Last chapter! Many thanks to singeivoire, beta buddy and brillant author of Promises (a Minato/Kushina fic! Go read!)


Kakashi waited in the hall outside the basement room where they held his student, his outwardly calm demeanor—reading his usual lurid orange novel—hiding the hypersensitivity he felt at every half-heard noise that came from the room. Tsunade had reassured him that the ANBU interrogators were only going to use jigyaku no jutsu—the reverse hypnosis technique—and that was completely painless.

The door creaked open. Kakashi looked up from his book as Tsunade came out, brow furrowed with thought.

"Well?"

"Not now, Kakashi. I must think."

"Did it work? Does he remember?"

"He remembers…" she paused, "something troublesome."

"What?"

She waved him off. "Not now. I need to think of what to do."

With that her heels clicked down the hallway and up the stairs. Kakashi considered following her but thought better of it and walked into the room instead. Naruto looked a little groggy, but, glancing at Tenzou who gave him a slight nod, he breathed easier. The wood element ninja seemed disturbed, though—what had Naruto remembered?


Tsunade summoned Kakashi to her office later that day. When he arrived, his eye fell on her desk, and a familiar wave of sickened dread clenched his stomach. A tanto, its blade bloody up to the hilt, lay on the Hokage's desk. For a moment he was eight years old, and he had just run home from training with Minato-sensei, eager to try to cheer his father up with a show of a new jutsu he'd learned, but he'd been too late. The pool of blood beneath his father's body was thick, sticky, and his nimble mind, somehow not numb like his body, automatically calculated the time of death: sometime right after he'd left that morning. The tanto was still clutched in his father's blood-spattered hand...

"Nakano Taishi," Tsunade said softly, shattering his reverie, "a new ANBU recruit originally from the Hidden Sand Village but with so much promise in the arts of sealing that I put him on guard duty for Minato-sama."

Kakashi looked up. "Taishi?"

"You knew him?"

"A little. I'd gotten to know him through talking with him while visiting Minato-sensei. He seemed like a good kid. What happened?"

"Taishi and his family moved to Konoha from Suna when he was a toddler, but it wasn't too early for Sasori to get hold of him."

Kakashi's eye widened. So that was it. They knew the Akatsuki member, Sasori, had perfected a hidden spy sealing technique. It had cost the Hidden Sand Village their Kazekage—briefly anyway—and dozens of loyal ninja.

"Taishi was one of Sasori's spies?"

Tsunade nodded. "The seal broke and it unbalanced his mind. Perhaps with Sasori dead it didn't work as it was supposed to; I don't know. But he's the one who told Naruto, and he would have gone to seek out his master, or maybe anyone with an Atatsuki cloak, and tell him what we have hidden in Hokage Mountain had not a little of his sanity returned." She gestured at the bloody tanto. "He told me all of this and slit his own belly before I could do anything. I tried…" she put her face into her hands, "I tried so hard! But there was too much blood, too much spilling out of him… He said with his last breath it was the only way to reclaim his honor for having nearly betrayed the village."

Kakashi shoved his hands in his pockets, gazing at the floor. Technically, seppuku was forbidden—had been for decades—but it didn't stop it from happening, as he knew all too well.

"At least it's over," Tsunade said, running a shaking hand through her hair.

"No," said Kakashi, looking up. "It'll never be over for Naruto."

Tsunade nodded. "I wish he'd never found out." She sighed and rubbed her temples. "Even with Tenzou there to keep Kyuubi under control the risk is too great—Kakashi?"

Kakashi had stiffened as an idea hit him, and he rubbed the back of his neck, thinking furiously. "Hokage-sama… I think… I think I may have a way for Naruto to meet his father."


"You ready?" Kakashi looked at Tenzou and Sakura. They both nodded. Sakura was pale, but her green eyes were hard as jade. Kakashi nodded; she'd be fine. He formed the secret seal, and the iron-shod door hissed open.

Tenzou set about quickly employing his jutsu that he'd used to such good effect on Naruto while he was training to elementally recompose his chakra. Six wooden posts erupted from the rocky floor, and the suppression kanji appeared on his palm. Sitting down in the middle of the rough circle of posts, Tenzou said he was ready.

"Sensei?"

"I'm here…" said Minato's tired voice. They'd given him half a sedative before they'd let them up, and his prone figure on the futon was still. Kakashi uncovered his sharingan and nodded with satisfaction. The Kyuubi's red chakra was only small glowing ember in Minato's belly.

"Ready, Sakura?"

"Hai." Her face showed her shock at Minato's wasted, bedraggled condition, but her reply was unwavering.

Kakashi formed another secret seal and removed the sealing paper from the cell door. Both he and Sakura entered the cell, and she set to work setting out her equipment. Within no time she had Minato leaning over the small sink in the corner while she scrubbed his dirty, matted hair. When that was done she took some scissors from her bag, glancing up at Kakashi. They'd had to argue long and loud for the ANBU to allow them such a dangerous item, but they'd finally agreed.

"Minato-sama, I must warn you that I'm a medical nin, not a hair stylist," she said with a nervous laugh.

"Oh… I don't mind…" He smiled, his eyes distant. "You remind me of Kushina. She liked to play with my hair too."

Sakura looked up at Kakashi.

"Naruto's mother," he supplied.

Snip, snip. Clean, blond locks fell to the floor, and though it was far from stylish, it was much better than the matted mess that previously had hung to his elbows. When Sakura was finished, the Kyuubi's other vessel looked much better. His pale skin glowed from the scrubbing she'd given him and even his nose was straighter, her medical ninjutsu having gone to work after the haircut.

"You look halfway presentable now," Kakashi said with a smile, lowering his forehead protector over the sharingan. "Let's go get him, Sakura." They left the cell, resealed it, and exited the room, leaving Tenzou behind. When they emerged from the military police building, a familiar blond teenager was pacing up and down, bounding over to them as soon as they came out.

"Can I go in?"

Kakashi nodded.

"Naruto?"

"Yeah, Sakura-chan?"

Sakura suddenly flung her arms around her blond teammate. "Be careful!" With that she hastily turned away and left Naruto staring after her, slack-jawed.

"Come on, kiddo." Kakashi gestured toward the building, and they went in together. When they finally passed all the ANBU guard checkpoints, Naruto was noticeably more somber.

"You ready?" Kakashi looked at him.

"Yes."

"Let's meet your dad, then." He lifted his forehead protector and formed the secret seal.

Minato was sitting cross-legged by the cell door when they walked in, but he stood up, staring at Naruto.

Kakashi had always known that Naruto greatly resembled his father, but seeing them this close was startling. It was nearly like seeing twins. Naruto stepped toward the cell door, his face one of stunned emotion, as if he couldn't decide whether to be happy, sad, or both at the same time.

"How we doing?" Kakashi muttered to Tenzou.

"Not bad," he said, his voice sounding slightly strained. "Chakra activity has increased, but it's nothing I can't handle."

Kakashi turned back in time to see Minato's arm reach out through the bars. "Hi, Naruto."

Naruto looked at the hand and clasped it in his own. "Hi… Dad."

Not long later, in Hokage Tower, Kakashi blinked as his shadow clone in Hokage Mountain released the jutsu and all the knowledge of what had happened came flooding back. He glanced over at the real Naruto and wasn't surprised to see the kid wiping away some tears. Seeing him look over, Naruto gave a shaky, reassuring smile.

"I got to meet my dad, sensei."

"Yeah. It's been a good day."

end