The mission took a shorter period of time then it should have.

Upon arriving, Naruto had tossed the scroll to an annoyed, but equally worried Tsunade at the Hokage Tower, before immediately hitting the closest shinobi bar that he could find, and promptly drowning himself in rounds of Grey Goose shots with Shikamaru and Kiba, the other two dropping out after about the sixth round. Thanks to Kyuubi's ability to regenerate his liver and cure his cirrhosis fifty times over he kept going for most of the night, until he was kicked out with the rest of the drunken ninja.

Unlike Kiba, who had his extremely hot older sister to pick him up, and Shikamaru, who passed out on the sidewalk, Naruto was sober enough to drag himself into a tree, before sprawling the night there.

The moon lit the dimming lights of a silent Konoha.

The days (or yesterdays, for it was already four in the morning) date was October eleventh, a day Naruto had conspicuously planned his mission to come home the following day, but due to the fact that the missing-nin he was sent to kill were ridiculously easy, he was back by nightfall.

At least the festivities were done.

As Naruto closed his eyes, between his reflex to throw up and Kyuubi's chakra healing him with hot slices through his abdomen, he wondered what was going on at this very hour, almost nineteen years ago…





Minato clutched Naruto's small, fragile hand with his own, replacing the cherubic features of the infant with the grinning visage of what he would be, many years to come.

He pointedly gave the ANBU a tired look, and he quickly disappeared to the ground to his comrades, leaving Minato alone.

Minato gazed upon the burning crescendo that gleamed in the night. He couldn't feel the hot, fanning flames, only the brisk October air around him.

Gamabunta was silent beneath him, Kyuubi's roar splitting into the air and wrenching the jaws of the sky open with such ferocity that the Earth shook with it's deafening scream. The beast's tails stretched into the stars, as if burning them to crisps. The hot red streams flickering about, almost amusedly. Minato clenched his teeth. That fucking fox…

Naruto clenched his finger with his two hands, staring up at him with the biggest watery blue eyes. So pure…so pale they were almost the color of a baby's breath flower. His face split into a grin, the pudgy cheeks rosy tinted; maybe from the fact that he was born a mere hourago, or because of the brisk air outside.

"I'm so sorry, Naruto." He muttered. "You probably knew all along, didn't you? The hell I'd send you to, my scorned legacy I'd leave you with. You'll hate me, I'm sure. Maybe you even hated me when we met…all those years ago."

Minato drifted off, pointedly remembering the scant years he spent with his son, grasping to them so tightly his mindscape was flashing through each and every smile.

"I'll never know, will I?" He sighed.

He was running out of time.

Naruto closed his eyes against his father's warmth, snuggled next to him as if it was prenatally ingrained into him that his father was his protector. But was he really? What was he doing, if not giving the beast his son?

"But I love you." He whispered to the infant. "So much. I knew from the day I met you, at the Iwa river, that I loved you. But I had no idea who you were. Just like you'll never know who I am." He paused. "Until your older, I suppose."

The baby gurgled, and Minato spent most of his time trying to believe that the infant knew what he was saying, and was agreeing with him. But Kushina was the one who fabricated those kinds of fairy tales, and the Yondaime was well aware that Naruto was probably only doing that because he was hungry.

Again, Kyuubi's cry shook the night, and Minato knew that he was upon his final hour.

But he couldn't bring himself to feel saddened for himself, only for what he was now certain he would be doing to Naruto.

"Boss…" Gamabunta called worriedly.

He shook himself out of his stupor. "Naruto," He began again to the infant, knowing that he couldn't understand but did so anyways, "I—

"You know,"

Said a voice to his left, rather conversationally.

"I doubt I can understand you, I'm sixty minutes old, after all."

Minato's eyes widened.

And Naruto only smiled.

You'll kill me for sure.

Here's the premises of this ending...slash beginning...slash...whatever. The first part (before the dashed line) is the beginning to CAS's unofficial sequel and companion fic, World's End Rhapsody--which is posted already. The second part (after the dashed line) is the ending of both CAS and World's end Rhapsody. It's explained in WER. So see you there.