Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, nor any of it's characters or settings- except the one's of my own creation.
Warnings: AU, OCness, mature content (violence, blood, adult themes)
Shadow of Rain
Written by Olivia Ramsden
Betaed by MrsHellman
Screams and panic filled the night of the 10th of October.
Overlooking the village, past the main gate, one could see fire and ash billowing swiftly into the sky. Ninja of all ranks, if not evacuating villagers, were heading towards the dark ominous clouds. When the screams weren't consuming their hearing, they could hear the bloodcurdling roar of the mighty beast that was the cause of all of the chaos. The giant fox stood his ground, creating havoc for the humans with merely one swing of his tails.
This was the scene Namikaze Minato, the Yondaime Hokage of Konohagakure, came upon when he walked over to the windows of the hospital room where a child's scream could be heard. The happy smile that had occupied his face for the past hour was gone; a deep frown in its place. Though he couldn't help but feel mentioned smile wanting return as he looked down towards a small bundle in his arms; his baby boy, barley half an hour old.
Cradling his child, Minato murmured tenderly to him in a soothing voice. He watched with eyes filled with love as his new-born wailed from the comforts of his blanket. The way his small arms reached towards the only source of warmth, his father, made Minato's heart flutter. The baby's soft downy hair was a light, golden blond which – despite him being so freshly born – was starting to stick up in soft spikes around his head. His skin – like any baby – was so incredibly smooth to the touch his father couldn't help but caress him gently on his exposed arms and face. He had yet to see his son's eyes, though he knew they were the deep blue all new-born babies had. Minato couldn't help but feel his curiosity spike as he wondered whether they'd be like his cerulean pools or like his mother's cloudy grey.
Stopping his wailing to open his eyes and look up at the one holding him, the infant cried out a single angelic cry and the two locked eyes. He couldn't know who this person was, only that he felt safe and warm in his hold.
Minato, upon finally seeing his son's deep eyes, let his smile once more break out onto his features.
His son's cry wasn't like any baby's he'd ever heard. Most people complained that a baby's cry was almost banshee-like; a horrible noise that just constantly annoyed you. The exact opposite occurred with his little son's cry. It shook to the very depths of Minato's soul. It called out to him, like a deadly Siren song. It was heart-warming and it lifted him up out of the dark thoughts that threatened to break.
It wasn't that Minato didn't care (it was the exact opposite), but if he were to drift over to the bedside where his love's life had ended a little while ago he was sure the dam would break, and he needed to have focus for the next few hours.
The cause of her death was partially due to blood loss and the pain and stress of child birth. Only partially because she was injured coming into the hospital in labor from debris being flung around from the Kyūbi.
Keeping his focus on his son – which he and his wife Kushina had decided to name Naruto – kept his head clear, even when the shock that Kushina was really dead remained in his mind.
The child continued to look up at him with a happy and innocent expression; gurgling sounds making its way past his lips instead of the wailing Minato had been met with before.
"Hello little one," Minato began, "Can you recognize that I'm your father already?" He gently tickled his baby's face as he stroked it tenderly. The baby gurgled some more. "I can't even begin to tell you how adorable you are. It's hard to believe you're this small. Just look at your hands," his voice cracked a little as his face bordered on splitting in two due to the smile present. Naruto made a happy cry as Minato grasped his hand with a finger.
Minato let his son keep his finger in a tight grip as he stood up and began walking down the halls of the hospital. The only nurse present – as all the others were stationed elsewhere – didn't try to stop him as he continued talking to the baby while leaving the room.
They soon made their way out of the building, walking through the village to the sealing chamber in a nearby tower; originally erected as a means to shoot aerial weapons at enemies should they breach Konoha.
At the entrance he was met by the Sandaime who had a pained look on his face.
"Minato please, I know if we keep looking we'll find another way. There has to be one," the elder reasoned, already knowing it was futile.
"It's alright old man… just... promise me you'll look after Naruto," Minato said as he tenderly smiled at the infant in his arms. "I couldn't bare it if anything happened to him." He then raised Naruto so that the child was lying on his underarm, with his head and neck securely held by Minato's large hand.
"Besides, how could you resist someone so cute?" the father grinned.
Amused at the sight, the Sandaime merely shook his head and sighed sadly.
Together they climbed the steps up the tower until they reached the floor the chamber was on. The whole time as they were getting closer, the old Hokage noticed how Minato's cheerful attitude started to sober. He was still holding onto his smile, but it didn't reach his eyes anymore.
When they reached a set of huge oriental doors they saw Homura and Koharu, the two elders of the Council. They greeted one another before Minato opened the large doors, which gave off a resounding echo as if sensing the dark situation.
He glanced back at the Sandaime, as his advisors waited for him to continue on with the three of them waiting outside the room. With a half-smile, he closed the doors and was suddenly enclosed by flickering shadows emitted from a dozen candles around the room.
It had an eerie feel to it and he didn't like it at all.
Naruto whimpered slightly in his chest as if sensing Minato's discomfort. The first sound he'd made since the hospital, having been quite during the entire trip to the tower.
"Shh… little one, it's alright," Minato whispered to the infant as he rocked him slightly. "Daddy's here..."
He brought Naruto up to his face and placed him so that the small blond head was situated by his right collarbone. Embracing the small body with his arms, he rested his cheek on the tuft of hair that was so much like his own, and then he hugged his son with all his heart. The baby gurgled again as he clenched his fists, successfully capturing a little or Minato's Jōnin shirt. Minato smiled a bittersweet smile while letting a lone tear make its way down his cheek.
The infant snuggled into his neck while the Fourth rubbed his small back through the blanket. Getting positioned on one knee he removed the comforting hand and started preparing the seals on the floor. He spoke soft words of comfort to his son as the seal began taking shape around the center of the room. As it was finished, it left an open space directly in the middle of floor where a small basket was positioned.
Minato, done with the seal, had but one task left in order to defeat the fox.
Activate the seal, summon the Shinigami, seal the demon in his son, effectively saving the village and everyone in it… and destroying forever the chance at continuing a happy life with his baby as the father that he always wanted to be.
He choked back a sob.
He couldn't do this. He couldn't do this to his son.
The newborn already had no mother, and soon he'd have no father. It was not the way things were supposed to be.
He looked at the infant, who gazed back at him innocently and snuggled further into his shirt - oblivious to what was about to happen to him. Minato couldn't help but let a hollow laugh escape his lips.
"You know," he said and looked at the child, "babies are supposed to cry a lot. You haven't cried once since you came out of the hospital. You barely cried after coming out of the womb; which I think most would find rather shocking. Being all nice and warm, and suddenly thrown into a cold alien environment. A world of crime, fear, death, and destruction… yes, most babies would be royally pissed at that."
Minato didn't care that he used foul language around his new-born; he barely even noticed to be honest, the emotional turmoil clawing at his insides disrupting any reasonable thoughts and actions.
"So how come you're so happy huh?" Naruto was still looking at him and cocked his head to the side.
"God don't do that, it's too adorable," the father pleaded with a strain in his voice. "You know you're only making this even harder for me..."
Minato reached down to pet the infant's hair, which caused Naruto to gurgle in delight. It was an innocent, pure sound that only a baby could have and it warmed the father's heart.
"I wonder if this seal will hurt you," Minato thought, still half-smiling at his child. "I really hope that it doesn't. It would kill me to know that my last gift to you before leaving this world was a painful one."
He blinked and gently looked into the infants eyes.
"Naruto please, if you can all but understand this one thought out of all this nonsense I'm sputtering to you. Know that the thing I want to do the most right now is take you and run away. Run far, far away; where no demons, where no enemies can reach us. Where the only thing you'll have to worry about will be me and my overprotective nature. I want to protect you from everything and everyone so we can smile at the world in peace." Minato had let the tears fall uncontained as he spoke. "But, alas, I can't do that either. I love you with all my heart. Yes, you... little one," he said as he poked him gently on the head, eliciting a gurgle. Minato imagined it to be a laugh.
"You're the main reason I am staying. Because I want you to grow up in a place filled with excitement, wonder and safety. This place has much to offer you Naruto. As Hokage I can't ignore the fact that I love this village too, but that love is dwarfed by how I feel about you right now." He kissed Naruto on the forehead and walked over to the center of the seal.
He knew he was buying time, but hell if he was going to die without at least one father-son moment.
Naruto wiggled out of his hold a little but made sure he still held on to the man's shirt with a firm grip. He played with the fabric while the owner of the shirt just shook his head and smiled.
"Are you even listening to me?"
Naruto cried out in response.
The Fourth's heart just melted at that. Lying down on the floor where he had placed the center of the seal he was content to simply watch his son's antics for the moment.
Naruto cooed softly as he was placed in the basket and looked up at Minato with dark eyes.
Minato hoped they'd look like Kushina's. Having his hair and her eyes would make him resemble the both of them.
Not saying anything else, his father merely wrapped himself around his newborn and hummed quietly to them both. He nuzzled Naruto as his son curled into a ball near Minato's neck and quietly fell asleep. The father had fresh tears falling down his face, which eventually merged with the blanket Naruto was wrapped in.
He sighed heavily as he hugged his son close to him... one last time.
It took all of the willpower he had to sit up and pull away from Naruto. The baby only moved a little at his retreat.
Placing the infant more securely in the basket, Minato smiled sullenly and rubbed his hand along his son's soft stomach, where the seal was soon to place a raging demon within. The small stump of the umbilical cord would fall right in the center of it all.
Mourning quietly, he leaned down to kiss Naruto's delicate forehead and gently ruffle the newborn's silky blond hair.
Finished with his goodbyes, Minato finally stood up and walked back to the doors, each stride feeling like his legs weighed a million pounds. He opened them and saw that the three people were still there waiting, even though they now wore anxious expressions.
He looked out the window and saw why.
The Fox was nearly upon them; the demon's nine tails crushing the outskirts of the village walls.
It was now or never. He was about to close the doors behind him when a cry tore through the silent tower and his soul. He looked back into the candle-lit room to see his son's scrunched up face as small wails of discontentment left his lungs.
Minato's eyes were glued to him. He couldn't tear away. Naruto and his deep eyes held the father's gaze, as if looking through his very being, asking him why he was leaving him. Why he was abandoning him only to force an unholy demon into his body.
Tears started to leak from both of their eyes.
Another soft cry came from the child, followed by whimpers that made Minato want to sprint back as fast as possible and soothe his baby until all his bad feelings were left forgotten.
Homura coughed, interrupting the connection, and signaled to the window and the destruction outside.
"Hokage-sama we don't have time for this. If you are truly going through with this you need to act now.
Minato kept his focus on Naruto, even as the other senior, Koharu walked around him and continued closing the door.
The Fourth's eyes never left his son's. His baby cried out louder and reached his hands out of the basket for his daddy.
The Hokage just stood there frozen as the beam of light that was on his son's face was slowly being replaced by darkness as Koharu struggled to close the heavy door.
The last thing he saw was his son's red face as he was weeping his lungs sore. Confusion and fear present on his small features as the light was cut off and the door closed, leaving his baby alone in the dark, candle-lit room.
When the door closed, Minato couldn't handle it. He swiftly strode away from the doors, down the hall picking up speed. Once out of the corridor, he started sprinting down the many flights of stairs and never stopped until he got to the ground floor and rammed through the entrance into the cold October air.
There he braced himself on his knees on the darkened streets; illuminated only by the orange glow of the forest fires ahead. Calmed slightly by the cool air, he forced his emotions down; his form shaking slightly but not uttering a sound.
Why did this happen? Why was this happening?
The pleading, helpless look Naruto had given him before the doors were shut was etched into his mind. His baby was all alone now in that dark room probably scared out of his mind. He was nearing a complete mental breakdown when a hand gently grasped his shoulder.
"Minato… I... I'm so sorry. If there was a way we could switch places… but I'm not as young as I used to be and I don't know if I could—"
"Sandaime-sama please," Minato cut him off, his voice a steady mask; learned from years of diplomatic meetings and stringent training.
"You and I both know there's no other way to defeat a Bijū. Besides, you need to lead the civilians to safety. All our remaining forces are gone now."
He slowly took deep breathes to calm himself and tried to keep his thoughts on the scene to give him focus. Standing up he took another deep breathe and steeled his resolve.
"Pray that this works and isn't some ludicrous way of making the demon stronger, eh?" he joked.
Giving him one of his trademark smiles, the Fourth nodded to his predecessor and took off for the battlefield.
The Sandaime sadly looked into the distance where Minato was headed just as a wheezing Homura and Koharu finished climbing down all the steps and emerged from the building. Hearing the mighty demon's roar up ahead caused them all to shudder.
The Sandaime Hokage turned around as he and his advisors walked back to the Hokage tower further into the village; avoiding the chaotic evacuation route the villagers were taking.
Minato used his Hiraishin to gain speed and came upon the battle field from hell.
Countless shinobi had fallen as the great beast was littering the ground with their blood and bodies. Looking up into the face of the demon he couldn't help but tremble. Its scorching red fur flowed under the large muscles used to slash and kill all against him; a cruel – almost possessed – look was on its face. The Kyūbi's features looked tortured in a snarl of pure unadulterated anger.
Kami… am I seriously going to seal that into Naruto? Minato thought with a frown. He quickly ignored the feelings of guilt speeding towards him and did the required hand seals.
"Kuchiyose no jutsu!" he cried out as he slammed his hand on the ground, seals making their way across the red dirt.
A huge cloud of smoke rose over the area and as the wind carried it away, it revealed the Yondaime on top of a toad larger than the giant fox's torso. The toad was rusty red in color, with a brighter red around his eyes and lips; over his left eye was a scar he'd received in the past. His large body was clad in a blue happi vest and he had a kiseru pipe placed in his mouth. He glared at the fox as he exhaled a cloud of smoke.
"Mmm… Minato-san, I think we should skip formalities for now in face of such an imposing enemy," he said and put his pipe away, instead letting his hand rest on the hilt of a dosu blade strapped by his hip.
"If you don't mind Gamabunta, I just need you to take me a little closer," Minato said from his kneeled position on top of the toad's head.
The great frog leaped high over the ninja below as they began cheering at the sight of their leader. Landing around a mile away, Minato began the seals for the jutsu. As the last one was formed he muttered; "...Shiki Fūin!"
But as the words left his mouth, an eerie silence descended upon the battle field.
The fox stopped its attack and looked straight at the young Hokage as if it could understand what he was doing. Minato felt a cold sweat as the Bijū stared him down. As he was looking into its eyes, Minato could have sworn a saw the Sharingan within them, swirling madly around.
Is it under a Genjutsu? the blond Hokage wondered. The only one capable of a feet like that is…
His thoughts were interrupted as the Kyūbi, in all its fury, opened its jaws and gave a blood curling roar at the Yondaime. Then it charged.
Moving faster than any would have thought possible for its size; it was quickly closing the distance between them, crushing the forest below as it ran and trampling anything in its path.
"Minato!" he faintly heard Gamabunta shout from amidst the violence.
Not wasting any more time he looked around to see if the jutsu worked, and shivered as he saw the ghost like apparition of the Shinigami, floating behind him.
With its pure white coat that had rips and tears in it, you would think at first glance the being was some sort of fallen angel. Devilish horns stuck out of the wild white hair that reached a long way down its back. The body looked skeletal and emaciated from what he could see past its cloak with skin that was a deathly purple-gray. Black, razor like teeth held a dagger as its right hand lifted revealing prayer beads. On its hands were many seals he noted, but his observations were cut short when the Kami of Death began muttering in a distinctly foreign language.
A chill went through Minato's spine, but when he turned back to face the furious charging animal in front of him, he knew he'd made up his mind.
Time seemed to freeze down slowly as the Kyūbi came closer, only a couple hundred feet away.
"Hrnggg…" The Shinigami opened its hollow black eyes and looked at the Yondaime.
"Mortal, you know the penalty for summoning me and my contract, do you not?"
The Shinigami's voice broke through the sky like thunder; its voice sending an arctic cold down Minato's body.
"I do. Please hurry if you will." He wanted to get this over with as soon as possible." I offer my soul in exchange for sealing this demon inside the child I have chosen."
The Shinigami looked upon the human with vehemence. The Hokage's face showed little fear, only a steadfastness.
It growled slightly at the lack of terror being shown. However, looking into the human's future just out of curiosity, it grinned at the pain he could inflict upon him. Plus, it angered the kami that this mere mortal thought it could simply order him to do whatever he wanted.
Smiling murderously at the idea forming in its mind and deciding to play with fate for a while, he raised his right hand and shot it forward into the body of the seemingly frozen Kyūbi.
Minato watched in awe as the body of the fox rippled slightly as if it were made up of water. Then he jumped as the Shinigami spoke to him once more.
"Human! Think not of this as an offer that you are worthy or noble. Souls given up so freely in sacrifice have no value in devouring. They are too pure," the God stated, and Minato knew that what was awaiting him was not that of anything positive. "My decisions are my own. I, and no one else, choose who lives and who dies. Never forget that you are forever in my debt and should you ever call upon me again, I may just change my mind."
And with that, time started to play again, but the noise of the battle ceased as the demon's shriek tore through the land like a scar.
Only Minato could see the hand dragging it back, but the shinobi present saw the demon's howl of rage as its body morphed and collapsed on itself into a huge condensed cloud of blood red chakra. Then, just as suddenly, it was swept off into the direction of the northern tower in the village.
As the cloud circled around the tower in a red and black haze, the demon's roars could still be heard and the nine chakra swirling tails still seen. Lightning flashed in random strikes along the deadly cloud. The fury and killer intent was felt by all as the fox roared into the night, and was followed by the cloud being sucked into the open window of the tower in a funnel. The cloud grew smaller and smaller as the shrieks echoed of the mountains.
Then as all thought it was nearly over, one of the chakra tails flew out of the cloud and whipped around; crushing buildings and spreading fire where it touched the earth. As it too was being sucked inside the window, the tail whipped around again and collided with the tower's base, rocking the structure and causing massive stones to shoot out of it and collide with houses below.
Citizens could be heard screaming and shouts were given but then it was all over as the red haze disappeared into the tower completely. With a blinding flash of light, lasting but a second, the Kyūbi was gone.
Storm clouds grew heavy and dark in the sky. Regardless of it being night, the land grew even darker. A deluge started to fall over the village, effectively putting out the forest fires which caused black smoke to rise from the scorched earth. The rain which seemed to calm the terror stricken region quickly silenced the screams and shouts as people recognized that the attack was over.
A flash of lightning overhead illuminated the land for only a moment before giving off a soft, rumbling thunder that seemed to calm the people even more.
Minato looked up at the sky as the rain washed away his tears. His time was limited now. He didn't have a clue as to what the Shinigami was going on about, but he figured his soul was about to be extracted soon anyway.
Gamabunta – his job complete – released the jutsu, sending the tired Hokage plummeting to the earth. A pair of ANBU quickly caught him mid-air and laid him gently on the ground.
His breathing became shallower, creating fog where he exhaled due to the cold. The sealing jutsu he had just done required almost all of his chakra to initiate and now that it was done, he was reaping the consequences of it.
His body hurt like hell, and the numbing rain and cold were giving off narcotic effects. He felt his mind drifting away to unconsciousness and knew what was coming.
Minato turned his head to the tower in the distance as silent tears made their way down his face.
Naruto… The young blond's thoughts, finally able to relax, drifted back to his hearts last joy.
He wouldn't be there for him. He wouldn't be able to hear his first words, take his first steps, to be able to comfort him when he was scared, or to simply love him with all his soul when they were together.
None of it.
The tears fell unstopped onto the ground.
Naruto… my boy…
Darkness began surrounding the corners of his vision and he faintly heard the siren's going off within the village. The fires within the walls of the city had yet to be put out.
He saw the group of medic-nins rushing through the carnage to get to him.
His vision blurred then, and darkness took hold of him completely.
He heard voices first. The sound was fuzzy and somewhat muffled but he could still distinguish that there were people around him, and there was a faint beep of a heart monitor coming from the left.
Where am I? he thought and tried to move, but his body was still stiff from chakra exhaustion. He then noticed that he was wrapped in something warm. A blanket? This can't be the Shinigami's stomach… it's too...?
He actually didn't know what to expect in the realm of the Shinigami, but this certainly wasn't it.
It was then that he noticed he was on a bed.
Minato forced his eyes to open slightly and looked up, noticing he was looking at the ceiling of the hospital. The lights were cut off from the power plant but there were lanterns and candles emitting enough glow to keep it from being disorienting.
He was alive? The seal had worked and yet he was still alive? Nothing made any sense.
Wasn't this supposed to be a self-sacrificing jutsu? Not that I want to die... Then the words of the Shinigami came back to him and he was struck with an epiphany. I must be the luckiest bastard to ever grace this land. Ridiculous. His heart was hammering slightly against his chest from the whole nerve-wracking ordeal.
"Minato!" he heard from a far distance, and he recognized the voice of his sensei.
"Tsunade he's awake!"
There was shuffling around him as his vision tried to clear and adjust to the brightening of light all of a sudden. He turned his head slightly to the right and saw his sensei, Jiraiya, hanging over him with a shocked face. Tsunade was on his left checking his vitals. As his eyes finally adjusted, he noticed the Sandaime, along with Kakashi, Obito, Rin, and a group of ANBU all near the foot of the bed. Their expressions were a mix of worry, happiness, and shock.
"Sensei you're alright!" he heard Rin's distinctly exasperated tone. "Do you have any idea how worried you had everyone? We thought you went and killed yourself!"
"Yeah! When you took that fall off the toad boss, everyone started freakin' out. We thought there was gonna be a mass riot or somethin'. The villagers were panickin', and then when the northern tower collapsed it just sent people into more hysteria… OW! Rin what the hell?" Obito cried as he clutched his head.
"Well I thought he'd like to know… people don't like being kept in the dark!"
"Retard, if you would just think before you opened your fat mouth!"
Kakashi winced as he heard the information slip, but the other occupants were more concerned with their Hokage to notice.
The two's bickering went unheard through the young blond's ears though. He couldn't have heard them correctly. He tried to block the cold that started to seep through his core.
The northern tower collapsed…?
"Naruto..." he mumbled under his breath as his eyes started to widen and he stopped breathing. His son, his son was in the northern tower. His son.
That silenced Rin and Obito almost immediately. The others only stood stock still.
Jiraiya put a hand on his student's shoulder as Minato tried to sit up in the bed. They couldn't see his eyes for he had closed them but his expression was one of hope as well as disbelief. His son hadn't been in the tower as it collapsed, had he?
"Where's Naruto?" he asked and turned to look at Tsunade who couldn't keep his gaze. "Where is he?" the pleading in his voice didn't go unrecognized. He looked at the faces of the people in the room. No one was answering. Why won't they answer me?
He tried desperately to subdue the growing panic filling his being. Raising his voice slightly he asked again.
"Please, I just want to see him… " His body was shaking and he tried so hard to quiet the nagging in his mind of what Obito had said. "I need to see him. Where is he? Where's my son?" he was practically shouting now.
They still wouldn't answer.
"Please…" the tears started to fall again.
"Minato…" Tsunade herself was openly crying at this point. "He…" She was struggling with the words. Jiraiya, meanwhile, had pulled up a chair and was trying to calm his student down.
"Kiddo, it's going to be alright, but please keep still." He sighed. "Keep a hopeful mind, alright." He gently embraced him with one arm to steady the young Hokage.
Then the Sandaime approached him, and one look at his face had Minato knowing he didn't want to hear this.
"Minato… my friend," he paused, trying to search for the words. Pain etched on his face. "The tower your son was being held in collapsed shortly after the sealing. It had been impacted by one of the fox's tails." Noticing the young blond's facial features, the Sandaime was quick to continue. "But please, don't jump to conclusions yet Minato, there's still hope."
He noticed Minato paled considerably and that his hands were shaking. Jiraiya was still holding onto him with a worried look.
"I have sent every remaining ninja we have out searching through the debris and throughout the entire village. We will find him Minato, I promise you."
However, the strength in his voice wavered when he saw the heartbreak in his successor's eyes. Sarutobi had never seen the man look so utterly defeated and broken. Minato clenched the bed sheets with a hollow expression as his eyes watered.
"Please, Hiruzen…" he mumbled. The Fourth couldn't take the throbbing of his heart. "I just want my son."
His shakes didn't stop as Jiraiya and Tsunade continued to comfort him. His team looked at the scene with broken hearts. They had seen their sensei throughout Kushina's pregnancy as one of the happiest people in the world, always smiling and showing off her growing bump. They knew how much he had wanted to be a father; how much both parents loved their child, before he was even born. This wasn't fair in the slightest.
Kakashi walked closer to the bed and leaned against it as he put a hand on his sensei's arm. Obito and Rin came over to Tsunade's side and stood next to the bed as well.
Tsunade shook her head to try and clear it of the painful thoughts as she prepared a sedative for the Hokage.
"You need your rest Minato; this will help you fall asleep. We'll all help to find Naruto, just have good faith." She administered the drug on his arm and soon enough he was feeling the effects.
Sarutobi silently exited the room to check up on the search. The whole thing was too much for him to even think about.
In the hospital's corridors an ANBU came to report through the window.
"Anything...?" the retired Hokage pleaded.
The ANBU's gaze went to the door that held Minato and his head drooped a little.
"Nothing, Sandaime-sama... we've looked everywhere. People are still being rescued from collapsed buildings but we haven't seen any sign of the baby."
The former Hokage sighed deeply. "Well keep looking. I don't want this search called off until you find him."
"Hai, Sandaime-sama!" And with a salute he disappeared back into the night.
This can't happen, not when we miraculously still have our Yondaime alive. This can't happen to him. The aged old ninja drifted off into the village, questioning search parties and civilians alike. He couldn't fail Minato. Not when the man had saved the entire populous from shear destruction.
Out in the pre-November chilled night, the riots in the streets had people in a panic. Even though the fox was gone, the terror it had caused was still looming over the village. Looters were robbing the empty stores and some even caused small fires by igniting houses and throwing molotov bombs onto the streets. Embers were gently gliding up into the sky.
Out of one of the many alleyways in Konoha, emerged a figure. The man was middle aged and had greasy brown hair that was matted slightly.
He wore a black, very loose raggedy shirt that came down on a v-neck, exposing his extremely skinny chest and collar bones. However skinny he may have been, you could still make out a slight beer belly, sticking out at the bottom of his shirt. The trousers he wore were somewhat tight around his legs and had many holes ripped through them. Many tattoos adorned his slightly tan and dirty skin, and over his shirt was a large, black overcoat that reached down to his knees.
All-inclusive, he looked homeless and was extremely filthy. The man's expression was an ugly murderous one as he silently stalked through the streets; pick-pocketing anything he could find of value.
With a cigarette in his mouth he silently blew out plumes of smoke.
As he reached a more destroyed section of the village, he stopped to admire the shattered buildings. With a trained eye, he searched the debris for valuables he could take with him. It was a tiring process, but it was his way of making it through the day.
As he'd collected a few items, he turned around and was about to leave. That was when he heard a whimper resounding from amongst the clutter.
He narrowed his eyes as he followed the noise until he spotted something he never would have thought to see. Surrounded by massive slabs of concrete and brick, but nestled within a bubble of sorts was a tiny baby. It was crying softly as a red aura seemed to shield it from harm.
"Hehe… well look at my luck; you gonna make a fine lil' addition to the family." He chuckled darkly. "Name's Blight lil' one, how 'bout yah?"
Picking the child up unceremoniously, and held him at arms-length as the red aura around the baby seemed to growl at the man. It then dissipated back into the child's body as if it were never there. The child's head – neck not strong enough to support itself just yet – swayed from side to side, but the man had no care in the world.
"Hmm… you a curious one, ain't ya…" he spit on the ground as he turned the child over inspecting him.
"Yeah… I could fetch a lo' of money from you. There ain't many blond heads 'round these areas. Eh? Wait a min…"
He looked closer at the baby's face.
Naruto struggled from his hold. He didn't like this man at all. The smell hurt his nose and the aura around the man was adulterated. It didn't help that the smoke from the cigarette was burning his lungs.
He wanted that man from before, with the wild golden hair and the smile that was so gentle. The infant didn't know who he was, only that his presence was so comforting. He began to cry; wanting that safety again.
"Shut it brat… lemme see yeh face." He proceeded to smack the child on the head.
More tears fell from Naruto's eyes but he quieted to a mere whimper.
"Hmm… blond spiky hair, whiskers… it can't be? Do ya know how many damn people have asked me fer someone of you're description tonit' lil' one?" he glared at the child.
"It was annoying the hell outta me. You…" the glare was replaced with a mischievous smile. Blight grinned scarily as he considered the infant. "Yer the son of the Yondaime! With you I could make a fortune once yah grow up 'nough!" he tucked the child within the reaches of his huge coat and continued walking back towards the alley.
He was about to make the final turn onto the street, when a group of ANBU blocked his path. Growling, Blight shoved the infant further into the coat so he was hidden within a pocket. Raising his hands in surrender, he acted confused.
"Now, now gentlemen, what can I do for yeh this fine evenin'?" he smiled
The ANBU regarded him with strange looks.
"There's nothing fine about it, sir," Falcon replied. "We were wondering if by any chance you—"
"…stumbled across a blond newborn recently, yeah, yeah, I know! God yeh people are like a broken record," he growled low.
The ANBU glared back at him through the holes in their masks.
"Well? Have you?" Rat impatiently asked.
"This is probably the hundredth time someone has asked me that and fer the life of me…"
Blight paused... considering telling the truth, if maybe a reward was to be offered. The son of a village's Kage was nothing to be taken lightly. But then again, he could fetch a far greater sum of money if the right clients came looking at his… shop.
"I haven't," he replied; inwardly chuckling at their exasperated sighs.
"Sorry boys but I'm off to bed. Such an excitin' day it was."
"Well, thank you for your cooperation, sir. We hope you haven't been hit too badly by the attack."
Blight laughed. Oh no, I think it was one of the better things that have happened to me recently. "Can't say I have."
Then his heart stopped as the baby gave a soft muffled cry into his back. Shit! If they discover I have it…!
But just then a group of rioters had smashed a molotov against a building - igniting the wall with flames.
The ANBU swiftly left him to subdue the angry mob.
Not taking any chances, Blight quickly took off and ran for the end of the alley. There, he turned a corner and ducked under some hidden stairs, shielded from view by a tattered and ripped cloth hanging overhead. Sweating heavily he proceeded to rest for a minute as he brought the infant out.
The baby cried as it emerged.
Angered, Blight quickly covered it's mouth.
"Quite yeh! Ya nearly got me busted!" The cries stopped at once from the lack of oxygen. The baby began squirming his arms to try and get free, and eventually, Blight released his mouth.
The man then held his body far away to observe him critically.
Crying softly, Naruto looked up into Blight's eyes. There was no love like there had been in the man before; only pure hate and loathing. The baby started shaking.
"What? Are yeh cold? Heh… get used to it lil' one 'cause where were goin', there's hardly any warmth." He sat up and continued his trek down the stairs. "I can't afford a heater, but once I get ya to the market, I'll be fuckin' rich, so I can deal with it fer now!"
Blight walked even further down into the hidden sections of pathways that the alleys offered. Stopping at a supposed dead end, he swiftly began dismantling a couple of bricks on the wall in what looked like a random sequence.
The code that he had just prompted was a hidden gate that activated when correctly signaled. A group of renegade ninjas had taken up the job as gatekeepers for the place, making sure no outsiders came within.
Two of them greeted the man once the gate's henge fully dissipated.
"Boys," came Blight's reply as he flicked his cigarette ash onto the empty path behind him. Walking past the grotesque guards he began to head down a moldy, slime filled tunnel.
"Yep, I'm sure you're gonna love it here lil' demon," he said looking down at the baby. "Not many outsiders get a glimpse of where the real crime center of Konoha is. Livin' down here fer a little while will break ya and make ya made of tougher stuff then the people up above. When most people come to Konoha, they are only aware of the village itself, with its different sections: the aristocratic quarters, commoner's quarters, as well as the market streets and shoppin' districts. Most have never even heard of one of the cities darker secrets."
Naruto couldn't understand anything of what he was saying, but Blight didn't care.
"Yamishakai is wha' most call it; a series of underground tunnels and caverns hidden beneath the village itself. It's a section devoted solely to the black market; illegal goods rangin' from drugs and alcohol to organs and fur tradin'. The trade was established long ago and now has secret routes to and from various villages across the shinobi nations."
"Many military police sought to discover the secrets of Yami, but failed to find even an openin' leading into its dark depths. The location has been kept secret since the time of the Shodai. After a while, with no sufficient proof, the investigators for the area were called off and over time, most simply ignored the myth of the secret city and the crimes it was committin' were left forgotten…" the man trailed off.
Blight carried Naruto down the tunnel and into an opening where an underground river ran alongside. Walking down the path, he ducked under some mildew stained tarps that were flapping in the wind, caused from the rushing waters. The mist from the river left them both a little wet.
Naruto was shivering from the cold. He tried to burrow into the jacket, but the man pulled him out and cradled him against his chest; effectively exposing his naked body to the chill.
It hurt! He wanted to cry but every time he made a slightly loud whimper, Blight would hit him on the arm. The cold was painful and silent tears made their way down the child's face. He was about to start crying again when they emerged from the tunnel and came upon a wondrous view.
"Heh, welcome to me home kid," Blight muttered. He took one last drag from his cigarette before throwing it on the ground; stomping on the butt.
Naruto looked around in wonder. Hundreds of stalactites and stalagmites were scattered throughout the cavern. The cave itself wasn't very tall but it was wide. But the main attraction was in the center were numerous lantern displays glowed brilliantly in the dark, hanging from various shops of all kinds. The area was filled with different colors of light, fabric and incense. Dozens of Bazaars and foreign looking markets littered the ground.
…and the people.
People of all shapes, sizes were roaming about. Many had exotic looking styles and strange clothes. Guards and shabby ex-ninja were scattered throughout the small district as well, but they were still vastly outnumbered by the amount of people browsing around. There were so many new sights and smells for him to encounter.
His fun was cut short though when Blight stuffed him into a large pocket again. The man quickly maneuvered his way expertly around the busy shops and people. Walking through to the end of the grotto where a series of tunnels began, he turned to the left.
Blight's home was on the market outskirts and was a rundown 'orphanage', as he liked to call it. There he kept and held around half a dozen or so children, ready to be bought and sold as slaves when the next caravan for Suna arrived. Helping him was a whole staff of guards that he was able to hire with the help of his lofty prices.
There were many boxes in the front of the shop as well as various overhanging tarps, billowing softly in the light breeze. A single lantern illuminated Blight's way through the entrance.
"Miya, Shiro!" he bellowed.
The two young and worn looking teenagers he addressed scrambled to the front of the shop.
"Welcome home, Master," the girl, Miya, muttered as the two emerged from one of the rooms. Filthy ragged clothes were the only things that dressed the two teens – whom couldn't be older than thirteen or fourteen.
The two were on their knees in a bow and dared not to look up into Blight's face. He glared at the two for a moment.
"Here, I caught somethin' for ya to take care of. I'm not interested in the whole raisin' a baby thing." He took out the little infant and tossed him to the two teens.
Miya yelped at his actions but before the baby reached the ground Shiro caught him.
"S-Sir, where… where did you find him?" the girl asked.
"Durin' the demon attack, a buildin' collapsed 'round him I guess. In the chaos no one noticed, hell… or even cared, that I stole him." He walked over to a nearby table with some stale bread and tore into it. Gulping down some wine to wash it down, he continued.
"Look closely at him and see if yah find anythin' familiar."
He grinned evilly as he noticed the confusion on the two teens faces. "He's the son of the Yondaime Hokage, and I plucked him right from the shadows of his very own village."
With the gasps of the two teens he began to laugh a disgusting hearty laugh.
"You stole the son of the… but, but… that's insane! Sir if I may, I've already heard from the street vendors that they have ninja everywhere searching for him!" Shiro began to question.
Quick as lightning, Blight bent down and snatched the two up by their collars. Raising them up off the ground slightly, he brought them closer to his face, and the two shuddered as he glared at them murderously.
"Don't either of yah breathe a word of this to another soul, ya got that?" he barked. The two winced and nodded. "Good… besides, none have been able to find any entrances down here so we'll be safe from the surface; in a couple years he'll be suitable for manual work and will fetch me a hefty sum of money. Just think of how much an enemy of the Fourth would pay to get their hands on his son…" he chuckled at the thought.
"Now go back to you cells, I'm charging the two of yeh to be responsible for him. Now, not another word!"
He kicked Miya in the ribs harshly, not enough to throw her, but enough to startle and scare her and Shiro off into the back of the shop.
The two quickly raced back, and went through a curtain that hung in front of a large hole in the wall. Stepping through the hole, they came into a room that was backed up against the side of the cavern walls. It was fairly large. Rocks jutted out in random spaces and mist came through a gap in the ceiling - making it extremely cold and damp. Water dripped from low hanging rocks and on the floor but what really set the room off were the twenty-or-so prison-like cells, lined up along the wall. It looked like a rundown kennel, except instead of dogs, around seven children resided, each in their own single cell rooms.
There were more empty cages than filled ones, due to the recent purchase of their inhabitants to slave drivers.
Miya and Shiro walked over to the cell that they shared and lied down on the double bed that was in it. Miya took the child and cradled him in her arms. The baby hadn't stopped crying, but it was only softly making a noise.
"Hey there, it's alright," the girl began rocking the baby, not really knowing what to do.
"You're probably hungry aren't you? Poor thing. I'm sorry but there's no food for you yet, you'll have to wait until Blight-sama returns from the market tomorrow."
The baby stopped crying and looked up at Miya. Her green eyes weren't the same as the calming blue ones he felt before, but anything was better than that man's heartless gaze. He was hungry, starving in reality. He cried out a little hoping he wouldn't get hit for it, but he was so hungry.
Upon hearing his cry, the two teenagers felt their heartstrings tug. This baby's cry was so pure. It also quieted the other children within the room.
"I'm sorry we can't feed you… well wait… Miya?" Shiro turned to look at the girl with a questioning gaze.
"What are you looking at?" she glared slightly at his train of thought.
"You're a girl right… and girls can feed babies… so OW! Sheesh! It was only a thought!" he protested at being hit in the stomach.
"Do you honestly think I'm old enough for that? Plus, females can't simply summon milk on a whim...I think..."
"What should we do then? Just have him wait… he barely looks a day old Miya."
"We should name him," she said and smiled, looking at the baby fondly.
Way to change the subject, Shiro thought. "Well, if he's the son of the Yondaime, word has gotten down here that he already has a name. People have been searching for a baby with his features for hours, or so I've heard…"
Looking at the baby she smiled brightly as she rubbed his cheeks with the cute whisker marks. Looking into his eyes she almost lost herself in them. They were still dark, as most babies – she knew that much – but she was sure they'd be blue when he grew up, or at least grey.
A deep blue engulfed her as she looked on into his face. They were like the deep abyss of the oceans and clear like the heavenly skies. But still, the more she looked she saw twinkles of many blue shades glittering in those eyes. Like rain fall, she mused. Rain...
"Ame," she whispered to him. The child closed his eyes, releasing her from her trans-like state. "Ame," she repeated, and he snuggled deep within the thin blankets of the bed; the bitter cold reaching down into him.
"Ame… I like that. You know, he really doesn't deserve a life like this. It's not fair to him… the Hokage's son." Shiro looked at the infant warmly.
The two got under the covers and tried to share what little body heat they had for the baby.
"Little Ame… I hope he survives it down here," Shiro wondered out loud. And soon the three had fallen asleep, along with the rest of the trapped orphans.
Days turned to weeks. Weeks turned into a month. And by the time that month had rolled by, Sarutobi finally called off the search for the baby.
Minato hadn't spoken much to anyone since he woke up. He stopped eating and for a while it would have stayed that way had Tsunade not threatened him with force feeding.
The broken father returned to his office as Hokage after the search was cancelled, but everyone noticed the change in him. The smile he usually carried everyday was reduced to a grim shadow of what it once was. His eyes no longer sparkled like they used to.
He carried on with leading the village through their hardships, but none could ignore that out of the whole attack… he was one of the few who had lost more than any other. It was in times like these that he dearly missed Kushina, for out of everyone, only she could put the smile back on his face in times of depression. But he had lost her as well.
As time went by, he gradually began to smile and laugh again, but the pain remained locked within his heart. He had lost his only son and wife, all in one night.
A.N. This idea came to me a long time ago...it just took me awhile to actually sit down and write it. I apologize for the length, but it was needed to build the backbone for the story's setting. And yes i changed some minor details around...such as Obito and Rin, alive and kicking...not that Rin is dead, but I have yet to hear of her as a living breathing person.
I am a hopeless Yondy fan and i love stories that have him and Naruto interacting with each other...so you can expect more of that later on, as the story essentially is about the two of them.
Also, if you were wondering:
Ame means "rain" in Japanese and is pronounced (Ah-meh) like in Amegekaru...the village hidden in the rain ect...
Yamishakai means "society of darkness" or "underground world". The nickname for it, Yami, means darkness, the dark, or black-marketeer.
Blight...although definitely not Japanese, is only a nickname for the man. You'll discover his real name much later. I got the idea from the game Okami, and for those who don't know, the word Blight has a lot of meanings. The most common form I found was, "something that impairs growth, withers hopes and ambitions, or impedes progress and prosperity", which I thought was very appropriate for the slaver. ^^
So, here it is...i hope you enjoy.
Edit: This chapter, as well as chapters 2-6, are being re-submitted due to the amazing editing of my new Beta, MrsHellman. Those who read it before will notice some subtle (but significant) changes, such as the name of the Underground market being changed to Yamishakai, plus other various dialogue changes and grammatical fixes.