AN: This is another what if story. The premises of this is one change before the sealing and a multitude after. What if Naruto's healing ability was a kekkei genkai that he inherited from his mother? What if because of the kekkei genkai she survived. What would a mother do to protect her son? I have seen Yondaime survive and Kushina survive fanfics, but always something happens that leads to Konoha still following the same path as the Naruto manga… Well this is a what if based on two statements: 1) Never piss of a mother and 2) All the armies in the world mean nothing is the other side has a strong woman supporting him. Enjoy!
Warning: If you aren't current in the Manga spoilers are included…
'Sometimes the strength of motherhood is greater than natural laws'.
- Barbara Kingsolver
How far a mother will go…
Kushina looked up at the Doctor whose face reflected his sudden confusion. Understanding came as she could feel her chakra finally began moving as her bloodline awoke after eight months of being sealed, and just in time. She knew that Minato would have completed the sealing and although she had agreed to allow a demon to be sealed into her newborn son, she was against having the citizens of Konoha know. If she had anything to say about it, no one would tell the world what her son was. She focused her chakra tighter, pushing into the zenkai hoping to accelerate the healing. She could hear the doctors and nurses gasping. Not that she could blame them, as a few short minutes ago she had been bleeding out from a horrible premature labor.
It had scared Minato beyond belief when she had told him that her kekkei genkai of her clan shut down in the woman during pregnancy. Her family when alive had mentally prepared her, and by pulling some favors she had convinced Tsunade to return for her pregnancy. Without the zenkai she would be as vulnerable as a newborn during the pregnancy, which is why most Uzumaki's were born from the men of the family not the women, with a higher male born child ratio. She had finally convinced Tsunade to return by asking her to be godmother, reasoning that someone who wasn't reckless needed to be around, not to mention if anything happened to her or Minato Jiraiya was godfather. The image of Jiraiya raising a child to be a super pervert had convinced the depressed woman.
Unfortunately the birth had been too bloody and Tsunade had passed out. Luckily Shizune had been assisting, but she had to summon help and now these doctors and nurses would wonder about how she healed. She would think of excuses later, she had to get to Naruto. Standing up she grabbed a nurse's arm.
"I need clothes; I have to get to the Hokage tower."
"Uzumaki-san you must rest, you just gave birth," the nurse stammered out.
"Clothes now! I will be fine, just get me a chakra replenishing pill," Kushina growled.
Whatever was on her face seem to convince the woman, as she ran out and returned quickly with a pair of surgical scrubs and a small pill. Taking the pill dry she stripped out of the bloody gown and pulled on the scrubs. "Shoes?"
"Here Kushina, your sandals," said Shizune holding them out. "I expect you to return as soon as possible for clearance. I know you are healing your self now, but the birth was premature and difficult, we need to make sure you are okay. Bring the baby with you."
Kushina looked into Shizune's eyes and smiled softly. "Hai."
Moving to the hallway she ran out searching for a window to escape the hospital. She could see injured from the battlefield coming in all over, but she just couldn't care. Her son needed her. Seeing a window she dived out and started running through the rooftops to the Tower. She could see the lights in the Hokage's office and she sped up. Kaa-san's coming, baby, you hold on.
* ‡ *
As she raced up the tower she could sense ANBU, but many of them recognized her and could smell the blood on her. They knew who she was and not to interfere, her temper was almost as legendary as Tsunade's. Reaching the window she jumped in. Crouched on the ground she looked up into the shocked faces of Sarutobi, his advisors, Danzo, and a few of the Shinobi Clan Leaders. Her eyes focused on the bundle in Sarutobi's arms and she took a shuddering breathe as she realized the baby was alive.
"Give me my son," she snarled out.
"Kushina?" he seemed frozen.
Her eyes flickered around the room and saw some stepping back as they realized she was the mother of the new Jinchuuriki of Konoha. "Give me my son, now!" she repeated forcibly standing up.
Hr voice must have snapped Sarutobi out of his shock as he looked at the bundle in his arms, before stepping forward. "Of course," he said softly handing the baby to her.
She pulled him close and looked at his face. His blue eyes were open and watching her, and she almost cried. Minato, he looks just like you.
"Kushina-san, you should be in the hospital. We would have brought the child to you," Hiashi said. He had a frown on his face as he looked at her.
Ignoring him, she moved forward to lay the baby on the desk, pulling his blanket from his body to see the fresh seal on his stomach. She ignored them as she checked the seal. "Perfect as always, Minato," she whispered.
"Uzumaki-san we must ask you to leave we need to decide what to do with the child," Danzo uttered.
She could feel the tension in the air, and bundling the baby back up she looked up. "I am sorry but what makes you think you have any say in how I raise my child?"
"He is a Jinchuuriki, for this village. We of course must decide," the old war hawk snarled at her.
"Oh, I think not," she stated quietly, looking at him with cold grey eyes, her body stilling, raising the tension in the room.
"Danzo that is enough. Of course Kushina will raise him. It was Minato's wish that the boy be seen as a hero. He will be raised like any child in the village," Sarutobi looked around the room, "We just need to announce what happened to the village. They most know the sacrifice Minato and young Naruto have made for us."
Kushina could laugh; from the look on Danzo and several others faces, it was obvious they thought Sarutobi mad. Actually scratch that, she was laughing, and from the way people were backing away from her she must sound off. Fighting to calm herself she stopped the hysterical laughter.
"No one will talk about this in the village. Everyone who knows will be sworn to secrecy," her voice was deadly soft as they all looked at her. "No Sarutobi, Minato and even you might have faith in this village, but I am to much the realist to believe that. I may look for the good in people but I have seen enough of this world to know the village will turn on him. Any village that has a Jinchuuriki, now matter how it came to be, is treated different. If you think a village that has suffered the way Konoha has will simple treat Naruto as a child if you tell them, you are going senile, old man."
Sarutobi stood tall and look at her with anger. "Minato had faith, I have faith in them."
"Really, look around you old man, everyone in this room is already thinking one of the following; kill him, make him a weapon, or pity. They know I am right." She watched as he turned to look at this in the room, most turning away. "If this is how highly trained Ninja act, how will civilians who don't understand sealing, let along the power of the two seals Minato used act."
"She is right sensei."
Turning to the window, everyone watched as Jiraiya and Tsunade came into the room. Tsunade carefully kept her eyes averted from the blood smears on Kushina. Taking another look around, the old man seemed to sink into himself and sat down, suddenly looking much older than his age.
"Than what would you suggest," he whispered.
With those words many started to argue. Jiraiya moved towards her and took the baby handing it to Tsunade who started cooing to him. He handed her a wash cloth to wipe most of the blood away. Finally seeing no end in sight, Kushina moved forth.
"Look, Jiraiya and I can keep an eye on the seal, if anything shows signs of weakening we can deal with it. Naruto will be raised by me and to keep him safe, since few knew who the father was he will be officially known as Uzumaki Naruto. No one who knows about the Kyubi will talk; we make it an S-class secret. If you don't do this, I will take him from Konoha and I am pretty sure Jiraiya and Tsunade will help. You will never see us again."
Dead silence again at her words. Finally Danzo spoke again
"Why should we trust a foreign ninja?" he growled out.
She smiled, looking at Tsunade who nodded. Thank you for looking into my family records; it's the perfect bribe right now. Danzo, you may play behind the scenes after this, but I will have more backing than you, in the end I will win. You will pay for this night in the future.
"Did you never wonder why I had my labor induced? Why Minato chose our child?" she looked at all who turned to her in curiosity. "I mean other children where available. Surely you didn't think it was because he was that good of a man? He had to convince me, and I do not have his reasons to save this place. I may love Konoha, but I have seen what happens to Jinchuuriki, I was not that inclined."
Strangely it was Fugaku, who had only tolerated her at first because of her friendship to Mikoto, that asked. "So why?"
She smiled moving forward grabbing a kunai from Jiraiya as she stepped forward. "Because of this." And with those words she slashed her arm. Hearing gasps, she ignored it by focusing her waning chakra to heal the wound. The intakes of breathes told of their surprise as her arm healed till not even a scar was on her flesh. She ignored the questions as she moved to sit.
Damn, my chakra is not fully recovered yet; keeping her eyes closed till her heart rate calmed she opened them to all the faces in front of her. She looked to Tsunade who had finally turned back. Tsunade handed the baby to her and whispered "Let me deal with them you need to rest."
"That ladies and gentleman was the Uzumaki Clan Kekkei Genkai known as the Zenkai. Like all bloodlines it has draw backs but in the case of young Naruto, the zenkai is what will allow him to survive being exposed to the Kyuubi's toxic chakra."
"What type of bloodline is that?" Shikaku asked.
"A body one this is almost but not quite similar to the Kaguya clan. That clan as you know can shed its bones as weapons and replace them instantly as long as they have chakra. The Uzumaki bloodline allows them to heal any injury by regenerating the wound. It has a price in that excessive healing like rebuilding limbs or organs can decrease the life span, but it also prevents illness and protection against poison."
It was Koharu who spoke up, "But Kushina was ill during pregnancy."
Once again Tsunade answered for her, as she held and rocked Naruto who was falling asleep in her arms.
"A draw back for woman of the Uzumaki clan, why most never have more than one child and rarely survive that. The bloodline considers fetuses as parasites and often attempts to rid the body in the first few weeks. As such, after the first week of pregnancy the bloodline seals itself in the woman. Making them susceptible to any and everything. As her immune system has never needed to work, during pregnancy any germ can become a threat. Even infection from a cut, which is why I have been monitoring her so closely."
"The bloodline is purely dependent on how much chakra is available. That is why I have such massive reserves. For my clan, my reserves were average. We have horrible chakra control naturally, but hey large reserves and constant healing of wounds offsets that in battle. The seal Minato created will siphon off bits of the beast chakra and convert it for Naruto's use. With his reserves he could live a long life and never have to worry about any wound, even when the Youki leaks into his system through the seal. That is why I had labor induced and Minato sealed it in Naruto. The largest part of the seal was designed for the purpose of protecting his mind, unless he is near death he will never even speak to his prisoner. If he is in danger he can draw small pieces of the demons chakra and not be harmed by it. The perfect jailor, ne?" Kushina said looking up with a smirk.
"Amazing," Hiashi muttered looking to the child. "Yet this also means you might never provide another child other than Naruto."
"Hai, but unlike me he can pass on the bloodline to his children that will bare the zenkai without risking death during pregnancy, hence a rebirth of my clan. Minato knew. He was content with only one child, though we had discussions that if Tsunade found away for me to have another we might risk it later on. Do you honestly think that if any girl or foolish member of the village knew what he was before hand they would consider him?" she looked around, seeing the calculating look on some she smirked.
"Also, others have tried but our bloodline cannot be passed by in-vitro fertilization, something about it requires actual sex for the bloodline to be passed on. Not only that part of the reason my clan was destroyed is it was determined that it is the mindset of the intercourse that determines if it passes on. Of rape victims who became pregnant, only 1 out of 20 ever bore a fruitful union with my clans' gift."
Tsunade smirked and pulled out a thick book with the Uzumaki swirl on it. "When Kushina became pregnant she allowed me to study this. She is telling the truth, on the other hand she has agreed to allow me to study her clan records, and I might be able to create some medical jutsu's based off the bloodline. Kushina planned to offer it for the right to have the Uzumaki Clan enter as a Konoha clan. So what say you? Is keeping what Naruto is a secret and future justu's based on her and her son's bloodline worth it? "
Kushina looked and saw relief and pride in some, and others having looks of possible mechanics she would see later. But she knew they would agree, after all Konoha was a bloodline worshiping village. That's right Naruto; Kaa-san will not let them ruin your life, even if it means betray our ancient ways.
* ‡ *
Age Two years…
Kushina laughed beside Mikoto as Sasuke tackled Naruto again. Itachi moved forward to pull his baby brother off of the little blond with a long suffering sigh. The council had for some reason decided not to mention the bloodline, fearing that if it got out to villages like Kumo or Iwa, they might make attempts to steal Naruto or Kushina. Yet, she often felt they did it to better their chances of connecting their own families to hers. Suddenly having a Jinchuuriki playing with your children was not so bad, if he carried a kekkei genkai as useful as theirs.
It annoyed her that some of those she once called friends often tried to get her son to play with their daughters, or tried to have him meet girls in their clans. But she swallowed the annoyance, as it could have been worse. People could know what was sealed in her son, the idea it could still get out gave her nightmares.
"Kaa-Chan, Kaa-chan," Naruto ran to her on his stubby legs, a large grin on his face.
Picking him up she held him in the air before pulling him close for a hug. He was her precious sunshine, her living memory of Minato. They even had the same grin, more often seen on Naruto than Minato, but the same.
"Yes, my little one?" she asked seriously.
"Can I stay with Tachi and Suke?" he asked his eyes wide; with his chubby checks and whisker marks he resembled a little kitten.
"I pity you, he has a face meant to charm," Mikoto giggled.
Kushina looked at her son, who was doing a very good impression of a begging puppy. "I'm sorry Naru-chan, not tonight."
She glared at Mikoto who started laughing loudly as Naruto puffed his cheeks and stuck out his lower lip, folded his arm in full pout mode. He looked adorable, her little chibi.
"Kami, how do you say no to that?' Mikoto got out between laughs.
"Haha," she made a face at her friend. "Now, now Naru-chan, Jiraiya is coming over tonight. He is leaving tomorrow for a trip and wanted to see you before he left."
Just like that the pout disappeared. His eyes went wide and his face turned into a wide fox like grin. "Ero-Jiji? Yeah!!!!"
He jumped out of her arms and toddled over to his playmates to tell them about her news.
"Those whiskers make him cuter, ne?" Mikoto asked.
Kushina tensed, but calmed. Mikoto knew but she hadn't cared, even telling her that she only saw her best friends kid, and that she wished it had been a girl so that could have engaged her to one of her sons. Kushina held back the shudder at that idea. Fugaku as a brother-in-law, Nope, her Naruto would fall in love and pick his own wife. Just like his father.
"I got to admit they are useful," seeing the curious look. "they act just like a canine's whickers. Tsume realized it, they sedate him and he falls asleep if you stroke them. Works wonders when he doesn't want to take a nap. The purr is adorable. "
She felt smug at the jealous look on her friend face. After all Sasuke never wanted to sleep, at least from what she had seen.
* † *
"How is my grandson?" the boisterous voice echoed through the house.
Kushina sighed as Naruto jumped out of the bath and ran naked, except for the bubbles, through the house. "Jiraiya, you finish the bath since you got him riled up?" she screamed.
She watched as Jiraiya came in carrying a wet Naruto who had to tell his Ero-jiji everything that had happened in the past few days. She still smiled sadistically when she thought on how Tsunade taught Naruto that nickname. The blonde's petty vengeance for Jiraiya teaching Naruto to call Tsunade Baa-chan. As she watched Jiraiya finish the bath she felt a sharp pain realizing that Minato should be here. That should be him, her heart screamed, coming home from the tower to bathe his son.
Shaking her head she went downstairs to relax, secure in the knowledge that Jiraiya would take care of Naruto tonight.
* † *
"So what bedtime story do you want to here tonight, Naru-chan?" Jiraiya asked looking through the books on the shelf.
"Gutsy Ninja!" he shrieked.
Jiraiya smiled. Naruto's love of the book almost made him want to do a real follow up to that story. It might not have sold as well as his Ichi Ichi series, but his godson seemed to love it, just like his father had.
"Alright, you all tucked in? Okay move over so I can sit," he sat on the bed holding his godson close, and began to read.
* ‡ *
Age Three …
Kushina walked towards the Hyuuga compound. After returning to active duty, Kushina had begun to allow Naruto to stay with other clan families with children his age. Although Kakashi, Minato's only surviving student had moved in to help raise his sensei's son, they often had conflicts in scheduling were both needed to be out. With Kumo delegates in the village, Hiashi and his wife had offered to have Naruto stay with them while she was patrolling with her ANBU squad. Naruto walked along side her holding her hand while chattering about everything he would do with Neji and Hinata. On one hand she liked having Naruto in the safety of the compound, on the other she wasn't ecstatic about having her son over with a little girl whose clan was known for arranged marriages. Her mind kept chanting, Hiashi wouldn't dare, over and over.
Both Kushina and her son looked up to see Hizashi and Neji standing at the gates waiting for them. Kushina smiled and nodded her head to the younger of the Hyuuga twins. She let go of Naruto's hand and watched him run over to his friend. When she caught up to him the two boys were talking excitedly about their 'sleep-over'.
"You seem tired," Hizashi said looking at her with concern.
"Well, you remember that time we got Minato hyped on coffee and sugar?" at Hizashi's cautious nod she continued. "Naruto appears to only have two modes, sleeping and hyper, which is scarily similar to that time."
She laughed at Hizashi's appalled expression as he glanced at the two little boys, "That hyper?"
"Fraid so, now you have fun, because he almost got Shikaku's kid wound up the other day," she snickered at the fear that flashed in the Hyuuga's eyes. Shikaku's son put a whole new meaning to 'lazy Nara.'
"Uh, is it to late to change our minds about watching him?"
"Too late," she grinned at him, "so what is the plan?"
"Well, since we know Kumo has always been interested in the Byakuga we have a room set up for Neji, Naruto and Hinata to play and sleep in together. Either Hiashi or I will be with them at all times. I know we should trust that this is not a farce perpetrated by Kumo, but we are worried. I think had you not mentioned needing a babysitter for Naruto Hiashi and I would have just had normal guards, but with Naruto here, we have an excuse for extra security."
"Well, I wanted to give you this," she held up a box.
"What is it?"
"Well, knowing my son as I do, I thought that you could set up a few surveillance cameras so that I can watch the 'party' later. I mean how often does anyone have a chance to see hyper Hyuuga's?" her grin was a mile wide.
He shook his head, "You are an evil woman, you know that?" seeing her grin get wider, he sighed. "Ah, I'll set it up. If nothing it would be great blackmail for the kids when they are older and acting so proper."
Kushina laughed and leaned down to kiss and hug Naruto goodbye. She watched as they went inside the complex, put on her mask and smirked before she disappeared in a burst of wind.
* † *
"I demand compensation!" the Kumo ambassador screamed. "That man killed was the brother of the Rikiakage."
Kushina listened to the delegates scream back and forth with the Hyuuga. She knew the Hokage was deeply concerned as it was possible for this to turn in Kumo's favor, especially since Hiashi had no witnesses to the kidnapping, only a few Hyuuga and Hizashi's word that they were knocked out by a sleep jutsu. She watched as Sarutobi turned as another masked ANBU walk in carrying a small tape and vid-screen.
"Hokage-sama, I believe this can be resolved," the ANBU said softly. "I was informed by the Hyuuga's that the room the children were sleeping in had a security camera in it."
"What?" Koharu was stupefied, why the Hyuuga would have video surveillance on a room with children in it was beyond anyone. Kushina let out the breath she had been holding, finally.
"If I might explain," Hizashi chose to spoke up. "We had young Uzumaki-kun staying with us last night. Per his mother's request we set up the cameras so that she would have pictures of the party. We can review the tapes and confirm as to whether it was true that a Kumo representative kidnapped young Hinata-hime."
The Kumo delegate had paled with each word stated, but recovered quickly. "How do we know it isn't tampered with?"
"I personally retrieved the devices, and no one has seen them," the ANBU responded.
"What harm can come from watching?" Sarutobi said with a small smile.
The tape was turned on, and the group saw three children, one blond and two Hyuuga running around a room screaming. After a discreet cough from the Hokage, the tape was fast forwarded. Suddenly the tape was shut off and re-turned on in normal viewing mode. On screen it showed a man entering the room, with a knocked out Hyuuga guard outside. Just like that the whole scene was caught; a Sleep jutsu placed on the children and Hizashi who was nodding off in the corner. Hyuuga Hinata was picked up and placed in a bag and the man left, but not before his face was caught in full sight by the video.
Kushina smiled as the atmosphere in the room changed. Kumo would pay for this, even if it meant thanking Jiraiya. Oh well, a happy Hyuuga clan and Kumo with no Byakuga is worth letting Jiraiya take Naruto to an Onseen to help him meet woman, a picture of her Naruto with a perverted grin on his face entered her mind, I hope.
* † *
"Kushina," the aged voice stopped her from leaving.
"Yes, Hokage-sama?" she asked turning around.
"Please remove your mask," Once it was removed he continued on. "Could you please tell me why you decided to have Naruto spend the night with the Hyuuga's and asked them to set up the videos? I thought Kakashi-kun was off duty last night and could have watched him."
Kushina tilted her head, "They asked, and I thought it would be funny to have a video of hyper Hyuuga's, seeing as everyone who plays with Naruto becomes wild."
"Please my dear, don't assume I am a fool. You asked them to watch, claiming that he would be safer in the compound. Now why did you do that?"
Kushina looked at Sarutobi intently; she also glanced at his two elderly advisors that also watched her. "Honestly? I didn't buy Kumo's reasons to come here for treaty talks. They decided to end the war too quickly and they seemed to jump at the chance to parlay here rather than neutral territory. They have had an obsession over the Hyuuga Kekkei Genkai for decades. I thought I would play it safe. I mean imagine what could have happened if that tape didn't exist," Seeing all three narrow eyes on her, she continued, "What can I say, I am as hopeful as the next, but a touch of cynicism never hurts." She opened her eyes as wide as possible, mimicking Naruto's innocent look.
"I see, that will be all," with that she left to go fetch her son. Heh, I wonder if they know that he gets that wide eyed look from me, not his father?
* ‡ *
Kushina watched the meeting in front of her, annoyed with the bantering. If I had known that agreeing to officially declaring Naruto the heir to Uzumaki and Namikaze clans would result in this, I would have lied about who his father was, she snorted softly. Of course since he looks like a mini version of his father that wouldn't have worked.
It was the monthly Shinobi Clan council meeting, in which the Hokage, his advisors and the clan leaders met to discuss shinobi matters. The meeting hadn't started yet, as they were waiting on Fugaku. It was odd, as he was usually the first at any of these meetings. At the sound of a door opening, she looked up to see a distressed Fugaku walk in. He was loaded with files and had an angry and confused expression on his face.
"Fugaku, is something wrong?" Hiashi questioned. Ever since the Uchiha's had requested aid from other clans at the KMP the relationship between the Uchiha and Hyuuga's had eased up on tension and more to a friendly rivalry.
Fugaku sat and looked at Hiashi before speaking. "I hate my son," each word followed by a bang from the table being hit by his head.
Everyone in the room turned to stare. Uchiha's who were known for being almost as composed as the Hyuuga and did not act like this in public. Kushina herself didn't know what to make of it. "Fu, what happened?" she asked into the silence, except for the repeated banging.
"Don't act as if you don't know," the Uchiha clan head snarled. He looked up at her with his sharingan eyes in full sight. "I understood why Itachi decided to wait before graduating early, hell I even agreed when I listened to him when he made his points-"
"What do you mean?" Tsume asked in full curiosity, she seemed to be torn between laughing or running from the sight of the emotional Uchiha.
"Well, Itachi was offered the chance to graduate when he was 7, only one year into the academy. I and the elders were all for it, but after talking to Kushina he decided to wait another year or so, as, and I quote, 'Nothing ever good came from graduating so fast from the academy. I shall wait at least one more year, possibly more!' Once he gave his reasons to the elders they also decided perhaps another year or two in the academy would not be so bad."
"What reasons did he give?" Shikaku was alert, which was never good.
"He sighted that if he graduated early he would be listed as a 'genius prodigy' and be grouped with people such as Hatake Kakashi and Orochimaru of the Sanin. He said that although most might be glad to be considered on their level, here in Konoha Orochimaru is known as a psychotic madman, who current rumors say has pedophile tendencies, and Hatake Kakashi, while amazingly strong is a super pervert who spends all his off time reading porn in public. He would rather not have his name associated with either if possible."
The room was deadly still, before laughter broke out. Kushina remembered when she had made those comments to Mikoto, when she had been speaking about Itachi graduating early 3 years prior. I never realized that he would pick up on all that so quickly, perhaps he should have graduated early?
"Kushina, how did Itachi come to believe Orochimaru to be a pedophile or know that Kakashi is a pervert?" Sarutobi asked into the room as the laughter started to quiet down.
Seeing all eyes on her, "Well in regards to Orochimaru he might have overheard Mikoto and me talking about this a few years ago. We kind of joked about it, since the newest news that came through was that Orochimaru was collecting followers, but most were young children, and ah-,' she looked around the room, "Kakashi he probably figured out himself. I had to yell at Kakashi when he babysat Naruto and Fugaku's boys. It seems for a bedtime story he read them Ichi Ichi. He knows better now, but Itachi must have overheard me yelling at him."
More laughter erupted and Fugaku snarled at her.
"So what is wrong this time Fu? I mean he did decide to graduate this year, and he just turned 10, so he is still graduating early, so what is bothering you?" Kushina needed to turn the attention away quickly.
Fugaku sighed and looked up, his face once again calm. "This morning Itachi stated he was not sure he wanted to be clan heir anymore. He said he is torn between two choices for his future, and he is not sure which one he wants, but he definitely did not want to lead the Uchiha."
"Oh, what does he want?" Sarutobi asked in curiosity.
"He said he can't decide which he wants to be ANBU Commander or Hokage. He asked me to find out answers to a few questions before he decided," Fugaku appeared to be gritting his teeth.
"Those are wonderful goals Fugaku, what are his questions?"
Fugaku gave a sour look to the Hokage before pulling out a piece of paper. "First he wants to know what the life expectancy of ANBU commander is, as he already knows for Hokage. Seeing as there has only been four, and three of them died to protect Konoha, and the other retired but had to return to office," he waited for the giggling around the table to die down, "Second which has the most paperwork, as he has no desire to spend all his time trapped behind a desk," at this Sarutobi's pipe fell out of his hand, and Kushina had to bite her tongue.
Everyone kept glancing between the Uchiha and the Hokage. "Well, he definitely is a smart one; I should have asked Tobimara-sama those questions before I took the job."
"This is not funny," Fugaku snarled. "He told the elders he doesn't want to be clan head, and I should give it to Sasuke. He said having to listen to a bunch of old people who do nothing but complain and prevent the clan head from making decisions was a crappy job, so why should he take it."
Kushina couldn't take it anymore; she started laughing and didn't stop for several hours. Well at least he didn't turn out as serious as Mikoto feared before Sasuke was born. It appears his scars from the battles he witnessed as a baby are healing.
* † *
"Now Naru-chan what story do you want to here tonight?" Kushina smiled down at her happy son.
"Gutsy Ninja!" he shouted while crawling into his bed.
"But you always want that one, don't you want another tale?" she asked pulling the worn book down from the shelf.
"No! I want that one. I wanna be just like him when I grow up," he shouted. Honestly did he not have an understanding of 'inside' voice?
"Oh, you don't want to be Hokage or ANBU commander like Itachi?" she sat on bed next to him, letting him curl into her side.
He pushed lower lip out while blowing up his cheeks in a full pout. "No, 'Tachi-nii is going to be Hokage, Suke is going to run the Military Police and Neji wants to be ANBU commander," he looked at her with wide eyes. "I want to meet the student of Ero-jiji's that he wrote this about; I want to help him change the world."
"If you want to do that, why are you training so hard with your friends to become a ninja?"
"Because I am gonna be a great ninja, and than 'Tachi is gonna let me travel outside the village. I'm gonna have Jiji take me to meet this man and I'm gonna help him change the shinobi world the peaceful one in the book," she couldn't look away from his eyes that glowed with his belief. She had seen that in another's face before, but his wish had been to be Hokage. "I mean how can I change the ninja world if I'm not a ninja?"
"Well, I guess I should ask your Ero-jiji to find out how his old student is doing, huh?"
As she waited for him to calm down she wondered if Nagato still sought the world he and Jiraiya had talked about, or had life made him bitter?
* ‡ *
"Kakashi take the kids to the hospital, I will let Hokage-sama know," with that Kushina broke away from her group and headed to the Tower.
As she ran, Kushina couldn't help but wonder how the Hokage would take this. Recent infomrations Jiraiya had brought her had lead to news about the Kaguya clan massacre, the last bloodline clan existing in Mist territory. On a joint mission between her team and Kakashi's ANBU team, they had been sent to investigate rumors of survivors of the Kaguya clan, they had found only one. The kid had been hard to sneak away, especially since Orochimaru had been in the area looking for him as well. Who would have thought she would also locate a Hyoton user as well. Hopefully the Hokage would know what to do for the children. They were so…lost. One a survivor of a horrible childhood of war and torture and the other… to have to kill his own father because of his bloodline, it sickened her.
"I was wondering how long before you arrived," the old man turned to look at her, "Report!"
Jumping in the window she removed her mask, "We found two children, One Kaguya and also a Hyoton user who was born after the bloodline purges. Both orphans and emotionally damaged. Both are 8 years old. Haku is the Hyoton user and Kimimaro is Kaguya, both have their bloodlines active. I believe if we send in more scouts we might manage to salvage a few more children."
"Hmm, tell me what we know of each," he motioned for her to sit.
"We found Haku first, by accident while trying to find rumors of the Kaguya survivors. He appeared to have activated his bloodline and his father found out. The trait was from his mother, so his father," she snarled, "decided to kill his wife and son. Haku instinctively used his kekkei genkai to kill the mob after him. We picked him up, but he hasn't handled it well."
"I see, and the Kaguya?"
"What I managed to get out of him is that once he activated his bloodline he was thrown into a cage, they only brought him out to fight. It seems the Kaguya did attack Mist, and as far as we can tell he was the only survivor. We managed to get to him just before Orochimaru found him."
"Did you engage Orochimaru?"
"No, we managed to avoid him, but it was close a few times."
"Well, lets go meet these two and see if we can find a home for them," Sarutobi stood. He followed her out of the room. "Kushina, it was good idea to see if any survivors of the Bloodline purges in Kiri were alive. It will benefit Konoha in the long run and also saves two clans for total annihilation. I will talk with the shinobi council about sending out more missions to 'locate' such children. "
* ‡ *
Kushina was bone tired. The men she had met on her mission back from Mist were dangerous. They had known about Naruto and if she hadn't been quick enough she wouldn't have escaped. One had been Orochimaru and the other appeared to be Akasuna no Sasori, the Suna puppeteer. She needed to get to the Hokage tower and report this.
Hours later she stumbled through the gates, her chakra dangerously low. Singling the guards she headed straight for the tower, hoping to stay conscious a little longer. Climbing the tower she jumped into the Hokage's office happy to see him still working.
"Reporting in, Hokage-sama," she called out.
"Kushina, what happened?" his voice sounded far away as the room swayed.
"Attacked… S-class… knew about…Naru…" with those few words getting out she found herself swimming into darkness.
* † *
Sounds of talking at a distance woke her. She fought to open her eyes, and felt a hand touch her.
"Tsunade?" she whispered opening her eyes.
Standing in front of her was the Hokage, Koharu, Homaru, Jiraiya and Tsunade; each giving her concerned looks.
"Are you okay? We have you on fluids and chakra replenishes. You took some heavy damage. Can you tell us what happened?" The questions confused her, when suddenly everything came rushing back.
"Naruto?" she gasped jerking to a sitting position. "Is he okay? They knew about him, and the Kyuubi."
"Kushina he is fine, he is with Kakashi," Sarutobi moved forward. "Now what happened? You were on a simple reconnaissance mission. Where is the rest of your team and who knows about Naruto?"
Taking a few deep breathes she began her report. "We were on our way back when we were attacked. They were after me, I don't know how they knew I was on the mission, but we have a rat infestation in the village. It was three men wearing black cloaks with red clouds. Orochimaru was with them, and he gloated how he managed to know about Naruto and my mission, so he has spies within our village. Another man with them was a Suna nuke-nin, Akasuna no Sasori, all though I don't know if you can call that freak human anymore; he appears to have turned himself into a living puppet. Along with a third they attacked us. They took out most of my team and seemed to be trying to capture me. I managed to get away. You need to call Fugaku."
She couldn't help but wonder about the strange look in the elders and Sarutobi's eyes when she mentioned the Uchiha.
"Why do we need the Uchiha?" Koharu asked coldly.
"Because I know most of the Uchiha and the third guy, he wore a mask with only one eye hole. I managed to break his mask when I saw the eye, it wasn't good. One of his eyes appears to be blind, but the other…" she gulped and looked down at her clenched hands before lifting them. "He had the Sharingan but it was not like any I have seen before. I happen to know that all known Uchiha's have both eyes, making him an unknown rouge. Fugaku needs to know."
Silence greeted her words. Suddenly Sarutobi, Homaru and Koharu walked off to the side. Looking at Tsunade and Jiraiya she could see their confusion, while she sent small amounts of chakra to her ears she tried to listen in.
"…if it's true than we have been blaming them for som-"
"…but the possibility…"
"…never found… body"
"…this could stop…"
Confused by what she was hearing she managed to see the quick look of rage before it was hidden by Jiraiya. Whatever was being said he heard it all and wasn't happy.
"Kushina, rest for now. I have a meeting with Fugaku and will let him know," Sarutobi walked to the door. "I will tell ANBU to search out some rats, in the meantime thank you; you may have just helped Konoha more than you know."
She watched him leave before turning to the elders still in the corner. They nodded to her before following the Hokage out of the room.
"Jiraiya, what did I just miss?" Tsunade asked, staring harshly at the door.
"As near as I can tell they have been having problems with the Uchiha clan. It seems that Koharu, Homaru and Danzo believe the Uchiha summoned the Kyubi since Uchiha Madara had done it once before," he said moving closer to her, activating a silencing jutsu in the room.
"But that's ridiculous," Tsunade whispered harshly. "The Uchiha clan never knew how Madara accomplished that."
"You forget Hime, they were alive when Senju and Uchiha were still enemies. Old grudges don't die. I think the Uchiha have been upset with the village for a while," he looked towards Kushina, and at Tsunade's curios look she told her about events from when Naruto was a baby.
"Well it started when Mikoto mentioned to me that Fugaku was having more meetings with the Uchiha elders and that they weren't going well…"
"What is your problem Uchiha?" Kushina asked her friends husband.
He had been unusually angry for the past few weeks and she was sick of it, whatever his problem was he needed to stop taking it out on her.
"Nothing you can help with," he snarled back at her.
"Try me," she growled back. Kami, he insufferable! How does Mikoto put up with him?
Fugaku looked at her before speaking. "The clan is unhappy; you know they recently 'awarded' us a compound. We Uchiha are being segregated from the village ever since we were forced to move into the compound, and ANBU have been watching us. We also can see they are limiting the KMP and pushing the Uchiha out of certain ninja areas. Elders are angry and… I shouldn't say more."
Kushina was silent. Suddenly she smiled. "Nay, Fugaku who said you had to live in the compound? Maybe they are 'encouraging' you, but why don't you force your way back into the place you used to hold."
He looked at her, "What do you mean?"
"Well, some of the younger ninja's have mentioned how the KMP is Uchiha only. Why not in a council meeting speak to the Hyuuga, Nara and Yamanaka's about having them recruit some ninja into the force? Their abilities would be of benefit. Than mention to Hokage-sama that some of the younger Uchiha aren't interested in being in the force, perhaps the positions being left vacant in the ninja corps by those clan members could be given to those Uchiha. Word it in a way that he can't refuse, without alerting the other clans of something sour. Especially if you do this in front of the other clans," she smirked.
He seemed to think over her words and smiled. "I could work with that."
"As for the compound, no law says that property owned by a clan has to be lived in only by the clan," she smiled innocently at him. "Mention that you want to tear some of the outer walls down and make it open for some of the merchants to move in. Have some of the younger Uchiha move into the jounin complexes. Unless the elders have good reasons to stay, have them move out from the compound back to their old homes. If Sarutobi or his advisors question it, tell them it was nice at first but too many Uchiha close by is driving everyone crazy."
"Strangely a few months later the KMP had a large number of Hyuuga, Nara and Yamanaka's as well as shinobi of non clan families incorporated. It improved the force and allowed the Uchiha to form connections to the other clans which had not really happened before, without Sarutobi's advisors interfering. A few months later Koharu and Homaru had questioned some permits to which Fugaku had made the second strike at the isolation that had been occurring…
"Well, although the Uchiha's like the training ground and having a clan house to have meetings in, for the most part living together is driving us all crazy. I mean one Uchiha is paranoid, stick a group of us together," he shuddered. "Plus if I have to listen to the elders moan about how they aren't living in the house their parents built one more time, I will kill someone."
"… I called Jiraiya back shortly later to send him on a hunt for information. See Minato saw something when he went to seal the Kyuubi, which he had a toad tell Jiraiya to pass on to me. He saw an Uchiha controlling the Kyuubi, but one that had a strange formation of the sharingan. Gamabunta thought that perhaps not all the Uchiha were in Konoha, and I had Jiraiya look into it."
Tsunade looked to Jiraiya. "I did some snooping and a few months ago I turned up information that Uchiha Madara survived the fight at the Valley of the End. Records of him in Kiri, Iwa and Kumo exist. They always described him as wearing a mask. On another trip I found out about Orochimaru being in a group of missing ninja interested in the bijuu. One of the missing ninja in the group matched those of Uchiha Madara from other villages after he left Konoha. I told this to Kushina, and she seems to be manipulating the council with it."
Both turned to look at her, and she squirmed a bit before answering. "Look you know as well as I that the council of 'old idiots who should retire' would not act on rumors from Jiraiya. The Uchiha's have a lot of connections to the other clans since I meddled with the isolation tactics, they have allies who have also noticed that the 'Evil' three have been pushing Sarutobi into isolating the Uchiha's and they are not happy. Between Danzo, Homaru and Koharu who have been stirring up trouble; it could have lead to a civil war. Every time they tried to isolate the Uchiha Mikoto and I managed to find a way to undo it, but this lead to the other clans to start questioning it. Since no one wanted to bring up Uchiha Madara as honestly it would be bad for them, it has made things tense. I mean the clan turned on him in favor of Konoha, to now attack them because of that, it would make all the clans question the Hokage," she took a deep breathe.
Looking intently at both, "I am not sure how much longer before a civil war might have broken out. So I added the 'Uchiha' into the attack on me, it was actually just Orochimaru and Sasori. By doing this, now they will think I saw the Uchiha, they will ask Jiraiya to look into it, he goes out for a few months and comes back with the 'information' he collected, and they make peace with Uchiha clan. The Uchiha clan finds out they have rouge Uchiha/s on the loose, and Konoha is at peace."
Tsunade looked at the two of them. Shaking her head, "You two will stop at nothing for your goals."
"Tsu-chan, I want peace to last as long as possible for Konoha. The Uchiha are needed for that, besides even you on your visits have noticed that they are not as stuffy as they use to be," she watched Tsunade smile remembering when Fugaku had picked up Sasuke and Itachi from her house.
Tsunade laughed, "They have lightened up… even the Hyuuga. Never thought I would see Uchiha and Hyuuga working side by side the way they are at KMP."
"Exactly, what the elders are doing is creating a self fulfilling prophecy. Push them to become paranoid until they actually do betray Konoha. Except that since now Fugaku has gained allies in the Hyuuga, Nara, Yamanaka and Inuzuka clans it would have really turned this village into a war zone," she saw Tsunade nod in understanding.
Kushina shared a smile with Jiraiya. I will manipulate the world to keep you safe, baby.
* ‡ *
"Kushina, please stay. I wish to talk with you."
Kushina looked at Sarutobi and finally nodded. She sat back down and waited till the room was empty.
"What did you want, old man," she asked, slouching into the chair.
He laughed before moving behind his desk. He relaxed into his own chair and started to pack his pipe with more tobacco.
"You are so serious of later, I rarely see you joke as you use to," he leaned back and lit his pipe.
She looked out the window to the Hokage monument, specifically at the fourth face. "Serious events require focus. Unlike in my youth it is not just friends and allies I have to protect, I have a son," she looked back at him. "Can you not say being a parent brings out characteristics not found in youth? As a child I believed that doing the right thing and belief in myself would solve all my problems, I know now that it is only half of what is needed. I guess I grew up. "
He sighed and watched her, "True," he glanced behind her at the faces on the wall of hiss predecessor and successor. "At the last meeting of the shinobi council, I brought up an item which I need to talk with you about."
She narrowed her eyes as she felt a silencing jutsu activate. "Like what?"
"The village is changing, and I honestly feel for the best. Unfortunately some do not like the changes, and I am too old to fight these battles. With the growing bonds between the larger clans, Homaru and Koharu have become advisors who are causing more harm than good," he smiled. "They are, like myself still a part of the old world, which is slowly disappearing. The Uchiha situation is one such item; do not be shocked I know you were trying to fix the damage we did from behind scenes. But what happened made me realize that the village needs a new leader. Minato would have done wonders, but I feel I have in some ways failed this village since retaking office. I never took any of his plans and put them into action, I alienated many allies by listening to those who thought as I did. That is why at the last meeting I addressed the issue of a successor. "
"But … usually you just select one and they ratify, it has never been something discussed at meetings from what others told me?" she asked confused.
Sarutobi nodded, "I know, but as much as the village has changed, unlike last time we have no clear choice on who should lead the village. Of those who were born and raised here, and have the strength, lack what is needed to lead the village, especially right now."
"What about Itachi? He desires it and has the strength and vision," she leaned further back. "He should be ready in a few years, can you not hold out that long? I mean you took office at a young age."
"He might be ready in a few years, but he might not. Itachi is only 13 years old and has been out of the academy for only three. He has come far, promoted to Chunin six months after graduating, joining ANBU. The council felt that perhaps he should leave ANBU in a few years and at that time become known to the village. If that happened, he might be ready to take office in another ten to fifteen years. During my time, yes a child could control the village, but now a day? No, he is too young. Konoha needs a leader now. Do you see him being able to deal with Danzo and his constant underhanded tricks to bring Konoha to his vision of it? This group Akatsuki? Or the possibilities that we have some Uchiha's who owe no loyalty to Konoha are running around trying to destroy us?"
"What about Tsunade or Jiraiya, they were once considered?" fear entered her voice.
"Both refused. Tsunade said she had no desire to lead the village. I believe running the hospital the past few years has soured her to the responsibility. Jiraiya feels he serves Konoha more by being on the outside running his spy rings. He has no one to take it over and the loss of information he provides would be damaging to us. Kakashi has ruined his chances with his behavior, and no other clear choice for a leader stands out."
"Why are you talking to me about this?" her eyes narrowed on him.
He glanced out the window at the village before continuing, "Your name was brought up as a possible Godaime candidate. No one could find any reason not to accept you, except the fact that you were originally from another village. The fact that Uzi was an ally and destroyed negates that in many eyes," he stopped to take a few puffs on his pipe. "The Shinobi and Clan council feel you are best and would support you. Many civilians would also as they respect you. You have a similar if not greater charisma to Minato, and many have noticed how much Naruto looks like Minato. Many have figured out you were in a relationship with him. Honestly I am surprised that Iwa and Kumo haven't figured out who his father is."
The silence that met his remarks was oppressive.
"At least think about it, talk to others. If nothing else, it would only be till Itachi is old enough. The council happens to feel that if he continues on his path he would be accepted when he is older," he took another puff of his pipe, "Surprisingly it was Fugaku and Hiashi who suggested you. They seem to feel that you would be as close to having Minato in office as possible."
"Alright, let me think about it," she stood and left quickly. Crap, that was unexpected, she thought while walking away.
* ‡ *
"Ka-Chan!" The door busted open and a blond blur rushed in. "Ka-Chan,"
Kushina looked up and smiled at her son. "Where's the fire Naruto?"
"Ero-jiji is here. I saw him at the onsen."
Kushina fought the urge to smile. "Where else did you expect him to be once in the village?"
"But you said that when he came back you would give him the letter to send out," Naruto pouted.
"Ah, he will be by later, I will talk to him about it than," she poked his lower lip. "Aren't you supposed to be in Iruka-sensei's class?"
She watched as he scratched the back of his neck and avoided her glance. "I snuck out?"
"Hmmm, and what does it say when the Hokage's son sneaks out of class?" she watched him blush and go wide eyed.
"Sorry, I'll go to class," he started to leave when he turned back. "But I was supposed to go camping with Suke, Kiba, Shika, Shino and Choji tonight. Remember Neji, Itachi, Shisui, Kimimaro and Haku was going to go also?"
"Don't worry I will talk to him and he is staying for a week, you can see him when you get back from camping, now back to class," she narrowed her eyes and starred at him.
Laughing nervously he ran out of the office, and hopefully back to class.
* † *
"So, tell me what's new?" Kushina asked while sitting down for dinner with Jiraiya and Tsunade.
"A few things, one you might want to see about helping Suna. The Wind Daimyo has been cutting their funds for years, and now they are hurting. I also have confirmed the youngest son of the Kazkage has been made into a Jinchuuriki, worse from what I saw it may be a crap seal. The Kazekage has been trying to assassinate the poor kid for years. He is turning the brat into a homicidal maniac."
"Hmm, I will see about looking into that, what about Akatsuki," she asked.
"Slippery as always, can't find them or who the other members are," he poured sake for each of them, "What about here?"
Tsunade growled and took a swig of Sake, while Kushina laughed. "Don't mind her; she's just pissed because I made her co-advisor along with Sarutobi. Homaru and Koharu are now happily retired-"
"I take it from the sarcasm they aren't happy about it?" Jiraiya smirked.
"Hmph," Tsunade snorted. "You have no idea. They keep trying to get back into positions of power, and it is making many people sour. They seriously don't seem to realize that they alienated most of the shinobi clans; it is only the civilians who seem to support them. They are also loosing that support slowly, with the changes we have been implementing."
"Perhaps we should put them somewhere they can't cause damage but are still active?"
Kushina shared a glance with Tsunade, "Not a bad idea actually. We did want to start up re-design projects, perhaps they could manage those"
"What's this?" Jiraiya asked in confusion.
"We have decided to re-work the academy and the handling of missions. The plans were finally approved, but finding the right people to oversee it? They are co-related, and it might work to have say Koharu over see the Academy and Homaru the Missions?" Kushina answered.
"What type of changes?"
Tsunade realizes the bottle of sake was empty and went in search of another, answered. "The academy was having to high of a fail rates on genin teams. They were woefully lacking in skill. We set up a new class schedule, with the help of some of the better academy teachers. A lot of the kunoichi classes were cut, completely useless," she said sitting back down, "and more of the history and other book work was reduced. We are putting more of the 'education' into the earlier years, and the practical is almost 90% of the work load in the latter years. We also have plans for the last 6-months of the final year."
"Oh, do tell," he asked grabbing the bottle from her.
Kushina answered, "Minato thought that the system for electing genin teams was outdated. It worked under the assumption that clans that worked well in older teams would in younger. Yet in never considered that using the same" she air quoted, "''people' made it easier for other villages to counter them. So now the last 6-months of the academy three times a week the students are assigned into groups of three, constantly rotating, and they handle low level D-Ranks. That way the teachers can look at those records to set up teams based on the personality of the students, rather than clan or class standing. They can have first, second and third options for each. When the genin exam takes place they go over who passed and refer back to that to set up the teams. We figure it should increase the Genin team pass rate."
"Not bad, it also frees up genin for more C-ranks, which frees up the Chuunin and Jounin for B and A ranks. Hence your need to rework the missions assignment, if you have academy students doing missions without pay, you need to re-sort t what is 'Academy-missions', and new D-ranks for Genin," he seemed to think for a moment, "Plus you will have a cross over period."
"Ah, we also are modifying the pre-graduation test," Tsunade said. "The academy has taken to only doing a small jutsu test like creating a Bunshin. A rather stupid test if you ask me. Some kids have the abilities to be genin but can't do that; like this kid in the year ahead of Naruto, who has a chakra coil problem. He can manipulate the chakra in his body to a level I never saw before considering his age, but he can't use it outside of his body well. We found he could do tree walking and water walking, but can't do Henge, Kwarmi or Bunshin. The new test is requires a field test, taijutsu, ninjutsu and weapons test. If they pass 3 of the 4 they pass. I mean it also benefits Naruto," she said with a sly smile at Kushina, "Who appears to have problems doing simple Bunshin. We had to have him doing advanced Hyuuga Chakra control exercises before he managed to do one. Still seems wobbly, to me. But he has managed to learn Miz-Bunshin."
"Works for me," he said with a shrug, "but what about the students still in class now?"
"The classes will slowly be altered, but the new test will go in effect this year. Which means some will loose out, but any kid who fails the genin pre-test or jounin exam for the next few years will be going to 'catch up' classes, where they will get the classes the newer students will have. We loose too many genin in the field when they are fresh. We also got it approved for a first aid class dedicated to teaching basic field ijutsu. We are hoping it will point out future med nin possibilities faster."
"Must make you happy Tsu-himi?" Kushina shook her head as she watched Tsunade punch Jiraiya for leering at her.
"I have a request from Naruto though," she watched as he turned to look at her.
"He wants to meet the three from Ame, and before you get all fussy," Kushina laughed as Jiraiya pouted. "I wrote a letter. Thought you could go to Ame and see if they are still around, and if so give my letter to Nagato."
She watched as Jiraiya frowned and swirled his sake in the glass. "Ah, I can do that," he looked up and smiled. "I wonder how those kids are, you know."
* ‡ *
"I passed," Naruto ran through the crowd to her wearing his hitaite around his neck like she used to.
Catching him in a hug she laughed loudly. Smiling she walked him to his friends to congratulate them before they headed home. She smiled at Fugaku who had shown up with Hiashi. The three of them watched as a group of kids started showing off to each other their new hitaite.
"Alright brat lets go home. Jiraiya sent you a graduation gift and I want to see what it is," she muttered in her son's ears.
"Awesome, lets go." Shaking her head she followed at a sedate walk after him. "Can we have Ramen tonight?"
She groaned. Why, why did he inherit not just my love of Ramen but Minato's as well? I think if he could he would eat it non-stop. Not to mention, I really want to know where the love of orange came from. At least his friends talked him out of wearing so much of it.
* † *
Age 12 – Ame – 6-months earlier
"Jiraiya-sensei, I heard you were looking for us?" Konan walked towards her old teacher; face absent of emotion and eyes wary.
When she and Nagato had heard that Jiraiya was looking for them, he had sent Konan to find out what he wanted. They knew he wasn't aware of their connection to Akatsuki, but it never hurt to see what he wanted.
"Konan, you are even more beautiful, want to run away with your handsome teacher?" Jiraiya wiggled his eyebrows at her.
She sighed and ignored him as she sat next to him. "Nagato heard a rumor you were looking for him, he can't meet with you but he asked me to come see what you want."
"What's the hurry, not time for your old teacher?" she rolled her eyes at his tone.
"Fine, how are you doing Jiraiya-sensei?" she asked playing along.
"I've been good, have a godson you know, he was named after that character in the book I wrote and dedicated to you three. He wants to be just like Nagato's character."
"Really," she smiled remembering the book.
"Yep, he even wants to grow to be just like the 'Naruto' in my book," he laughed. "His name is Uzumaki Naruto," he noted her slight flinch, "He is graduating to be a ninja this year. That's why I'm here; his mom wanted me to send a letter to you all. She was hoping you three would come for a visit in Konoha and meet him. I have passes and such from her, as long as you head in with me. "
"Sensei," she turned away before looking back at him. "It's only Nagato and me… Yahiko died a long time ago."
"What? How did it happen?" Jiraiya's face paled.
"Hanzo, he double crossed us," she looked back at him. "I am afraid Nagato won't be able to see you, he is away trying to take care of some problems. I can get a message to him if you need me to."
Jiraiya looked at her before nodding. He pulled out a letter and handed it to her. "Here, this was for al three of you, pass it on to him. If he or you decide to visit Konoha, let me know, I will be back in this area in about three months."
She smiled and stood up to leave. She turned back around when she heard her name.
"It was good to see that at least the two of you stuck together Konan," he called out.
* † *
Jiraiya watched her walk away, "So Kushina was right," he muttered.
"About what?" the ANBU in the tree asked.
"A few years ago we managed to find Orochimaru's spy in Konoha, that men-nin Kabuto. He told us some interesting things about Akatsuki, especially about the 'leader'. Appears that my old students Konan and Nagato are apart of it."
"How can you tell?"
"Well first off the 'leader' supposedly has the Rinnengan, which Nagato has. Also, that ring on her finger. Except for the fact that the symbol on Orochimaru's says 'void' and the one on Sasori's says 'jewel', it was identical. Hers says 'White'."
"Why did you still offer them the chance to go to Konoha? Isn't that dangerous?"
"You will find Tenzou that sometimes people who loose their way can still be saved. I am hoping that the letter will remind them of who they use to be,"
"I thought you said some people are beyond redemption, like Orochimaru?"
"Some are, some can be saved," he glanced up. "Look at yourself. Tsunade left Konoha and would never have returned unless Kushina hadn't blackmailed her by offering to make me sole guardian of Naruto if something happened to her and Minato. Since his birth Tsunade has slowly come back to who she was. Why do you think she adopted you? Kushina pointed out that Tsunade-hime had always wanted a child, and since you had the Shodai's blood that made you her kin. It struck a cord in her, especially when some called to make you a weapon. She adopted you, taking you from ANBU and raised you with Shizune. Best thing that happened for both of you, ne?"
The ANBU was absorbed into the tree, only to step out of the bottom to join him.
"I guess so, if not for Tsunade I might have wound up in Danzo's hands when the Mukuton finally awoke in me. I could right now be going through the de-programming that NE ANBU is going through," Tenzou said softly.
"Yeah, poor Danzo, who would have thought he would have a seizure and wind up catatonic?"
The two looked at each other and laughed. To think Danzo brought down by his attempt to gain control of Tenzou who Tsunade had adopted. He obviously never learned the lesson to never piss off a mother, especially if she is a medic.
* † *
"Nagato, what is it?" Konan asked.
Ever since he had read the letter from theGodaime of Konoha Nagato had been different.
"Here, read this," he said handing her the letter.
Dear Nagato, Konan and Yahiko,
I am writing this in hopes that you are all well and still aiming for the goals you had as children under Jiraiya. He speaks of you often, especially to my son. I am happy to say that the three of you are my son's heroes. Since he was very small his favorite book, and the only one of Jiraiya's I will allow him to read, is The Legend of the Gutsy Ninja. He had us read it to him almost every night as child, and even now as he nears his graduation from the ninja academy of Konoha he still reads it once in a while.
I asked him once what his goal in life was; I have never been so shocked. I always thought that he would say Hokage or the greatest ninja ever. The answer he gave me instead was this:
"No mother, that is for you and father. The two of you and Jiji did the job so well the village doesn't need me to lead it. My friends are here and they honor the ideals that the Shodai wanted for the village and I know the village will be strong without me. No I want to do something different. I want to be like the Naruto of the Gutsy Ninja. I want to change the shinobi nation in to a place that has no need of wars and I want to help break the curse of war that I see throughout the history books, and from Ero-jiji and Baa-Chan and even Tachi-nii and Kimi speak of. I want to see if there is such a thing as peace, a world were we don't need ninja's or samurai. I want to help find it. If the students Ero-jiji dedicated this to have found it, I want to help them bring it about. If they haven't I want to continue where they left off. I won't ever give up, just like they wont. My name is from that book, which came from one of his students and his beliefs. Someday I want to find him, the person that inspired Jiji, and I want to help him, and if he falls before finding the answer, I will take up his path and complete it, or my name isn't Uzumaki Naruto."
The look in his eyes was one I had only seen in my husbands, it was the look of someone who won't give up. My husband died to save a village; he believed sacrificing himself so that many would have peace was the right path. I guess you both were inspired by Jiraiya. Its probably why I let the old pervert spend so much time with my son, even through I know I risk him becoming what every mother doesn't want her son to be.
That is why I have issued this invitation to visit Konoha. I hope that you can come to Konoha to see a village that seeks the dream that Jiraiya and you all had, and meet the boy you inspired.
Godaime Hokage of Konohagakure
Konan dropped the letter. She looked at the body of Yahiko possessed by Nagato and wondered. When had they lost their way?
"Konan, go to Konoha. Not to capture the biju, but because I wish you to find out if what this letter says is true," he handed her a scroll. "If it is, give this to the boy's mother and return here to Ame."
"Nagato?" her voice laced with confusion.
"I will await your return," he called as she walked away.
* ‡ *
Age 12, Graduation day
Kushina smiled as Naruto ran into the living room to find a woman with blue hair talking to Jiraiya. Naruto slid to a stop in front of them and stared curiously.
"Naruto, this is Konan. She is one of my three students from Ame, she is friends with the one I dedicated The Legend of the Gutsy Ninja to. She wanted to meet you," Jiraiya said.
Kushina watched from the sidelines as Naruto's eyes went wide and he started talking a mile a minute to her. Seeing Konan become bewildered she interrupted.
"Oi, my little brat, let her answer," she laughed at the blush that came to Naruto's face.
"Hey Ka-san, can I take her around the village?" Naruto turned his wide eyes one her.
"Ah, but be back in time for dinner," she laughed as Konan's hand was grabbed and pulled out of the house.
"Are you sure about this Kushina?" Jiraiya asked quietly.
"Don't worry, ANBU will be watching them at all time. Itachi and Haku are on guard, nothing gets past them."
* † *
"So why didn't Yahiko and Nagato come also?" Naruto asked.
"Yahiko died years ago and Nagato had to stay in Ame. I promised to tell him all about you though," she smiled softly at him. This is a Jinchuuriki? He is so innocent?
"I'm sorry about Yahiko," he looked at her with a serious expression on his face. "How did he die?"
Konan swallowed and looked away, "He died to save me, he died trying to bring peace to Ame," she whispered.
She felt a hand tug her own, and turned to look at the boy. He pulled her down and wiped her tears away. "If he died to save a precious person and in what he believes in, you shouldn't keep crying. Its okay to cry at first, but if he died true to what he believed in life, you should remember only the good times, and not mourn his loss," he suddenly smiled brightly. "Just live the life he died for, that way when you meet him in the next life you can face him without regrets. That's what I plant o do, live the life my Tou-san died to for. That way when I finally get to meet him, I won't be afraid to look him in the eyes. "
Konan looked into the boys eyes and smiled.
* † *
"So Iruka, tell us what your suggestions are for Genin teams," Kushina said sitting at the table with several academy teachers, Koharu, Tsunade and Sarutobi.
"Well, believe it or not the class was a 100% pass. So we can go with first choices on teams. What is interesting is that this class has several options for each. Here are for all but nine of the students. They are first shots that should work the best."
Kushina looked at the first list and frowned. "Why do you have the nine separated out? I know those kids; they should have been able to fit into groups?"
"Ah, forgive me Kushina-sama; I may have worded myself wrong. The remaining nine seem to be interchangeable amongst themselves without too many problems. They are all close friends and seem to work well in any group I set up among them. Under the old team assignments they would have been the '33%' pass group, and I thought we should take advantage of their flexibility to design specific teams."
Koharu smiled, "These children seemed to have been some of the best the academy has produced in a while. I mean the Aburame, Uchiha and your own son were all closely tied in ranking. Uchiha took rookie of the year purely by only a few points over the Aburame. If your son had paid more attention to his written test he might have pulled ahead of those two. Inuzuka and Akimichi were the next highest in the class-"
"What about Shikamaru?" Tsunade asked.
Iruka laughed, "He is on the list, based on some conversations I overheard I had his mother come in and force him to take a proper evaluation test. He is the real rookie of the year, except he is too lazy to apply himself."
They all laughed at the famous Nara laziness.
"What about the girls?" Kushina asked.
"Surprisingly better than the past few years have produced. We had a small bout of fan girl behavior in the early years, but when Uchiha Sasuke screamed in the middle of class he would quote 'rather be gay than with one those rabid fan girls' unquote they started taking their classes seriously," Iruka answered trying not to laugh at the others faces.
"When did that happen?" Kushina asked.
"Three years ago, he heard about Ino and Sakura ending their friendship to win his love and lost it. Shortly after the girls in the class found out from an anonymous source that Sasuke's dream girl was a serious Kunoichi like Naruto's mom, and they all started focusing on their training."
Sarutobi and Tsunade laughed as Kushina's draw dropped. How the hell did I miss that Sasuke has a crush on me?
"Kush-chan, I hate to say this but both Itachi and Sasuke have a crush on you," Tsunade got out between laughs.
"Haha, can we get back to this?" Kushina snarled.
"Of course," Iruka sniggered, before continuing on. "Hinata was the top Kunoichi. She had some problems with shyness, but a few years ago she got over it and started excelling in class. She actually wants to be a combat Med-Nin."
"Ah, so Neji's plan worked," Kushina murmured, seeing their confusion she continued, "Hiashi and Hizashi were very hard on her, as both Neji and Hanabi appeared so beyond her at Jyuuken. He noticed that when they watched her fight she got nervous and made more mistakes. He asked someone to video tape the two having a spar, and showed it to Hiashi. It seems that Hinata actually has perfect Jyuuken; she just lacks the speed and force needed. Neji has more speed and force but less precision than Hinata. Hanabi puts both to shame, but Hinata doesn't have to be best to be Clan heir, just has to not be embarrassing. Once he realized it was her nerves he hired someone to work with her on that. I guess it worked."
Iruka nodded before continuing, "Ino and Sakura tied for second. Sakura like Hinata desires to be a med-nin, but Ino wants to specialize in infiltration. With that in mind I wasn't sure how these 9 should be set up."
Sarutobi looked at the names and their files before speaking up, "Perhaps we should really shake this group up; we could have the making of three Free Response Teams. The first could be Naruto, Shino and Ino. The second could be Shikamaru, Sasuke and Hinata, leaving Kiba, Choji and Sakura as the third. What jounin would suit them?"
"I was thinking that perhaps Hyuuga Hirio, he would help calm the boisterous behavior of Naruto and Ino, would work well with Shino helping him to look at developing skills outside his clan hijutsu's seeing as he himself branched out. He can help with Naruto's chakra control, as he has some of the best in the village, and being he was trained under a Yamanaka would be very familiar with Ino's style," Iruka replied.
I have to talk to his jounin instructor also, Jiraiya thinks the seal might start allowing him to draw on kyuubi soon, Kushina thought. It was bad enough explaining Kyuubi and why he wasn't to tell anyone when he first noticed the seal as a child, now she had to explain to his teacher before they went on missions outside the village.
"What about Itachi or Kakashi? Aren't they supposed to be up for a team?" Koharu interrupted.
"Itachi is leaving ANBU, but he is building a team consisting of himself, Kimi, Haku and Tenzou for a special mission that is in the works. No Koharu, here is not where we talk about it. Once that is done he might take a team on but not now. Also with Kakashi being like an older brother to Naru, not a chance," Kushina said firmly.
"So we place Kakashi with which team?" Iruka asked.
"Put him with Kiba, Choji and Sakura. Sakura has a temper and will eventually lose it with his tendency to be late; Kiba will egg her on forcing Kakashi to actually teach them. Choji will be the calming influence on them," Tsunade answered.
"And who else is up?" Koharu asked.
"I think Kurenai might be best for those three, as they tend to be too smart for their own good. She wants a team this time around, and those three would suit her?" Sarutobi responded.
"Works?" Kushina asked. "Good, let's get instructors for the rest of the class, and head out.
* † *
"Bye Konan, I hope you and Nagato can visit again," Naruto smiled cheekily at the woman. "Perhaps next time I can go back with you?""
"Perhaps Naruto, Perhaps," she smiled at him, "Here I want you to give this to your Kaa-san, okay?"
Naruto nodded his head before hugging her.
* † *
"So what was in the envelope?" Tsunade asked.
"Everything about Akatsuki, it seems what Naruto said inspired him," Kushina smirked.
"So, what do we do?" Jiraiya asked, sitting next to Sarutobi.
"We do exactly what Nagato asked of us," she held up a note. "If you are reading this I say thank you for the son you raised. His words that you put down reminded me of what I once sought. Somewhere along the way I fell back into the cursed world of the shinobi and forgot my goals. In this packet is everything about the members of Akatsuki. Go after them, but know this, had this not reached your hand, I would have gone after them myself."
Jiraiya and Tsunade let out long whistles, before smiling sadistically.
"Any particular order?" Sarutobi asked.
"Ah, Itachi will be by tomorrow to take this information. He will take his team out after Orochimaru and Sasori first. We know the most about them, and I want him to have the glory of taking out Orochimaru. It will help his reputation, especially since all his other missions were in ANBU. I really want to turn this tacky hat over to him as soon as possible," she started.
"Like you ever wore the hat?" Sarutobi said with a grin.
"Hmmph, anyways, after that he will return and hopefully Intel will have figured out how to go after the rest. I am hoping that Madara will assume we went after them because of Orochimaru, and nothing else. He will be meeting up with a team from Suna. The joint missions have been useful, and since Sasori is a Suna missing nin…"
Everyone smiled; time to take out the dominoes in the way of keeping Konoha safe, especially Naruto.
AN: Just to remind: One-Shot I will not write on this more. As for what happens in this future world, that's for you to decide…after all to continue would be to tell an original story, as Naruto is about his battle against thos ehwo would use the Bijou, and this is not his fight anymore…
(1) zenkai – complete recovery of health – I decided since the sharingan means pinwheel, and Byakugan means white eyes, the Uzumaki bloodline which is an accelerated healing ability that it was have a simple name.