pulled in its wings, beginning their fall. The wind rushed past him, almost knocking him from the saddle. The only thing keeping him planted was the chakra in the souls of his feet. Kaito reared back both arms and wrenched them forward, letting go of the two wind-imbued shuriken. Their fall, the added speed from his throw, and gravity pulling on the shuriken caused them to speed away from him and Tachi.

Kaito released his chakra hold on Tachi's saddle and pushed off, gaining distance from the hawk. But from his peripherals, he could see the bird still followed him down. The two shurikens were now far ahead of him, racing towards the fox, cutting holes through the clouds they passed through.

Kaito began his count.


He bit his thumb.


Pressing his two thumbs together, he formed the first seal of the summoning technique.


He began pulling the densest chakra from his core, for he would need its potency to summon those two.


The second and third seals were now completed. Chakra formed around him, creating a blue trail of energy in his wake, like a comet flying through the night sky.


The two shurikens pierced through the last cloud between them and the fox. The wind sheared the clouds apart, providing Kaito with a clear view of the battlefield below as he plummeted.


The fourth and fifth seals were now complete. His skin burned from the intense amount of chakra he collected, but it still wasn't enough. He needed more.


The two shurikens impacted the fox in its back, exploding on impact and pushing the Fox into the ground. Its tails spread out behind it in agony, and a visible shock wave erupted from its mouth.


Kaito finished the last seal. Then, grunting in pain, he pulled the last bit of chakra he needed from his core.


The shock wave from the shuriken impact reached him. The noise from the fox's roar buffeted his ears.


Kaito extended both arms out in front of him and opened his palms. He channeled all the chakra he gathered into his hands and pushed it out. An almost unbearable pain shot up his arm as the intense chakra outburst burned his palms and stressed his tenketsu points. He opened his mouth and yelled.


An enormous cloud of smoke the size of an entire village district appeared before him, blocking his view of the fox. Then, just before he fell into it, he saw two massive pairs of wings extend from within the smoke cloud. He smiled. It worked.

Kaito spread his arms and legs wide to slow his fall. As he passed through the bottom of the summoning cloud, he saw that lord Okunen and lady Kazeda had already engaged the stunned fox. They tore at its face and clawed its back with their talons. Individually, they were smaller than the fox, but together they would be enough for what he needed.

Each hawk grabbed one of the fox's legs and flapped their vast wings. Slowly gaining altitude and lifting the fox off the ground.

From the corner of his eye, Kaito saw Tachi racing towards him, talons outstretched and vortices spinning off his wings' tips. Just before he hit the top branches of a group of trees, Tachi's talons slammed into him, knocking the wind out of him but preventing a fatal fall to the ground.

"Follow me!" he yelled to lord Okunen and lady Kazeda as they struggled to gain speed carrying the dazed fox.

"Kushina, you better be ready." He whispered as he climbed out from Tachi's talons and onto his back.

"Are you ok, Lord Fourth?" Tachi's rough voice rumbled below him.

"Yes, but I used up a lot of chakra. I can't use much more, or I won't have enough to help Kushina with the seal."

Kaito glanced behind him to check on the Nine-Tails. It was snapping at the two large hawks trying to free itself, but still obviously dazed from his attack. The added speed imbued to the two wind-shuriken did its job.

"Tachi, let's speed ahead and check on Kushina."

Tachi changed the angle of his wings and tilted forward, gaining speed. In minutes, they were above the clearing where Kushina and Naruto were. From above, he could see Kushina had already placed Naruto on the altar and was finishing up the seal diagram.

Tachi dove towards the earth and landed with a thud. Kaito slid off his back in one smooth motion and rushed over to Kushina.

"Is everything ready?" He said as he rounded the pedestal and placed his hand on the small of her back. Her violet-blue eyes met his, and she nodded solemnly.

"And the Nine-Tails?" She asked.

"On its way. Lord Okunen and lady Kazeda are carrying it. They will drop it on the other side of the clearing and restrain it long enough for us to perform the first sealing and split its chakra. I fear after that, the fox will realize what is happening, and I'm uncertain how long they can keep it down once it knows. So the second seal will have to be quick, Kushina."

"It's already ready. The diagram is complete. All it will need is some of my blood to activate it once we complete the first reaper seal." She said as she walked around the altar doing the last few checks.

"Kaito, come here. I've added something extra."

Kaito walked over to see what Kushina was pointing at. "What is it?"

"I've added two chakra storage chambers to the seal. One for me and one for you. The chambers will preserve whatever chakra is put into them. Doing this will preserve an essence of you. A sort of copy. A part of both of us will stay with Naruto, and one day he will access them, and we will be there to guide him for a limited time."

Kaito stared dumbfounded at his wife and smiled. He walked over to the seal Kushina pointed to and laid his palm flat. He channeled a small amount of chakra into the seal while thinking of his son.

I love you, Naruto.

"You never cease to amaze me. Even in a situation like this, you've found a way to help our son."

A roar and a gust of wind stole their attention, and they both looked to the Nine-Tails as it came closer.

"Are you ready?" He asked.

She said nothing but nodded in reply.

Kaito closed the distance between them and pulled her close. He wrapped his right arm around her lower back, and she did the same to him. He then grasped her right hand with his left and interlocked their fingers.

"You lead. I'll follow. We'll each create half of the hand seal, and I will supply most of the chakra. Well, do this together, like always."

Kaito looked down and met his wife's gaze. Tears welled up in her eyes and cascaded down her cheeks.

"Like always." She said, rubbing a circle in his palm with her thumb.

The Nine-Tails slammed into the other end of the clearing, shaking the ground and causing Naruto to cry. The two elder hawks crashed down on top of it, driving the fox's muzzle into the earth and trapping its front legs underneath their talons.

"Now!" he yelled, moving his fingers to match Kushina's as she led him through the technique, progressing through the long string of hand seals. Kaito threaded his chakra into Kushina's own, matching her rhythm perfectly.

The earth below their feet rumbled again as they started the second to last hand seal. The fox thrashed with one of his tails, trying to break free from the two hawks. As their fingers met for the final seal, Kaito pushed the last bit of his chakra into the technique, and simultaneously they yelled.

"Reaper Death Seal!"

The air behind them turned ice-cold, and a sense of doom washed over them. Kushina, next to him, shuddered and cried out in pain as a ghostly arm shot out of her stomach and raced toward the Nine-Tails. Shortly after, a searing pain erupted in his own core as he felt the reaper's hand grab hold of his very soul.

A roar on the other side of the clearing knocked Kaito back to his senses. He watched as the reaper's long arm tore at the fox's soul, and a large ghostly ceremonial knife came down from the heavens and split the fox's chakra in half. Now that half of the chakra was severed, the arm retracted, pulling the red chakra into Kushina, who gasped in pain.

Kaito felt the tug on his core as his soul detached from his body and exited from his back. He clenched his teeth in pain and collapsed to the ground next to Kushina. An emptiness washed over him, as he could already feel his heartbeat slowing. With no soul, his body was already starting to give up. He looked over to see Kushina gasping for breath on her hands and knees. He slowly crawled over to her, wrapped his arm around her, and pushed off his knees to help her stand up. She had to activate the Eight Trigrams Seal before her body gave out.

"Kushina, you need to hur.."


A booming voice yelled, cutting Kaito's voice short. Quickly turning his head, Kaito saw the fox, now half-sized, pushing off the ground.


Two of his tails shot up and circled the two hawk's necks, wrenching them off his back and tossing them to the side. One of his front claws then shot forward toward Naruto. Its long sharp nail extended from its claw.

"NOOO!" they both yelled.

Out of his peripheral vision, he saw Kushina's golden Adamantine chains shoot out of her back and toward the Fox. They wouldn't make it in time.

"Wind Style Wind Walker Jutsu!" Kaito yelled, and he used the last bit of chakra and became the wind. Then, pushing off hard, he dashed past the altar between the claw and Naruto. He extended his arms to his sides, back turned to the fox.

The fox's nail pierced through his back, tore out of his stomach, and pushed him back toward Naruto. Kaito dug his feet into the ground, trying to stop the claw, but it had too much momentum. Suddenly he heard chains drawn tight, and he jerked to a stop. His heels were buried deep into the earth, and his arms extended out in front of him against the altar, shaking against the might of the fox's strength.

Kaito opened his eyes to see his crying son a mere two feet before him. The fox's nail, covered in his blood, stopped inches short of his son.

The Nine Tails renewed its push, and Kaito's arms started to buckle.

"NO!" he yelled as blood splattered out of his mouth.

"Kushina, hurry!" he pleaded as he looked for his wife. He found her scrambling on all fours towards the altar. Her golden chains were drawn tight from her back, working hard to restrain the fox's movement.

"Eight Trigrams Seal!" she yelled as she slammed her palm against the altar. The seals drawn on the altar lit up in response to her chakra.

Naruto wailed as the foreign chakra entered his body. The nail protruding through Kaito's stomach dissolved into a red mist and flowed into his son.

Kaito collapsed to his knees and rested his forehead against the side of the altar. His arms hung limply to his side as he gasped in vain for breath. Blood was pooling in his throat, and a coughing fit ensued as he tried to expel it in exchange for air. He glimpsed the gaping hole in his stomach and noticed the pool of blood forming around his knees.

"Kaito, it worked. It worked! Naruto is safe." Kushina exclaimed from the other side of the altar.

He tried to respond, but the words couldn't get past the blood in his throat, and he coughed again. He heard a rustle to his side but couldn't move anymore. The strength had left his body. All he could do was fight for breaths between the blood-soaked coughs.

Two arms wrapped around him and maneuvered his body so that he was sitting with his back against the altar.

"Kaito. I'm here. Right here next to you. And so is Naruto."

Kaito struggled with all his might to lift his head. A hand appeared in his vision and cupped his chin, helping him lift his head. Two loving violet-blue eyes and a sad smile greeted him. His vision blurred in and out, but he could tell she was on her last legs as well. He could feel her heartbeat slowing through her hand on his chin.

She leaned forward and planted a kiss on his forehead.

"We did it, Kaito."

She then softly laid his head against her shoulder and tilted it so he could see Naruto. The boy slept soundly in Kushina's lap without a care in the world.

Kaito's vision blackened as his heartbeat continued to slow.

"I'm here, Kaito."


"Right next to you, as always."


"I'll always be by your side."


"Now and forever."