Naruto entered the room, trying to close the door to keep Minato from view. The young shinobi turned to glare with an irritated look at the intruder. He bit down gently on his tongue with his top teeth, another spurt of frustration building in his mouth that wanted to burst forth.
Wise eyes gazed analytically at him. The old toad sat in his kitchen with his usual wardrobe, sitting on the strange looking chair. What age the body showed, from such a petit and wrinkled frame, that was not seen in those eyes that held a blazing coal of strength and youthful endurance. The same kind of eyes Jiraiya had.
Swallowing his spiking anger, Naruto spoke first, "What are you doing here?" He tried to make the tone even, but the pitch at the end of his question cracked under the severe forced strain.
The toad continued to observe him. For several tense moments, the young blond squirmed slightly. Those eyes seemed to look beyond his physical form, seeing the complicated network of chakra streams under his flesh. Naruto wondered if shinobi amphibians had any superpowers like that.
"I was interested to see how you were coping. Our last encounter ended so abruptly and I saw your mournful distress," he said in kind grandfatherly voice.
The blond swallowed the uncomfortable rock in his throat, "Yeah well, I might have gone a little too far…" he left off quietly. Shaking his head, as if to chase off some annoying fly that was buzzing around his head, Naruto resumed his offensive stance, "While it's nice you came," he told in the strongest way he could, " you still haven't answered my question."
A sigh came from the suddenly tired sounding figure, "Yes, the reason for my rudely unannounced visit; and I must assure you I wouldn't have done so unless completely necessary in the most dire circumstances," Naruto moved around to be closer to the speaker.
The look he gave spoke the "get on with it" message and the toad received the unspoken words with a few senile mutters, " the young are all in such a hurry…" The bitter rant continued for a few seconds until the toad realized that Naruto could still hear him, where he quickly tried to regain his verbal footing.
"In short, my arrival has to do mainly with you and the future of Konoha." Every single one of his words were sober, each chosen with particular tact. The toad was stepping through a wartime minefield with a blond who would combust at the slightest touch.
"Oh really," Naruto's voice was sarcastic, "tell me then, all knowing sage, why is it that everyone seems to be able to see the future but me? Am I just the only one who doesn't have that magical ability or do you all consider me that stupid?" The frustration bubbled, sparking dangerously close to that fatal fuse.
A hand with webbed fingers raised to calm him. "That is not what I meant young one; all I mean is to warn you and gain information." He gestured to the solitary chair that was right next to him. The motion shushed his anger, but the sparks were still smoldering in the ashes.
Naruto considered refusing the request, it was his house after all. But,grinding his teeth and baring with it, he complies with the aged amphibian. The embers were quenched, but the tinder could ignite at any time.
The toad nodded in appreciation, attempting to keep the boy calm and level-headed during what was sure to be a stressful conversation. He prayed that the boy gained at least a grain of control from his paternal DNA.
Comfortably in his seat to sit in a relaxed, subtly hiding his hands under the scratched table surface, Naruto braced his mind for any possible psychological beating. "Now if anything makes you uncomfortable, you can just remain silent," he calmly stated. "When did you learn of Jiraiya's death," the first question started morbidly.
"I was told when I was in the Hokage tower. No one else said anything to me before that," the blond youth answered quickly, wasting no time in providing a return to the question.
The senior moved on smoothly, not letting Naruto take any ground, "Did you have any prior knowledge of what Jiraiya was doing when he died?" And so the battle of verbal attacks and counters began, neither player appearing to hold the upper hand, even for a moment.
"No," Naruto shook his head, "All I knew is that he went off to research the Akastsuki." The toad knitted his brow while thinking, as if to solve some complex convoluted riddle.
"Before his death, Jiraiya left behind a code," he stated evenly, placing a scroll on the table, " does it hold any meaning for you?" The blond shinobi reached for the scroll and broke the seal. The outer paper was a dusty green and the paper seal that held no identifying marks. The paper rustled as the wrapped scroll spread out under Naruto's fingertips across the tabletop.
A few seconds passed as the teenager's eyes flickered across the seemingly random symbols written in some mysterious pattern. Naruto sat back against the chair looking up and shaking his head, "No, I don't have a clue. It looks like a bunch of random marks to me." The pint-sized sage sighed at the lack of useful information, a frustrated edge creeping its way in there. This calm questioning was getting nowhere fast and time was running out.
"Naruto, is there anything you want to tell or ask me?" The large, alien looking eyes turned full force at the shinobi diagonally across the only surface between them. Suddenly Naruto wished that there was a greater buffer betwixt him and the unstable amphibian.
"What do you mean," he said confused, in a truthfully innocent connotation. This was becoming a possibly volatile situation and things were not going well, even from his inexperienced perspective.
"I think you know exactly what I mean," he told in an aggressive undertone. The blond felt his heart pace faster, compensating for his minor outer reaction. The shinobi shook his head. He denied nor confirmed anything, Jiraiya had been able to teach him that much about trying to lie: Leave the victim in doubt, and redirect the focus elsewhere.
The scrutiny continued for about a for about a minute, neither party willing to lose the battle of wills. Like a battle where the blades had been crossed, sparks blinding both warriors as they tried to overthrow the other. Taking a loss, but not accepting defeat, the toad withdrew his accusation with a bitter expression. His eyes distant, he zoned in on the next target, finding a weak-spot in the surprisingly strong brutal front.
"Moving on," he sighed with resign, "there's only one more question that I would like an answer to," he left off patiently, quickly deciding how to carefully piece together his question, drawing out the almost insufferable silence.
Naruto played with his fingers hidden under the table-top, keeping the anxious feeling off his face. How much was this old toad implying? Or even worse, Does he know about Minato?
"What do you know about the Yondaime-Hokage?" Oh fuck.
The boy bit his tongue for a quick instant. "Other then anything a four-year old in this village can tell you? Not much: He was Jiraiya's student, became Hokage very young, and then died," Naruto stated factually, "I take I don't need to describe that action much do I?"
None of it was a lie, he hadn't exactly gotten any answers out of Minato to supplement any real useful information. It wasn't really lying was it?
"I see," the skepticism rang clear, "that will be all for you for awhile." Relief was visually seen washing over Naruto's clenched form. The chair legs slid back against the worn wood floor, following the grooves from repeated actions, and Naruto could almost taste the freedom on his tongue.
Until a webbed four-fingered hand kept him firmly seated. The blond shinobi grabbed at the rubbery feeling wrist, jerking as hard as he could to release his upper arm. Not for the first time, though, Naruto was deceived by appearances, for the tiny being had physical strength equivalent to the fully grown man Minato was.
"That wasn't a dismissal young-one," the toad said in a strict lecturing tone. He ended the boy's attempts of release by forcing him, rather firmly, to sit back down in the previously vacated seat.
"Excuse me? This is my apartment! What hell of a right do you have telling me what to do after interrogating me in my own home, when I wasn't even asked if I wanted you here?" Naruto was thoroughly pissed to say the least, and irritated and frustrated to put it mildly. What did this self-imposing, annoying, irritating, pint-sized, senile old toad want?
"The fact that you're hiding something that could be crucial to the ultimate fate of this village makes any of those facts null and void! I could report you to your superiors for hiding such important information!" The epic conflicting battle ignited the sparks again, reaching dangerously close to the explosive.
"I thought you were finished with these stupid questions," Naruto protested, frustration and fury boiling in his blood.
"Someone really needs to teach you the art of lying boy, because you fail at it miserably." The words were cold now, the voice of an experienced and season warrior instead of an aging grandparent.
"You're insane!" Among other things, this old guy has lost his freaking marbles.
"If you honestly have nothing to hide, why are you creating such a fuss," the toad questioned desperately. He had strength, but the endurance of early life was easily outmatched by the more youthful blond teenager.
"Because I'm being attacked and accused of things that I don't even know of!"
Why couldn't he just leave?
"Why do you keep hiding this? Jiraiya was not one to keep such secrecy."
He had to go there didn't he?
"Firstly," Naruto began holding up a finger, "I'm not him. Secondly, what exactly am I supposed to be hiding?" He kept the two fingers raised, desperately resisting the instinctual action of punching the obnoxious jerk in the face.
"Jiraiya would want you to tell me," and he was suddenly interrupted by a loud crash. Naruto was on his feet, broken free from his restrictive hold, having knocked the light chair, slamming it backwards into the floor.
"Well I won't ever know what he would have wanted because he's not here anymore and I can't ask him!" Naruto's breath was coming ragged from his exploding fury, rapidly matching his racing heart. His fists were stark white, paler then the purest clouds in the sky.
The blond shook his hair out of his eyes, staring down at the table, resisting the temptation to knock the irritant flat. "Get out," he said eerily calmly while pointing his finger towards the door, "get out and don't come back. You're no longer welcome here."
Silence. Bursting his eardrums wide open; the quiet made him feel uncomfortably ill.
Naruto didn't look at him, waiting to be alone. He heard the toad's clothes rustle and he hoped for a moment that the thing would actually leave him be. However, what actually did happen was the last thing he would have ever expected, the words shocking him to his core.
"Yondaime, I'd like to speak to you as well."
Minato opened the door to view the tense setting in the room before him, nervous of what he was about to see. Almost taking a sigh of relief that his son was still unharmed, his thankful mood was very short-lived.
He fist looked at Naruto. His son's form was clenched, almost as if in pain, standing in front of an overturned chair and a rather unperturbed toad. His eyes then changed to shift to the tiny wrinkled being sitting in the scaled miniature throne.
The only adult in the room walked silently, with a calm appearance on his visage, over to be by his son, stranding in-between the unwelcome guest and the shorter blond. His son's presence nearly knocked him over, the emanating rage and fury would give both himself and Naruto's mother a run for their money.
He mentally tried to calm Naruto, but his futile attempts produced no results as Naruto refused to look up at him. It unnerved him slightly that he was that attuned to Naruto's emotions and feelings, but was comforted by the growing bond.
The command to squeeze the boy's shoulder reached his arm before he could stifle it. Instead, his left fist clenched tightly, unintentionally cracking the knuckle loudly in the quiet room, attracting the attention of both people.
Naruto glanced in his direction at the sudden sound in the heavy silence. Was he also looking to him for leadership as well? Did his son trust him that much as of yet?
Retaining his composure, Minato picked up the discarded chair, lucky to be in one solid piece, and reset it in a proper upright position and delicately directed Naruto to sit down.
Surprisingly, he met minimal resistance from the teenager who sat somewhat willingly down at the slightest pressure. From the grasp on his shoulder, he could feel every tense movementas well as the quick beating of Naruto's heart making its way from the chambers, through the veins, and pulsing rhythmically under his palm.
His hand stayed on his son's shoulder, desperately trying to soothe him away from the numb state he was in. Minato felt another eruption on the horizon if he didn't cool the inner boiling magma.
At last, he turned his yellow covered head to the toad who was silently observing him in a keen sort of way. "You look very well for one who has been dead for over 15 years I must say."
The light-eyed man remained stoically wordless. He analyzed each word spoken with great care as well as the speaker himself, scanning for any sign of threat. He was not going to allow any threat near Naruto in his recovering state.
Seeing that polite pleasantries were not gaining any ground, the toad quickly switched tactics. Always the diplomat, he turned to a more blunt and quick approach with the father.
"I'll get to my point quickly then; firstly, how much of my previous conversation with your," Minato felt a tick contract in his face, "friend right here did you overhear." He made eye contact with the blue-eyed man, telling him exactly that he saw every movement and heard every syllable.
"I heard enough to understand the situation," he confirmed somewhat coldly, untrusting of the intruder.
"Good, then I shouldn't have to reiterate anything then," the toad said thankfully, " I should begin by asking,"
"How did you find out," Naruto finally spoke suddenly, picking his head up. The inherited blue eyes blazed with an intimidating fire, and Minato was taken aback by the power that came from someone so young and inexperienced.
The tiny creature thought for a moment, "I learned after our first encounter. I followed you to seek a conversation with you when you were alone, wanting to ask you some questions, after you found out about Jiraiya's death. "
Cocking his head slightly to one side, " Later on, when you were walking about the village at night, I found you when the brown-haired man left." All most sarcastically he added, " Imagine my surprise when a dead man comes and sits down with you."
"hmmm," the boy hums with disinterest, zoning out away from the inhabitant room he was in to a peaceful isolated place beyond. The toad grunted in annoyance at the lack of response from Naruto.
A dull thudding knock sounded pounding at the entrance door and all heads turn towards it. The three warriors looked at each other as if unsure what to do with such a simple dilemma. They sat in silence maybe hopping that whoever it was that was causing the disruption would give up and go away.
The slamming fist hammered into the door again, this time with more persistence and hinted desperation from the knocker. Naruto slowly got up from his seat, Minato's warm comforting hand sliding off him. Placing a hand on the door handle he twisted around to look at his two unusual guests and made a sign for them to stay out of sight.
The door opened cautiously, hiding the two guest from view after Minato soundlessly moved to stand on the farther side of the main room.
Standing in the doorway, which a desperately anxious expression was Konohamaru, fist raised to slam the door again. The brunette sputtered out, "!"
Naruto stared at him for a moment, "What?"
Panting, he strained to speak clearly, "Something's gone wrong! I don't know. People are panicking, and Tsunade's called everyone to the tower, and I mean now!" He grabbed onto Naruto's wrist and forcefully dragged him out the door before the blond could even close it behind him.
Minato quickly assumed a inconspicuous henge and walked purposely towards the open door. Grabbing a hand on the outer knob, a voice spoke behind him. "You haven't told him yet have you," the toad stated knowingly.
"I'm waiting for the right opportunity, " he said without looking back, not letting on that he was running out of excuses to keep the truth from Naruto.
"Do you have any idea how you came back?" The question was serious but not accusing.
"No," Minato whispered. "I don't even know," he paused for a minute, "exactly what I am anymore." He turned his now full head of brown hair with matching grey eyes behind him to look at the listener, " it's like my body can't make up its mind if I want to be alive or dead."
Minato raised his left palm to his face, observing the lines and calluses that decorated it. He rubbed the back of his head, another trait he passed down, and sighed while shaking the thoughts temporarily away.
"Just remember Minato, other blacker forces are waiting for the right opportunity to act as well," the warning was clear as pure glass used for windows.
"We shall have to discuss these matters on a later date, because I believe I have an important announcement that I'm missing ," he told while closing the door behind him.
Sitting alone in the apartment, the toad pondered for a moment the scene he had just held witness to. He just realized how complicated the prophecy had become with Minato's reappearance in the living world. With a burst of smoke the toad was gone, back to whatever mysterious place he came from to ponder the prophecy again and peruse the most interesting turn of events.
He knew that every breath of the father and the son was being watched with utter scrutiny, the viper waiting to strike with his vile toxic poison to land the killing blow.
The shadows were certainly whispering darkly indeed.