The choices make up history.
A time-travel story based on the theory of what the tailed beasts are, and where they get their chakra from. That, and how history is made. One choice can change everything, and if a person takes the place of another in history, will he or she be able to make the same choices and make the same impact?
This story diverges from the manga after chapter 346, for those who are interested in that.
Oh, I am undert he impression that every story needs a funny disclaimer of some sort before the story begins. Consider the characters and so on disclaimed.
His body was aching. That was his first thought upon regaining consciousness. He kept his eyes closed, in a desperate hope that his body might stop hurting so much. He wasn't sure where he was hurting, it seemed to be everywhere. Despite this, he heard a harsh laughter. Harsh but amused. The one doing the laughing was clearly delighted by his predicament.
He opened his eyes slowly to see grass. Thick dark strands of grass and straw. And some plant that smelled like mint. He had to be on a field then, for the grass to be so tall, he thought, and tried to look around. Nope, it was too dark to see much of anything but the grass right in front of him.
Naruto painfully pushed himself up with his arms, small arms, he noted dizzily, and looked around again. He was in a clearing in a forest. Trees, not large and not small, stood around and shadowed for what little light the moon supplied. A red forest fox stared back at him from the base of one tree, and Naruto had seen the smirk on its face before. If that wasn't enough to convince him what that creature was, the malicious red eyes were.
"….Kyuubi…. What are you doing out?" he asked, and surprising himself in being too tired to be scared. He felt drained in a way he had never before experienced. He felt as if every ounce of chakra he had was emptied, his energy depleted, put shortly; he was utterly exhausted to the point where he knew he didn't have anything left to fight with. He would accept whatever happened.
The fox snorted from his place at the base of the tree, and its one tail wrapped itself around his front paws. Naruto blinked. He had never seen the fox with only one tail, and it was so small.
"Oh I don't know, saving your sorry life, and more importantly, mine?" Kyuubi asked rhetorically and sniffed indignantly.
"In doing so I am reduced to this poor excuse of existence, a one tailed fox kit. A kit with centuries' worth of memories, but nothing to back it up with…. You, pathetic human as you may be, are luckier. Humans grow into what they consider power far quicker."
Naruto blinked, pretending not to hear the wielded insult thrown at him. The Kyuubi no Kitsune reduced to a kit, and from what he said….. He looked over himself for the first time. Small arms, small legs, small body. Baby fat on his feet and hands, chubby knees…. He was a freaking child! A young one at that, perhaps five or so years.
"Kyuubi, what did you do?" he asked with dread. All of a sudden he felt cold, like all the warmth his body previously held was sucked out of him. Even the ache dulled. The fox scoffed.
"What did I do? What did I do?! I wonder if you can understand even if I explain…. Do you know what I am little human?"
Naruto looked at him warily. Was the creature really going to explain to him, and not just mock him like it usually did?
"You are the Kyuubi no Kitsune, the demon fox," he said slowly, not understanding why the fox asked. It didn't need to hear it to inflame its ego. Again, an aggravated sigh escaped the fox.
"Yes, yes, that is my titles. At least it was, until I had to save us! So many years of gaining power, all lost thanks to you and your… your inaptitude!! Useless humans! What I am, however, is one of the locus points of the word. I get chakra from the word. Do you understand? I slowly gather chakra that is freed when people die, so whatever you do you can't get rid of me. Well, you actually, through share incompetence, almost managed. It will take years, perhaps hundreds of them, before I am back to where I should be, as one of the strongest beings in existence. All because of YOU!"
He snarled, showing white fangs that gleamed in the weak moonlight. Naruto didn't dare say anything. Though small, and according to itself, weak, he had a feeling the little demon kit was far from as harmless as it said it was. The fox seemed to collect itself and calmed down, as calm as a creature of violence could be in any case.
"While we were being killed thanks to you, I did something meaningful and something I didn't know I could. Perhaps I could only because I was sealed within a body of flesh and blood."
Naruto kept his silence, staring at the fox as he remembered the horrific battles, the fear and anger he felt when he returned to find Konoha in shambles, the many lacking chakra signatures, feeling Tsunade Baachan's chakra flicker out of existence while he fought, and then…. The story Pain told him…. War with the ROOT and Danzou, and the crazy members of Akatsuki. Honestly, their members were all lunatics and freaks of nature one way or another. That and those eyes. He had once thought he hated the cold eyes of those ignoring him and refusing to acknowledge him, but the mangekyo sharingan eyes were worse. They were a symbol of everything he disliked; down to the betrayal of what should be the persons closest to you. It was the last he remembered before everything went black, those red and black eyes burning with unholy glee. He felt relieved somehow. If the fox had managed to escape them, then the world was safe from the crazy plan Pain had come up with to create peace. Not to mention whatever the mask wearing Uchiha wanted. He had never before imagined that he'd feel grateful to the fox, even if the bastard had turned him into a brat.
The fox regarded him, and continued speaking upon seeing that Naruto accepted that he had done something, and this wasn't some trick on his part. Good, it would make all so much easier.
"Thanks to my chakra being that of dead people, I basically returned us to a different timeline. Or, it will be different thanks to us being here. Every life, in whatever form, is decided by the choices we make. This timeline will be different because I, through your blood and the connection through the seal, managed to return your soul and due to the seal mine, into a time upon the choice of your father brought him close to death. He only survived that time because he was left alone. With us arriving, his weakened soul departed and left the body for you to inhabit. A body without a seal, I might add, so I am free to go."
Naruto felt sick. His father…. He was in his father's body. In the past, which meant that somehow, the fox had been able to use the chakra of dead people to return to when that chakra started to pass into the natural flow. It was scary. His head was already aching, so he couldn't get a second headache, but now it felt as if it wasn't going to go away. Past…. Who was his father anyway?
The fox continued to look at him with amusement as he saw panic, fear, confusion and revulsion pass over the human's face. It settled on confusion.
"Your name from now on will be Namikaze Minato, the man who sealed me and the Yondaime Hokage, at least in the timeline you know. He married Uzumaki Kushina…. Your mother, or the mother of that body, more accurately, was named Namikaze Haruhi. She was killed tonight during a Mist raid. Minato ran away into the forest. You have never known your father. Your mother was a seamstress, and did prostitution on the side to earn enough money to raise her son. That is all I could gain from the memories left in the chakra. What you do from now on is up to you, though I should tell you; this time will be different from the one you knew. I am no longer the all powerful Kyuubi no Kitsune I should be; I am a kit….."
The disdainful growl escaping the fox belied his dissatisfaction with the situation.
"The Akatsuki will have to come up with something else to screw the world over with. That suits me just fine; I don't take kindly to humans trying to enslave me. There might be wars, there might not, I don't know. I don't care. This is where we part, and do pray this is the last we will ever see of each other."
It was the longest speech Naruto had ever heard from the fox, and was surprised that it sounded so normal. He wasn't screaming profanities, wasn't cursing his name or growling and sneering, he was stating facts. The fox rose to leave when Naruto remembered something else. He had to cling to some facts, since most of what he heard made his mind reel. He really didn't want to deal with it.
"Wait! You said our souls were interwoven, how…. How is it now?" he asked. He wasn't sure how he thought of asking that, or why he remembered that it might be important, but he was sure he wanted to know. The fox smirked.
"Looks like you gained a brain along the way! Good for you. As for your question; our souls are no longer a problem. It was the seal that kept our souls together, and since we are in a time before the necessary sacrifice to power the seal is made, the seal stopped existing when we past its point of creation. Does that explain it?"
Naruto didn't feel like it did, but from the glint in the red eyes, he presumed it was better to nod and pretend than to ask anymore. With that, the great demon lord Kyuubi no kitsune, henceforth reduced to a one tailed demon kit, trotted off into the forest and left one Uzumaki Naruto, now turned Namikaze Minato, to stare after him and for the first time in his life, he was truly and utterly alone. In the body of his father. In a time he only knew some about from boring lessons back at the Academy. Before a war that changed the map drastically, from what he had heard. Brilliant.
He just now realized he had no idea where he was. Bugger it all.
The night had been cold. Naruto had huddled himself up against a tree. He wrapped his arms around his legs and pulled them to his chest to keep warm, but it was still cold. His small and young body was not used to the conditions he had endured as an adult, and he didn't have the Kyuubi inside him anymore. The beast had at least made sure he never came dangerously close to overheating or freezing. Sometime during the night, he had fallen asleep with his head on his knees, too exhausted both physically and mentally to keep awake.
When the sun finally came up and woke him, the grass and his clothes were moist from the due, and a thin fog hovered over the ground. It gave the forest he was currently in an airy appearance, as if there were more things in there than what was usual for a forest. With the demon fox lose, who knew if that might be correct or not. Naruto had never given it a thought, but he wondered where a large demon would live when it wasn't sealed up in a human being. Especially one with the size of the Kyuubi no Kitsune.
He sat under the tree for the longest time, until the mist had evaporated and the due had dried from the grass. He ignored the sounds from his stomach, and how weak and vulnerable he felt as a child. Not to mention the complete apathy he felt. He was at a loss as to what to do, what to feel and just about everything else. He was in a different time with no idea where he was, for all he knew all the people he knew were dead, or didn't know him, and he was alone. He had cried when he woke up, a lot, but he didn't have tears left anymore, so he just sat there, listening to the few birds around and the sound of the naked branches moving against each other in the breeze.
It had taken him the grand total of the entire morning to realize this, and what it meant. Wintertime was not the best time to be a lost child out in the open. His clothes measured up to brown pants, sandals, a white shirt and a dark brown jacket with a small crest on it. He had taken to run his fingers over it, and noted the fine lines running like waves over it. It was a nervous reaction, he knew that much about psychology, but he couldn't help it. If he hadn't been so hungry he was sure his stomach would have been a knot of nerves and butterflies. He didn't count his undergarments, since they didn't exactly shield him from the cold, but they were there. He was strangely happy about that, but figured it was his brain's way to tell him not everything was as bad as it could have been.
Right. With that in mind, he rose and started to walk slowly through the forest. He had no idea where he was or where he was going, but if he kept going he had to come somewhere. He breeze smelled of salt, so if he kept going in that direction, he was pretty sure he'd reach the sea. From there, well, he would have to find a way to Konoha. He wanted to be a ninja, and he didn't want to serve any other village. It was bad enough that he had to be another person, and get to know the world and people all over again. He knew he couldn't lie about his loyalties to.
He could tell only from walking that this body was different, not just because it was small and young. He knew he wouldn't grow up to be short and stocky this time. This body would be leaner, more acrobatic and faster. Not all power and strength. He would have to come up with a whole new fighting style. How…. Troublesome, to quote a friend he had most likely lost forever. He let out a sigh as his stomach grumbled again, making him jump at the loud sound in the otherwise silent forest.
He looked around. He was almost expecting someone to attack him from behind, or above, or even below, but there were no movements, no sounds and no smells to alert him. Not that he knew if he could still sense that sort of thing in this untrained body. He would have to try. It was at least something to focus on, until he found out where he was and if it was possible to get to Konoha from there.
Concentrating he tried to call on his chakra, which left him woefully disappointed when nothing happened. This body had clearly not used chakra before, and it was clear to him that he would have to go through the whole meditation and unlocking the chakra thing again. It also meant he wasn't able to sense chakra anymore, something that disturbed him greatly. After living in a civil war for three years, sensing chakra had become second nature to him, and anyone else still alive. ROOT weren't known for being lenient after all. Kill first and ask questions later were their motto. It had forced them to do the same, to kill without hesitation or regards, and he hated it. He really did.
He sat down Indian style and closed his eyes, focusing on the energy within him. It wasn't as difficult as it had been the first time around, probably because he had done it once before (at least in his memories he had), and his reserves were smaller. He snorted and broke the meditation. Right, of course his reserves were smaller. He was a five year old child with no demon sealed in him. Though, he thought ruefully, chakra control should be easier this time around, especially since it felt as if the chakra flew smoother in this body than in his last. God that sounded creepy. Almost like Orochimaru. Uh, that freak was alive now too. He shuddered and rose to walk again. It wouldn't do to remain in one place for too long if the Mist ninja were still wreaking havoc in the area. He'd rather not be captured by slave traders either.
That was something he had heard from Jiraiya during their training trip. He had told him about the wars in the past, and how some sold orphans as slaves. After the third ninja war, the Daimyo had forbidden it in the Fire Country, but it still happened other places. At the time it had made him angry and he had raged at how unfair it was that some people took advantage of the poor and the defenseless. Jiraiya had been silent, a distant look in his eyes, and he hadn't said more about it than that. Naruto had had the feeling that he hadn't wanted to talk about it in the first place. After the civil war he understood his reasoning. He didn't want to remember things he had done and seen during that time either.
He had to have a few more meditating session before he unlocked the chakra completely, but he could already feel it, and that was enough for now. It made him feel a little more secure. He knew how to let chakra flow to his limbs to get faster and stronger if he needed, or to his ears to hear better if he thought it would be necessary. It was his security blanket. It was the only familiar thing he had left, considering his abrupt leave to the past.
He sighed. Without a demon in his body, he could hope this life would be more…. Normal. At least as normal as a ninja's life could get, though from what he had heard about Namikaze Minato in the history he knew, that man had hardly lived a normal ninja life either. He was the first to ever receive flee on sight orders. Naruto halted in his steps and slowed to a stop. It was real. This life, this situation, was real. For all it mattered, he was Namikaze Minato. That was a terrifying thought.
The man had been a legend, a war hero and a beloved leader. The strongest Hokage was what they had heard in the Academy. The man who stopped the Kyuubi single handed. He had saved Konoha that day, at the cost of his own life. Could he…. Could he live up to that?
Naruto didn't know, and it scared him. He didn't want to not live up to it. If it wasn't because of him Minato would have lived after all. He would have done all those things, and he would have succeeded. History had showed that. Naruto knew that no one else but the Kyuubi knew that, but he still felt as if he had stolen a great person from the world. He looked up at the grey sky and bit his lower lip, thinking. He wanted to live up to the name he knew from history, the man who had been his father, according to the Kyuubi. He would do his best, for now, and when time came he would know if he had succeeded as well.
That resolved, he continued to follow the smell of the sea, and wondered just how far little Minato had run the previous day. He didn't know from which direction, either, but that didn't matter. He had woken up in the middle of nowhere anyway. He could, come think of it, look at the stars. He was pretty good at that. You didn't try to keep a bundle of friends and comrades safe in the wide forests of Fire Country for three years without learning something about navigation. Just like it didn't happen without growing up. He winced at that. He would probably be the most grownup five year old in the history of mankind. He decided to blame it on witnessing the murders of his parents. Sasuke had gotten away with being rather broody and antisocial because of that, so why not being too mature for your age?
Yeah…. Sounded about as retarded as he thought it would. Traumatized would be more like it. Though, he had seen enough to be traumatized twice over, and still wasn't. Ninja training did that to you. Not to mention having a bunch of mutated (he was sure Akatsuki members were mutated, one way or another) stalkers trying to suck a demon from your body. Perhaps he was traumatized and didn't notice.... Gods only knew what a sane person was supposed to think. Someone like him was definitely not the right person to ask that.
While he mused over his mental state, or lack thereof, he had reached the edge of the forest. What he saw didn't really lift his spirits any. He saw the sea. Okay, there was a beach and a rundown old cottage, and a equally run down, moldy and makeshift harbor, but it didn't give him any hopes of finding out where he was, when he was and more importantly, how he could get to Konoha from here. He chose that moment to start swearing. He felt he had earned the right.
If you have questions, you are welcome to ask. If you have something constructive to say, you are welcome to say it. If you are just bored and want to rant on someone to diminish your frustations, please note that I am not interested in it. In other words; if you write a review make it count.