Behold, my little sneak peek for you, the reader, into my next story. Make no assumptions, there are no pairings made yet and you won't find out what the bloodline is in this chapter. Where would the fun be in that? This is meant to tease and entice you. Hopefully, it will leave you begging for more. Leave a review and let me know what you think. Love it? Hate it? Apathetic toward it? Let's just hope you love it, because personally, I love the idea I had for a bloodline. Readers, Reviewers, thank you...Licking Cream.
The fox was gone, nonexistent, like it had never been there. The Yondaime was gone as well, his spirit departed for the belly of the Shinigami. He left behind a wife who followed him into the abyss and a son only a few hours old that he had entrusted to jail the most fearsome of beasts. Truly, it was a sad day in Konohagakure.
Old Sarutobi, the Sandaime Hokage, stood with a small blonde baby in his arms. The babe slept soundly, unmindful of the gathering of elders that were assembled to decide his fate. Sarutobi did not know why the fools had even gathered. The boy's fate was already decided. And Sarutobi meant to keep his destiny unaltered. He listened as the council bickered back and forth, some for killing the baby, some for saving it, honoring the wishes of their dead Hokage. This was a trying time for the village and patience was running thin.
Even for one of infinite patience like Sarutobi.
He'd never had to raise his voice before to get a point across. One does not attain the title 'God of Shinobi' by being loud and spontaneous. Ninja are calm, collected, silent, and deadly. All these things encompassed what Sarutobi stood for. What set him apart from the pack was his high level of intelligence. And that intelligence would grant him a successor and save the village in this time and in future times. No one noticed as he rose from his seat, the babe still sleeping peacefully in his arms.
"Enough. Be silent."
The room quieted immediately and even the small bundle in his arms woke and stared at him reverently. But no sound did it make. He smiled down at the blonde wonder and then turned his gaze back to the council.
"I have sat and listened to your nonsense long enough. This child will not be slain. He will not be made into a mindless weapon. He will not be used. He is a child of Konoha and he holds within him the most powerful of beasts. He deserves our respect above all."
A nameless council member, one of the civilians rose.
"But Lord Hokage, the Kyuubi could break free at any moment. Knowledge of the seal says that its soul is bound to the boy's and that upon the boy's death it will die with him. Would it not be best to kill him now and avoid any future issues?"
Sarutobi narrowed his eyes at the civilian and spoke in a level voice.
"This child shall not be killed. His own life is a sacrifice. The Yondaime chose him to hold the Kyuubi and he believed that his people would see this boy for what he is."
"And what is he?"
"A hero. A jinchuuriki. He is a living sacrifice and a living testament to a human's tenacious hold on life. I myself will ensure that this boy serves Konoha. I might love the people of this village, but if the leaders themselves can't tell the difference between a harmless child and the most murderous of all demons then how can I trust the villagers to let him live a peaceful life?"
He lifted the child and held it out for all to see. The blonde babe giggled and flapped its arms merrily. Sarutobi allowed a small smile to cross his face.
"Now then. Look upon this child and tell me where the malice is. Where is the unbridled hatred and rage that the Kyuubi exuded? Where is the fear that should be present in all of you if he were the Kyuubi?"
"But it could be a trick of the Kyuubi to lure us into false hope. It could be pretending to be harmless."
Sarutobi frowned and wrapped the baby back up in its swaddling clothes.
"And how exactly is that child different from any other newborn? What newborn doesn't look upon the world with wondering eyes? This baby has been born into a cold, harsh world on the worst night of our village's history. For this, he will be ostracized and hated if he is allowed to mingle amongst the villagers and I will not have that. I will ensure the boy grows to be a ninja of exceptional quality. I will ensure that he is pure of heart and loyal to the village."
"And how do you mean to ensure all that?"
Sarutobi smiled at the speaker. Of course, it would be the old war hawk Danzo. How he hated the man. What he said next would make or break the boy's future, but he would not back down.
"This baby, this small little blonde child you see before you, is my chosen successor. I will train him in the ways of the ninja and the ways of a Hokage. He will lead the village when I step down."
Hyuuga Hiashi rose from his seat and walked to stand in front of Sarutobi. The old man's grip on the baby grew tenser as the pale-eyed man gazed down at the infant. The babe stared up into Hiashi's eyes with wonder and reached out with small hands towards the man's face. Hiashi's gaze softened and he stuck a finger out for the little child to latch onto. It gripped the digit and cooed happily. And Hiashi…Hiashi smiled, shocking those gathered.
"I see that you have chosen a strong child indeed to be your successor Lord Hokage. I, Hyuuga Hiashi, will trust your decision and will help you in any way I can."
To Sarutobi's surprise, the rest of the clan heads stood and offered their support, all except Uchiha Fugaku. He voiced his opinion that he would not support such an endeavor and that the rest were fools. Seeing that he was outvoted, however, he went along with the decision reluctantly, but not without provisions.
"Should the child ever prove dangerous, I, along with the rest of the Uchiha clan, will not hesitate to bring him down. This I swear. The village must come before a man's wishes."
Sarutobi nodded and Fugaku left the chamber without another word. He had said his piece and knew he was no longer needed. One by one, the leaders of the clans came forward to see the baby and offer their support and help should the child need training beyond what Sarutobi gave him. Once all were gone, it left just Hiashi, Homura, Koharu, and Sarutobi. The two elder advisors to the Hokage watched as Hiashi approached Sarutobi and gazed down at the child again.
"Do you really intend to keep him from the village? A child needs interaction with those his age; otherwise he will grow up too quickly. You've seen how those in ROOT and how young prodigies like Uchiha Itachi act. They have no personality at all; they're like machines. Do you intend to send the child to the academy at some point?"
Sarutobi rubbed his chin and looked toward the ceiling, as if it would have the answers.
"I have not thought that far ahead yet truthfully. I will keep him in my household for the first few years of his life, giving him a family life and a stable environment. I will introduce a law that specifically states that those old enough to remember the Kyuubi attack will not speak of it to the younger generation, further giving him a chance at a normal life."
"We both know this child's life will never be normal."
Sarutobi's eyes drooped and a small, sad smile came across his face. The bundle in his arms yawned and fluttered its eyes.
"I know that. But he deserves at least a happy home life. My family and servants will care for him when I cannot. He will at least know the love of family. He will know that, at least to a few, he is wanted. I, for one, will not let the Yondaime's wishes go unnoticed."
"Nor will I. If you need any help, just send for me."
Both men looked down at the small child and smiled sad, mournful smiles. Hiashi reached out and stroked the infant's hair.
"He looks just like him you know."
"Yes, he does."
"I don't believe you ever said what his name was."
Sarutobi's eyes twinkled and he pulled the baby back against his chest.
"His father named him Uzumaki Naruto, just before he passed on. I intend to make it a name known throughout the nations. The Will of Fire will burn the brightest in this young one."
Hiashi nodded and left to assess the damage done to his family. Sarutobi nodded to his advisors and left for his home. He nodded to himself as he walked.
'Yes, this child will be the living embodiment of the Will of Fire. I will ensure that, come Hell or high water, this child will be a legend.'
Sarutobi sighed as he walked in through his door. Half of his compound was demolished. Miraculously, the living quarters were untouched and thus, at least his family and servants had a place to sleep. It would take a while to rebuild the village to its former glory, but that was for another day. For the moment, he had to introduce the family's newest member to them. He silently wished his son Asuma was there at the moment, but that was neither here nor there.
The servant who ushered him in smiled and looked to the bundle in his arms. Sarutobi's eyes narrowed when the man's widened and he waited for the servant to say the wrong thing.
"Yes, it is."
The servant got a speculative look on his face and then smiled at Sarutobi, disarming the old man's cold look.
"The Yondaime wished him to be seen as a hero, correct? Therefore, in my eyes, he is a beloved hero. You need not fear Master, I will ensure that he is treated with respect in this household."
Sarutobi smiled at his most trusted servant and nodded.
"I thank you for that Aoi. It is most appreciated. Do me a favor would you? Gather the family and all the servants to the main room. I need to introduce our newest family member?"
Aoi's eyes widened and he stared awestruck at the babe.
"Yes, he will be raised in this household. Now go, hurry."
"Yes Master! At once!"
Sarutobi sighed and took a seat as Aoi rushed off. It wouldn't be long now till the family began to file in. He readjusted the baby, took a deep breath, and closed his eyes. He was old, getting on in years. He should be enjoying retirement now, not taking over the mantle he had given up only a short time ago. But there were none better qualified to take the job, and better him than some young fool who would do something stupid. Or an old war hawk who would like nothing better than to try to invade another country, even while the village was disabled.
A small tear wound its way down the crevices on Sarutobi's face. It wasn't fair that one as young as Namikaze Minato had died. He was in the prime of life, a new father, a loving husband, and a damn fine Hokage. But fate is a fickle mistress and the young man had everything taken from him in an instant. All in service of a village that would just as soon see his legacy dead, his family gone, all while singing his praises. Sarutobi wondered if they ever thought of the hypocrisy of it all.
His eyes opened when he heard the shuffle of feet and opened his eyes to see the face of his son, peering down at the sleeping form of Naruto. His eyes softened when he saw his son's newly wed wife standing behind him.
"Hello you two. Come to pay your respects to an old man?"
Sarutobi's son laughed and watched as his wife picked up the baby. He noticed that his father gave the child up reluctantly, no doubt because of the tension in the air surrounding the child's origins and identity.
"Don't worry father. Eri will not harm the boy. In fact, she seems rather fond of him already."
"How could I not? He's so precious. And look at those cute little marks on his face. What are those, a birthmark?"
Sarutobi sighed and smiled at her.
"You could say that. They mark him as the container of the Kyuubi. And they'll stay with him for life."
He watched as Eri tensed and held the boy at arms length for a moment, before taking him back to her breast and stroking his feathery soft hair.
"I don't care. He's just a small child that was born at the wrong time. If you need me to, I'll raise him as my own. It'll give me good practice for when Yahiko and I have our own child."
Sarutobi smiled and allowed himself to relax in the plush chair, as his son and daughter-in-law cooed and lavished praise over the baby. He watched with a bemused expression as the servants filtered in one by one, and the females all took a turn holding him before he ended up back in Eri's arms. The old Hokage grunted as his bones creaked when he rose from the plushy chair and put his hands behind his back.
"Now that he's been passed around a few times, I'd like to thank all of you for welcoming young Naruto to our home. He will be living here with us and will be raised among us. He is to be given the respect he deserves, but do not spoil him. Do not treat him as royalty. He is to grow to be a humble child, one filled with generosity and kindness."
Yahiko turned his head to gaze at the now sleeping baby in his wife's arms.
"So he is to be a Sarutobi?"
"No, he is to be Uzumaki Naruto. I have decided that he will be my chosen heir for the title of Hokage."
A small murmur swept the room and Aoi, ever the loyal servant, felt compelled to ask if this was the right decision. Sarutobi smiled at his most trusted servant and fished his pipe out of his pocket.
"Of course it is. The boy is destined for great things, so why not the greatest thing of all? The village may not like him, may even hate him, but they will respect him. Of this I swear on our clan's name. He will be the epitome of a ninja in every way and when he rises to take the mantle I shall raise and train him to take, he will be the best. He will surpass us all."
Eri smoothed the baby's hair and grinned when he fidgeted and turned his face away.
"Father, I want to raise this child. I want to show him that though the world may hate him, there are those who will always be there for him."
"That's very good Eri. You and Yahiko, along with everyone else, will show this boy love and how to be a good person."
"And you father? What will you be showing him?"
"Why Yahiko, I thought I made that clear. I will be showing him everything about being a Hokage. I plan for him to be helping me with sorting paperwork by the time he is six or seven, signing documents by eight, and perhaps assigning missions by the time he is ten."
"You can't be serious Master. He will be much too young to do such things and what of the academy? A boy should have friends his age."
"I've already thought of that Aoi. And he will have friends his age. I believe that Hyuuga Hiashi has a child due to be born soon and it should make a wonderful playmate. The other clan heads all have children to be born soon or have already had children. Don't worry, he won't be a recluse. I'll make sure of that myself."
Yahiko, while happy his father had thought this through so far, was still unsettled by one detail.
"And the council? They are greedy, power hungry fools and may attempt to harm the boy."
Sarutobi's eyes flashed dangerously and Yahiko was somewhat sorry he'd spoken up.
"They will do nothing! If they know what is good for them, they will leave the boy alone and under my care. Minato would want his son to be cared for and damn it all if I won't see his wishes honored."
All eyes in the household grew wide and Sarutobi cursed himself for losing his cool in an impassioned speech. Eri's eyes were the widest and most tear-filled.
"So, he is the Yondaime's son. He looks just like him now that I think about it. So tragic that this poor baby loses his parents and all that is entitled to him the day he is born."
"Aye, and I expect you all to keep that secret. You don't want to know what the punishment may be. His father had many enemies, outside the village and within, and I won't have him pay for his father's endeavors."
She sat down in a chair and held little Naruto close to her bosom as the tears streamed down her face.
"It just isn't fair father. And the fact that most of this village would rather see him dead…it sickens me."
"Aye, Eri, it sickens me too. But that is why we must work to make them see his virtues and not the sins that are not his own. His life will be a constant uphill battle and we must be there to help him every step of the way."
Yahiko sat on the arm of the chair and put an arm around his wife's shoulders.
"To think that we would help raise a national hero's son…it's like something out of a fairy tale. The tragedy of a lost prince, orphaned at birth, who comes to be found by kind, benevolent, childless people who only want to see him raised into a fine young man."
Sarutobi smiled at his son's wistful thinking. Yahiko had always been the more studious and philosophical of the two boys and was sure to instill his knowledge and love of literature into Naruto. Not that Sarutobi wouldn't beat the finer points of linguistics and books into his head…by force if necessary.
"I'm happy to hear that you feel that way Yahiko. Now, it is late and we must all retire for the night."
Eri looked at her father-in-law with big soulful eyes.
"Father, may I keep him for the night?"
Sarutobi laughed as he headed for his room. Tomorrow would be an eventful day for Konohagakure.
"Of course you may Eri. He's your son now after all. I'll have a crib commissioned in the morning."
He didn't see the smile on her face when he told her Naruto was her son, but he could literally feel the warmth on his back.
'Tomorrow, I must face the council again and detail my plans. Soon, this world will see the Will of Fire again and will know its awesome might.'
Sarutobi awoke the next morning feeling just a little more lighthearted than usual. Despite the obvious difficulties he would face that day, he was happy knowing that the house was livelier than normal. One would be correct in saying that the small bundle of sunshine he'd brought home had been a shining spot in the bleak aftermath of the Kyuubi's attack.
As he walked down the halls, he nodded and smiled at the servants, who returned both gestures with an unusual flair. He wondered about that until he came to the kitchen, where Eri was feeding the baby and several bottles were stacked beside her. The poor girl looked dismayed and immediately looked to the old man for answers. She was no expert in children, but this wasn't normal. Sarutobi laughed as he took a seat and was served his breakfast.
"I see you've run afoul of the infamous Namikaze appetite. Don't worry dear, it's perfectly normal for him."
"But father, it isn't normal for a baby to eat so much. Where is he putting it all?"
That old familiar chuckle rumbled in Sarutobi's throat and he wiped a tear away from his eye.
"Oh Eri, you just don't know yet. Wait until he learns to walk. You won't be able to keep up with him. Trust me when I say he's storing up energy for later."
The girl looked skeptical but kept silent as the blonde finished off yet another bottle. She sighed as he whined, obviously for more. Sighing, she got up to make another. Hopefully, the newborn's appetite would abate with the coming years.
She apparently had forgotten that the more you grow, the more you need to keep going.
Sarutobi laughed with great vigor as he headed to his office. It seemed the grocery bills would be very high for the Sarutobi clan in the coming years.
The old man sat eyeing them all warily as they filed in and took their seats. He glared at his unwanted rival Danzo and made a sign for the door to be shut. Standing before the assembly, he knocked out his pipe before putting in a fresh blot of tobacco and lighting it. Anything to help calm his nerves was appreciated. He took a deep draught as the smoke filled his lungs and exhaled slowly. The flavor was exquisite. Slowly, he opened his eyes and coughed to get attention.
"We are gathered today to address several issues. I realize that most of you have pressing matters with your clans and families so I will not detain you long. I merely wish to say that until the village is back in order, we will suspend all missions for a while. Not for long though, we can't afford to look too weak. Now are there any concerns you would like to address?"
Inuzuka Tsume, ever the eloquent lady, voiced her opinion.
"Yeah, I have one. It concerns the young pup you were carrying last night. What became of him and what will become of him?"
"Ah, straight to the point as usual eh Tsume? I have told you already, he is under my protection and I am going to raise him to be a loyal Konoha ninja and my successor. As of now, I am instigating a law that will make it a crime punishable by death to mention that Naruto carries within him the Kyuubi. It will not be discussed and will not be tolerated. This will be released to the mass populace and made so that they understand the severity of the law. I will not tolerate attacks or unnecessary enmity against my apprentice."
His eyes swept the room and he leveled a glare at those he knew to be problem causers.
"If there are any objections to my plan, then by all means, speak now or forever hold your peace. But know this, I will not change my mind. Your grievances are duly noted, but that boy caused none of them. And you won't have to face just me. My entire household has sworn to protect the boy and raise him as one of our own."
Before any could protest, Hyuuga Hiashi stood and bowed his head to the Hokage.
"I, Hyuuga Hiashi, swear upon my clan that we will honor the Yondaime's wishes and protect the boy. Any help needed we will offer."
"Yeah, yeah, I, Inuzuka Tsume, swear upon my clan's honor that the pup will be protected. We'll teach him whatever is needed."
"Tch, troublesome. We of the Ino-Shika-Cho trio offer our protection of the boy."
Sarutobi raised his eyebrow at Shikato and sighed.
"Do you really speak for all three of you Nara?"
"Yes I do. Whatever one decides is for the best, the others will follow. And we always followed the Yondaime's wishes."
Sarutobi nodded and watched as the Aburame's swore to protect Naruto with whatever necessary means. The lesser clans followed suit until it came to the Uchihas. Sarutobi frowned, knowing that Fugaku was a foolish man and wouldn't offer anything.
"I, Uchiha Fugaku, will not offer my clan's protection to this…thing. I have offered my views on this fallacy and will not offer my support to the cause."
Hiashi turned cold eyes to Fugaku.
"So you would not honor a dead man, a Hokage and fellow ninja's, last wish? That is…troubling, Uchiha. Most troubling."
"And I say that letting that monster run loose is troubling Hyuuga. We've never seen eye to eye so it is no surprise that we differ on this opinion. I choose to see the truth while the rest of you are blinded by this old man's optimism concerning a supposedly innocent child. But who's to say it's truly innocent?"
Danzo nodded to his fellow naysayer's words and gave Sarutobi a smirk. It would be tough to wiggle out of that argument. Sarutobi, much to his chagrin, didn't look rattled in the least.
"Tell me Fugaku, did you trust the Yondaime?"
"Did you believe in him as a leader?"
"Did you believe him a more capable leader than me?"
"Without doubt. Your time has passed."
"I see. So you believed in the Yondaime, followed his rule when he was alive, but fail to trust him in death."
Fugaku looked confused and asked what Sarutobi meant.
"That seal was designed by our beloved Yondaime Hokage and as such, it would fall to reason that you would trust in the man to know what he is doing. You have just contradicted yourself Fugaku. You claim to trust the man and yet you don't trust him. Which is it?"
Fugaku was absolutely livid. He looked to Danzo for support but found none as the man was gazing intently ahead of himself. He gritted his teeth and bowed his head to the Hokage.
"I trust in the Yondaime but my decision stands firm. I will not help this…child…further his development. You will receive no help from the Uchiha clan."
"As long as you don't hinder his growth I will ask for none. Now, are there any other objections to my plan?"
"Yes, even though its troublesome, what of the boy's social development? If he is to be a Hokage, he will need to interact with and develop bonds with people his age and earn the trust of the villagers."
"Nara, I will not lie. The villagers will be a difficult task. However, I would ask all the clans that have agreed to help to allow the boy into your homes and not to ostracize him. Allow him to play and interact with your children and allow friendship to blossom. Let him learn what he can from you, see the different ways of families, allow him into your hearts. My daughter-in-law has already taken him in as hers."
He chuckled before speaking again.
"I would suggest you not to make her angry by being mean to her child. You all know how mothers get when their children are wrongfully abused."
The gathered council members chuckled at the weak joke and Sarutobi clapped his hands, signifying the end of that particular business.
"Now that that's taken care of, let's move on to other topics. Such as the rebuilding of certain quarters…"
Sarutobi arrived home late that night, completely tired out. The populace had been ecstatic that he'd been renamed Hokage, as he was a familiar face and they already knew how his rule would go. He was a kind, soft-spoken man and had an infinite well of patience. He smiled when he saw Eri trying to calm a frantic Naruto, shushing him and cradling him.
"Hello there Eri, you seem to be quite distraught. What seems to be the problem?"
The girl looked up at him distressed.
"Oh thank goodness you're home father, I can't get Naruto to calm down. He just won't quit crying. What do I do?"
"Let me have him. Have you checked his diaper?"
"Yes, it's dry."
"Has he been fed?"
She gave him an exasperated look and sighed.
"The boy eats more than half this household. I bet he went through a whole gallon of milk today."
"Have you tried to lull him to sleep?"
"Father, please. I've tried everything."
"Hmm…allow me to try this."
Sarutobi sat in a chair; cradling the hysterical Naruto in his arms and formed a few hand signs as Eri watched. She sat enraptured as wind picked up and began to blow around the baby, caressing his cheeks and hair and a small whistling tune played around his ear. She watched in awe as his crying stopped and his eyes began to droop. He kept opening and closing his mouth until Sarutobi took a pacifier and popped it into his mouth. He grew concerned when he heard a slight popping sound and pulled it out of the baby's mouth and eyed it carefully?
He looked over at Eri and smiled.
"I believe he's teething. That's the problem. You'll need to invest in something for him to chew on tomorrow."
Her eyes widened and she lifted his lips back to expose the tips of two pointy white molars where his canines should be.
"But…but father, he shouldn't be teething this early. It isn't natural."
"No, it's not. But neither is it natural for a baby to hold the most powerful beast ever. I can only imagine what surprises he'll hold in store for us in the future. This is just one of them. Perhaps…he will even manifest a bloodline not seen for centuries."
"A…bloodline? Which one?"
Sarutobi turned his eyes to his daughter and smiled.
"One that is based entirely on stealth and is one of the greatest ever seen. I can only hope that the dormant genes required for it come forward in him."
"What did it do?"
"Well records are sketchy and I'll need to research to find out if its even possible, but Minato's wife told me one time that her family had a most peculiar bloodline that went back to the beginning of the ninjas."
"Wait Minato had a wife?"
"Aye and she was most beautiful. But that is for another time. I do remember the name of the bloodline however."
"What is it?"
His eyes twinkled and he grinned at the baby sleeping in his arms.
"She called it…the Melt."
Don't expect this to be updated for quite a while. I plan to finish at least one story before I begin on this. It will be started on soon hopefully though. Just be patient and thank you again for reading.