AUTHOR NOTE: Ho… snap… Are you ready for this? O.O

...

..

.

And The devil Marches On

.

..

...

Chapter 25

...

..

.

Previously:

The thing was, I wasn't really surprised now that I think about it. This Yondaime guy looked a lot like me. In fact, I was kind of disappointed with myself for not figuring it out sooner.

"Lee said something about the Yondaime and you being an… 'item'… If that's true, then wouldn't that make you my step-father or something?" I rambled, my blue eyes never leaving the photo, but from my peripheral vision I saw Kyuubi stiffen slightly.

"Well… That's not quite—…" He cut himself off and shifted uncomfortably on the couch for a second before letting out a long, drawn out sigh, and then he forced his muscles to relax before turning towards me again. "Why don't I just tell you the story, and you be a good boy and listen?" He snapped, and I would've flinched away from him if it wasn't for the playful glimmer in his crimson pools.

"Okay." I nodded and turned my gaze away from the photo in order to give him my full attention.

...

..

.

Naruto's POV

.

..

...

"Do you know anything about a gang called 'Akatsuki'?" Kyuubi started before setting his wallet back into his pocket.

I hummed and lowered my eyes back to the photo of Yondaime as I thought hard about that name—Akatsuki. It sounded so familiar, like I should already know it, but I haven't thought about it enough to actually remember.

Do you have any idea how frustrating that is!

I slowly lifted my gaze back to Kyuubi with a sigh. "It sounds familiar but I can't think of it." I grumbled and I felt myself blush in embarrassment when Kyuubi smirked and chuckled a little.

The nerve!

"Then I guess I really have to start from the beginning…" He mused to himself, and he then leaned back against the couch comfortably while he raked his fingers through his long crimson locks. "Let's see here… I guess you should know that Yondaime's actual name was Minato Namikaze. He only started using that weird nickname because he thought it would be a good idea to have some kind of 'fake name' when he started up the Akatsuki in high school." Kyuubi started, and he glanced at me to make sure I understood everything clearly thus far.

I quickly nodded for him to continue, my blue eyes wide in awe.

"Yes, Minato was the one who started Akatsuki. At first, it was a harmless group of kids just pulling random pranks on people. Unfortunately, I was Minato's favorite target; I never really understood why. Maybe it was because I used to be really quiet and anti-social." Kyuubi pondered over that for a second before just shrugging it off. "By the time we were in our junior year of high school, Minato and I were the best of friends. Of course, Minato was still leader of his gang, which consisted of half the population of the school." I felt my mouth fall open at that.

My dad had so many followers! That's so cool!

Kyuubi absently scratched the back of his neck as he contemplated on what to say next. "I… I could tell that he was getting tired of being in a gang though—almost like he was slowly growing out of it. Of course, he didn't want to be stuck in the Akatsuki forever, and after a while I finally got him to realize how important his grades were. So… He quit. And that would've been fine and all, but… Minato made a very big mistake…" I watched silently as Kyuubi's voice grew solemn and his deep red eyes closed gently as he fought to continue.

"Minato… He… He knew how important the Akatsuki was for everyone else. He knew that the kids who joined thought of each other like family. To some… It really was the only family they had." Kyuubi whispered and I almost wanted him to stop telling the story—I didn't want to upset him or anything, and if it hurt him too much to talk about it, then I wouldn't make him.

But I held myself back when his eyes suddenly flashed angrily and he glared forward, towards something… or someone that I couldn't see.

"So he left his right-hand man in charge when he left. Madara Uchiha."

I flinched slightly at the way Kyuubi spat out the name with such venom and I couldn't hold in the small gasp when I immediately recognized the surname.

But I made sure to stay silent.

"Madara, that bastard… he completely destroyed the Akatsuki. He somehow transformed it into some sick kind of cult. Their pranks were no longer harmless, and if you ever tried to get out of the Akatsuki, then you were killed on the spot. Madara didn't tolerate betrayal, nor did he stand for cowards…" Kyuubi trailed off for a second, and his eyes seemed to glaze over, and then he grimaced, as if the memories were actually hurting him.

"… Senior year went by smoothly enough…. Madara didn't start to actually commit real crimes until about two years after graduation. At that time, Minato and I were in college. We both wanted to become teachers at Konoha High, because…well… It sounded like a lot of fun, and we already knew all the teachers there. So it wasn't hard to get recommendations. Jiraiya—believe it or not—was the principle then, and he was more than happy to let us become teachers. Not long after that, Jiraiya retired as principle. He said that it was too much work and he never had the time to peek at the girls in the locker room, or something stupid like that." Kyuubi chuckled when he noticed my face twist in utter disgust at the thought of that no good pervert.

"Minato was immediately voted in to take Jaraiya's place. You should've seen his face. He was so happy…" I smiled slightly at the thought and I looked back down at the photo in my hand to see my father's smiling face.

This is what he must've looked like when he found out he was going to be the principle.

"So… what happened to him…?" I urged carefully and I made sure to keep my eyes glued to the picture when I felt the temperature in the room suddenly drop.

It was silent for a while and I felt that I might suffocate with the intensity of it—or maybe I'd wither away slowly until I was nothing but a little raisin.

Either way, I was screwed.

"Well… As I told you, Madara didn't start making trouble until a little after graduation. It was a real shock to him and me when we finally found out what he was doing… Minato felt… responsible in a way. He had it twisted in his mind that maybe if he'd stayed leader then none of those people would've died…" Kyuubi sighed heavily and he raised his hand so he could slowly rub his temples to help calm himself. "I told the idiot that it wasn't his fault a million times, but he just wouldn't listen. Then he goes and disappears for about a year."

I blinked and carefully eyed him as he growled angrily under his breath, but I didn't make a move to stop him from continuing.

"I searched for him everywhere. Even Iruka went to help me look for him… Iruka was a good friend of ours, and he was also a young teacher at Konoha High. Anyway… We didn't see or hear from Minato until after that year. Tch… it was just strange, almost surreal—the way I found him sitting at my doorstep. It was a shock to see my best friend suddenly gone and then back out of thin air. And he had this goofy look on his face when I walked up to him. I didn't realize he was holding a baby—you—until he just plopped you into my arms." Kyuubi trailed off again as he looked down at his lap and rubbed his hands together nervously, as if he was experiencing everything over again.

"You were so small… so tiny… I felt… overwhelmed. He never really told me where he went or why he left. All he told me was that he fell in love with this beautiful woman, and he accidentally got her pregnant. He wanted to come back to Konoha to tell me the good news, but he had to stay with her until she had the baby… I don't really understand why he couldn't have just called me or written a letter… but knowing that dumbass, he probably didn't know how. Dumb blondes…" He scoffed.

I would've growled at him for talking bad about my dad… and blondes, but I relaxed when I noticed the tender look on his face, along with the content smile. But it slowly faded into a darker expression.

"Then he told me that she died in the child birth… and he asked me to help take care of you. Which I… reluctantly… agreed to—I was never really good with little kids, but I would do anything for that dumbass…" Kyuubi shifted a little, and I could've sworn I saw a small blush appear on his cheeks, but it quickly washed away before I could get a better look.

"Anyway! Everything was going pretty good for a while. Minato stayed with me and we helped take care of you. Yes… we did end up getting together… which, in a way, wasn't really surprising, since we've been together most of our lives. And we were one happy little family. Until… Madara found out about us…"

I blinked when I saw Kyuubi's eyes go dull and glaze over, and he locked his gaze towards the floor. I guessed that he was revisiting a bad memory.

Kyuubi's POV

About 17 years ago.

"Oi~! Mina-chan! Naru! I'm home!" I called out excitedly as I kicked off my shoes at the door and quickly entered the vacant living room.

I had been looking forward to coming home to see my two blonde's smiling faces all day, so you couldn't blame me for being a little excited.

"Heyyy~! You guys here?" I called out as I peeked around the corner to look down the hall. It was empty… Huh.

I quickly glanced through the doorway that led into the kitchen, but there was no one. Well, I guess that should be a good thing—Minato wasn't allowed in the kitchen, because he always ended up burning something or another every time he set foot in there.

Growing slightly worried, and maybe a little paranoid, I found myself rushing towards the bedroom door, but I paused when my hand gripped the ice-cold metal of the doorknob.

My whole spine quivered when I smelt the acrid tang of blood.

The smell left a bitter taste at the roof of my mouth, and my whole body screamed for me to turn away and run, because I just knew that I would regret opening this door…

When I finally looked inside, my breath caught in my throat when I saw the limp figure of Minato just lying there… motionless.

It seemed like hours as I inched towards the bloody body, and my head spun with so many different emotions: fear, sorrow, guilt, frustration, longing… But the loudest emotion of all was an overwhelming desire for revenge—to hunt down the bastard that did this.

Kneeling down, I carefully—slowly—rolled Minato onto his back. His body felt so cold and stiff.

When my eyes locked with his wide and lifeless ones, I felt all the emotions abruptly turn off—as if seeing my lover's soulless gaze just sucked all the feeling from me.

I felt numb.

My crimson eyes narrowed slightly and my mouth became fixed in a tight line.

I should never have gone to work today… This is all my fault…

"M-Minato…" My voice cracked weakly and I had to swallow convulsively to rein in my anger.

"Minato." I called again, a little louder. I was hoping, praying, that he would come back to me. I thought that maybe if I said his name louder and if I held on to him tight enough, then just maybe he would find his way back.

"Nyugh… Mney…"

I felt my heart clench tightly inside my chest when I heard that familiar little murmur.

With a small whimper I finally released the blonde's ice-cold body to look back and see the large baby crib, but it was lying on its side. Small blankets were strewn around the fallen crib, and my breath hitched as I noticed movement under one of the blankets. Slowly, I began to crawl over, and once I got there I hesitantly raised the soft orange quilt.

My eyes clouded over with tears as I stared at the unharmed baby, who was now staring up at me with wide blue eyes.

"Gahhrm…Dada." He gurgled and he then lifted his chubby hands towards me. I couldn't help but smile when Naruto giggled.

It was amazing how oblivious a child could be… so innocent…

I sighed and lifted the bundle into my arms, and I made sure to block the view of Minato's body as I slowly walked away, but before I could leave the horrid room, I was stopped by the sight of a small piece of paper on the floor. I hadn't noticed it before, and I would've just ignored it, if it wasn't for the fact that it had my name scrawled along the top in elegant cursive. The ink was a bright red, so it was hard to miss.

At first, I just stared at the paper in contempt, my expression turning dark again, but then decided at the last minute to bend down and snatch it up. Before I stopped to read it, I quickly walked out and laid Naruto down on the couch, gently.

I slowly sat down beside the boy and I felt another small, almost nebulous smile lift my lips as I watched him roll onto his back and begin sucking on his toes, his blue eyes happy as he just stared up at me.

I had to pry my crimson eyes away from Naruto to finally read the note.

~ Kyuubi No Kitsune ~

Since you're reading this note, I'm sure it's safe to assume that you've already seen your lover's dead body.

I'm truly sorry about that… But orders are orders.

You should've just done what Madara ordered you to do… You, of all people, should know better than to deceive your own boss.

You'll probably want to kill me now, but don't fret, you shall get a taste of sweet revenge soon enough, but until then, maybe now you'll finally do what you were ordered.

If you don't, then I'm afraid that we will have to kill that cute little baby of yours.

Which would be such a waste…

Your Favorite Adversary, Pein

Growling furiously, I quickly crumbled up the paper and chucked it at the wall.

My mind was suddenly working on turbo drive, trying to find a way out of this mess without hurting any more of my loved ones, but it all seemed hopeless. Leaning forward, I gripped tightly at my dark red locks and I screamed out in frustration as my eyes began to water, but no tears fell.

"Dada…"

My eyes snapped sideways and I watched with hazy eyes as Naruto crawled onto my lap. I was still leaning forward, so when he reached up he was able to place his tiny hands on either side of my face. I stayed silent as he stretched his face up and placed a wet kiss on my forehead—much like Minato would do when I was frustrated.

That one little gesture helped clear my head, and I sighed softly as I nestled the boy in my arms protectively.

I will never let them get to Naruto. I would rather be killed a thousand times over than see this baby's life be taken away.

It was silent in the room as I patiently waited for Naruto to go to sleep, and once he did, I slowly started towards the door.

The drive to Iruka's was a blur, and I let my body go into auto-pilot as we left.

The ride was quiet and I couldn't help but glance at Naruto's sleeping form in the backseat whenever I had to stop at a red light.

Once I pulled into the driveway, I turned off the engine and sat there for a while, just silently staring at the baby…

Minato's baby…

My baby.

I sighed and got out of the car. Walking around, I pulled out the small carseat, with Naruto still inside it and I placed it quietly at the doorstep.

My heart clenched painfully as I gazed at Naruto's peaceful face which was glowing softly in the moonlight.

I felt bad just leaving this child with Iruka, knowing that he would never grow up knowing about Minato or me. Humming thoughtfully, I quickly pulled off the blue crystal necklace around my neck, but I had to pause to untangle it from my hair before placing it around his neck.

"Be good for me Naruto…" I whispered before gently placing my lips on his small, fragile forehead.

Taking one last long look, I quickly knocked on Iruka's door, and then I dashed back to my car.

I drove off just as Kakashi opened the door.

Naruto's POV

Normal time…

I blinked as I watched Kyuubi's expression flash back and forth from rage to sorrow.

You have no idea how bad I wanted to shake the man in order to get him to spit out the rest of the story, but I was able to keep myself distracted by looking at the various DVD's that could be seen on the shelves beneath the TV.

There wasssss… Bad Boys, Lord of the Rings, War of the Worlds, Fantasia, 300, Emperor's New Groove, Sherlock Holmes… and a bunch of other stuff. Jeez, Kyuubi had such a random collection of movies! I mean what the hell!

I was snapped out of my inner ranting when I felt arms wrap around me and I squeaked as I collided with Kyuubi's solid body.

"I'm so sorry Naruto…"

"It's okay…" I mumbled as I hugged him back. I gripped the back of his shirt gently as I heard him whisper another apology.

When he finally released me, his eyes were no longer vacant and far away but narrowed and full of fire—like they had been before.

"Uhm yes…" He mumbled while awkwardly scratching at the back of his head. "Where was I…?"

I chuckled a little at that and bounced up and down on the couch before answering. "You were saying that you and my dad finally hooked up, but then Madara found out where you guys were." I blinked and stared at him as I fidgeted around impatiently.

"Ah yes… Well I came home one day and found that Pein had killed Minato… but you were still alive. So, to make sure that you would be okay, I brought you to Iruka because I knew that you would be safe with him." Was all he said.

I felt my brows furrow in confusion.

The way he said it sounded so rushed, almost as if he was skipping over a bunch of stuff. It seemed like he was hiding something…

Something very crucial.

"Why did you think I would be in trouble?" I asked quietly, but he merely shrugged and got up off the couch. I was about to try to ask some more questions, like exactly how my father died, why Kyuubi couldn't just take care of me, what did he do about Pein… But I kept silent as I watched him stalk over to the kitchen.

"Are you thirsty?" He called out and my eyes immediately looked over at the half-full glass of water in front of me.

"No…" I called back and then I sighed and stared down at my lap as my mind continued to swirl with all kinds of questions.

And that's when something occurred to me.

"This Madara guy… What is he to Sasuke?"

I knew that since they were both Uchiha's that they must be related somehow… but I hoped that maybe they were cousins that never really talk to each other.

I blinked and tried to look into the kitchen when I heard a sudden clattering noise, as if Kyuubi had dropped something.

Huh… I guess he wasn't expecting me to ask that.

"Uhm… Well…" Kyuubi sighed, and I could just barely hear him. "He's kind of like Sasuke's father, in a way, but I'm not really sure."

Well damn.

That definitely wasn't what I wanted to hear!

Nothing more really happened after that, and I found myself being suffocated by the awkward silence as Kyuubi started driving me home.

What happened to the father-son bonding moment that we had before!

Even though the silence would probably end up killing me, I didn't try to break it.

I just honestly didn't know what to say.

Sure, I was extremely grateful for finally being told about my father… mother… whatever. But I still felt like Kyuubi wasn't telling me something, and that pissed me off a little.

What was so bad that he couldn't tell me, even after all of that!

When we finally reached my home, I didn't really have the nerve to look up at him. But I did say a quick 'thank you' as I got out. Before the door closed I heard him say, "Yea… I'll see you tomorrow, Naruto."

I finally locked eyes with him, and I actually smiled a little when I noticed the soft, fatherly expression on his face. He seemed so relieved to finally see me again, alive and unharmed.

I nodded before turning away.

By the time I reached the door, his car was nowhere to be seen.

Smiling again, I found myself opening the door enthusiastically, but when I looked inside my body froze and I felt my face heat up to the point where I thought my whole head would melt off.

"WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON HERE!"

.

..

...

TBC

...

..

.


Grimmjow: -glares- ...

Me: -Looks over at grimm nervously- ... whaaaaat? -whines-

Grimmjow & Ichigo: It's our turn now!

Me: -sigh- hai... = w= -mock salute-