Kamio Takako was tired. She had been travelling for three days already, coming from Wave Country on her way to Konoha. Of those three days, she had only been able to get a few hours of sleep. She couldn't blame anyone for that, because other than the quiet company her horse offered, she was traveling alone.
It was in the middle of the wet season in Wave, and she had been caught unawares by a freak downpour that left her drenched a day before she was supposed to leave on her trip. She was heading for Konoha to examine their ability as a potential supplier of the building materials to make a bridge connecting their small island to the mainland. Other than the fact she had an unforgiving cold, the trip had so far been uneventful. Konoha did a fine job of keeping the roads of Fire Country rather safe for travel. As a result of that, other than trying to stay awake, Takako was having a hard time keeping herself entertained. She already finished the book she brought, considering she thought she'd be getting more sleep. So she had taken to reading it to pass the time.
She had considered reading it again, but it was already the third time she'd read this particular book in the Icha Icha series.
Out of nowhere, a loud crash and a yelp of pain erupted from the forest to her left. It startled her poor horse, who began to whinny and stomp his hooves on the ground. Takako admitted to herself that she was startled too, but took the next several seconds calming her horse down. He was an older steed, and she didn't know if his poor heart could take it.
Silently grateful for the distraction, she looked around several times once she had calmed the horse down. Not seeing or hearing anything further, she shrugged it off and prodded her horse onward. If it was a bandit, she would have been attacked already. Konoha was well known for it's ability to swiftly deal with the riffraff, so she wasn't surprised that she hadn't seen a bandit, or even another human yet on this trip.
Namikaze Minato silently cursed himself as he felt his back, legs, and hands throb in a dull ache.
"Okay, maybe I pushed a little too much chakra into that seal." Shaking his head and mumbling to himself, he slowly got up to his feet, feeling his legs start to protest. Wincing when he felt his knees make a distinct popping noise, he took a deep breath and looked at his surroundings.
Trees. Rocks. Small bushes scattered about. Boken tree limbs were scattered around his feet where he had fallen through the canopy. Looking straight up, he could see the clear blue sky.
"Well, at least I'm not in Rock. That's a relief. They don't have this many trees."
Looking around again, he spotted a chair. His chair, actually. The one that belonged in the workshop of his apartment. He vaguely recalled grabbing it to steady himself as he pumped chakra into one of his new seals that he was testing. The air around him had begun to vibrate, but he was determined to see this experiment through.
He had placed what he assumed would work as a target seal in a forest that looked a lot like the one he was standing in, however... these trees looked older, and the canopy seemed more dense. Though it may just have been his imagination and he wasn't remembering correctly. It had been very early in the day, after all.
Dusting himself off, he straighened his jounin vest and looked up once again. Spotting a branch near the top of the canopy, he performed a quick shunshin and quietly landed on it.
Suddenly, he realized his legs were emitting a dull throbbing pain, and he was winded. The seal must have eaten up a lot more chakra than he thought. Resting on the branch for a moment to catch his breath and to let the throbbing subside some, he then stood up and took a look around.
Trees as far as the eye could see. There were some mountains which appeared faint on the horizon to the west, but other than that there were no overly distinguishable characteristics about his nearby landscape.
His attention quickly shifted a little to the south as he thought he heard something. Listening carefully, Minato let a grin split his face when he realized he did hear something. More than one thing actually. A very faint voice, and the sound of hooves. Which probably meant traders.
"Good, hopefully they're nice and willing to tell me where I am." A handsign, a spoken jutsu, and a puff of smoke around his body happened within the blink of an eye before he took off.
Takako sighed bitterly. She was hoping for something interesting to happen, maybe even get visited by some shinobi, or pass someone going the other way. Apparently that crashing noise in the forest was just a tree falling over, and the yelp was some kind of animal. She would have gone to investigate, but she was on a schedule after all. Plus, if it was someone in need of help, she was too tired to be of assistance anyway. Not only that, but she didn't have any kind of first aid equipment with her.
Groaning and rubbing her temples with her fingers, she told herself that she needed to stop thinking about it. Those thoughts were only making her feel guilty that she didn't at least go look. After all, it-
Takako yelped in surprise, and involuntarily yanked on her horse's bridle, causing it to stop suddenly and snort.
"Ah, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to startle you."
Takako looked to her left where the voice was coming from. Her eyes rested on a man dressed up in well-known Konoha jounin garb; his forehead protector gleaming in the sunlight, emblazoned with the symbol of the Village Hidden in the Leaves. He was looking at her with a kind smile and gentle brown eyes. He had short, well groomed dirty blond hair that was swaying slightly in the light breeze.
She sighed. "It's fine. Kami knows I need some form of excitement on this boring trip. You must be some sort of sign from above."
The man laughed lightly, his grin getting larger. He moved his hand up and lightly scratched the back of his neck, almost appearing embarrased for some reason.
"Ahhh, this might sound strange coming from a shinobi, but..." The man looked around briefly before turning back to Takako, "... do you know which way it is to Konoha? I think I know, but I was testing a new jutsu and totally messed up my sense of direction."
Takako started to laugh outright, causing the shinobi to grumble and look even more embarrased. "If you don't want to, that's fine... in about eight more hours it won't matter anyway..."
She stopped laughing and looked at him strangely. "Why won't it matter?"
He looked up at her, surprise on his features. Perhaps he thought he was talking to himself and she wasn't listening. "Oh... ahh... it's nothing important. It has something to do with the way I performed my jutsu."
Takako nodded, not really caring or understanding. She was a contractor, not a shinobi. "Fine fine. Anyway, Konoha's where I'm headed to get some prices for supplies. It's only about another hour, maybe two away from here. If you're not in a rush, I could sure use some company. Traveling for three days with just a horse to talk to isn't exactly what I'd call exciting."
The man gave a smile and a small nod. He stepped up nearby to travel alongside her as she nudged her horse to start moving again.
"Well, since we'll be traveling together for the next hour, I guess I should introduce myself. I'm Kazama Arashi, nice to meet you."
"Likewise, Kazama-san. I'm Kamio Takako, from Wave Country. So tell me, did you happen to hear that crash in the forest..."
Minato sighed to himself as he walked through the gates to Konoha. Takako had moved ahead of him to check in with the gate guards, while he stood back so she could finish. She had talked incessantly for the entire duration of their trip, asking him the occasional question, to which he gave brief answers, otherwise she'd just cut him off and start talking again. She must have stored up a lot to say over those previous three days of her travel, unless she was always that much of a chatterbox.
Takako talked to him in-depth about this bridge that Wave was going to be constructing soon. He found it especially intriguing because it was the first he had heard about such an initiative. Minato wasn't aware that Wave even had that many people, enough to warrant spending that much money. But he played the part of a good listener and let her talk.
He was pulled from his musings as he heard her voice again. She was saying goodbye, and waving him towards the checking station. Minato nodded his thanks to her, and gave a small wave. Turning to the booth, he stepped up but came to a complete stop before he got there.
He didn't recognize either of these two. Plus, they looked incredibly relaxed... weren't they in a state of war right now?! Whoever these two jokers were...
"Hey Kotetsu, you must have something on your face?"
The one called Kotetsu turned and looked at his companion. "I do have something on my face. What do you think this is?" He pointed at the white tape that streched from one cheek to the other, over his nose.
"Well, maybe that's what he's looking at."
Kotetsu turned his attention to Minato for the first time. "Can I help you with something, bud? You need to check in?" He grabbed the clipboard with the return log attached to it and looked at Minato expectantly.
Minato was getting angry with how casual these two fill-ins were acting, but decided to bite his tongue and take it up with the Hokage later. "Kazama Arashi."
"All right. Let's see here. Kazama... Kazama... Kazama..." Kotetsu flipped a few pages up until he came across the page he was looking for. "...Kazama... ah, here. You said Kazama Arashi, correct?"
Kotetsu raised an eyebrow. "You're dead."
Minato stared at him in confusion. Dead? The gears in his mind went into overdrive, trying to think of how he could possibly be listed as dead. He hadn't even left on a mission since he returned from his last one with his team. "What? I don't see how..."
"Izumo, take a look. Make sure I'm not seeing things."
The other shinobi, apparently named Izumo, got up from his chair and accepted the clipboard from his companion. Looking it over, he nodded in affirmation. "Yup, says dead."
Minato was starting to sweat now. This didn't make any sense.
"What kind of mission were you out on? Maybe we have a record of that and can check that way." They were both eyeing him warily now.
Minato just nodded, deciding to tell them he'd just gotten back from the mission he completed three days ago. "I was on an S rank reconnaisance in Grass Country near the Rock border. It was my mission to..."
Kotetsu held up his hand, stalling Minato's recitation. "I don't know how long you've been gone for, but it's standard procedure now for all all S rank missions to be reported directly to Hokage-sama. Especially ones regarding Rock. Since it's S rank, that may be why you're reported dead. Go make an appointment with Hokage-sama, and I'll look into putting your name back into action."
Minato inwardly breathed a sigh of relief. At least these guys were competent when they needed to be... or should be, anyway. Since they were in the middle of a war with Rock, it was nice to see they knew how to be serious.
Giving them a quick bow, he turned on his heal and hopped up onto a nearby rooftop, aiming in the direction of the Hokage tower. However, as soon as he got up on top of another taller building nearby, he came to a screeching halt.
There was a fourth face on the mountain.
What made it even more shocking, was that it resembled him.
He knew the council was in talks because the Sandaime wanted to step down. But they had all agreed that there would be no new Hokage until the war was over. His sensei, Jiraiya, had let it slip one evening over a large amount of sake that he was a shoe-in for the spot, because of his deeds so far during the war, and that Sarutobi-sama was getting more and more wary of Orochimaru.
Seeing another face up on the mountain, even if it did look quite a lot like him... it hurt. Especially after he was told nothing would happen until after the war. If it was supposed to be some kind of surprise, it was done in bad taste. Even still, his mind started going into overdrive once again. There were some weird things going on ever since he tested that seal. How long could he have been gone? His arrival in the forest seemed to be at the same time of day from when he charged the experimental transport seal in his apartment.
Pushing any further thoughts to the back of his mind, he sped off towards the Hokage tower, desperately in need of some answers.
Minato approached the secretary's desk outside the Sandaime's office. There was a young woman working there... he didn't recognize her either. Starting to feel distinctly uncomfortable, he walked up to her desk and gently cleared his throat, causing her to look up from whatever it was she was reading.
"Oh! Hello, I'm sorry. I was reading this report and didn't notice you come in. Can I help you with something?"
Minato nodded and gave her a small smile. "Yes, I'd like to make an appointment to see Hokage-sama, please."
The woman nodded and returned the smile. "Actually, I think he's free this hour. His last appointment finished early." She stood up from her desk and grabbed a few pieces of paper. "What's your name and purpose of your visit?"
"Kazama Arashi, reporting in from an S rank mission."
The secretary's eyes went wide for a second, and she hurried over to the door. She talked to him over her shoulder. "I'll tell him right away. Let me hand him these papers and let him know, and I'll be right back."
As the door opened then closed after she stepped through, Minato felt his confusion hitting its peak. He felt lost. The secretary seemed so surprised when he mentioned it was an S rank mission. But yet... they were in the middle of a war, there were more S rank missions available than they had active shinobi able to handle them all.
At least, thats what he thought two hours ago. Something was definitely going on. He didn't get a chance to think on it for too much longer, however, as the secretary returned. She propped the door open for him as she gestured in with her free hand. "The Sandaime will see you now."
He walked over and mumbled a thank you as he passed, to which she tossed him a quick smile. As he entered the spartan office and heard the door close silently behind him, he looked around and sighed in relief. At least this place still looked familar.
"You have some explaining to do, young man."
Minato's gaze finally settled on the Sandaime, who was standing in front of his desk. One of his arms was wrapped around his chest while his other arm casually held up the pipe he had just pulled out of his mouth in order to speak. Sarutobi Hiruzen was giving Minato a look that was something between worry and wonder.
"What do you mean, Sarutobi-sama? I've only been gone for two hours at most."
One of the Sandaime's eyebrows shot sky-high. "You look nothing like the Kazama Arashi I used to know."
Minato blinked, then barked out a laugh, causing the Hokage to stare at him blankly. Making a hand sign, Minato uttered a simple word. "Kai!"
The disguise vanished in a quick puff of smoke. Minato totally forgot he placed it on himself before he went to talk to the traveler. His face was too well-known, and he didn't know if she was a spy, so he didn't want to risk it.
He heard the Hokage's pipe hit the floor. Soon after that, the man spoke in a hoarse voice, like he was trying to restrain some kind of emotion. It only managed to irk and confuse Minato further.
"W-what!? What is going on? You're supposed to be dead, Minato! I saw your dead body several times!"
Minato just scratched his head, utterly confused. "Sarutobi-sama, I just talked to you about four hours ago, this morning."
Sarutobi blinked again, confusion surpassing any other emotion. Since it seemed like the man wasn't going to be saying anything immediately, Minato asked a question.
"By the way, what's the deal with that new face put on the mountain? I thought we agreed not to choose the next Hokage until the war was over. But much to my surprise, I'm out of Konoha for two, maybe three hours, and when I come back there's a new face on the mountain. That's pretty fast, even if you're using jutsu to do it. I know it looks like me, but if I'm supposed to be surprised, I have to say it's really bad timing."
He was expecting the Hokage to say something, or even flinch from the sarcastic tone he was using. However, Sarutobi simply continued to stare at him. Instead of replying, or even saying another word, the Hokage simply pointed slightly to Minato's right.
He turned to look at what the Hokage was pointing at. All that was in that direction was four pictures hanging from a wall.
Minato's thoughts ground to a halt. There were only three this morning. Walking over to inspect them, he recognized the first three immediately. Nothing had changed. It was the fourth one that stunned him the most. When he stopped in front of it, all he saw... was himself.
Granted, he looked a little older in the picture. There was a small scar on the side of his chin that he knew he didn't have, and his hair in the picture was a bit longer than his current length now. But he could not deny that was himself in the picture. He looked down at the bottom of the frame to read the inscription in the metal plate.
All the blood drained from his face.
A/N: I admit, I wanted to write some Minato. My main fic right now, Whirlpool Country, is going to get plenty of Kushina love. However, Minato is officially dead in that one. This fic is one that I've had bouncing around in my head for the past 2 or three months, and I was working on a rough outline for it right after I finished the outline for Whirlpool. This chapter is just the prologue, the others may or may not be longer, I haven't really decided yet. But this is just something I'm going to be working on while waiting for my beta to finish checking chapters of Whirlpool Country.
So with this fic, I was thinking... I have yet to read a fic where Minato goes into the future. I've read a ton of fics where people go backwards, but I can't recall one in my memory of one where people actually went forward. It's so easy to do with Minato, as you read above. "Hey, experimental seal!" "Whoops!" "Oh dear." That's it. What exactly Minato was trying to do will be explained later. What happened here is just a fluke, completely unexpected.
This fic will be updated whenever my beta is checking chapters for Whirlpool Country, so I wouldn't expect chapters -that- often, as this will only be a secondary fic. On top of that, it will only be about 10 chapters long, give or take. There may be a fic similar to this, but I honestly haven't read many Yondaime fics, so as far as I know this is fairly original.
As for ages, the Naruto timeline is rather vague when it comes to any kind of timeline. For the purposes of this fic, the Minato we just met is twenty two years old.