If you're a first-time reader and you'er going to do that thing where you review only one chapter, please save that review for the last chapter. You can give your impression of the story in general.
I know that Tsunade's last name is Senju and not Houou. But I chose Houou before Senju came out, way back at the inception of this story, and it means pheonix. And it's just so symbolic to me for what the family represents, and the name is dear to my heart. We can retcon it thus: when the Senju family experienced a terrible string of tragidies that left them much diminished, they rose up again, and in symbolism took the Houou name for themselves rather than to continue with the name they had been given by others. (They origionally earned Senju through having clan members learn all areas).
I did finally give up and change Minato's name from Kazama Arashi, though.
Disclaimer: I don't own the official Naruto. But my ideas are mine.
I'll tell you a story. The story of one Houou Naruto. For this story, you must take your mind back, back to a time of disaster unimaginable. A time when Kyuubi no Kitsune himself arose for unknown reasons and made as if to wipe Konoha off the face of the world as if it were a task no greater than wiping a stain from the kitchen window. However, Kyuubi was both overconfident and presumptuous. And, knowing that any living thing with these two faults could be defeated; Namikaze Minato, Fourth Hokage of Konoha and holder of the fearded title of "Konoha's Yellow Flash", sealed the fox away in a more than ludicrous move.
Jiraya, one of the great Sannins, looked upon his only student: a man whom he could almost proudly call a son. "Minato… you've done it?" the old hermit asked, dreading either a positive or negative response for separate reasons.
"Yes, ero-sensei" the mighty Hokage couldn't help but grin, referring to his teacher by his favourite nickname one-last-time. "It's done."
Jiraya's eyes pooled with sadness as he caught a glimpse of the shadowy figure hovering patiently behind his pupil: its wretched face drawn back into an inhuman grin.
For Namikaze Minato's shadow was the shadow of death. The Shinigami. The God of Death.
"Minato…" Jiraya started. There was so much to say, but the words froze in his throat, his pupil had made him proud beyond words every day. Did the cruelty of fate truly know no bounds?
Minato reached for the bundle of cloth cradled in Jiraya's arms. "Is that him? My... son." Minato addressed the bundled child even as he felt the life draining away from him. How he had dreaded this moment. "I… I never wanted this for you. When you're born an orphan, the last thing you ever want is for your children to live that life. The pain of being alone and watching families—alive and whole—be happy, or angry, or sad together while you must suffer with no one to catch you when you fall... Above all I never, ever wanted this for you, please, please… believe me. And… forgive me… my one and only son, I'm so sorry."
"Let's begin," Jiraya suggested, eyes closed, for he couldn't bear to see the world right now. He would only see pain and a strong, proud man weeping for a bright future that he had worked all his life for: about to be crushed by his own two hands—the personification of death hovering behind, more substantial than ever. He felt the rain, as if the sky were crying as well on this darkest of dark nights.
Minato, the indomitable Fourth Hokage who never backed down, gave up, or lost, croaked out a "Hai" as if it had to be forcefully ripped from the depths of his soul. Life above happiness, justice above life, duty above justice. But coming from a cold and empty childhood, when Minato found he would be a father he had put family… family above all.
But he loved his village like family: the people who had been there to see him grow up. He was a child of Konoha, if not of anyone else that he knew. And it was for their lives, along with the life of son—which would all be forfeit if the demon was not sealed into a proper container—that he was about to seal the worst of the demons inside his not-a-day-old child and condemn him to a future of unknown dangers. Through the painful Irony, Namikaze Minato had never felt so ashamed.
x-Konoha General Hospital-x
The battle, if it could be called such, with Kyuubi no Kitsune had incurred many, many losses. An old, weary man pondered this as he walked down the somehow pristine corridors of Konoha's General Hospital. Responding to respectful, if subdued, bows and addresses of "Sarutobi-sama" with an empathetic look and kind smile… Sarutobi could not help but feel a deep sorrow. Many, many losses. And not all of them physical. Spirit was at an all time low. The crippling terror of the demon fox still lurked in the once bright eyes of men and women alike. Sarutobi sighed, but paused mid-stride as something caught his eye beyond the glass screen on his left. Tsunade?
"Hello Tsunade" the old man greeted, as he entered the dimly lit, empty room. Tsunade Houou was seen sitting on a chair, holding a bundle of cloth in her arms. She looked quite comfortable, and Sarutobi could only guess just how long she had been sitting there.
"Hello, Sarutobi-sensei. You're wearing that ugly hat again." The patron medic-nin observed.
"Ah yes, well since Minato's passing… it looks like I'll have to be Hokage again, for now." Sarutobi grimaced. He would gladly take up the responsibility for his village, but Minato had been the bright future of the next generation. Once again, he felt a deep sorrow for Konoha.
Tsunade only grunted in response, seemingly remembering to be intensely annoyed with something.
"Something the matter, Tsunade?"
"Damn right something's the matter!" The blond hissed, "I found one of your medic-nins trying to kill this infant with a scalpel. And… keep your voice down. I've only just gotten him to sleep…"
Sarutobi didn't miss how Tsunade sounded royally pissed and vaguely disgusted at the first part, and suddenly embarrassed at that last part. But there was an assassination attempt already? By… a medic no less.
Tsunade opted to carefully move the cloth from the sleeping bundle in her arms and show Sarutobi the damage. Six black lines stretched across the infant's cheeks in a clear rendition of whiskers. Sarutobi flinched at the sight, but Tsunade pressed on. "She used a solution on the scalpel to stop the blood from clotting; and another to stain the skin. Even when I heal it, it looks like a damn whisker tattoo - except I can't remove it like one. I'd be impressed if I weren't so goddamn disgusted!"
The re-instated Hokage, veteran of a hundred gruesome battles, felt suddenly ill. "Oh Minato..." Sarutobi darkly lamented under his breath, "perhaps you are better off dead. It would have only killed you a thousand times to see your village act like this."
"To do this to a child… Such a perversion of medical knowledge is disgusting." Tsunade looked at Sarutobi pointedly.
Dully noting the dangerous look from his former-pupil, Sarutobi reached into his bag of tricks and pulled out a technique he'd learned from an old friend of his who had become a successful lawyer. That is to say, he figuratively covered his ass with both hands and bent the truth until it looked like a pretzel. "Of course I'll investigate into it right away, Tsunade. I'm sure it's just an isolated incident; I can't imagine a citizen of Konoha doing such a spiteful thing. Though," Sarutobi became gravely serious for a moment, "of course the culprit will be harshly dealt with." There were no good excuses for attempting to assassinate one of Konoha's own children in Sarutobi's books.
That seemed to appease Tsunade, well enough. She returned to staring intently at the sleeping babe. "He involved in some sort of family feud?"
Sarutobi sighed. Truthfully, he didn't really know if this would just be an isolated incident at all. But he could hope. "No. He's an orphan, I'm afraid"
"An… orphan…" Tsunade seemed to hold the child closer while trying to look like she wasn't doing anything of the sort. A fact that wasn't lost on Sarutobi.
"Tsunade, are you…"
"What's his name?" Tsunade interrupted
Not missing a beat, Sarutobi replied. "Ah, there's a problem with his last name... but the first name is confirmed: Naruto."
"Naruto" Tsunade mused, testing the name on her tongue, "the ramen topping?"
Sarutobi sweat-dropped. "More like 'Maelstrom' than the ramen topping…"
"Houou Naruto… I like it," she rocked the child slightly, "do you like it, Naru-chan?" In response, the infant yawned which — let's face it — was the closest Tsunade was going to get to any kind of confirmation. "Houou Naruto it is, then. I'll send Shizune to deal with the papers later."
Mother and child. Seeing his former pupil smiling brightly down at her just adopted son, Sarutobi was suddenly overcome with an overwhelming sense of hope for the future. It was odd how, even in the aftermath of the bleakest days, he had found such a glowing sight. He didn't know what strange twist of fate had let these two to each other but he was grateful. "No," Sarutobi shook his head, "that's not necessary. I'll handle it all. He's not just a normal child after all; I'll have to deal with the council" the old man sighed. "You see… he's the container."
"The container…" Tsunade echoed. Then as realization struck, she pulled the cloth around Naruto's stomach away, revealing Minato's seal. Tsunade frowned softly at it and did something a little unexpected: She didn't care at all. "My poor Naru-chan…" she caressed his hair consolingly. "Not even in Konoha for a day and you're already in danger. I'm getting you out of here." She'd lost her husband and brother in Konoha. She'd be damned if she'd lose her newly adopted son here to some vengeful villager with a sharp object.
Sarutobi flinched, acutely aware of Tsunade's current views on Konoha in respect to her loved ones. It was then that the old man came to a sudden realization. "Tsunade, did you say you healed the child's wounds?"
"I did heal him, but I didn't say anything about it." Tsunade informed.
"But your hemophobia…" Sarutobi trailed off, referring to Tsunade's incapacitating fear of blood. Could it be?
Tsunade stiffened reflexively at the mention of her 'condition'. "Well, I couldn't just let him bleed to death" It was true. Something about the kid made her want to viciously guard him from danger.
Sarutobi looked quite surprised. Then she was cured? She was cured! "I hear that the operation rooms are swamped..." he hinted hopefully. Being the Hokage was more than a job, it was a lifestyle.
Tsunade narrowed her eyes at her old sensei.
"For old time's sake?" Sarutobi hazarded
"I've been working all morning 'for old time's sake'. I'm getting Naru-chan out of here. Now."
Sarutobi didn't give up. "But this is still the place that Naruto's father built his legacy," he reminded the headstrong woman, "He may want to visit here some day. And Konoha would forever be in your debt."
Tsunade paused halfway out the door. That was true. If Naru-chan ever wanted something from Konoha, it might be good to have some swing here. She looked at the precious bundle in her arms, sighed, kissed him on the forehead, and gently handed him over to Sarutobi. "If he gets hurt at all, Sarutobi-sensei, I'll kick you where the sun doesn't shine." She promised. Now what was scary was that, with Tsunade's legendary strength, she had been known to punt boulders over the Hokage monument.
Watching his former student stride down the hallways, Sarutobi felt the blood drain from his face. "W-Well, Naruto-kun. Why don't we just… stay… right here in this nice empty room until your mother returns?"
The baby, of course, only fidgeted in response.
Shizune made a thoughtful sound as she looked over at the young Naruto in Tsunade's arms once again. Actually, she was glad for the change. Not that she didn't completely respect Tsunade, but no matter how you slice it, traveling with only your gamble-maniac mentor for company could get so tedious. "His name means 'malestrom' right, Tsunade-sama?"
"No," Tsunade disagreed, "more like the ramen topping."
"It's cuter" Tsunade explained
"I-I… see?" Shizune said, though really she didn't understand at all. "By the way, Tsunade-sama, if you're going to be Naruto-kun's mother then, um..."
"Not 'going to'," Tsunade interrupted testily, "I've already adopted him. He's my Naru-chan, have you been listening at all?"
"Right, right," Shizune placated her mentor, whose rage itself was legendary, "But... um…"
"Oh, spit it out already!" Tsunade sighed
"Can I be his sister?" Shizune blurted, surprising the sannin.
"...Fine," Tsunade said after a time, "but I'm going to hold you responsible if you turn him into a spoiled brat."
Shizune grinned widely. Oh, she'd always wanted a little brother! "Can I hold him?" she asked excitedly.
"Don't push your luck!"
x-A few days later-x
"Shizune, did you bring it?" Tsunade asked, not diverting her intent gaze from the sleeping bundle that was Naruto.
"Hai, Tsunade-sama," Shizune replied dutifully, "though, Naruto-kun isn't even awake to drink it and it's just going to cool down. Again…"
"You fool," Tsunade berated, "he's asleep NOW. But when he wakes up, he'll be hungry." The blond tested the milk's temperature by shaking some onto her wrist. "Shizune, get me a thermometer. I'm not sure this milk is properly lukewarm. And close that door! You're lowering the room temperature."
x-Weeks after that-x
"Thousands of ninjutsu in this god-damn world," Tsunade groused, "and not even ONE diaper-change no jutsu. Alright Naru-chan, all clean now."
"Tsunade-sama!" Shizune appeared out of no-where, "You can't use language like that in front of an impressionable infant! They learn how to speak by imitation!"
Tsunade waved off the complaint. "What are you talking about? He's a man, isn't he? He can swear at whoever he wants. Isn't that right, Naru-chan?" Tsunade cooed, "You're going to grow up and swear at all the assholes that deserve it, aren't you? Yes you are! Yes you are!" She finished, rubbing the infant's stomach affectionately, who giggled in response.
Shizune was quite horrified. "Tsunade-sama! No, I won't allow it, you're corrupting him!" Shizune declared as she stole her young and impressionable little brother from her mentor. "You're intentionally swearing more than you do normally!"
"Of course I am!" Tsunade shot back, "My Naru-chan won't take crap from anyone. He's going to grow up and tell off all kinds of people: perverts, lawyers, political powers, old man Sarutobi…" she trailed off.
"No way! He's my precious ototou and I won't let you set such a bad example!"
"I'm his mother, and I'll teach him to swear like a f-ng sailor if I want to!"
"Nooo!" Shizune cried, covering Naruto's ears, "ototou, don't listen!"
It has begun. Awesome.
I uploaded chapters one and two at the same time, though. So just go over to the next one already.
A reviewer pointed out that sannin is a counter used for groups of people. The specific ending (nin) signifies it. The '-nin' part is most likely short for 'ningen' which means human. So for instance Jiraya could be called "one of the three"
Additionally: Jiraya can also be called a Sennin, rather than a Sannin. Sannin is a rank... no perhaps a title, but Sennin means either hermit, immortal, sage, or adept.. Jiraya can go by the name Gama Sennin (Frog Hermit)
Shinigami means death god, or something along those lines.
"Naruto" actually means "Malestrom"(pretty much a whirlpool). It's also the name of a fish-cake slice(I think) with a swirl on it used as a ramen topping, presumably because of the swirl which is vaguely like a whirlpool. It's also been used as a nickname for the sign 'at' won't let me type it but it's that 'a' with a swirl that you can see in e-mail adresses), again because of the vaguely swirly nature.
Hemophobia is an actual condition. It's a fear of blood, like aracnaphobia is a fear of spiders. Tsunade had a traumatic past, which ties in to both the fear of blood and the 'fear' of Konoha causing more misery for her. It is irrational, but sadly fear cannot always be banished by logic.
"Ototou" means "younger brother"