A/N: Namikaze Minato is a character that has always interested me. I like tragic characters, and I like strong characters, so writing a story about him fits naturally with how I like to write. I am always looking for ways to redefine how people view a world, and I have never seen another story that focuses mostly on the dead like mine does. An original idea in fanfiction, who would have thought it? This story strives to be humorous, to be light hearted, but more than anything it strives to not betray the characters that I poke fun at. Mind you, I have a pretty liberal view of what is betraying characters, so yeah. There will be times where I tone the humor down, but I don't get many complaints about that. Anyway, have fun reading.
Chapter 1: Yellow Flash in a White Space
If Namikaze Minato had known he was going to be stuck in this place for just about the rest of eternity he would have happily stayed in the Shinigami's stomach. The man stared at his surroundings which amounted to an endless amount of white. He looked to the right and he saw white. He looked to the left and saw more white. He would have looked up but he was depressed enough as it was, more white wasn't going to make him feel any better about the situation.
The man sighed and wondered for what seemed like the millionth time if it was worth his time to hunt down whatever bastard "decorated" this place and give them a piece of his mind to go with his fist to their face. Honestly, how lazy did someone have to be to do nothing with an entire endless space aside to make it white?
What Minato did not know was that the issue had little to do with laziness and more to do with the very nature of his boss, the Shinigami.
Somewhere very scary: an accountant's office
The Shinigami could not keep the bored look off of his face as he pretended to listen to his accountant. It would be many years before Minato was in the afterlife, and the Shinigami found himself bored all the time. He was so bored in fact that he had thought visiting his accountant might help. It wasn't one of his better ideas. The Shinigami caught the accountant opening a new file and before he could start to explain it the Shinigami interjected. "Not to cut our meeting short, but perhaps a summary of what I have and some investment ideas are in order?"
The accountant was scared witless of the god in front of him and did his best not to flee in terror just at being spoken to. "O-of course, Shinigami-sama." The accountant picked up a piece of paper and skimmed it quickly before speaking again. "You have roughly four billion afterlife points to spend between a few different projects. You already own a vast blank space which you can turn into just about anything which would only take half of the remaining points. You also have a fairly underfunded torture department but honestly what use could you possibly have for it in the afterlife." The accountant adjusted his glasses waiting for the Death God's reply.
The Shinigami tilted his head for a moment, as if trying to think of a distant thought. After a few moments there was a spark of recognition in the ghastly figure's eyes. The Shinigami grinned wickedly, nearly causing the poor accountant to faint right then and there. The Shinigami had an idea, and when the Shinigami has an idea things tend to either die or wish very sincerely that they were about to die.
"Yes, what possible use could I have for torture…" The Shinigami said to himself, lost in his own evil thoughts.
Back with Minato
Minato sighed, taking a hand and running it through his wild blond hair. He looked at his surroundings again, and again he saw nothing but the color white closing in on him.
I am this super important judge but I cannot even get an interior decorator in here? Something is wrong with this picture, Minato thought. I can feel the white closing in on me. Maybe I am finally starting to crack after all of these years...
That feeling may have been justified given how Minato had handled a stressful situation a few days prior.
A few days prior
The Shinigami's assistant, an annoying woman in every way possible, had been rambling on for hours about all sorts of things until Minato finally snapped.
"Assistant-san, if I have to look at both you and these damnable white walls for any longer I am going to get rid of one of them, and here's a spoiler for you, I can't move this room." The bossy woman stopped mid sentence at the hard look. For a moment it was clear that she wanted to shout back but when Minato's gaze did not relent the haughty woman silently ran away as fast as her legs could carry her.
Minato let out a large sigh and smiled. He knew staring at himself in the mirror for hours to work on his glare would be a good investment of time.
Without question the color white gnawed at the outer edges of Minato's sanity. It was just so utterly boring. At least when Minato had worn a white cloak he had gotten cool flames at the bottom of it for contrast. White by itself, however, had no contrast. It was just there and it was very boring. If there was one thing Minato couldn't stand it was most certainly boredom.
This is the Inception of Flashbacks
Jiraiya was a legendary ninja in his own right, but when anyone asked the man what he was most proud of he'd start telling stories about his first apprentice. He could talk for days about Namikaze Minato. Somewhere in there he would have had to make mention of the fact that Minato wasn't exactly one for strategy sessions.
"Minato, the plan is to wait for the Iwa*(1) ninja for four hours here, by doing this we can get the jump on...Minato?" Jiraiya looked up, noticing that his apprentice was not around.
"Oh did you say something, sensei?" Minato answered a few feet away as he dumped off a few bodies onto the ground. Upon closer inspection they were Iwa shinobi. Jiraiya looked down at his finely tuned and well drawn out strategy and sighed.
Well, this is going to cut down on paper at least, Jiraiya thought.(2)
Back with Minato
All of that had to be forgotten now. That was his past. A life of excitement and choice. Of course, this 'life' had been a choice as well. He didn't have to be here. He could have let his village burn and him along with it and he probably would have had a very relaxing afterlife. An afterlife that involved very little white.
To become Hokage, the Fire Shadow, a person has to understand what is important about Konoha. It is not the techniques, the history, or even the current people who live within. It is about the future, about instilling the will of fire in every young person in the village so that their lives will be better and more full of promise than the previous generation's. That was what Minato had died for that night. His unselfishness even in his final moments was why so many people considered him to be the greatest ninja to ever come from Konoha. Some have postulated that the price of greatness cannot properly be measured, but Minato was fairly sure that it involved the color white. All Minato could hope for was that his sacrifice made the world a better place.
Unbeknownst to Minato, when word of his death had spread very quickly throughout the ninja world one man in particular had immediately thought the world was a better place.
Somewhere clearly cleverly hidden, years ago...
Tobi, all around bastard and as evil as a man could be, was throwing himself a party. He had invited all of his friends over, in other words he was by himself, and was currently slicing up a cake with thin razor wire. His academy instructor would be ever so proud! The man had lost his head over Tobi's lack of attention in class, but Tobi had eventually proven to be a good boy and was stubborn enough to get techniques such as cake slicing down. The cake in front of him read 'Namikaze Minato is dead hooray today is an awesome d'. He had run out of red icing.
Back with Minato
Summoning the Shinigami to seal the Kyuubi into his son was supposed to be the hard part for Minato, but that had gone pretty much as planned. The hard part was being under contract with the wicked fiend. The Shinigami was polite enough most of the time, but the very fact that Minato spent all day dealing with paperwork was proof positive that his new master had a dark sense of humor. Minato had loathed doing paperwork when he was still alive. Put him in the middle of a battlefield and there would have been a lot of dead enemy corpses and him in that same field in under a minute. Put him in a room full of paperwork and there would be a whiny brat of a man mumbling to himself for hours. He often remarked that if he had known that he would have been used as a paper shuffler instead of as the Death God's snack, he probably would have just left his village to burn.
Everyone usually thought he was joking, but there were moments where even the people who knew him best were not quite sure on that.
The Shinigami was not someone anyone would ever mistake for kind. However, every so often his interests coincided with others in such a way that if no one knew better they could mistake an action of the Shinigami's as kindness. One such action had been when Minato had been bitching and moaning about all of the paperwork. Oh sure the Shinigami could have done something needlessly cruel, but why waste good ideas on anyone but Orochimaru? Instead the Shinigami had offered Minato no less than five virgins a day for the rest of his stay in the afterlife. To his amazement the former Hokage had politely declined his generous offer. The Shinigami had almost given up on making Minato happy and was about to remove a limb or two when he, on a whim, gave Minato a bullshit line about how much of an honor it should be to be judge of the dead. Of course the Shinigami knew that no one wanted the job, but he thought it was worth a shot. The Shinigami was still laughing about the fact that Minato not only bought it, but totally ran with it! He'd tell newly dead souls how honored he was to be able to judge them. Sometimes the Shinigami really appreciated how awesome he was.(3)
These days he had the benefit of a decade of experience to get used to the fact that he was the one doing all this work. It hadn't been very reassuring when he was getting his first tour of the place.
He had only been on the job for a few hours, recently having sent an elderly man to a peaceful rest after he died of natural causes, when something occurred to him. The paperwork he had in front of him hadn't updated to include his ruling on the man's afterlife even though there was a space for it printed on the paperwork.
Using his Shinigami calling button(4) Minato summoned the Shinigami to his side. The Shinigami was an impressive looking figure, standing around eight feet tall and having a tattered dark robe surrounding his hulking frame. The only thing that escaped the robe was the god's pale face which was quite a sight. He had several rows of teeth that were now etched in what could be believed to be a grin of sorts and his small, demonic eyes were staring pointedly at the Yondaime Hokage. Such a look would have sent most men cowering.
Namikaze Minato was not most men.
"You've already got my soul, do you have to ham it up all the time Shinigami-sama?" Minato asked with absolutely no respect in his voice.
The Shinigami sighed. "You call me up and I am so generous as to spare my very important reaping time to come to you at you whimsy and the first thing you do is insult me? If I had a heart I am sure it would be feeling squeezed right about now."
Minato rolled his eyes. After a moment he realized that the Shinigami was glaring at him very hard and that he should probably get on with his question. "Right, my problem. Well as you know I hate paperwork and all of that but I like to do it right. I just judged a soul and the paperwork didn't update. Isn't this process supposed to be automated?"
"Well Hokage-kun(5), I did not think I had to explain everything to you, but alas it seems your hand needs to be held. So be it," the Shinigami said.
Minato's eye twitched ever so slightly at the obvious jab. "Please explain anyway."
"Well just because you said please," the Shinigami said mockingly. "The whole process could take me several minutes to explain and it would be dreadfully boring and serve no purpose, so basically everything is done to amuse me."
"...Excuse me?" Minato said.
"Hmm, might need to get your hearing checked as well. Not a good day for you at all, Minato-kun." Minato twitched. "Basically everything in the afterlife is more or less done like it is in life: Instead of living beings, dead beings do it. It is like watching humans running around doing my bidding!"
"Um, that's exactly what it is," Minato said.
The Shinigami shrugged. "Your point?"
Minato nodded his head. Despite the Shinigami's warped sense of humor, the logic behind all of that was fairly simple to grasp. "That's a lot of work Shinigami-sama, how many people do you have working on that at any one time? A few? Ten maybe?" Minato wasn't sure what to guess, after all he was the only judge of the dead so it would stand to reason that there wouldn't be too many more people writing these reports.
The Shinigami thought it over for a moment as he pretended to do some rough calculations in his head. "I'd say roughly five thousand people at any one time."
Minato raised an eyebrow at this. His guess hadn't even been close!
"Given that there are so many people that are alive, I suppose that makes sense. That's still incredible though. Since there are so many people working on the manuscripts of people's lives how many people work on the files after someone is deceased?" As soon as Minato had asked his question, the Shinigami had seemingly let out a perverse chuckle of delight. Minato shook his head slightly, convinced that he had heard wrong; the Death God does not chuckle.
"Only one I am afraid." The Shinigami waited for his pet Hokage to react how he wanted him to. He was not disappointed.
Minato let out a loud laugh, feeling sorry for whatever poor bastard was stuck with that particular job. "That's simply terrible, Shinigami-sama. What miserable soul did you manage to stick with that job?"
Minato stopped laughing abruptly at that declaration.
The Shinigami was pleased.
"Yes I know, woe is you and all of that. However unlike many of the lesser gods you silly mortals like to worship or to call upon in worship, I am not second class. I will not take anything less than the soul of the person who summons me in tribute for my deeds. You will see people who are much less talented than myself have many more souls in their possession because they are weaklings who are willing to settle. I have very few people contracted to me for a reason. There are very few people who possess what is required to summon me."
"What is that?" Minato asked.
"A gross amount of stupidity and an abundance of overconfidence," the Shinigami said casually. "So quit your whining because don't forget one very important thing: You're my bitch now."
Minato didn't know it at the time, but the Shinigami had taken a liking to him more than ever that day.
The paperwork wasn't as simple as he had hoped for either. He had to give detailed analysis as to why he had chosen where to place each individual. While he had complete discretion as to where a person would go it seemed that simply asking someone to pick a random number between one and forty was out of the question. He had thought himself clever for thinking it up and everything. That plan dashed he had decided to take the job very seriously. Even so, if he knew he was going to get stuck with this job when he made the pact with the Death God maybe he would have just let Konoha be destroyed by the fearsome fox demon. Well okay maybe he wouldn't have, but he sure likes to say it a lot for someone who wouldn't have done it.
It had been twelve years since his death but even now when he closed his eyes Minato could see his little boy, Naruto, in his hands as the two of them stared up at the Nine-Tailed Fox. He remembered Kushina being there as well but as the years passed his mind focused more and more on Naruto. The little boy had looked more curious than anything as he stared at the strongest tailed beast. His bright blue eyes still shined in Minato's mind just as brightly as they had while Minato was still alive. That night still haunted Minato, and him telling himself that he did the right thing didn't make it easier for him to handle it. His little boy was probably a ninja by now, off doing D-rank missions. If he was anything like his mother the boy would be complaining loudly about each and every one. Minato chuckled at the thought.
Minato spent a lot of time thinking about Naruto. He was stuck here in this horrible white space and even when he could get away for short periods of time there weren't many people in the entire afterlife who could tell him anything about his son. Information about the living wasn't his department after all. There had been several Konoha ninjas who had passed through over the years but Minato tried to be professional when dealing with new souls and declined to ask them about his son.
I hope he isn't too spoiled, Minato thought. Although I can't say I'd blame them for doting on him quite a bit. He is after all the only thing holding back the monstrous Kyuubi from destroying them all. Such a terrible burden will not be easy for him, but with loved ones there to guide him I am sure he'll be able to handle it. Such a double edged sword for you to wield for the village's protection, Naruto, I hope you are able to cope with that burden and someday forgive me. I have faith in you, my son.
His thoughts were brought to an abrupt end as a young woman entered the white space. Sparing a glance at his queue button for not working properly he turned his attention to the person in front of him and he had to stop himself from gaping. He had thought the person who had just arrived was woman, but he felt foolish because all it took was a serious glance to discover that it was a man. Minato was glad that he hadn't said anything because that could have been pretty awkward.
My senses are dulling... that's never a good sign, Minato thought.
Many years ago Minato was returning late from a rigorous training session at the tender age of ten. He was pushing himself to his limit and a stiff breeze could have kicked his ass at the moment. His eyes were barely open and his feet dragged. As he neared his home he suddenly detected a faint chakra source in the trees and threw a kunai straight at it.
Exactly four seconds later Jiraiya came out holding a kunai in his hand and Minato paled. That's what he got for trying to think he was a good ninja.
"You know, if it was anyone but me they would have been caught completely off guard and you could have killed them." Jiraiya looked down at Minato with a disappointed look on his face. Jiraiya was very glad in this moment that he had gotten so good at the art of bullshitting in his advanced years.
"But sensei, I knew it was you, who else but you hangs out in bushes waiting for small children to make their way home?" Minato had thought of trying to suck up to his master, but decided that if he was going to fall on his sword he might as well make a memory out of it.
The look on Jiraiya's face was priceless for the moment Minato saw it before he got buried face first into the concrete.
"You are a ninja, not a comedian! Be sure to stick with the former because you damn sure can't do the latter! Now get inside before I really give you a pounding!"
Minato nodded, thankful that his wise crack hadn't gotten him some cracked bones in return. He silently went inside without saying anything further. He didn't want to push his luck too far after all.
Waiting until Minato was out sight Jiraiya dropped the kunai and let out a string of curses. He looked down at his hand to see a large gash in it.
I am going to make that kid into one hell of a shinobi if the little genius doesn't fucking cleave me in half first, Jiraiya thought before he headed to the hospital to see Tsunade. At least his day was looking up.
Back in the White Space Minato gave the man in front of him a hard look. The man was a ninja, and a damned good one if the calm look on his face was any indication. Not many people could be so calm so soon after death, but calm was the only word to describe the man in front of him. Well, girly would be a good fit too.
Minato's greeting seemed to startle the boy as he jumped a bit at hearing the voice before turning to greet him. "Hello." The boy's voice was polite and crisp, and he held the blond haired man's gaze for a moment before a spark of recognition went through his eyes. Although a second later it was replaced with curiosity. "Where am I? The last thing that I remember is…Oh. I am dead, aren't I?" Haku's features clouded over for a moment, and the question was obviously rhetorical.
Minato nodded to the question all the same. "You are in limbo, a place I lovingly refer to as the 'White Space'. This is the final stopping point on the path to your final destination, which will be decided by me. I am sorry if your death comes as a shock to you, I know that"- Minato was cut off by Haku placing a hand in front of him.
"No, it is quite alright. I died protecting what was most precious to me, having regrets over that now would tarnish my love for that person. I accepted what I was to do long before it was asked of me. Please, spare me your regrets, for I have none." Haku spoke softly and with a purpose.
Minato smiled at the young man. "I'll skip the speech then. Please, have a seat."Minato motioned to the chair opposite of his.
Haku sat down in the chair and watched as Minato pulled a file out of thin air and opened it.
Minato let out an appreciative whistle. He had to admit it wasn't often that he got a ninja of this caliber in here this young, mostly because geniuses on Haku's level had a tendency to survive a lot longer than this. Haku's file had taken him by surprise though. He had expected someone far different to be the apprentice of Momochi Zabuza. Often people who were chosen to be taught by monsters such as him were swept up in their blood lust along with them. However Haku had only killed thirty eight people in his lifetime. Such a number was a spectacularly low amount for a ninja of the boy's natural talent, skill, and prodigious upbringing. Before him stood a good man who had tried his best to do good despite some tough circumstances.
Minato kept flipping through the pages as Haku waited patiently for him to finish when the blond stopped suddenly at the death page. Written in clear print was the name of Haku's killer, "Hatake Kakashi." That little fact took Minato a moment to get over, but eventually he resumed his reading and before long the file was sat down and Minato's eyes now rested on Haku.
"You have lead a harsh life, it disturbs me sometimes to think about the state that I left the world all those years ago. I left behind a lot of problems it seems." Including that man. "But this isn't about me, it's about you. I've skimmed your file and if you don't mind I have a few questions for you."
"Oh?" Haku said.
"Indeed." Minato's one word answer appeared to be enough for him.
Haku face showed no emotion although he was curious about what the man before him could possibly want to know. After a moment of thought Haku believed he had come to the correct conclusion. "You came across someone you were familiar with in your life in my file?"
Minato nodded. "Yes. The person who killed you, actually. Hatake Kakashi, He was a student of mine many years ago, and I taught him everything that he knows about being a ninja." That may be slightly exaggerated, Minato added in his head.
Haku at this point put a finger to his chin, thinking what he just heard over. "I don't know... Kakashi-san seemed very skilled, you don't look like much of anything. Are you sure you taught him anything?" Haku smiled at Minato as if he had said nothing out of place.
Minato's face twitched slightly at the obvious slight. "I may not look like much of anything, but at least I am not mistaken for a girl everywhere I go."
Haku rolled his eyes. "I have to confess it seems that you have a point. You are the second person in as many days to comment on that. Personally I just think the both of you haven't seen very many beautiful women in your lifetimes to confuse me with a woman."
Before Minato could think of another quip to fire back at Haku, another thought interceded his thinking process. "Wait, another person confused you for a girl? It wasn't Kakashi was it? I thought I instilled a little more tact in him than that."
Haku rolled his eyes again. Says the guy who brought it up within five minutes of meeting me, maybe you should have instilled some tact in yourself. Haku didn't dare say that out loud. "No, not Kakashi-san. It was one of his young genin. I must confess, he was one of the most unique ninjas I ever had the fortune to cross paths with. His name was Uzumaki Naruto, and I am sure he will succeed in his goal of becoming Hokage one day."
As soon as Haku had mentioned his son's name Minato immediately picked up the boy's file again and began flipping through it searching for any mention of Naruto. Finding it he read over the brief entry.
Haku encountered a ninja from Konoha named Uzumaki Naruto who thought she was a very pretty woman. After correcting his mistake, Haku laughed at Naruto kindly as he was in shock. It is my feeling that someone should suggest glasses to young Mr. Uzumaki, as it isn't that hard to tell that Haku is male, but that's for another file I suppose.
Minato made a note to find out who wrote that and kick their ass.
"Did you know Naruto-kun while you were still alive?" Haku's question made Minato smile.
"Yes, I would say so, considering I am his father," Minato said.
Haku's eyebrows rose into his hairline at that, he had not been expecting that at all. "Well, if you could have seen him I am sure you would have been very proud of him. I had the chance to fight him before I died, and I must say while he had no knowledge of battle tactics or anything resembling proper ability, he has a big heart. The way he fights to protect those precious to him was humbling and beyond reproach, I am sure nothing will stop his dream. If nothing else he is too hard headed to give in."
Minato's grin at that moment probably couldn't have been knocked off by the Kyuubi itself. His boy was not only a ninja, but a man who fought to protect the things most important in life: Your loved ones. This news calmed any worry he could have possibly had over how Naruto had turned out, and a burden that he didn't know was there had suddenly lifted. The knowledge that Kakashi, his former star pupil, was teaching him was an added bonus. The white that surrounded him didn't seem quite so suffocating anymore.
"I thank you for your time, Haku. You have eased my mind considerably. Not only that, but reading over your file and having a chance to talk to you has made my decision quite easy."
Haku's face clouded over in confusion at that last remark. "Decision?" Haku asked.
"As I mentioned earlier I am the one that decides where everyone goes. You are no exception to that rule. You don't have anything to worry about though, you are a good person with a kind heart. You won't be mistreated where you are going, Haku-san." With those words spoken Minato snapped his fingers and a door appeared a few feet from Haku with the number nineteen etched into the middle of it.
"You can step through now Haku. Be free from the weight of the world, you've earned it."
Minato's sincerity almost brought Haku to tears. Haku felt a warmth spread through him as Minato's comforting words sunk in. This man was certainly his son's father. He had the same good heart.
Haku grabbed a hold of the handle when a question occurred to him.
"We talked for quite sometime, however I still do not even know your name. If you don't mind...?" Haku trailed off.
Minato smiled. "Not at all. I have many names throughout the ninja world, Haku-san. I was born Namikaze Minato. During the last great ninja war as I waged a war against a nation that was attacking my country I was given the moniker "Konoha's Yellow Flash", a name praised by my allies and feared by my enemies. However the name I hold dearest to my heart is one that my mentor gave me shortly before my death and the one that one as young as you is most likely to recognize: The Yondaime Hokage."
Haku smiled at the last name. "I am humbled. It has been an honor, Minato-kun." Haku bowed slightly before turning to the door and passing through it, leaving Minato alone once again.
Minato leaned back in his chair and put his hands behind him and thought over his conversation with Haku. Naruto being a ninja now excited Minato, although he supposed it should worry him a bit as well considering how dangerous of a job it was.
Oh who was he kidding, worrying was a job for a mother! He felt nothing but pure pride. His boy was a ninja! Cracking a large smile at the thought Minato began to fill out Haku's paperwork.
Now that Naruto is a ninja, I wonder if I am going to be having more interesting people stopping by and visiting? Somehow I find it likely. After he finished that thought Minato reached for several forms and got lost in the paperwork.
(1) It should be noted that Iwa, IE the Hidden Rock village located in Earth Country, is the sworn enemy of Namikaze Minato, the main character of this story. For some reason they took it personally when a man no older than twenty started to carve up their forces like one would expect a man to carve up a turkey. In traditional society parents soothed their children by checking under the bed for monsters, in Iwa parents checked under their own beds for the Yellow Flash.
(2) Despite Jiraiya's belief that Minato's mere existence would cut down on paper use in Konoha, that hope turned out to be in vain. By the time Minato had made Jounin all of the paper that had been printed solely to get the talented man's autograph had rid the world of several lovely forests.
(3) Sometimes in this instance actually refers to all the time, and you aren't going to tell the being who is responsible for everything death different, are you?
(4) After Minato had used the calling button a few times, the Shinigami began to get annoyed and worked in conjunction with several other various Gods to erase it from existence. To this day Minato will sometimes reach for a button when he needs to call on the Shinigami and look around for a moment or two in confusion, unsure of what he was doing. Sadly for the Shinigami he is aware every time that Minato makes this motion as his fellow Gods do not like him nearly as much as he would like to think they do.
(5) The Shinigami had been very pleased to have a Hokage under his control, and he made no effort to keep this a secret. Referring to Minato as "Hokage-kun" seemed to provide the Death God with an extra bounce in his evil step throughout the day.
A/N: Chapter one complete! Minato's adventures in the afterlife are going to be many, and hopefully you all enjoy his journey.