Author's note

Special thanks to my beta Sakiku Torakak for her AMAZING job on this chapter. Without her advice this chapter would barely be half of what it is now. On another note, check out my new story, Naruto: the Reckoning. I also have new ideas that I'll either put up as a challenge or try it myself in the future, so check my profile for them. All reviews/criticisms are welcome. Without further ado, I give you chapter one of Naruto: Shadows of the Mind

This will be AU (obviously) and Naruto will be two years older than Canon. Which means that the Kyuubi attack will be two years earlier. Everything else should still happen around the same time as in Canon.




October 10: Konohagakure no Sato

Hiruzen Sarutobi felt the weight of each of his 55 years as he stared down at the small bundle in his arms. 'Naruto, what kind of life will you live?' the aged Kage wondered before frowning regretfully. 'Such a heavy burden should not fall to one so young. Wasn't that why we built the Hidden Villages, Sensei? So children could be children?' Still lost in his thoughts, he moved aside a portion of the blanket to gaze at the seal upon the infant's stomach.

'What an unbelievable seal array…Minato, you truly were a genius.' Not for the first time that night, he was beset by guilt and regret. Such a talented and promising man shouldn't have died so young. Especially not when an old man such as himself could have easily died in his place. 'Why, Minato? Why didn't you have me perform the sealing? Especially when your Hiraishin made it so I was literally an instant away.' He sighed tiredly as he looked away from the child and out over the village of Konoha. It was only one of the mysteries surrounding recent events.

Not two days ago, the mighty Kyuubi no Kitsune, a creature so powerful it was more a natural disaster than a fox, had driven the village to the brink of destruction. Nothing the shinobi of mighty Konoha tried had been able to stop the great beast. In fact, Sarutobi knew that the only reason the ninja had managed to stall the great fox at all was that the Kyuubi had been having too much fun butchering them. He shivered as he thought of the slaughter that had been unleashed on the shinobi of his village. He had seen entire wars that were less brutal. Even more disturbing, was that despite witnessing their final moments himself, neither Sarutobi nor anyone else alive knew what the hell had caused the attack. The Kyuubi was supposed to be safely contained within Kushina, and the Yondaime himself was ensuring the Bijuu didn't escape while Kushina was giving birth. They'd even left the village in secret to do so, and yet somehow the Kyuubi had not only escaped, it had appeared right in the heart of Konoha.

Shaking off the troubling thoughts, he looked down at Naruto once again, sighing quietly in frustration while being careful not to awaken the sleeping child. It had been a difficult decision to inform the council of Naruto and his burden, a decision that he was already regretting.

Given the choice, Sarutobi would have much preferred to keep everything about Naruto a secret, but he had been Hokage too long not to be wary of the consequences of others learning of Naruto on their own and jumping to conclusions, especially Danzo. There was no telling how badly people would react to that, especially if something happened to Sarutobi, who wasn't a young man anymore. So informing the council, if only as a precaution, seemed to be the best option at the time. 'Though,' he thought bitterly, 'it's hard to imagine a reaction worse than the one from the council.'


Looking around the room Sarutobi took in the various members that made up both sides of the Council. First off there were two of the three village Elders, his former teammates Koharu Utatane and Homura Mitokado. The final Elder was Danzo, his old friend and rival for the title of Sandaime Hokage and the leader of the supposedly disbanded "Root" Anbu program. 'I'll have to be careful with him here,' he reminded himself. 'Danzo will be quick to try to gain access to Naruto and he's never been above disobeying me if he believed it was necessary for the betterment of Konoha.'

Then there were the Heads of the more powerful and influential clans, to include the Four Noble clans. Fugaku Uchiha, head of the Noble Uchiha clan as well as the commander of the Konoha Military Police, was sitting with his arms crossed between Inoichi and a stony-faced Tsume. Inoichi was the head of the Yamanaka clan and a member of the infamous Ino-Shika-Cho trio -possibly the most famous team from Konoha since the Sannin. Tsume was sitting in as the acting head of the Inuzuka clan since her mother-in law had been killed and her husband Teiru had taken crippling injuries fighting off the Kyuubi.

Sitting to Inoichi's left were Shikaku and Chouza, the heads of the Nara and Noble Akimichi clans respectively. They were also the other two members of the Ino-Shika-Cho trio, and semi-traditional allies of his own Sarutobi clan. Rounding out the major clans were Murakumo Kurama, Hiashi Hyuuga, and Shibi Aburame. With Tsunade absent, the Senju clan seat was left empty.

There were also a number of minor clan heads to round out the shinobi portion of the council. Most of the individual Jounin who had been members –and Sarutobi's allies- only days ago were now dead, including the Jounin Commander.

The civilian council was composed mostly of wealthy citizens and well off merchants, though there were a handful of doctors, teachers, shop owners, and even a couple of restaurant owners as well. Their main purpose being to keep the civilian portion of Konoha from being completely forgotten by Sarutobi and his advisors.

Clearing his throat Sarutobi stood and called the meeting to order. "Thank you all for coming on such short notice. I know this is a painful and trying day for all of us, but we must persevere for the good of our village." Sarutobi ran his gaze over the rather simple room considering the matters that were often discussed here. Plain unadorned walls broken only by two double doors on opposite sides of the room, surrounded two long tables that ran the length of the room. There was also a smaller table sitting between the heads of the two tables that seated him and his two former teammates.

"As most of you are aware, the Yondaime was able to defeat the Kyuubi at the cost of his own life." Seeing the various council members nodding he continued his explanation. "What none of you know is exactly how he defeated it." That got their attention. A jutsu that could kill any of the Bijuu, let alone the greatest of them would be worth more than an entire country. Even if the Bijuu would eventually return, and at the cost of the user's life.

Before they could continue down that path, Sarutobi continued, crushing some of their hopes of an ultimate jutsu. "He used a forbidden technique combined with a number of Fuuinjutsu to seal the Kyuubi away. This also required a child to act as the prison. His last wish was that the child he chose to be the prison be seen as a hero of this village." Finishing his explanation, Sarutobi sat down and waited for the council's reaction.

He had been prepared for fear, but the outright hysteria that gripped even some of the shinobi veterans on the council caught him completely off guard. Shouts of anger and even shrieks of fear came from every corner of the room, though the latter came mainly from the civilian members. Only Shibi of the Noble Aburame clan remained completely calm, though it was hard to tell with him. Even the normally lazy and uncaring Shikaku, head of the Nara clan, jumped to his feet.

Nearly a quarter of an hour would pass before the cacophony began to settle and order restored. The fact that Sarutobi and Elders allowed this didn't appear to occur to most of those attending the meeting.

For his part, Sarutobi was studying the room in an effort to salvage his own powerbase. Well known though the Sarutobi clan may have been prior to the founding of Konoha, living in close proximity with such clans as the Senju and Uchiha had seen their influence rapidly decline. By the time Tobirama had named Sarutobi his successor, the power and influence of Sarutobi clan had been the least of the so called major clans.

On his own, Sarutobi likely wouldn't have had the powerbase to be confirmed as the Sandaime, regardless of Tobirama's wishes. Oh, he was well known and respected as one of the Nidaime's students, but to the more influential clans, Hiruzen was still just a "mere Sarutobi". The fact that Tobirama's own ascension hadn't exactly been smooth or unanimous certainly didn't help matters. Between his efforts to weaken the autonomy of the clans for the sake of unity, and his own well known clashes with Madara and the Uchiha before and after Konoha's founding, Tobirama was accepted as much out of respect for Hashirama's wishes as for his own abilities.

In truth, Sarutobi owed his rise to power to Danzo. Rivals or not, the man had been as loyal to Tobirama as Sarutobi had, and immediately threw his own influence behind Sarutobi's name. The Shimura clan might have been in the same boat as the Sarutobi, but Danzo's rising legend was surpassed only by Hiruzen's own. And he also had his teammates. Kagami had been an influential shinobi in a powerful Sept of the Uchiha clan. He'd also been loyal enough to Tobirama to blunt any opposition from the Uchiha to Sarutobi's appointment.

It was Torifu Akimichi who made all the difference though. As the son of the aging head of the Noble Akimichi clan, Torifu's support had been invaluable to Sarutobi's ascension as Hokage. The Akimichi brought the support of the Nara and Yamanaka, and added to the Sarutobi and Shimura clans alongside the tentative support of the Anbu and a sizable minority of the clanless, Sarutobi was able to assume power. And if Torifu had been more loyal to Danzo than to Sarutobi, or if the timing of his father's death had been oddly…fortuitous…well, there was a World War raging around them, and Sarutobi had needed to know his orders were being followed.

And though the First Great Shinobi War didn't end in Konoha's victory, Sarutobi had led Konoha well and earned a great deal of respect and loyalty in the process. From both the clans and the clanless. A respect which had grown with each passing year, until nearly all of the most influential Jounin had been his allies and supporters, alongside the majority of the clanless, leaving him with a powerbase that was superior to any other faction in Konoha.

A powerbase which was just gutted by the Kyuubi.

Most of the younger generation had been held back from the battle with the Kyuubi, leaving the old guard to spearhead the defense…and suffer the greatest casualties. Nearly all of Sarutobi's generation was dead, including Torifu, leaving Sarutobi practically back to square one. And with so many positions now vacant, the various clans would be quick to snatch up as many as they could for themselves in an effort to increase their own prestige and influence, or to prevent their rivals from doing the same.

Even worse, this time Sarutobi could not count on the support of the virtually extinct Senju, the influence of Kagami, nor even the support of Danzo, as the two of them had grown increasingly distant from one another over the years as their philosophies and leadership styles diverged.

Looking to the major clan heads once again, he noticed that both Shibi and Hiashi had remained sitting side by side with impassive looks on their faces as they listened to the many conversations going on around them. 'You know...sometimes I think those two are in some kind of competition to see who can be the most impassive.' Only the single bead of sweat traveling down Hiashi's face let him know that the Hyuuga was indeed worried. Shibi on the other hand, Sarutobi couldn't begin to guess what he was thinking without getting close enough to be able to hear his bugs -as that was one of the few ways of observing an Aburame's emotions.

It was only the greatest of luck that Sarutobi caught the light tapping of Hiashi's finger. A tapping that was reciprocated by Shibi. That…could be very bad indeed. 'If the Aburame and Hyuuga were to ally with each other…they could very quickly come to dominate Village politics. Even the Uchiha wouldn't be able to match them on their own.' Sarutobi's own bloc hadn't so much dominated as it had been a coalition that had its own give and take and internal power plays. But an alliance of two of the Noble Clans combined with the vacuum and power fluctuations caused by the loss of so many Jounin could be disastrous.

Despite his efforts, Tobirama had never truly been able to convince the clans to give up their own power and influence within the Village, prior to his death, and Sarutobi had needed that same influence to attain the title of Hokage himself. And quite frankly, Uchiha, as the most powerful and influential of the Noble Clans, would likely never do so. That in turn meant the other Noble Clans wouldn't, which meant the "lesser" clans wouldn't either.

Sarutobi could feel the beginnings of yet another headache as he made a mental note to try to find some way to blunt the Hyuuga-Aburame alliance if it even occurred. The last thing Konoha could afford was the two Noble clans attempting to seize power only for one of the other factions to retaliate. The Hyuuga Insurrection and Uchiha Kinstrife had been bad enough without any interference from outside those two clans; Sarutobi didn't want to even think of how much damage of Shinobi Civil War would do.

From there he looked over at Shikaku who was in a hushed conversation with Inoichi and Chouza despite scanning the room and faces of the others from time to time. Though the Nara tended to be the strategist of the trio, it was Chouza Sarutobi was most interested in. The Akimichi had been clan head for less than a week and was used to working with the Sarutobi clan and Hiruzen himself, so if he played his cards right perhaps the Akimichi-Sarutobi alliance would endure. And given the young clan head's relative inexperience, perhaps Sarutobi could even take control of said alliance and put his own clan firmly in charge, rather than being the lesser of equals as before?

Seeing Sarutobi watching, Shikaku met his eyes and nodded respectfully before turning back to his teammates. ' you understand what this meeting is really about...clever as always Shikaku.' Sarutobi understood that Shikaku's nod meant that, among other things, he knew that Sarutobi had no intention of letting the council make any real decision concerning Naruto. Oh, he'd listen to their concerns and complaints, but Sarutobi certainly didn't intend to actually agree to them. It was for that reason the Nara was conferring solely with Inoichi and Chouza, to warn them not to stand against the Hokage and to just keep their opinions to themselves. Maybe the Nara head would make a good candidate for the position of Jounin Commander? That could go a long way to appeasing both the Nara and the Akimichi, paving the way for Sarutobi? It certainly helped that to the best of his knowledge, Chouza had never been informed of the exact details of his clan's alliance with Sarutobi.

Content that his powerbase might not be as devastated as he thought, Sarutobi allowed his gaze to move on to the other major players.

One glance at a scowling Fugaku let Sarutobi know his opinion about Naruto and the Kyuubi, 'Although, Fugaku is responsible for maintaining security and law and order within the village walls. I suppose it's only natural that having a Jinchuuriki in the village would upset him. Particularly the one that had just leveled a good portion of Konoha.' Thankfully, the Uchiha clan's position was probably as weakened as Sarutobi's as in addition to their own losses, the Uchiha focused most of their efforts into the KMPF rather than seeking positions of their own. Instead, they made themselves patrons of some of Konoha's most versatile Jounin. Jounin that had been on Genin teams with Uchiha Jounin-sensei, who secured their loyalty early on, then helped their students gain prestigious positions throughout Konoha.

Finishing his sweep of the room he noticed Tsume was also still in her seat with her fists clenched on the table, though her face showed some conflicting emotions ranging from anger to pity to hatred, even a bit of guilt.

Sarutobi felt for her, as she was likely still dealing with her both her mother-in law's death and her husband's injuries and Naruto was probably at the center of her storm of emotions. God knows, Sarutobi had yet to deal with his own pain at the loss of his beloved Biwako, so he understood exactly what the Inuzuka must be feeling.

Finally there was Danzo himself, still sitting alone. Sarutobi knew Danzo was doing exactly what he was, observing the others to see what he could use to his advantage, who he'd have to sway or intimidate, and how he could go about doing it. Truly, the man was like a mirror opposite of himself at times. That they would be competing against each other once again was an oddly depressing thought for the aging Hokage.

Before he could think further on that thought however, Homura and Koharu began calling for order among the room's occupants, who eventually began to return to their seats. After a few minutes, the last few council members seated themselves and the meeting continued. It was then that things truly started to go downhill.

A merchant named Kisabi Takeda from the civilian portion of the council was the first to speak up, jumping to his feet as he did so. "Hokage-sama, why is the monster even still alive?"

Kouta Zuki, the shinobi representing the small and relatively new Zuki clan stood as well. "If it's in a child, we can kill it for good, correct?" Scattered murmurs of approval greeted this question.

"Don't be a fool," came from a rather surprising source, though his next words quickly explained his reasoning. "The Kyuubi Jinchuuriki is crucial to maintaining the balance of power between the Hidden Villages. Besides, think of the boy's potential. With the proper training he could become our greatest protector. With the power of the Kyuubi under our control we could actually tip the balance of power our way once and for all, and crush all of our enemies. I'm not exaggerating in the slightest when I say that this child could bring about an era of unrivaled peace and prosperity for our village." Danzo spoke passionately despite the injuries he himself had suffered at the hand of the Kyuubi. Such passion in the face of his own loss only gave his words even more weight.

This suggestion brought more murmurs until Sarutobi crushed the idea before it could truly take root. "No." All talk ceased as Danzo returned to his seat. "He is a hero and we owe it to him to allow him to live as normal a life as possible."

Fugaku rose from his chair immediately, a look of complete outrage and disbelief painted across his face. "Are you insane!" This drew a handful of gasps from some of the civilians as Fugaku not only shouted at the Shinobi no Kami, but what he said could be taken as a direct insult. "You suggest we just let that thing roam freely in our village! What if the seal fails or the child loses control? We'd never be able to evacuate the civilians in time, nor try to contain the damage! If you insist on keeping it, you must send the child somewhere else, like Training Area 44, or some other secure, yet isolated and remote location."

Sarutobi's gaze hardened as he struggled briefly to keep his killing intent from leaking out. "His name is Naruto and he is no more a threat than the man who sealed the Kyuubi within him, or Mito-sama before him."

Kisabi, who had remained standing, could no longer contain himself as he cried out in rage, "We should kill it now while we still can!"

Before Sarutobi could respond, Shibi Aburame- perhaps the only person who had, so far anyway, kept at least his face calm- stated in a simple monotone. "Killing the child will not kill the creature within him."

"Shibi-dono is correct; killing the infant will only release the Kyuubi once more." Hiashi Hyuuga nodded his head in agreement. "Was that not the reason the beast was transferred to a new host when Mito Senju-sama neared the end of her life? We dare not kill him when doing so would only lead to more destruction."

Danzo rose to speak once more, probably to state something about how his training methods could grant them control over Naruto and the Kyuubi, but Sarutobi beat him to it. "Enough." The council silenced and looked to him once again. "This council has already gone far beyond what I called it for. I've already made my decision on this matter." Fugaku, Danzo, Kisabi, and several others began to protest, only to be cut them off yet again. "I only informed you as a courtesy, not to ask your opinions on this. However, I must say I am very disappointed in many of you for reacting in such a way. The majority of you have children or even grandchildren, who the Yondaime could have easily used as Kyuubi's prison instead of choosing an orphan." Sarutobi felt there was no reason to inform them of Naruto's heritage just yet. After all, without his parents to protect him, it wouldn't take long for someone or other to attempt to kidnap or assassinate him or for one clan or the other to try to pull him into their political intrigues. Especially when Sarutobi had so few resources to protect the boy from such a threat. No, it would be best to wait until he was older and Sarutobi could spare the shinobi necessary to protect him from foreign threats, before revealing that tidbit of information. "Would you be so eager to see your own child dead, or raised in isolation?" He finished with a glare at the council.

Despite his words, many of the council still muttered angrily. Seeing this, Sarutobi moved to try and ensure Naruto's safety and just as importantly, the secrecy of his existence. "From this point on all information on the Kyuubi's defeat, as well as Naruto's role in it, is an S class secret. If anyone asks, the Yondaime killed the Kyuubi and died in the process; revealing the truth is punishable by death, as is revealing the identity of the child." Again, some members of the council began to protest only to be silenced by Sarutobi's killer intent. "Do not test me on this. All that will come of it is your deaths." The council as a whole stiffened at such a blatant threat, but no one dared to speak out. After all, while things might get a little heated in their discussions, the members of the council understood full well that they had no authority whatsoever. No matter how much they might disagree, they knew that their place was to give advice when asked for, not orders.

Looking around the room Sarutobi sighed before speaking again. "Dismissed."

End Flashback

Yes, Sarutobi greatly regretted his decision to inform the council about Naruto. Barely an hour after he had dismissed them, a number of civilian members as well as a handful of the minor clan heads had immediately begun to spread word about Naruto and the Kyuubi, no doubt in an attempt to force him to concede to their wishes.

A foolish move on their parts.

Sarutobi's retribution had been swift and without mercy. More than half a dozen civilians and no less than five shinobi council members had been executed immediately after. Unfortunately, the damage had already been done. While no other members of the council had been connected to the information leak, and almost no one else in the village would admit to knowing about Naruto let alone draw attention to themselves by calling for his death or banishment, it had been guaranteed that the whole of the village would soon learn about the sealing. And from there, it would only be a matter of time before the other Hidden Villages learned of it as well, which forced Sarutobi to take more...extreme measures to prevent it.

Attempting to lessen the damage in any way he could, the Hokage had been left with no choice but to both inform the rest of the population and to raise the security level on all the information to SS rank. When he had given his warning to the gathered villagers and shinobi, Sarutobi had been certain to make sure they understood the full consequences of breaking his new decree.


"If any of the other Hidden Villages were to learn of our situation, they would not hesitate to take advantage of it," he concluded as he sent a steely gaze over the assembled village. "So allow me to make myself perfectly clear on this matter. You will not tell your children or anyone else who does not know. I do not care if they are in the hospital receiving treatment or out of the village on missions, nor if they immigrate to Konoha in the future. You are not to speak of it. Ever." At this point, Sarutobi's visage hardened, and he began to radiate just enough killer intent to remind everyone why he was called the Shinobi no Kami.

"No one, other than myself or the child when I choose to inform him, is to reveal any information about him, or anything about the Kyuubi's defeat other than that the Yondaime gave his life to kill it, to anyone. If anyone breaks this law, they, along with their immediate family, as well as whomever they told, and their immediate family will be executed." Here his killing intent skyrocketed before disappearing. "You are dismissed."

As he walked away, he briefly wondered which had made the bigger impact, his impressive killing intent or the row of nearly a dozen severed heads that had once belonged to the council members who had disobeyed him, which were impaled on pikes behind him.

Hopefully, they would take his words to heart. Konoha really couldn't afford to have him execute anymore shinobi, any more than they could afford teams of foreign shinobi infiltrating Konoha in an attempt to kidnap Naruto.

End Flashback

Sighing once again, Sarutobi reached for his trusty pipe and began trying to stuff it with tobacco one handed. Just as he succeeded, a knock came at the door.

"Enter," he called wearily as he raised his pipe to his mouth and attempted to light it.

A young rookie Chuunin named Kurenai Yuuhi limped into the room with an armful of reports and stated tiredly. "I have some more reports for you to look over, Hokage-sama."

Sarutobi recognized her as a temporary secretary that had been working in the Tower while waiting for a leg injury she received in the last Chuunin Exams to heal. He had seen her quite often as even though he had retired he had still come in almost every day to help his successor get used to the job. Of course, he also remembered when she had been a freshly graduated Genin excited about getting her first mission, but still trying to act professional in front of her leader. He couldn't help but think, 'Getting old sucks.' The Hokage sighed as he gestured vaguely towards his hardwood desk that was almost as old as he was- having belonged to his predecessors- and said in a grandfatherly tone, "Thank you Kurenai-san, just put them anywhere."

"Yes Hokage-sama," replied Kurenai as she approached the Hokage's desk. However, as she drew near and set the stack of papers down in one of the few clear spaces on the crowded table, she realized just what it was that the Hokage cradled in his arm.

Kurenai's crimson eyes widened in surprise at the sight before they narrowed in anger when she took note of what occupied the Hokage's other hand. "Hokage-sama!" she snapped indignantly. "What on earth are you doing!?"

The Hokage looked up at her in surprise for her sudden outburst as he removed his pipe from his mouth and blinked owlishly up at her. As he did this, his hand seemed to unconsciously drift closer to the newly awakened child, who blindly flailed one hand up to the object in the Hokage's hand.

Kurenai's arms whipped forward and snatched the infant from her surprised leader's arms, then quickly moving to a nearby open window.

The Hokage jumped to his feet and moved to follow her before she glared at him and snapped, "I can't believe you could be so irresponsible, Hokage-sama!" The Hokage looked at her in confusion -which unknown to Kurenai was the only thing that saved her life- as she continued angrily. "A man of your age and status should know better than to smoke around an infant!"

The Hokage looked even more surprised for a moment, before he smiled widely of all things. This of course did nothing to soothe an irate Kurenai, who never noticed the Anbu in the shadows above the window who was just a fraction of a second away from using the ninja wire in his hands to end her life. She also missed Sarutobi's subtle signal causing said arms to recede back into the shadows, while she continued to scold him. "What if he burnt his hand or some embers fell on him? Not to mention second hand-smoke!"

The Hokage gave a sheepish chuckle at this, before he spoke in that grandfatherly tone he was so well known for. "My apologies Kurenai-san, I've been so busy it slipped my mind- not that that is a very good excuse of course."

It was then that Kurenai remembered just who she was scolding, before her face turned red as she began stammering an apology. "For-forgive me Hokage-sa-sama, I shouldn't have yelled at you like that." She bowed as well as she could while holding a baby, who was becoming more and more fidgety.

Sarutobi chuckled as he looked at the suddenly blushing and nervous kunoichi who cradled young Naruto. It warmed his heart to see someone react in such a positive way when it came to Naruto's health. It also made him glad he had been as tired and off guard as he was. Otherwise he might have killed the well-meaning Chuunin without understanding her intentions.

"It's quite alright Kurenai-san, you were only looking out for the welfare of young Naruto and for that you have my heartfelt thanks."

Before Kurenai could respond, little Naruto started crying loudly. She began to rock him while making hushing sounds.

Sarutobi smiled at the little domestic scene, before he spoke again. "It sounds like little Naruto is hungry again." He then looked around his office for the bottle he had prepared earlier. Finding it among his paperwork, he tiredly moved to take Naruto back from Kurenai.

However when he reached out for him, Kurenai bit her lip and nervously offered, "I can feed him for now, Hokage-sama. I'm sure you would like a moment of peace, perhaps to finish smoking your pipe?"

Sarutobi's eyes narrowed imperceptibly as he read the Chuunin's body language, trying to determine if she might be a threat to Naruto after all. Seeing only an earnest young girl, Sarutobi nodded his assent before handing the bottle over to the kunoichi.

On his way out, Sarutobi subtly signaled to the Tori masked Anbu hidden in the shadows above Kurenai, the wire that he was about to use to garrote her before Sarutobi stopped him still held in his hands. His message was perfectly clear. If it looked like she intended to harm Naruto…kill her.

Kurenai smiled gently as she looked down at the blond drinking eagerly in her arms. She had of course heard all about just who and what the infant was; however, she just could not associate the adorable child with the Demon Fox many were accusing him of being. 'He's a lot better behaved than some of those brats I had to baby sit during all those D rank missions.' She thought to herself with a smile.

When he finished his bottle, Kurenai pulled down his blanket a bit to examine him more closely. On the rare occasions that he opened his eyes, she could see that he had sky blue eyes with slit pupils. Eyes that appeared to be filled with curiosity that seemed to look right into her soul, and when his lips moved into what might have been a smile the weight of the world just seemed to lighten… and those birthmarks! They were so cute! Feeling a slight tug on one of her fingers, she looked to see Naruto had wrapped his tiny hand around her index finger, tugging on it curiously. It was at that moment that Naruto yawned sleepily. No longer able to resist, Kurenai let out a quiet squeal and began speaking nonsensical baby talk to the sleepy child.

Once Kurenai calmed down from her snuggle fest with Naruto, she began gently rocking him again until he dropped back off to sleep.

As Kurenai was busy with her baby talk, a young Tatsu masked Anbu in the room turned to his Tori masked Captain and began signaling to his superior, 'What is she doing?' His superior simply signed back, 'Don't worry about it, it's a chick thing so there is no understanding it.' Both Anbu felt a chill run through them as the lone female of their detail glared at them. They quickly returned to their positions with Kurenai still completely unaware of their shadowy presence.

It was a heartwarming sight for Sarutobi when he reentered the room to find Kurenai rocking a sleeping Naruto. A quick and discreet check with his Anbu guards confirmed that everything was fine, though two of them seemed oddly shaken…and why was Tori looking everywhere but at Hebi?

Gently clearing his throat to get her attention, Sarutobi motioned for Kurenai to hand him Naruto, which she did, albeit a tad reluctantly.

"Thank you for watching him, Kurenai-chan." He said quietly so as not to disturb Naruto. He carefully retook his seat and sighed as he glanced at the reports he had yet to look over.

Attempting to put them off just a little longer, he addressed Kurenai again, "Is there anything else you need?"

He watched as Kurenai bit her lip somewhat nervously, before she finally spoke hesitantly, "Hokage-sama… if I may ask you a question?" Curious, Sarutobi agreed to her request with a nod.

"Well… it's just that… what are you planning to do with Naruto now?"

Sarutobi sighed at this question, one of many he had considered in the past hour. His original plan had been simple enough. With Naruto's identity as the third Jinchuuriki known only to a few, and his identity as Minato's child known to fewer still, it would have been child's play to hide him by adopting the boy as an example to the rest of the village. It wouldn't appear strange to any outsiders in the wake of the Kyuubi's attack. God knew, there were plenty of new orphans in need of a new home and family.

That was no longer an option sadly, thanks to the treasonous actions of a handful of scared, angry, mourning fools. If he took Naruto in now, the entire village would know within days. No, Naruto would find no peace with Sarutobi's clan, and he simply didn't have the shinobi necessary protect him from internal or external threats if he was out in the open like that. However, he could still hide Naruto in obscurity for a time, if he was willing to ensure that the child was kept out of sight in one of Konoha's several orphanages. It would be years before the boy was old enough to begin to wander on his own, and even then he was likely to stay with the other children, who would provide him with some further anonymity and he would be watched by the orphanage caretakers. In that case, he would only need a handful of Anbu to watch over the child, and by the time Naruto started heading out alone, the village may have come to...not forgive perhaps, but certainly their anger would be dulled by then. And if not, Sarutobi should have been able to replenish his shinobi ranks by then, enough to increase Naruto's Anbu guard if necessary. The question of when he would be able to reveal the boy's heritage was one he couldn't answer yet.

Seeing the young kunoichi still waiting, he answered vaguely. "For the next few months I will care for him. Then, when things have calmed down somewhat, he will be placed in an orphanage and eventually, I hope he will be adopted within a few years. Other than that I have no plans for him."

Seeing the uneasy look on the kunoichi's face and seeing an opportunity to further test the young girl, Sarutobi smiled and reassured her. "Don't worry, I plan to have an Anbu watch him at all times. I will not allow him to be harmed."

Nodding, Kurenai stood at attention and said, "By your leave, Hokage-sama?" Once Sarutobi nodded, she leaned in close and planted a soft kiss on Naruto's forehead before saying, "Goodnight Naruto-chan, and sweet dreams." She then straightened, bowed respectfully to Sarutobi, and left the room.

Once she was gone, Sarutobi began to shift through the latest reports on his desk, while thinking on another problem concerning little Naruto. The child had yet to have a checkup, both because the hospital was currently all but overwhelmed by the many casualties from the attack –it had even been necessary to set up satellite clinics and field hospitals in order to accommodate all of the wounded on top of the normal day to day operations- and because many of the doctors he'd asked were refusing to have anything to do with him. Although, to be fair, most of them didn't even bother to listen to Sarutobi' request beyond, "a newborn's checkup" before somewhat angrily pointing out that they didn't have the time to waste on something so relatively trivial. Only a few actually refused because of who and what Naruto was.

Sarutobi would be lying if he said he wasn't disappointed, but emotions were still running high in the village, and would likely continue to do so for weeks to come. So, he could understand their position as well, even if he didn't agree. Coincidentally, that was one of the reasons why he kept Naruto with him rather than at the hospital.

Thinking it over he decided to see if he could track down his old student, Tsunade. 'While it would be nice if she returned, I doubt I can convince her to set foot in Konoha again.' He sighed, something he seemed to be doing a lot tonight. 'It might take a little convincing, but I'm sure she would at least be willing to perform a checkup or two on little Naruto so long as I go to her.' Of course, tracking Tsunade would take some time given her habits, but given the delicacy of the situation, as well as the complication of Minato's largely unknown seal, Tsunade was actually probably the best one to examine the child anyway. And maybe by the time Sarutobi returned, things would have calmed down among at least some of Konoha's medical staff, and he could find Naruto's future doctor among them.

With that decided, Sarutobi turned his attention back to the reports on his desk once more.





Kyuubi no Kitsune=Nine Tailed Fox

Sandaime=Third Lord

Hokage=Fire Shadow

Shinobi no Kami=God of Shinobi

Well, there you have it. Before anyone jumps down my throat about the "there's no such thing as a council" or "what a cliché with the evil council" etc., please take another look through that particular scene. The implication is rather heavy that the council in this fic has no power. The exact purpose of the council is explained a little later, but what it doesn't do, is give orders to the Hokage or make decisions regarding anything. They were told only so if Sarutobi were to die, someone would know about Naruto's existence, because it's important to the Village as a whole. I hope I don't need to explain the dangers of there being an unknown Jinchuuriki living in a Hidden Village. Their rather negative reaction is based on the fact that just hours before, hundreds if not thousands of their friends and relatives were just killed. Emotions were running high before they found out the Kyuubi was still around. So it's not unbelievable that they might panic at the idea that the unstoppable killing machine was inside the village. The only ones screaming about killing him were the ones with the least amount of understanding as to what's going on. Sarutobi himself states that the civilians were an afterthought when the council was formed, because he knew how easy it would be for an all ninja leadership/group of advisors to forget that the civilians even exist, let alone when making plans for things like how best to evacuate or repel an attack. Of the two clan heads who spoke against Naruto, one was asking if killing him would actually kill the Kyuubi, and once it was pointed out that it didn't work like that, he didn't ask again. Whereas Fugaku, the commander of the Military Police and as such largely responsible for protecting the village, had a problem with the idea that if the Kyuubi ever escaped again, it would appear wherever Naruto was aka, inside the village. That's why his suggestion/demand was that Naruto be taken somewhere outside the village, so that if Kyuubi ever escaped, they'd have some kind of warning and time to evacuate the relatively helpless civilians.

The attempt at explaining Konoha's inner politics and power struggles is a relatively new addition, one which will probably need improvements. I threw it in there because it will play a role later, and I quite honestly can't see all those clans just throwing away their own power and influence that easily. As far as inner village politics goes, the clans compete with each other for influence, so that when they actually want something done, they can persuade people to go along with it. They do this by increasing their wealth, their fighting strength, their fame, and having other, powerful non-clan affiliated shinobi loyal to them. Basically, when Sarutobi was named Tobirama's successor, he had most of the support of the Senju, Akimichi, Nara, Yamanaka, Sarutobi, and Shimura clans, a good chunk of the clanless shinobi, Kagami running interference to keep the Uchiha clan from opposing him, the support of those most loyal to Tobirama, and no real rival claimant who could rally anywhere near that level of support. It would have taken an alliance of pretty much all the other clans to put someone else in the Hokage's office. In time he gained a lot more support from the clanless and a lot of the Jounin from clans in his generation. After the Kyuubi attack, he had the guaranteed support of the Sarutobi and most of the Anbu. The Senju were gone, Danzo was now starting to work against him, most of his own generation was dead, Kagami was dead and unable to run interference, and the support of the Ino-Shika-Cho clans was no longer guaranteed.

If you have any reviews, questions, criticisms, suggestions, etc. I'm more than willing to hear them. Let me know what you think.