There's Only Regret
Naruto © Masashi Kishimoto
Chapter 1: Echoes
Three years was not long enough.
It had been three years since that day not so very long ago. Three long years since the once proud village of Konoha began rebuilding itself. Three long years since that living nightmare, which still haunted them even in the sunlit hours, terrorized their lives.
It had been three years since the great demon fox had rained terror upon the village of the Konoha. Three sorrowful years since Konoha had lost almost half of their forces in that epic battle. Three long years since the Fourth Hokage had defeated the demon.
And three very long years since that same man had lost his memory.
While the Third had come out of retirement to assist the man, he still had about another two years or so to recuperate before he would be completely restored to his former strength. It had been strange really, almost surreal in fact.
Ever since he had woken up in the Intensive Care Unit, Namikaze Minato couldn't recall anything beyond his inauguration into the Hokageship about eight months before the attack on October tenth and anything related to the demonic fox.
As it was, the whole of Konoha had been glad he'd not been another name added to the memorial stone along with so many others. If he hadn't already been a hero of the hidden village, he was one now for sure.
By defeating the nine tailed menace, the blonde had secured his place in history as the man who defeated the most powerful of the Bijuu, summoned the death god and lived to tell the tale. Even his sensei looked on him with something a bit more than pride, though that was certainly there.
Since that day, he'd been slowly recovering both physically and emotionally. Tsunade had been recalled back to Konoha to ensure the man would recover without any complications.
As things went, he was doing better than expected and would probably reach full health sooner than the few years time projection anyways. As it was, he was coping with the enormous influx of paperwork, still dealing with the aftermath as the village rebuilt itself. Which meant he could be found within the Hokage's Tower more often than not.
He sighed in relief as the last dispatch was sent out for the day. While a necessary evil, documents were nonetheless tedious and boring.
The day out side was unusually bright and beckoned to him. And so he answered.
Pulling on the telltale white coat, the Fourth Hokage left the office to enjoy one of his favorite pastimes, walking the village. It helped ease his mind and remind him why he took the job in the first place.
Perhaps he'd run into his wayward student off duty today from the Anbu. The blonde unconsciously felt a smile cross his lips as he stepped out into the sunlight. Being a shinobi at heart meant that sitting in an office for the better part of a day made him antsy.
So stretching his legs was definitely what the doctor ordered. And he could also check on the progress of his village.
It definitely was amazing to watch as the people pulled their lives back together. He could see the Will of Fire that Sarutobi always talked about, in them. From the way they spoke about the future to the way they worked determinedly to pick up the pieces left behind from the tragedy.
What did bother him, though, were the sad glances and sometimes glares he received on more than one occasion. The hostility was usually from a few select shinobi and they hardly if ever came into contact with him, avoided him almost studiously actually. When they did have to meet with him in person, they gave him the respect of a subordinate and a cold shoulder.
For the most part he remained unruffled, but it was irritating to know that everyone around him knew something he ought to and yet didn't enlighten him. Not that he hadn't asked or put more than one shinobi on the spot (usually Kakashi or Jiraiya), it was just that everyone seemed determined that his memories come back naturally to him and he not be told.
He figured that they would in time, but it was just frustrating when he caught someone looking at him with pity and not know why. That however was the least of his worries and not one he really dwelt on.
The streets were lively with merchants, shinobi and civilians. The market was definitely the busiest and loudest. It also had the most energy.
It wasn't long before the fire shadow was mixing in along with the crowds and talking to odd vendors here and there. It felt good to socialize with the people and relate to those under his protection. Was it any wonder the people loved him so?
Just as he finished chatting with a metal worker about the wares and materials for sale, a flash of red caught the corner of the blonde's eye and made him turn.
For a moment he'd thought it was his imagination in the crowd and turned to bid the smithy farewell. When he turned around again, he caught sight of the flash again.
Or rather her.
The uniformed woman with long red hair, waist length, was bending over inspecting something at one of the stalls further down. He couldn't remember seeing her before, at least not amongst any of the teams that reported from missions.
Then as if aware of the gaze upon her, the kunoichi turned and met his eye. For a moment the environment seemed to slow and blur around him. Then he blinked.
She was gone.
He blinked again and shook his head a little. When she didn't appear, he dismissed it a trick of the light or his imagination and filed the incident in the back of his mind as unimportant.
He was about to continue his walk when a messenger arrived and claimed his attention. As with all things, the duties of the Hokage took precedents and this time was no exception. With a nod he made his way towards the tower, none the wiser after the afternoon encounter.
Meanwhile on the training grounds of the Ansatsu Senjutsu Tokushu Butai, one bored operative decided to teach a special, small, golden haired child the ways of the shinobi in secret.
A/N: Warning: There will be extremely slow updates in between each chapter.
This little story was started as a culmination of ideas bombarded me. It was inspired by a oneshot and a picture.
This is the sketch that started it all.
Link: www. lizeth. deviantart. com /art/Yondy-work-sketch-64053349
This is the oneshot that turned the plot bunnies into rabid lemmings and ran me over.
Oneshot: Forgotten Child
Link: www. fanfiction .net /s/3880543/1/forgottenchild
(Please remember to delete the spaces from the addresses)
Ansatsu Senjutsu Tokushu Butai: or the Special Assassination and Tactical Squad, Anbu for short. The Black Ops is another name for them.