Chapter Three: A Reluctant Return

Sandaime and his guest looked at each other momentarily with no words being exchanged between them. After a brief moment of silence between the two of them, Sandaime spoke, "Senju Tsunade, it's a been a long while."

"Yes it has, Sarutobi-sensei," Tsunade replied to her former sensei. She was currently in her late thirties and was known by many as the Sucker, one of the legendary Sannin. Tsunade remarked, "The Anbu you sent to find me told me that a terrible event happened in here a week ago. Judging from the damages and the looks on the people's faces, I'd say a lot more has happened than what the Anbu was willing to let on."

"…," Hiruzen.

"He also told me that there was another major issue at hand here that was a matter of the utmost importance that requires my presence before you. He wouldn't tell me what it was saying that only you alone could tell me since it was highly confidential for only my ears to ear. (Momentarily paused)……In truth I truly didn't want to return to this village again although I reluctantly did so since you personally requested my audience."

Hiruzen sighed, "…I understand that a great deal has happened in your life which caused you to grow bitter towards your home village and I won't make any excuses about it."

Before Tsunade said another word, her eyes caught sight of a baby's crib that was at the side of Hiruzen's office. Curiously she went over to the crib and looked inside of it, seeing a week old baby boy sleeping peacefully inside. Her mood started to lighten up upon seeing the child. Smiling at the newborn, she asked her former sensei, "Who's the cute blond haired infant? Certainly he can't be your grandchild, yes?"

"You're right, he's not my grandchild," Hiruzen replied, "His name is Naruto and he's Yondaime's son and heir."

The Sannin's eyes widened in surprise upon hearing those words.

"Minato had a kid," Tsunade said in surprise and happily, "Speaking of Minato, where is he and his wife Kushina? Is Yondaime out on some diplomatic business trip in another village with you covering for him here, especially after everything that's happened? And where's the boy's mother?"

Tsunade saw a certain look on Sarutobi's face, which was a bad omen.

"Tsunade," Hiruzen started, "I humbly ask for you to adopt Minato's child."

That was when she looked at her former sensei was if he lost his mind.

"YOU WANT ME TO DO WHAAAT," Tsunade shouted causing Naruto to wake up and start crying. Hiruzen sighed again as he went over to Naruto, lifting him out of his crib and into his arms, eventually calming the child.

"Adopt Minato's son," Tsunade asked in disbelief, "Have you lost your mind? Exactly where is Minato and his wife?!"

"Tsunade," Hiruzen replied quickly cutting Tsunade off, "Please calm yourself down Tsunade."

In a calmer tone he suggested, "Take a seat Tsunade. There's something that I have to tell you. Sad to say you're not going to like what you're going to hear."

Having no other option, Tsunade pulled up a seat and sat down as her former sensei advised. Hiruzen pulled his office seat over towards his former student and sat down on it with Naruto still cradled in his arms. Hiruzen began explaining, "A week ago, the great monster known as Kyuubi No Yoko came and attacked the village. Days before the monster's attack, however, Minato received word from one of his top shinobi about Kyuubi's eventual arrival to Konoha. As you're well aware Tsunade, Kyuubi's existence was no myth to Konohagakure even before its attack. The people knew what the monster was capable of doing after hearing many stories about the beast's power. Many however couldn't understand why Kyuubi was coming to attack Konoha, killing and destroying everything in its path as it made its way to our village. Minato worked night and day trying to find ways of stopping the creature, but had little success. It was a profound burden for him and the fact that his wife was about to go into premature labor because of the heavy stress and frustration both of them were in wasn't helping.

"In truth, the villagers knew that Minato was married to a most skilled kunoichi who was pregnant with their child. What they don't know is that she went into labor prematurely because of the intense stress both her and her husband were in on the night of Kyuubi's attack. She was secretly rushed to a private medical tent during the attack where to gave birth to their son. Sadly though, because of his wife's severe emotional distress and weakened condition, Kushina died shortly after giving birth to Naruto and the news of his wife's death devastated Minato."

Tsunade was already feeling her tears building up in her eyes before they started falling free down her face. Sarutobi continued, "And what severely added more pain to Minato was the ancient kinjutsu ougi he finally found to seal away and imprison the Kyuubi No Yoko. The beast however was too powerful to be contained in any inorganic vessel, or animal. This kinjutsu ougi required a newborn human child whose umbilical cord was freshly cut and there was no other child born that night except his own. In performing the kinjutsu, the sealer would have to surrender his or her life for the kinjutsu ougi to take its effects. (Sadly) I could still remember the demolished look on Minato's face, when he saw that his whole life's work and the family he so eagerly wanted to have with his wife and son were destroyed within such a short time and reduced to nothing.

"Even if there was another child born that night, Minato wouldn't have asked any parent to sacrifice their child or even a child born on that same night who became an orphan simultaneously after losing both his or her parents as a result of Kyuubi's attack into such a harsh burden especially if he himself wasn't will to do it with his own child. Therefore he used and sacrificed his own newly born child and his own life for the ritual to seal away the Kyuubi. It was a tragic and cruel burden that broke Yondaime's heart, knowing that he lost everything he held dear all in one night, for the preservation of Konohagakure and preventing Kyuubi from doing more destruction and slaughtering than what it already had done."

Tsunade started sobbing as more tears came down her face. Hearing this story made her hate the position of Hokage all the more since she lost loved ones who were in some ways connected with the title of Hokage. Hiruzen himself couldn't help but let a few of his own tears fall from his face while retelling the horrific event in detail. He wiped away the tears that fell upon Naruto's face before he continued, "Before Minato went to battle the Kyuubi, he asked for one private moment alone with Naruto. I respected his wish, although I stayed close enough to the tent to hear what Yondaime was saying. While alone with his son in the tent, Minato allowed some of his tears he held back to fall freely, while cradling Naruto in his arms, apologizing and telling Naruto that this wasn't what he wanted for him. I remember him telling Naruto that he wanted him to grow up in a village where he could have grown and matured into a great shinobi and inherit the village's will of fire with both himself and his mother and be loved by everyone in the village not only as his honorable son but also as Namikaze Naruto.

"But Yondaime knew that wasn't to be because of the monster that attacked and ruined all of his dreams. Yondaime knew that he had to do something since it was both his duty as the Hokage and as a father to protect Konohagakure, to make sure his son had a future in the village he loved so much.

""Namikaze Naruto, my son, you'll be the hero who defeated Kyuubi No Yoko and saved Konohagakure No Sato," Minato whispered to Naruto before calling me back to explain what he wanted me to do. Yondaime made it very clear that he didn't want the villagers to know of his son's existence, at least not yet. Originally his intention was for Naruto to be regarded as the great hero who saved Konoha by sealing and imprisoning Kyuubi into him. The child's name was changed from Namikaze Naruto to Uzumaki Naruto. He was giving his mother's maiden last name in order to protect his true identity and heritage. Although I wished there was another way to bring down Kyuubi however, I knew that a severe price had to be paid to stop the creature. Naruto was to be made into a living sacrifice with his father giving up his life in order to save Konoha and all who live here."

Tsunade didn't want to hear the story any further. Her heart was breaking. It was too tragic and horrible to bear. Before she could interject and tell her former sensei to stop telling her the story, Hiruzen added, "However the situation had taken an unexpected twist after the kinjutsu was performed."

Tsunade's head shot up upon hearing what her former sensei said. He continued, "A very strong chakra made its way towards Naruto and infused itself into the boy's belly. However, this chakra wasn't red as we had anticipated. Rather, it was blue. No one knows what happened to Kyuubi after the kinjutsu was initiated, but one thing is certain…Yondaime was sealed into Naruto."

The Sannin's eyes widened in shock and absolute disbelief. She remained silent as her former sensei allowed her to process everything he told her up to now. A moment later, Sandaime went on, "No one else outside the village council besides you and a few ANBU who's been sworn to secrecy knows this. As far as the rest of the villagers know, Yondaime, his wife and child are dead, along with many others who lost their lives during the attack."

Tsunade was left speechless at everything she was hearing. It was so overwhelming both mentally and emotionally. She didn't know how much more she could handle and she knew that Hiruzen wasn't finished.

"As a result of this unexpected turn of events, the council and I realized that the situation concerning Naruto has drastically changed. With the boy having Minato sealed into his being, there's no doubt that he'll undergo certain physical and psychological changes in his development and acquire all, if not most, of everything that made Yondaime Hokage the man and shinobi he became known to be in Konoha and the rest of the shinobi world."

"You mean to say that Minato will takeover his own son's body," Tsunade asked in disbelief.

"No," Hiruzen quickly replied reassuringly, "Rather, Naruto will inherit and absorb his father's knowledge, wisdom, stamina, abilities and chakra in a gradual process as he grows up, basically becoming a born Hokage. The child will still be his own individual person, not Yondaime incarnate.

"Because of this, Naruto is in more danger than before. It would have been hard enough should we have let everyone know that Minato had a surviving child, with countless people seeking to spoil, pamper or adopt the young boy for their own intentions and possibly to get a hold on Naruto's huge inheritance. It's worst now with Yondaime sealed inside him, and if enemy villages and nations discovery this secret, one of two worst case scenarios could happen: one, they could either attempt to murder the child, or two, which is most likely, they'll try to kidnap the child and raise him to be part of their nation, thus corrupting the child and making him our enemy. Either scenarios would prove disastrous for Konoha and Naruto, and perhaps other villages and nations should they cross his path."

Sandaime took a moment to look at Naruto who was now fully awake and looking around the environment he wasn't so familiar with. Sighing, Sandaime continued, "…The truth is, I would have gladly took it upon myself to raise the child and guide his upbringing. However, my reinstatement as the Hokage heavily limits the amount of time I can spend with the boy and I can't entrust him with just anyone in the village, not even with any of the clan leaders or village elders. And the last thing we need is Naruto turning out like Orochimaru…I don't want history to repeat itself with Naruto causing him to become something perhaps worst than Orochimaru himself."

"…," Tsunade remained silent. The memory and hurt of Orochimaru's betrayal was still fresh in her mind.

"Jiraiya isn't the raising little children type and his role as the author of those books you hate so passionately wouldn't help in the child's development."

"For once I agree with you," Tsunade remarked, "Although you're being a bit hypocritical since you also read those books like some closet perverts I know."

Annoyed by her comment, Sarutobi cleared his throat and continued on a with a more serious demeanor, "The fact that I'm asking you to adopt and raise Yondaime's son shows the amount of conviction and belief I have in your ability to raise, control and balance the child since he's been infused with a powerful Hokage. But still, Naruto is an innocent child who's been forced to shoulder this heavy burden without his consent. He needs someone who can properly raise and ensure his tutelage, and show him motherly affections on top of that. I'm more than certain you can also teach him in the advance arts of medical and healing jutsus."

Tsunade heard a lot more than she was bargaining for. It was too overwhelming for her at the moment. Sandaime knew that she already went through a lot in Konoha and the fact that she lost most those she loved dearly, among them being her grandfather and grand-uncle, the Shodaime and Nidaime, her lover and her little brother, both of whom wanted to become Hokage, left her with bitterness about her home village. After learning what became of Yondaime and his family, and the village as a whole, it was too much. And now she's being asked by her former sensei to adopt and raised Yondaime Hokage's child as her own.

"I need some time to think about this," Tsunade honestly admitted with a most calm demeanor with mixed emotions in her voice. Hiruzen didn't argue with her and replied understandably, "I understand Tsunade. Take as much time as you need."

Tsunade reached out to Sarutobi signaling to him that she wanted to hold the child. Complying, he handed Naruto over to her. She cradled the fully awakened child in her arms who seemed to be looking at her in wonder. He yawned and closed his eyes for a moment before looking at her again.

"Only a week old and already you have to carry such heavy burden," Tsunade said softly to Naruto as a few tears slid down her face as he gurgled. Hiruzen smiled and watched the scene quietly.

Mother and child: seeing his former pupil smiling brightly down at what he hopes will be her soon to be adopted son made Hiruzen 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 the future had in store for these two but he was grateful that Tsunade was at least willing to consider adopting the child…

A touching moment, isn't? Will Tsunade adopt baby Naruto or will Sandaime be forced to find another caretaker? Find out next time.