Rating: PG-13

Genre: Romance, Angst, Drama

Warnings: Un-graphic love scene and bad language

Spoilers: From the present arc of the manga onwards…

Notes: After story

Summary: The story behind the man we hardly even know. His life, his loves, his fears and his courage. This story will follow a certain timeline in which case Kakashi has lost his teammates and we'll go on from there…

Enjoy and know that feedback is always appreciated.


Yondaime:

Hito wo yume to ya
omoishiruramu;

That man's life is but a dream -
is what we now come to know.

- Monk Sougi

"He is too young. Such responsibility should not fall on the shoulders of one as young as he. I am quite aware of the tremendous things he has done for the village, Sarutobi, but surely you do not think he is worthy of taking your place so soon."

"You are still in good health, Sarutobi. Why do you insist on bestowing such a position to someone like him at this time? Isn't it a bit rash of you to demand so much from him?"

A tense silence reigned in the large room as the two elders watched their chosen Hokage remain quiet in seeming contemplation. They had come here with good intentions, perhaps thinking that Sarutobi would have some good news regarding peace talks between the warring villages. They had definitely not come here to listen to this talk of making a jounin albeit a special one, the next Hokage.

"Sarutobi," began Utatane Koharu, a woman now lined and stooped with age. Despite it all, she still managed to carry herself with a dignity that was lacking in most women of the Leaf. Her hands were clasped before her rather tightly and her lips were thin with impatience. "Sarutobi, will you please reconsider this foolishness? It is not possible to have two Hokage running the village at the same time…"

"Oh?" came the soft question from the man now hidden behind a cloud of smoke. He puffed gently on his pipe and then pointed it towards the silent man standing before him. "That was not the way I had always understood it, Homura-dono. I had always believed that the title was given to the one who displayed great skills, fortitude and a desire to lead his people at all times."

Mitokodo Homura, a wizened old man, who had seen many a great shinobi come and go over the years, sighed softly and gave a slow nod in response. "You are correct, Sarutobi. However, it does not justify you giving the title to him. He is a mere child in comparison to your predecessors. You only heap a…"

"You saw the results of the last battle fought with the Fire," Sarutobi argued quietly.

"Yes, we did…"

"You have seen and heard of the amazing jutsu and seals he performed to prevent more of his teammates from being killed."

"That is not the point, Sarutobi…"

"You have seen his dedication to the village over the years, my Lord and Lady - his indominatable spirit and his commitment to everything that will make this village great. Why then do you doubt my decision to make him Hokage now?"

The two elders gave each other quick but wary glances, but remained silent. Seeing that his message wasn't getting across to the stubborn members of council, the Sandaime rose to his feet slowly. He crossed his hands behind his back and began to walk the length of the room, his white billowing robes dusting the earthen floor as he paced restlessly. He stopped before the pictures of the first and second Hokage – two men he had admired and respected over the years – and gave a small but respectful bow in acknowledgement.

"I have always believed that a person should not be judged based on his age or bloodline when it comes to matters that concern the welfare of Konoha. I have seen many capable ninjas cross my path over the years and I am yet to see anyone as talented and as hardworking as he is. I would have loved for one of my students, possibly Orochimaru to have taken over the role as Hokage, but even Jiraiya has commented on how good his student is."

He sighed softly and rubbed a hand across his forehead as suddenly weary, gray eyes continued to stare at the pictures. "I am not getting any younger, my Lord and Lady and I know that someday I'll have to leave this village in the capable hands of someone who can take over this position. I know you worry about his youth, but believe me when I say that his youth, vigor and optimism, is just the thing Konoha needs at a time like this. Will you not agree?"

He did not wait for an answer from his companions as he walked towards the large balcony that overlooked the beautiful skyline of the Hidden Leaf. High above and to his left, he could hear the faint sounds of ninjas working on his profile within the huge mountain. He could still remember the day the Nidaime had told him he would become the next Hokage and the thrill and yet fear that had coursed through his veins at the news. It was indeed a great honor and he had cherished and taken pride in being one of the chosen to lead his people to victory.

"I have watched him grow like he was my very son," he said quietly. A slight evening breeze caused his robes to billow like soft cotton clouds around him. "He is a studious, courageous and excellent student. He is feared and yet loved by many far and wide. He will make a fine Hokage, my Lord and Lady. I only ask that you give him a chance."

"And if he fails in this task?" Koharu said coolly. There was skepticism still laced in her voice and it was not lost on the Hokage at all.

"Then if he fails," Sarutobi replied with a small smile. "I promise to step down from my position and will accept any punishment decided by the council."

If he heard the small gasp of surprise from the older couple, the Hokage gave no sign of it. He knew he was placing a lot on the line here, but he was willing to take his chances.

"Then so be it, Sarutobi. We will speak to the other council members about your decision and when we come to a conclusion, you will be informed. Until then, you are to do nothing rash without our knowledge, is that understood?"

The Third Hokage gave a polite bow to them and watched with a wry smile as they led themselves away from his presence. He stuck his pipe into his mouth and inhaled another lungful of smoke while watching the dying sunset in the distance.

He knew he was doing the right thing. He could only hope that the young man being given such a task would not fail him in the long run.


With a flourish he finished the set of instructions to the Kage Bunshin no Jutsu, frowning lightly as he reread the words to the advanced ninjutsu. It was a technique that he had discovered used a lot of charka – well, more than a lot of charka. It was a rather deadly technique to use especially for one who had no stamina to maintain so many clones at one time. He pursed his lips together and blew on the wet ink gently, aiding it to dry as quickly as possible. With deft fingers, he began to roll up the large scroll, smiling softly to himself as he realized that his list of specialized skills was growing in number. Of course, no one else would have access to this besides the Sandaime. He had asked special permission to have this done for future references in dire times and it had been approved by Sarutobi, who in turn, had been more than willing to contribute to the massive project.

Sitting back on his haunches, he wiped a hand across his brow, pushing away a few damp blond locks that had been stuck to his forehead, in the process. Piercing blue eyes that many had claimed could see the soul of another, widened for an instant before they closed in complete concentration. Within the gloom of the hot and rather stuffy room, his lips moved in a quick succession of words that would release the seal needed to keep the scroll protected.

"Oy! Are you in there?! Come on already! We're going to miss the fun!"

He opened his eyes quickly, suddenly feeling guilty at having sneaked away from his friends to finish with his writings. He had not thought that the others would be able to find him so quickly, but then again, he had to remember that these were members of the ANBU – a team of highly skilled ninjas - and their detection skills were next to none.

"Okay! I'll be right there!" he bellowed in return, while pushing the scroll within the secret compartment beneath a big box of smaller scrolls. Making sure that nothing looked out of place, he all but dashed out of the room and into the arms of his waiting companions.

"Sorry, I'm late," he began to apologize with a sheepish grin that made him look even younger than his years. "I was just…"

"Studying again," Iyashi, one of his childhood friends, replied with a loud laugh. "If you're not busy kicking butt on the battlefield, you're stuck in that house reading like there's no tomorrow."

"Well, I…"

"He's always so serious," Kohaku observed as they began to walk down the streets of Konoha, snickering as he watched the blond's features go a healthy shade of red. "Even your prized student has complained about it."

The blond shinobi gasped in surprise. "What?! What do you mean my student has…?"

Iyashi winked. "We saw Kakashi earlier in the week…"

"And it was his idea to let you have a 'good time'," Kohaku finished. "You can thank him for this little outing."

"Why that li…" He didn't finish his words for his friends had begun to laugh in merriment at his obvious discomfort. Unable to stop his cheeks from flaming with color, he tried to focus his attention on this part of the village they had walked into. He sunk his hands into the pockets of his pants, bright blue eyes staring at everything in appreciation and slight awe. Oh, it wasn't as if he hadn't been to this decadent section of Konoha, he had just never really 'seen' it before.

Perhaps he really was single-minded about certain things like his friends and Kakashi had accused him of. He was dedicated to his job as a shinobi to his village and had spent his every minute, when not engaged in battle or teaching his student, learning, honing and developing newer seals and jutsu that might aid him in future combat. He had pestered Jiraiya – his teacher - and Sarutobi to death, soaking up whatever they had been willing to teach him like a sponge in water. He had heard that the sannin, Orochimaru, was also developing new techniques, but he had never thought of asking the pale skinned man for any advice. There was something so 'wrong' about being in Orochimaru's presence. It wasn't fear, but rather a sickening lurch in the pit of his stomach whenever he was nearby.

Tsunade-sama was a different case altogether. She was beautiful in her own right and he had had the pleasure of speaking to her on more than one occasion. Since she was a talented medical ninja, she had imparted some words of wisdom to him…while he had struggled not to stare too hard at her rather well-endowed bosom. How could anyone avoid them anyway? They were just too obvious to be ignored and he was a man with healthy urges.

"Ooooff! I'm sorry…I," he held out his hands to steady the person he had bumped into, only to find them slapped away angrily. He blinked in surprise at the dark blue eyes that met his. They were cold and rather angry. He took a step back and tried to smile in apology at the young woman standing before him, but found himself gaping helplessly.

There was something familiar about her but he couldn't quite place a finger on it. However, despite the cold look in her eyes, she was quite attractive. Her hair was a golden as his, but rather short. Her head protector had been used as a headband to hold the flaxen locks away from her face revealing strong cheekbones and a jaw that was tight with determination. She was slightly shorter than he was, but her physique told of a battle-weary veteran. Beneath the simple brown dress she wore, were a few scars that he doubted would ever be healed.

"Do I have something on my forehead?" she asked curtly.

Her voice, a firm but smooth tone that seemed to undulate with each word uttered, jerked him out of his reverie. "Oh, I…I was just…" Unable to take my eyes off you…

And what was this queasy feeling in the pit of his stomach? Why did he suddenly feel incredibly clumsy and slightly tipsy? Was she using some sort of genjutsu on him? He doubted that for he was able to control his charka at the moment. So what kind of a spell was this?

"Hmph! The great 'Konoha Yellow Flash' cannot even watch where he is going," she taunted with a light sneer. "What's next? Allowing your enemies to pinpoint your location and leading us all to defeat?"

"Miyabi!!" came the desperate cry from a woman he had not even noticed earlier. She was just as pretty as the blonde but she looked and sounded weaker. "I'm so sorry she's this rude. She's usually nicer than this…"

He laughed and scratched the back of his head. "It's okay. It was my fault for not watching where I was going and I should have…"

"Let's go, Ayase," Miyabi interrupted quickly as she tugged on her friend's arm to lead her away. "We have to meet several people at the bar, remember?"

Ayase, obviously enamored at the presence of the handsome, famous and talented jounin, continued to apologize profusely even as she was dragged away.

"Damn it. I still don't get how the girls can still like a stiff like you," Iyashi grumbled as he led them into the bustling restaurant and bar.

"Must be his good looks," Kohaku observed with a snicker while lifting a hand to motion for a waitress to come over. "But let's not dwell about that right now! We've come here to have a good time until we get drunk and can't remember our own names! And you've got to have more than one cup of sake," he emphasized, jabbing a thick finger against his blond companion's chest. "Got it?"

The jounin laughed in acceptance, even though it sounded rather distant to him. It had been for a brief moment, but he still couldn't get the image of cold and angry blue eyes away from his mind.

Miyabi…Miyabi…

She had seemed familiar to him but where had he met her before? He couldn't remember for the life of him but he was going to find out sooner or later. He'd make sure of it.


A week went by with little fanfare. His attempts to find the elusive Miyabi had proved to be futile. He could have asked any of his friends to help him out, but he wanted to do this on his own and besides, it was a bit embarrassing to think that he was going to waste so much time looking for a woman who didn't really like him.

"Damn it!" The silver-haired boy cursed as he watched his teacher duck again in reflex from the punch he had thrown. "You're not even concentrating that hard and yet I've not landed a single blow!"

The teacher had the grace to look embarrassed at being caught but settled for ruffling his student's hair much to the younger one's chagrin. "I'm sorry, Kakashi. Perhaps we should call it a day…"

"No! You've been too busy all this week and this is the only time I can get you to train with me, sensei." And to emphasize his point, he kicked out a leg to catch the older man off guard, but as usual, his plan was foiled for he soon found himself now hanging upside down.

"ARGH!" he screamed in frustration. "Shit! Shit! Shit!"

"Language, young man," the older man said with a soft laugh as he released his student. Kakashi fell to the cool earth in a tangle of limbs and remained there stubbornly, refusing to budge until his sensei walked away from their training site. But to his surprise, the blond made no effort to do so. Instead, he sat upon a huge boulder and stared blindly into the distance, his body as still as death as his student watched on in confusion.

Together they remained in silence, each lost in their thoughts as nature's gifts flourished around them. It was a beautiful day in Konoha and the azure skies above were a testament to it. However, there was trouble in the horizon and he could feel it. It was a good thing that dialogue was being put in place between the villages. The war might soon be over, but he still couldn't help thinking that something even worse loomed in the future.

There had been that dream.

The one about the Nine-tailed fox.

A demon.

He sighed and closed his eyes, allowing himself to fall back onto the semi-flat surface of the rock. The mid-morning sun burned his skin pleasantly and for an instant, he was back in the Academy again as a little boy, with no worries about rescuing injured teammates or being designated with the toughest missions. Did he resent being in this position today? Did he wish he could not have this enormous power or skills that the village relied on him for? Did he wish he could just be 'ordinary'? A non-entity? Then what did the dreams mean? Why did he see himself standing in the midst of fire while confronting the dreaded beast that had only been talked about in folklore and legends? Why would it appear again? Where would it come from? Why Konoha?

"Sensei?"

He opened his eyes slowly to stare into the single gray eye of his talented student. He felt something hard lurch in his chest as the memory of Obito's death came to mind. Kakashi had taken to protecting his teammate's eye by covering it with a mask. It might have been nearly a year ago, but the pain was still there and he had been wise enough not to ask Kakashi anything about it. The young man would talk in due time about the loss of his two teammates.

"What is it, Kakashi?" he asked quietly. It was rare for the younger man to want to share anything personally with him.

The silver-haired boy sat on the grass beside the boulder and stared ahead as well. He wasn't sure of how to go about this, but he was curious and wanted to know the answer to it.

"I heard someone saying that they might make you the Hokage, sensei."

He remained silent, allowing the boy to continue – although he felt his stomach give another sickening lurch.

"Well?" Kakashi prodded a bit impatiently. "What do you think? If it's true…will you accept it?"

He continued to stare at the cloudless skies, unable to really come up with the right answer to the boy's question. Perhaps he had always had an inkling that such a role would be given to him someday, but certainly not this quickly. Of course, every young shinobi aspires to become Hokage someday for it was a title only bestowed on those who were worthy of leading Konoha in the right direction. But was he really ready for it?

With a small smile, he replied softly. "You should not fill your head with such stories, Kakashi. I cannot tell you if I would be willing to accept such a role or not at this time…"

"Don't you think you're fit for the role? I think…"

The boy stopped and the older man stole a side glance to see that his student looked slightly embarrassed. He allowed his smile to widen, feeling a sort of weight lifted off his shoulder. "It fills me with great pride and I'm honored that you feel I deserve the role, Kakashi."

The younger jounin's eyes widened in surprise at the praise and he too gave a small but rare smile, although it remained hidden within the blue mask.

"I will still kick your ass someday, sensei," he finally said with a snort as he lay back on the ground to stare into the clouds and he glowed as he heard the older man's laughter. Kakashi sincerely hoped that the rumors were true. He'd really love to be able to tell his future students that the next Hokage had been his mentor and teacher.

Now, that was something worth bragging about.


Standing upon Gamabunta in the middle of a raging fire, its flames growing higher and higher as the two squared off. This was life or death. One or both of them was going to die tonight and the young man had a feeling that it would be himself…but not before taking the demon to hell with him.

Its nine tails fanned the flames, its teeth bared to reveal ravenous fangs that seemed to gleam in the gloom of night that enveloped them. He could hear the faint cries of his people – his dying people. They were all relying on him to take care of this – to save them from the terror that was destined to send them to the depths of hell and back.

But what could he do? How could he protect them?!

"Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!!!" It was a piercing cry that shot through his heart and indeed the very hearts of everyone in the vicinity. The baby seemed to rise from the flames like a beacon of light and even the beast seemed terrified at the sight.

He reached out for the child desperately, knowing that it was the answer to their problems.

He will become a vessel…a hero…my son…

"Aaaargh!" He sat up quickly, clutching the sheets tightly in his hands as beads of sweat glistened on his features and naked torso. Wide blue eyes stared around him frantically for a few moments as he tried to even his harsh breathing.

A dream…nothing but a dream…

But yet so real.

He covered his face with trembling hands, fighting the urge to scream at the fear and terror that had filled his heart. He had felt desperation at being unable to do anything. That was not something the Hokage had to feel at a time like that. One more moment of hesitation and his life would have ended with nothing accomplished. Konoha would have been at the mercy of the Kyuubi and then…

My son.

…his wonderful village would be no more.

Deciding that sleep was no longer possible, he threw the blanket off his naked form and began to dress quietly. According to the clock, it was only three in the morning and most of Konoha were tucked away in their bed looking forward to a new day filled with promises. Tying his headband around his head, he threw open the windows to his home and inhaled the fresh morning air with appreciation. With a light grunt, he leapt from rooftop to rooftop, destination unknown as he sought to clear his muddled thoughts. He stopped suddenly and faced the towering profiles of the three Hokages with a sense of trepidation and yet pride. To take his place amongst the great ones would just be another icing to his already sweet cake.

"Huh?" He ducked and blinked at the kunai now quivering within the wall beside him. He stared at the specially designed three point edges and frowned before having to duck again as yet another one was thrown towards him.

Shit! Was he being attacked by enemies already?

He crouched and placed a hand upon his kunai holster, eyes narrowed in concentration as he tried to read the whereabouts of his attacker. The rooftop seemed empty, but then again, looks could be deceiving. Slowly and carefully, he blended in with the shadows and waited. It took him another second to realize that there was something wrong with this picture.

The Kunai.

It was the very same one that all members of Konoha's jounin carried. Even a few ANBU had them in their possession. In other words, his enemy was none other than…

"Urgh!" His gaze fell to the sharp object now pointed at his jugular. He took a tentative step backwards, his brows rising in disbelief as the other figure became visible. The person was hidden behind an ANBU mask, but there was no mistaking the shock of blonde hair visible behind it.

"Surprise. Surprise," the muffled voice began. "To think that I'd have to catch the 'Yellow Flash' as my prey tonight…argh!"

She would have fallen, since he had kicked out a leg to trip her over, but she was deft and instead did a back flip to steady herself. Crouching away from him, she glared behind the mask, meeting his amused blue depths.

"What's so funny?" she asked curtly. "I could kill you if I wanted!"

He twirled the kunai in one hand, his grin not fading as he stood above her. "So? Why would you want to kill me? I've done nothing to…oh oh!"

He dodged the flurry of shuriken that came flying at him. She yelled and came charging like a raging bull but he made no effort to stop her. If she was angry at him for some reason, then it was only fair that she vent out her frustrations the best way she knew how.

"Fight me!" she bellowed. "Why won't you fight me?! Is it because I'm a woman?!" She threw another punch and he caught and held the trembling fist prisoner. She yelled again and threw another with her left, but he caught that as well. Growling now, she tried to use her legs, but found herself thrown to the floor and pinned down with his knee. She struggled fruitlessly and all but cried out in fury.

"Why do you hate me?" he asked in bemusement. "I do not recall doing anything to warrant that emotion from you."

"Shut up! You…you…god, I hate you!"

He reached forward to pull off her mask and was surprised to see her eyes shimmering with unshed tears. He wondered why her words would hurt him so, for he couldn't explain the pang of pain that seared through his chest.

"Miyabi…"

"Do not say my name so freely," she retorted coldly as she turned her face away. "You have no right to say it."

"I apologize," he replied quietly as he released her. "If you wish to punish me for some sin I have done…then feel free to do so."

He lowered his head and waited, wondering if he would get sliced by her kunai or not.

"My father…" Her voice broke as he lifted his head slowly. She was sitting on the ground now, with her arms wrapped around her raised knees. She was looking away and he was beginning to think that she'd never let him see her features again.

"My father was a member of the ANBU squad sent to the Mist," she continued quietly. "He was supposed to be the leader but unfortunately someone else was chosen in his place."

He stiffened at the memory, now realizing who she was talking about. He wanted to explain the situation to her, but decided that it wouldn't be worth it now. She'd still hate him for allegedly taking the role that had rightfully belonged to her father.

"It was a blow to his pride and he was hurt that someone as young as you had been given such a position. He had worked hard to get there! He had spent days…nights…away from home…just to become the best and you! You had to take it away from him!"

This time when she dove for him, he made no attempt to stop her and found himself flat on the ground with a kunai at his neck and her heaving body straddling his. The tears were flowing down her cheeks now and she was making no attempt to hide them from him. Her hair billowed like soft yellow clouds around her features and for the first time in his life, he realized that he had never seen a woman as beautiful as she.

"I lost my father to the ANBU," she whispered brokenly. "He was never really there for me all because of his need to be the best. I wanted him to succeed even though it killed me to watch him walk out of that door each and every day. All I ever wanted…" The tears fell harder and his hands itched to hold on to her. Just once.

"…all I ever wanted was to hold him - to tell him that I loved him and was really proud of him." She couldn't continue as the kunai slipped from her fingers. Her head fell forward and upon his chest as she wept bitterly.

The hands that had longed to hold her rose tentatively to do so. Around her slender build, they remained locked in an embrace while he listened and allowed her to cleanse her troubled spirit. He could still remember the smiling man who had shown him pictures of his little girl with great pride.

"Your father loved you very much, Miyabi," he said softly, as his fingers brushed the fine hairs on the nape of her neck. "That was why I had felt as if I had seen you before. He had a picture of you that he kept showing me whenever we had some free time. He always wished for you to become the best shinobi you could be and regretted not being with you as much as he would have liked. You have every right to be proud of him. He died honorably for his people."

Her tears had now become soft sniffles and he wondered if she would get off his body. He hated to admit that he didn't want to release her just yet. She felt just too good against him…almost right in his arms. He wanted to protect and please her – to bring back the smile that he had seen in that picture so long ago.

"I'm…I'm happy…to hear that…" she finally replied softly as she lifted her head to stare into his warm blue eyes. "But I hope you don't really thing this will make us friends."

His lips quirked into a small smile as he shook his head slowly. "No…this definitely does not make us friends at all."

"Good." She looked flushed and slightly embarrassed at how close they were. "Well…are you going to let me go now or not?"

With a weak nod, he released her, watching wistfully as she rose to her feet, while wiping her eyes quickly. "Do not tell anyone about this," she said, reaching down to pick up her mask. "Or I'll make sure you really suffer for it."

She turned and began to make her way back, only to stop in surprise at his next question.

"Would you…like to…ah…well, if you aren't busy on Friday night…perhaps we can have a drink or two…or if you like to eat ramen that would be much better…well for me anyway, since I like ramen very much…or no…no…somewhere much more fancier than that…"

"Ramen…would be nice…" she replied unable to stop the smile that came to her features at his blubbering words. "But don't you dare think it's a date!" she added with a light huff before leaping away.

He scrambled to his feet and yelled after her in elation. "I'll meet you in front of Ichiraku's then, is that okay?!"

His only reply was a light wave of her hand and then she was out of sight, leaving him grinning like an idiot and feeling incredibly good for the first time in ages.


Two months later and it seemed as if the entire village had turned out for the grand ceremony. His vision blurred and he felt his body sway a little as the enormity of the situation came crashing down on him like a ton of bricks. He barely heard the rites and speeches given by the Elders of the council or the Daimyos that had come to participate in the ceremony. There was a steady rush of wind that flowed into his ear, causing all words to sound like a jumbled mass of unintelligible mush. As he felt the wide cone-shaped hat placed on his head and hands upon his shoulders, forcing him to slide his arms into the sleeves of the white and red flame embroidered cape, he felt the unshed tears burn in his retinas.

It was low at first – at least in his mind – but the roar grew to a thunderous crescendo and it took him another minute to realize that the people – his people – were cheering for him.

"Will you not acknowledge them?" Sarutobi whispered to the stunned figure with a warm smile as he too began to clap. "They are happy for you."

They are…happy…

He felt a slow smile break out on his features and then it became a grin as he lifted his hands – both hands – to wave at the joyous villagers below. And yet, in the midst of the crowd, he could make out the woman that had now become a part of his life in every way possible. She blew a soft but quick kiss towards him and his cheeks flared with color. This motion was not lost on the observant Sarutobi, for he hid a small smile and allowed his new assistant to bask in the spotlight.

Unfortunately, not everyone felt as thrilled for the new Hokage. For beneath, the waves of happiness and merriment lay the icy fury of one with the heart and mind of a snake.


At last, the celebrations were over and many of the Daimyos had been taken to their quarters for the night. Sarutobi, a bit light-headed from his sake consumption, glanced around the room in search of the familiar shock of blond.

"Hmm…"

He rose to his feet, slowly, and made his way to the balcony where sure enough, the Yondaime stood in the darkness with the glowing lights of Konoha for company below him.

"A breathtaking sight, is it not?" Sarutobi asked quietly. "No matter how many times I see it, it remains beautiful to me."

The younger man could only nod his head slowly. He had partaken in the party held afterwards, but the nervous and queasy sensation in his stomach had not eased since then. He had the feeling that eating anything right now would make him vomit in revulsion.

"Do you hate me for putting you in this position?" Sarutobi asked suddenly, causing the blond man to gape at him in surprise.

"Sensei…I never…"

The Sandaime held up a hand to stop him. "I know that you do not hate me personally, but perhaps a part of you does wish you had not been picked. Perhaps a part of you hates the fact that you are now responsible for the lives of so many more. Correct?"

The young man lowered his head in slight shame. How had he known?

"I felt that way too," Sarutobi answered the unspoken question. "Of course I was honored and pleased that he had seen me fit to take his position, but it still didn't stop me feeling a bit resentful. I did not choose you just because of your fighting skills. I chose you because of what's in here." He patted the left side of his chest gently. "You have a gift, my son. The gift of love and compassion that is even ten times as much as I or my predecessors could ever have. There is something pure about that and I wanted to give that to Konoha before I die."

"Sensei…"

"I have no doubts of your fighting spirit and I know that someday you will make this village proud."

The younger man's cheeks were flushed with color as he gave a polite bow to the man he had always looked up to. "But…I am still afraid, sensei," he finally confessed quietly. "Afraid of what the future holds for me…for us. There is a great danger approaching and I worry that I will fail somehow."

"The only thing we have to fear is fear itself," came the enigmatic reply. "Now go to the woman who waits for you." At the blond's start of surprise, the older man laughed. "Surely you do not think you can keep such secrets away from me, can you? She is a fine woman and you picked her well. Now go to her."

The Yondaime gave a small but sheepish grin before giving a respectful bow and leaping away from sight. Yes, he did have a woman waiting for him, but it still did not relieve the tension he felt. The Sandaime had been rather quick to dismiss his fears and he was not sure if that was a good thing…or the worst thing that could possibly happen.


In the sanctity and solitude of their home, she waited for him. Like a porcelain figure, she shone in the gloom of the room, her naked form inviting his weary one to seek solace. Like a newborn babe, he sank to his knees before her in honor and gratitude. He buried his face against her flat torso and whispered fervent words of love and need.

Miyabi…my precious Miyabi…

He rose above her prone form; their bodies now sleek with sweat and flushed with heat as he stared deeply into brilliant blue eyes that were just like his. He whispered her name as he slowly buried himself within her welcome and tight sheath. She arched below and into him, her fingers boring deep groves into his strong back as they began to move in a rhythm as old as time.

Their lips met in a kiss that was nearly punishing and bruising in its intensity. Whispered and frenzied words of love and lust permeated the air as their bodies rejoiced in final consummation. They cried out in unison, their bodies now one as a new life was finally created in the most beautiful way imaginable.


In the weeks and months that went by rather swiftly, he discovered that having the title of Hokage was no different than any other day in his life. Yes, there were a few changes here and there, in the fact that he was now a part of the governing council and could be delegated to other villages for peace talks. However, although the neighboring villages of Sound, Cloud and Mist had declared a truce for the meantime, there was still concern over the Sand. They had proven to be quite difficult to negotiate with. The 'rationing' of the ANBU, jounin and even some chuunin was a cause he was in dire need to be carried out. He insisted that more be kept in the village instead of being sent out on more missions for he had a feeling that they were going to need as many as they could have to protect Konoha.

When asked why he thought such a thing was necessary, he could never force the words - his fears - to go past the stubborn lump in his throat. How could he tell them of the persistent nightmares that had kept him awake on many an occasion? How could he tell them of the worries for his beloved and their unborn child? They would scoff and laugh at him behind his back, of course. They would snicker to themselves and say that they had warned Sarutobi about his youth and age. He knew full well that the Sandaime had lobbied for this position for him and he was doing all he could to live up to his mentor's expectations.

No, he decided with an inner sigh, he could never share this seeming weakness with anyone else.

"You look troubled," came the soft statement that had him jerking out of his reverie with a guilty look on his features. He stared into the smiling visage of his sensei and forced a matching grin on his own features. "Is it Miyabi?"

He shook his head slowly, wondering just how many people were bound to know about his relationship with the young woman. They had both decided to keep it a secret until they were ready to announce their relationship to the village. It was a mutual decision that both had agreed upon in the wee hours of the morning. It was more for Miyabi's protection than anything else. If word got around that she was his bride-to-be, her life could be in danger. The wife of the Hokage was an easy target for enemies.

It never ceased to amaze him at how much Miyabi seemed to understand even the most mundane of emotions that he went through. He found himself looking forward to being with her at the end of a long day and would find pleasure in regaling her with tales on the battlefield or with problems he had faced during the busy work day. Although, she had made no effort to hide her sadness at not being an ANBU anymore, she was still willing to remain in the shadows. She was forced to go back to a life of cooking and cleaning - chores that reminded her painfully of living all alone with a father who was never there. She had told her beloved of her trepidations, worried over not being able to please him well enough as a wife, but he had eased her mind over and over again. He was going to be the best husband to her and once their child was born, he would become a devoted father as well

A father. He still couldn't believe he would have such a title attached to his name soon.

"Miyabi is fine," he finally replied with a warm smile. "She has asked you to come and visit sometime, sensei. I keep trying to make up excuses but no more. You must come to my home for dinner sometime."

The white-haired man laughed heartily and blew another cloud of smoke from his pipe. "You drive a hard bargain, which is why you were one of my best students."

The blond had the grace to blush. "It was a pleasure learning under one of the legendary sannin..."

"Please," the older man said with a wave of his hand. "I am only Jiraiya. Nothing spectacular should be added to my name besides the fact that the Sandaime was our teacher. Besides, Orochimaru was his favorite and still is, if I'm not mistaken."

The Yondaime noticed the bitter tone in the statement but thought it wise to keep all questions to himself. But as his mind raced with them, he wondered if he dared bring up the conversation about his dreams. Even he had not told Miyabi about them but he had the feeling that if anyone could understand what he was going through it would be this great white-haired man with a penchant for the perverted side of life.

"Sensei," he began quietly, while making sure that they were completely alone on the balcony. "Sensei...would you think me crazy if I told you about a dream I've been having for the past few months?"

The teacher recognized the serious tone in his student's voice and he gave a slow nod in understanding. "Carry on. I'm listening."

With his heart pounding, his hands slightly trembling with emotion, he tried to convey the enormity of the situation as best he could. As he spoke, he watched the older man's expressions closely, hoping that the look of incredulity or ridicule would not be displayed. When he was done, he held his breath and waited for his teacher's answer. If he was scoffed now, he knew that any chance of his story or message getting across to others would be a complete and utter failure.

Jiraiya took another lungful of smoke and puffed it out in a cloud as his gaze narrowed in contemplation. "You are not the only one who's been afflicted with such dreams," he began quietly. "They are hardly factors of hallucination, neither are you going mad. As legend has foretold, the Kyuubi will show his face again to claim what is his."

"And what would that be?" the young Hokage asked tightly as he felt something similar to cold claws clenching around his heart. He was suddenly finding it very difficult to breathe.

"Human sacrifice," Jiraiya stated simply. "He is a cold-hearted beast, who wants only nourishment after a hundred years of exile. When my father told me about it, I only scoffed and laughed but the documents and historians wouldn't make up such a story now, would they? It's happened before and it's going to happen again."

He lifted his pipe to the heavens and traced an invisible line into the horizon. "Once the full moon reaches the high heavens, then shall the nine-tailed demon return for a night of destruction and chaos. However…"

He stopped and the Yondaime raised a brow in impatience. "However…?"

"However," Jiraiya continued with his eyes narrowed in thought. "It can only be summoned by someone who has an evil intent against others."

The younger man gasped in surprise. "It's been sealed? But…how…?"

"Even I don't know the right seals to unleash such a beast," Jiraiya confessed. "I do know that the Sandaime might have an idea, but he never shared it with us. I assume if one really wanted to release the demon, he or she could do so by being extremely patient and skilled in some high-level ninjutsu."

The blond digested this information with a million and one thoughts racing through his mind. So, he wasn't going mad. Anyone of the neighboring villages, their enemies, could have spent years honing their skills in summoning the demon to destroy them. Damn it!

"So...so are you saying we have no chance against such a being?" he finally asked tightly.

Jiraiya raised a brow. "You seek to fight with the gods? You only tread on dangerous ground..."

But the Yondaime was no longer listening. He had paced to the rails and was now clutching it tightly - so tightly that they left deep red grooves in his palms. But the pain was nothing compared to the one in his heart. They had known. The elders, the Sandaime and even some of the daimyos must have known about the impending danger and yet no one had thought of a way to end the cycle of destruction? To think that this beautiful and peaceful village below him would be destroyed by a beast was too much for him to bear. What would become of Miyabi and his child? He couldn't let them die for nothing.

"I won't..."

Jiraiya raised a brow at the determination in the younger man's voice and a small smile came to his features. "You will fight with the gods," he said flatly as he met the fiery blue gaze.

"Yes, I will, sensei."

"And how do you plan to do so?"

He gritted his teeth and spun back to look at the three and a half (if you counted his half-finished image) profiles of his predecessors touring above Konoha. "I don't know what to do yet, sensei," he said firmly but quietly. "But I won't let him destroy Konoha. Miyabi and my unborn child will live. Konoha will survive. That is a promise to my people."


Every night became a lesson in patience and perseverance for the young Hokage. He would stay up for hours on end, reading through ancient and forbidden scrolls in the quest to find the one thing that could destroy a demon. Few documents could tell of any jutsu performed to get rid of the Kyuubi the first time it had arrived. Many lives had been lost and the very few who had survived had moved down here to present Konoha. In the sanctuary of his office, he would perform various seals in different combinations. But to his chagrin and frustration, all he could come up with were basic destructive techniques which he doubted would make a dent in a thing as powerful as the demon.

Hardly lifting his head from the scrolls, he was unaware of Miyabi's presence in the room. Now, at eight months, her pregnancy was more evident and it made her look even prettier. She had allowed her once short locks to grow and now they were in a shoulder length ponytail. Placing the tray of tea and rice cakes on the cluttered desk, she eyed the sketches, seals and notes on the floor (and even some on the wall) and the number of opened scrolls and books scattered everywhere. Her beloved didn't look any better. He looked tired and distressed. There were faint rings below his eyes and the blue gaze that had once been filled with luster and vitality looked drawn and distant.

"You should eat," she said softly, not sure if he would hear her or not. It was the same routine now. He would come home from work and straight into his den with a quick but absent kiss on her lips.

Was he hungry?

No, not at the moment.

Perhaps she could make him a snack.

No, he will eat when he's ready.

And that would be the end of their conversation for the rest of the evening.

She missed the man whose grin could light up a room. She missed his laughter and his stupid jokes. She wanted to push away the scrolls and to remind him of just who was more important. His work or his family? He never really shared much with her these days and whenever he did show up to bed, he would either fall straight to sleep or gather her within his arms in an embrace that gave her some hope.

As she left the room with a sigh, she heard him muttering something about the rasengan not being strong enough either. Shaking her head softly, she walked into the kitchen and began to clean up the best she could. As she worked, she sung softly to her stirring child, smiling at the thought that he or she would grow up with the knowledge that their father was the most important man in the village.

"May you be a source of light and inspiration to everyone you meet, my precious child," she whispered softly. "Just like your father..."


When the words on the scroll began to swim before his eyes, he knew that it was time to call it a night. There was no point trying to read anymore for they would make little to no sense to him. He leaned back on his chair and stretched aching muscles, only to stare blankly at the tray now filled with tepid tea and congealed rice-cakes still sitting before him.

Miyabi...

He groaned softly and ran his fingers through his hair, reaching out for the snacks that his beloved had left for him hours ago. He drank and ate them all, suffering the bland taste as punishment for his negligence. Once done with his late night snack, he took the tray to the kitchen and washed it out carefully. He couldn't help smiling at the set of baby bottles and plates that had been laid out neatly in one of the cabinets. Miyabi was already doing her part in preparation for their baby's arrival and what was he doing? Spending hours and hours locked away from them, all in a quest to save...who? Himself or his people?

As he walked quietly into his bedroom, he leaned against the doorway and watched his sleeping woman with a small smile filled with warmth and love. The swell of her stomach rose like a smooth beacon beneath the blanket and as he walked up to her, he knelt beside the bed to place a tender kiss upon it. He closed his eyes and listened to his unborn child's heartbeat, feeling a ridiculous sting of tears in his eyes.

"Will you grow up to hate me or love me?" he asked in a soft whisper. "Will I be good enough of a father to you? Will I make you proud of me as I will always be proud of you…my son?"

"What makes you so sure it's going to be a boy?" Miyabi asked softly as she opened up her eyes slowly with a small but warm smile on her features. She sank her fingers into his blond hair, combing out the slightly ruffled locks gently. "We might very well have a little girl and then what?"

"And she would become the most beautiful woman in the village," he replied with a soft groan at her ministrations. "Just like her mother."

Miyabi blushed faintly and patted the empty spot next to her. "Come to bed, my love. You have another long day ahead of you."

He did as he was told, but wrapped an arm around her torso, pulling her tightly to his body. He stared into her eyes and felt a stubborn lump lodged in his throat. So many things he wanted to tell her, so little time.

"I love you, Miyabi," he finally whispered thickly. "No matter what happens to me…I will always love you both…"


He closed the door to his office quietly behind him, nodding absently but with a warm smile towards the shinobi on duty. Reading through the list of new chuunin, he hardly paid attention to where he was going until he felt his skin prickle with awareness. He snapped the book closed and stood still in the middle of the long corridor, blue eyes narrowed with wariness as he eyed the black snake that slithered on the ground before him. He felt something cold and clammy creep up his spine and for some reason, the temperature seemed to drop causing him to shiver in response.

He didn't need to turn around to know who was sitting on the ledge behind him. He gritted his teeth and tried to force a smile to his visage. Feeling as if he had the situation in control, he tried to turn around to greet the older man.

"Don't bother doing so, Yondaime," came the voice that was about as friendly as ice. "I don't think I ever really had the chance to congratulate you on assuming such a position, did I?"

What did the legendary sannin expect him to say? "It's true," he finally muttered. "I did not see you at the ceremony, sensei. Have you been busy?"

"Indeed I have," the pale-skinned man responded with a sly grin that could not be seen by the blond. "You do know that I have been developing some revolutionary jutsu that can be used to aid Konoha during the war."

The Yondaime remained silent.

"I still wish for you to join me in my quest to find the perfect ninjutsu. With your talent and my skills we could be unstoppable."

The slow hiss of the snake and the subsequent feel of something cool and long against his neck had the younger man swallowing tightly. He wasn't sure he could fight with the sannin at this time. First, the location was just not good enough and he doubted he was as strong as Orochimaru…yet. And so he suffered the abrasive tongue on his flesh and the feel of the man's arms around his waist. He hadn't even seen the sannin move.

Damn…

"So? What do you say, my precious Yondaime? You've obviously become the Sandaime's pet and everyone else seems to be eating out of your hand. But I can see the quest for more power in your eyes…deep down in your heart…you wish to know more…to learn more…how to perhaps…destroy a certain demon?"

The blond's eyes widened in shock. "How…?"

Orochimaru laughed softly and pulled away to lean against the wall with an expression of boredom on his features, although the gleam of mischief in his eyes did not fade.

"There's no magic in it, Yondaime," he said. "I can see the lines of worry and concern in your eyes and you seek for a way to destroy it…just in case something like that does happen, right?"

The younger man took a step forward, hand clenched into a tight fist. "Do you know of something, sensei?! Do you?! If the demon can be summoned then who do you think will do so? Who has the ability to do something like that? Who?!"

He gasped as he was pushed against a wall. He found himself staring into the dark eyes of Orochimaru, wincing at the feel of the cold hands around his neck. "You. You. You. You. It's always about you, isn't it, pretty boy? Just because you've been made the Hokage, gives you no right to speak to me like that!" He hissed coldly.

"But…urgh!" The chokehold tightened and the Yondaime could hardly breathe. It felt as if Orochimaru was cutting off his air circulation as well as performing some sort of genjutsu on him that made his body feel incredibly weak.

"Worry, worry, suffer, suffer," Orochimaru crooned mercilessly as a greedy smile came to his features at the sight of the fear in the blue eyes before him. "Go insane with the need to rescue your people. I'll take great pleasure in watching you go mad, my precious Yondaime."

I'm dying…oh god…I'm dying…

"Hokage-sama!!" came the sudden cries from some of the guards and just as quickly, the Yondaime felt himself released. Orochimaru vanished from sight and the blond fell to his knees, coughing harshly as he felt his lungs expand and contract painfully with each breath he took.

"Hokage-sama! Are you all right?!" They tried to lift him to his feet, but he brushed their hands aside and struggled to his feet.

Damn, Orochimaru! He cursed inwardly as he ignored all attempts for help. He was angry and rightfully so. He would never forgive the sannin for threatening him and Konoha like this! He didn't know how much time he had left, but he was going to find a way to destroy that Kyuubi, even if it meant at the cost of his life!


"Hokage-sama….Hokage-sama! Please wake up! Hokage-sama!"

His lashes flew open and he sat up quickly, wincing as the sudden motion caused a brain-splitting headache to rip through his skull. He blinked for a few minutes, trying to make sense of the fuzzy image of the person peering at him in concern.

"What…what is it, Hayase?" he asked thickly as he rubbed his eyes slowly. He realized he was still in his office and he had no idea of what time it was. How long had he been here?

"It's Miyabi-sama," the shinobi replied quickly. At the name, the blond's eyes widened in understanding. He rose to his feet quickly, almost stumbling to the floor in his haste.

"Is she…?"

"Yes, sir! But…but there's…been a problem, Hokage-sama…"

Already half-way out the door, the older man turned around slowly, now noticing the slow trail of tears that was beginning to slide down the shinobi's cheeks. He could feel something cold and hard clench his heart and he began to shake his head slowly.

"No…no…Miyabi…what's happened to Miyabi?! My son! What about my son?! Damn it!" Too impatient to wait for an answer, he sped out of the building and began to leap from rooftop to rooftop, eyes burning with unshed tears. He cursed himself a million times over for being too blind. How could he have been so stupid? How could he have ignored his family all this time to focus on Orochimaru and his problems? And now…now…

"Please…please god…if you're up there and listening…help her…help them. Please!"

Finally arriving, completely out of breath, he all but threw open the door to his home, white cloak flying after him like the wind as he strode in quickly. "Miyabi! Miyabi! Where is Miyabi?!" he bellowed desperately. He tried to push his way past the two nurses that had come out of the bedroom to block his path.

"Hokage-sama…please…"

"Let me see her! I need to see her!" the young man cried as he pushed them aside only to find himself standing face-to-face with Jiraiya.

"Sen…sensei…" he began brokenly, already knowing the answer in the blank look within the older man's eyes. "Oh…god…"

"They said she couldn't bear the 'trauma' of childbirth," the sannin began softly as he watched his student crumple to the ground with a dazed expression on his features. He watched with mild concern as the fevered light in the man's blue eyes began to slowly fade into nothing. "She bled…a lot…and they tried to do all they could. I am really sorry for your loss."

He placed a gentle but firm hand upon his shoulder. "However, she did leave you with a special gift…" he added with a small smile.

"I wasn't here…" the younger man whispered to himself like a mantra. "I wasn't here for her…I wasn't…here…I wasn't…"

But the piercing cry of the newborn baby cut through his descent into madness like a knife. A dull fire flickered in his eyes for a moment and he stumbled to his feet walking blindly towards the sound of new life.

It was Sarutobi, who walked out of the bedroom with something swaddled in white. The older man smiled warmly at his assistant, eyes moist with emotion as the tiny being within his arms continued to cry lustily. "She did leave you with a special gift," he said softly as he held out the squirming bundle towards the young man. "'He will become a vessel for the demon you wish to destroy. Give him a good name, my beloved. One that will be remembered for all eternity.'"

With a small cry, the tears came - hard and fast as he held onto his flesh and blood.

Naruto…you will be Naruto, my son.

Clear blue eyes stared with frank curiosity into the face of the sobbing man above him as if desperately trying to memorize the features of the one he would call father someday. But they closed again in weariness before succumbing to the pain at losing the warmth of his mother and suffering the joy and misery of his father.

"I will make you proud of me," he whispered thickly. "I promise…I will make you proud of me…"

He knew that time was of the essence now, for his last and most poignant dream had told him just that.


Epilogue:

(From the documented entry of the Sandaime);

Even before he utters the words, I already have an inkling of what he is about

to do. There is a haunted look in his eyes - a mirror to the ones that have now

filled many of our comrades as the battle continues to rage on.

Desperation, anguish, hopelessness.

All whirling within our defeated hearts as the growing cries of death and

suffering send chills down our spines.

I hear him mutter the words 'vessel'. I feel my blood run cold.

He has pulled out the scroll and is about to perform the damning seal that will

send both he and the horror that is the Nine Tails into possibly hell.

"Don't do it!" I cry out in desperation, but I can already tell that his mind is

set.

He gives me a small smile. Heartbreakingly sad and yet full of hope.

"Promise me, you'll take care of him, Sarutobi," he says to me in a voice that

holds no room for argument.

I can only nod. I cannot trust myself to speak even if I tried.

"He will be a hero for the village. Let him know that, sensei. Let him know that

he has rescued the village from its imminent destruction. Promise me that."

I must have said something because he gives me a nod of acknowledgement.

The flames are becoming hotter now. I can practically feel the very breath of

the demon upon my back. It is coming closer. Our time has run out.

"Will he resent me?"

I start in bemusement. There is an unsure look in those eyes now, as he gets

ready to meet his doom.

"Tell me, Sarutobi," he asks again. "Will he resent me for doing this to him

when he grows up?"

I stare at him for a moment, knowing that behind those determined blue eyes are

millions of questions that might break his resolve if he chose to dwell too much

on it.

"I do not know," I finally reply weakly. "Only time will tell, my son."

It is not the answer he is looking for, but for now, he will be satisfied with

it.

"Yes…only time will tell, sensei."

The demon has sensed his presence. It is time for us to go our separate ways.

"Become the best Hokage ever," he calls out to me as he makes his way towards

the monument. It is only fitting that he would wish to end his life on such a

pinnacle.

I never even got to say goodbye, as I watch him slowly vanish before my eyes in

a wave of fire, smoke and darkness.

And just like that… it is all over.


As I sit here to write this, I wish I could tell you that so much more happened. It was a brutal battle and not one that many of us wish to remember. But we do remember, for it was the final time we got to witness the true genius, strength and compassion from such a man. I would like to sit here and tell you that I knew him inside and out…like the back of my hand perhaps, but I would be doing you, the reader, a great disservice.

For you see, the Yondaime was a difficult man to understand. Just as he was friendly and outgoing, was he also mysterious and private. I never got to truly know what thoughts raced through his mind or what plans he might have had next. But there is no doubt in my mind that he loved his woman and child very much. His impact on Konoha and indeed on other countries will never be forgotten. He will always be revered even as his life has somehow become a legend in itself.

He made us (Jiraiya and I) promise never to let Naruto know of his real role - for a part of him was still ashamed at not being there on such a special day. Perhaps someday, when the boy was older, we were free to tell him, but he was determined to let Naruto enjoy the comforts of being a young man without the burden of knowing that his father had been the Hokage.

Now, that I can truly understand. And so I leave you with a few parting words, from his mouth and into your ears, minds and hearts.

'Let him forge his own path. Let him make up his mind on how he wants to live his life. And if he wishes to become the Hokage someday…then let him know that I will always watch and protect him until his dying day.'

The End


Author's Notes:

If you've come this far without hurling or threatening to kill me, then I thank you for taking the time to read a story that's been a few months in the making…well at least, since the moment I saw the Yondaime's face in the manga and all the speculation swirled about he being Naruto's father.

I am more than aware that there have been some stories out there supporting this theory and many of us would like or wish for that to be the case IF Kishimoto-san ever reveals it. However, one must remember that this is pure speculation and we the fanfiction writers are just having fun with it.

I took a few liberties with the timeline (because believe me having to comb through it to figure out what was what got confusing after a while). If you'll also notice, the Yondaime was given no 'name'. It was extremely difficult not to just use some name out of a hat, but to honor the mystery (so far as the current Kakashi gaiden by end up telling us his real name) of just who or what he was, I decided to leave him 'nameless'. Miyabi – on the other hand, is a name that I've always liked and it although it doesn't really 'fit' into the Naruto system of names, it does sound a bit awkward, but I liked it all the same.

Concerning the arrival of the Kyuubi had me worried a bit. I wasn't sure of how to bring him into the timeline because I was puzzled as to why he showed up in the first place. But a theory about Orochimaru being responsible for that, stuck with me, hence the implications from Jiraiya and the confrontation with the Yondaime. Again, I am sure by the time the next few chapters of the gaiden appears, the real reason will be revealed.

One will also notice that the italicized part in Sarutobi's narration was an excerpt from a challenge drabble that I had submitted for Narutoyaoi. I was so happy it fit in there somehow and ending it with the Sandaime's speech seemed fitting somehow.

I suppose I could have waited until the Kakashi arc was finished in the manga to finish up this story, but I'm afraid of waiting too long and then I'll get disinterested and be unable to finish. But I'm glad it is. It's rather long for a one-shot, but I'm happy with the way it turned out.

Consider this my homage to such a great but yet little known character. It was a pleasure to write and perhaps if more is revealed, I'll try to tackle another story or two about him.

My thanks go to the LJ communities, Naruto Fanworks, Narutoyaoi and Chuunin for their responses to some of my questions – to the sites, Naruto Chuushin, Naruto fan and the Mythological Encyclopedia for all the help in my research.

Thank you again for reading!