" It's the Fourth!" someone observed, breaking the silence. Everyone stood stunned as the revived ninja walked down the steps. " But he's dead!" yelled someone else.
" Uh, yeah. I was wondering about that myself." said Minato, rubbing the back of his head. " Did I fail to seal the demon fox?"
" No." said Jiraiya, walking forward. There was a hint of tears in his eyes. " You succeeded. Twelve years ago."
" Huh?" said Minato, blinking. " Using the seal should have killed me!"
" It did." said Jiraiya, standing next to his old student. " You missed a wonderful funeral."
" I don't think this is the time for jokes, Jiraiya-sensei." said Minato with a laugh. " What happened here? The village is a mess."
" We were attack by Orochimaru and his allies." said Jiraiya, the wheels of his mind turning.
" Orochimaru summon the First and Second Hokage. It makes sense that he'd try to summon you too." Asuma said, realizing what Jiraiya was thinking. " We assumed the Third had stopped it somehow."
" That explains where I woke up. I was in a coffin half buried in rubble. It took me a long time to get out, and I could barely move." said Minato. " What's the status of the village?"
" We fought back the Stone, Sand, and Sound villages attack, suffering only moderate casualties, sensei." said Kakashi, walking up, his usual look of boredom on his face. Minato blinked at him for a moment.
" Woah. You got old, Kakashi." Minato said bluntly. " Not as old as Jiraiya-sensei here, though." said Minato, poking Jiraiya in the ribs.
" That happens when you aren't dead." replied Kakashi. " He's really the Forth, isn't he." Kakashi asked Jiraiya. The Toad Sannin looked Minato up and down and walked behind. He poked a point on Minato's back, causing him to recoil a little.
" It is. Minato had a muscle on his back that was often sore. Only the real one would have felt pain from that." said Jiraiya, smiling.
" Welcome back, sensei." said Kakashi, smiling under his mask.
" Thanks. Hey, how did my son turn out?" asked Minato. " Is he here?"
" He turned out just like the character in my book." said Jiraiya, looking around for Naruto in the crowd.
" Wait….did Naruto and Hinata…." Kakashi trailed off, eyes wide with shock.
" No, no, the book you hated, not Make Out Paradise." replied Jiraiya. " He was here a little bit ago. He probably ran off to find his friends."
" That's reassuring." said Minato. " I was afraid he might have been…" he trailed off.
" No, no. In fact, he and his friend Uchiha Sasuke just saved the village." said Jiraiya, patting Minato on the back.
" If you want to know where Naruto went, I can give you directions." said Asuma, walking over with a smirk and lighting a cigarette.
" Is that better, Lee?" asked Hinata, focusing the Heavenly Palm on Lee's shoulder. A medic had seen to him, but the wound still hurt.
" It is." said Lee, relaxing. " Thank you."
" I'll take another!" said Naruto, plopping down his bowl with a contented sigh.
Not long after the Third had been carried out, Naruto ( Sasuke reluctantly in tow) had raced around town, gathering everyone and demanding they come for ramen. Even Shikamaru was too tired to complain. The ramen stand was undamaged, which Kiba said was thanks to him stopping a snake from squishing it. Teuchi and Ayame had been overjoyed when Naruto had appeared with all his friends in tow.
" Naruto, that's fifteen bowls!" said Sakura, amazed. " Theres no way you could eat that much and not be sick!"
" Naruto-kun can." said Hinata, smiling towards Naruto. Naruto smiled back, though his attention turned when the new ramen arrived.
" This is a new record for him, though." said Ayame. " Usually he slows down after his sixth or seventh."
" I feel hungrier that I ever in my entire life." said Naruto before slupring up some noodles. " Itd pbly cs m uto chaga."
" What?" asked Kiba.
" It's probably because I'm out of chakra." translated Hinata. Everyone stared towards her. " I learned to understand him while he was eating." she said, smiling nervously.
" Now that's devotion." said Ino, making Hinata blush deeply.
" Another!" Naruto said, plopping the bowl down.
" I didn't even see that one!" said Akamaru in disbelief.
" Then you are fortunate." said Shino, sounding disgusted. He didn't understand the irony as everyone laughed at him.
" Welcome!" said Ayame, looking to someone behind them. A blonde, spiky haired man in a white coat with a flame pattern and a Leaf forehead protector was standing there.
" Sort of." said the man. " I was told I could find my son here."
" Another!" said Naruto, slamming the bowl down.
" Naruto, at this rate I should just let you eat from the pot." said Teuchi, taking the bowl.
" I could do that?" Naruto said, his eyes widening. " Could I?"
" Sure, Naruto." said Teuchi. " I'll add a few portions to your tab."
" I'm sorry, I don't know who your son is." said Ayame apologetically. " Do any of you know?" she asked the genin.
" Actually, it's him." said the man, motioning to Naruto. Everyone but Naruto stared at him in shock. " Uh, I'll have a bowl and wait until he finishes."
" Are you really Naruto-kun's father?" asked Hinata cautiously.
" Well, his names Naruto, his hair looks like mine, and Asuma said this was his favorite restaurant." said the man, taking a seat.
" Hey, I kinda finished the pot of noodles." said Naruto, looking up at everyone.
" Hey Naruto, this guy say's he's your dad." said Kiba, pointing to the newcomer.
" Hi." said Minato, waving. Naruto looked at him blankly, not moving.
" Why now?" asked Naruto, voice eerily calm.
" What do you mean?" asked Minato, confused.
" Why did you show up now?" Naruto said, standing up straight. " Why not a week ago? Why not when I was a six?"
" I was dead." Minato said, sounding apologetic.
" Oh." said Naruto, voice still emotionless.
" Apparently Orochimaru tried to summon me from the dead to kill the Third." Minato explained. " The Third stopped the technique partially. I didn't fight for him, but I did get brought back."
" Go away." said Naruto. " and leave me alone. I never want to see you again." he said as he departed, walking down the street.
Hinata found Naruto sitting on a dock by the lake a half hour later.
" Naruto-kun…I spoke with Jiraiya. That man really was your father." said Hinata, taking a seat by Naruto. Naruto looked up at her and she saw his face was red and puffy from crying.
" I know." Naruto said in a pained voice. " I knew the moment I saw him."
" Then why did you tell him those things?" asked Hinata, very concerned.
" Hinata, remember how you said our team was your real family?" Naruto said, tears forming in his eyes.
" I never had a real family. I never had anyone who cared for me or even hated me like your father. I mean, Iruka's the closest thing I ever had to a parent. Asuma's like a uncle and Kiba's like a brother you always want to hit to shut up." said Naruto, forcing a small laugh. Hinata put her arm around him comfortingly.
" I was happy." Naruto said as he looked at Hinata, their eyes meeting. " I was really, really happy. Going on missions, getting beaten up by Lee, I was really happy with it all because everyone …. And you were there. I just got so scared when I looked at that guy, I didn't know what to do."
" You should go see him." came a voice from behind. They turned and spotted Sasuke. " I'm sorry to interrupt, but I thought I should come and help. He's your father, Naruto, and you got him back, something that shouldn't happen. If my father was back, I wouldn't hesitate for a second." Sasuke turned and stalked off, a rare sorrowful emotion on his face.
" He's right, Naruto-kun." said Hinata, tears forming in her eyes. " If my mother was back, I would go see her immediately."
" I just… I don't want to lose anyone…I don't want to lose you." said Naruto, looking to Hinata. Hinata leaned forward and kissed him on the lips gently.
" You won't, Naruto-kun." she said. Naruto stared at her for a moment, then stood up.
" Smooth." said Kurenai from where she and Asuma were watching a short distance away.
Crap. thought Asuma. Brat just made my week more difficult. He looked to Kurenai nervously.
" Uh, hey, want to get dinner?' he asked.
Being dead wasn't bad. thought Minato. He was seated on the steps of the arena, away from everyone. The cold feeling he had gotten when he had watched Naruto walk away was far worse than the helpless final moments of his life after sealing the Kyuubi. He was rather surprised when he saw his son walking towards him. Naruto stopped on the step next to him and stared wordlessly. Minato could read every apology the boy was thinking by the look on his face, and knew his own must have been the same.
For the first time the father and son embraced, sobbing joyously into each others shoulders. They stayed that way for a long time, finally breaking apart and sitting next to each other n the ruined steps.
" So, that Inuzuka kid said you have a girlfriend?" said Minato, sparking the conversation.
" Uh, yeah, Hinata-chan. She was the Hyuuga girl at the ramen stand." said Naruto awkwardly.
" Good job?" said Minato, unsure of the response. " She's quite pretty."
" Eh heh. Yeah she is." said Naruto smiling nervously and rubbing the back of his head. " I'm sorry to ask this, but what's your name?"
" Namikazi Minato" said Minato.
" Wait." said Naruto, eyes wide with shock. " You're the Forth Hokage?"
" Yeah. Before you ask, Jiraiya tells me the Third tried to keep this secret to keep you safe. I had a lot of enemies." said Minato.
" Oh." said Naruto, looking slightly angry but assuaged by the information.
" So, I heard you helped save the village today." said Minato, smiling proudly at Naruto. Naruto felt a strange contentment from the look. " Tell me about it."
Naruto eagerly began to tell his father the epic story of his life.
The next morning there was, to understate it immensely, a huge celebration. Despite the mourning of the Third, the celebration of the victory and the return of the Fourth marked the day as a joyous occasion. Word that Naruto was the son of the Forth spread quickly, and the pair hardly left each others side the entire day. It was a new experience for Naruto, being invited to so many places for dinner. He had only ever eaten in a few restaurants and the Hyuuga garden. His father accepted the invitation from the Akimachi, explaining they usually had the best food.
Leaving the Akimachi's manor, they stood for a moment in the cool evening air, enjoying the peace.
" So dad," asked Naruto, reveling in the term, " do you have a house or something?"
" Jiraiya told me it was destroyed by the fox." said Minato with a sigh. " The village elders will probably have me take the position of Hokage again, so we'll have the room's in the Kage's tower."
" Wait, really?" said Naruto excitedly, nearly leaping into the air. " That's awesome!"
" Well, the rooms are nice, but its like living in a office. Every time theres a problem someone wakes you up, so you don't get much sleep. I was never really good with that. The Third was amazing, though." said Minato, thinking back. " He could go without sleeping for days, lay down for only a few hours, and then continue on at the same pace. I never understood how he did it." Minato looked down at Naruto. " I guess well have to stay at your place for a while."
" Okay!" said Naruto. His father had refused to take the bed last night, sleeping on the couch the night before. He had been impressed with how clean Naruto kept the apartment, saying that his mother was like that as well.
They both noticed Iruka walking towards them, waving. Minato had found the man earlier and thanked him immensely for his treatment of Naruto.
" I have some good news, Naruto!" said Iruka, smiling widely. " According to the examiners, you were one of the people who made chunnin!"
" Way to go!" said Minato, slapping Naruto on the back.
" Yeah. According to the examiner, the moment the first Explosive Clone detonated you made it. Sasuke and Sakura did as well."
" Well, of course Sasuke made it." said Naruto rolling his eyes.
" I hear that Lee and Neji are quite upset that they didn't get a chance, but with the state of things it can't be helped. Apparently, though, the leader of the Hyuuga has been putting some pressure on the examiners to promote Neji in light of his defense of the clan manor." said Iruka, nudging Naruto with his elbow. " Quite the girlfriend you have there."
" Yeah, Hinata-chan's pretty great." said Naruto, blushing and smiling.
" Dude, score!" said Kiba from behind them. Naruto turned, spotting Kiba and Akamaru giving him a thumbs up and Hinata looking at him adoringly.
In the bushes nearby, Guy turned to Lee.
" Lee, mark that one down. That seemed to work well." said Guy.
" Yes, Guy-sensei!" replied Lee, already writing in his small notebook.
" We spent half the day looking for you." said Kiba.
" Well, I was kinda busy." Naruto said, looking at his father.
" We figured that." said Kiba. " But mom said I had to find you anyways. She's inviting you to breakfast with the clan."
" Uh…" said Naruto nervously, remembering the meals he had seen Kiba eat that resembled dog food.
" Can't. Were going for ramen." said Minato. Naruto looked up at him happily.
" Oh well." said Kiba, not looking surprised. " Hey, you know the fat old guy that taught you?" Naruto nodded, cringing slightly at the thought of Jiraiya. " He said he was really impressed with my summoning techniques so he's gonna help me with them. Apparently he's really good with them."
" He is. He's the guy who taught me summoning techniques. There is no one who knows more than the Pervy Sage." Minato said, using the nickname Naruto always used. Everyone laughed for a moment and Jiraiya's expense.
Across town at the women's bathhouse, Jiraiya sneezed, blowing his cover and leaving him to the wrath of a large number of village women and kunochi.
In a dark, deep cavern under the Hidden Village of Stone, the Eleven Masters were bowing and begging for their lives before the Tsuchikage.
" The failure was not our fault." groveled one piteously. " Had the Sand and Sound's plans succeeded…"
" You were to aid them." growled the Tsuchikage, cutting him off. " Instead you went and were defeated by a little girl and her servant, trying to regain your honor. You cost us a great victory and revenge against the Leaf. They could have been eradicated, and now Orochimaru is dead and our allies defeated."
" The ninja of Kohona were stronger than we expected!" said one of the prostrated ninja. " We could have never expected the defeat of the Sand's demon or the Clone Ninja's abilities!"
" Really?" cooed the Tsuchikage. " In order to tame their demon the Sand defeated it. They are strong, but not unstoppable. AND DID WE NOT TRADE," screamed the Tsuchikage towards the cowering ninja " WITH THOSE PATHETIC GRASS VERMIN FOR INFORMATION ON THE BRAT! And yet," said the cloaked ninja, calming down. " None of this compares to the news I received earlier."
" What news?" croaked one of the ninja.
" Orochimaru, intending to use the Yellow Flash to kill the Third, returned him from the dead." The Tsuchikage paused as the weight statement settled on his underlings. " Apparently, something went wrong, and now the Yellow Flash has simply returned, fully in control of himself. He will doubtlessly be renamed the Hokage, and our position will become as bad as it was after the war. But, there is one bit of good news." said the Tsuchikage, smiling. " Orochimaru's right hand man escaped and has come to us, promising to share the dark secrets of the Snake Sannin, many of which he directly created."
The Eleven Masters moved aside as Kabuto walked forward, revealing himself.
" And what does he ask in return?" said the Tsuchikage viciously.
" The destruction of Kohona." said the silver haired man.
ONE WEEK LATER
" See ya dad!" said Naruto, waving to his father as he ran past the Hokage's office.
" Hey, Naruto!" called Minato, casuing Naruto to stop. " When you get back tonight, I'm going to show you a technique you should work on. It's like Sasuke's Chidori, only better."
" All right! I'll be back after practice!" cheered the blonde chunnin as he ran off towards practice.