Disclaimer: Don't own, don't sue.
I received a few reviews concerning the end of the last chapter, asking if I had used the idea from one 'Detective Conan'. I actually hadn't even heard of this manga before, and went to skim over the plot of it. I don't think it is going to have the same result as my story though, I surely hope not.
Um, really sorry for the very late update. Call me Miss Lazy.
Horrified, Naruto studied his gaze for a few more seconds, biting his lip anxiously. His eyes then focused on Minato's face in explanation, a pleading expression upon his younger face.
"What's happening to me?"
Two Blondes, One Time Era
There was silence inside an occupied hospital room in Konoha. The mad twittering of nearby birds echoed deafeningly in the ward as the occupants were rooted to the floor where they stood – or sat, various looks of frustration and confusion locked on their faces. The tension in the room mounted, both male adults hesitating slightly, as if unsure about whether to start talking. Both sweated profusely as they chose their words carefully, in an attempt to keep the frozen blonde on the hospital bed calm.
"Umm, I don't know?" Minato laughed meekly, trying to find some humor in the sudden predicament, as Jiraiya face palmed behind him. Naruto continued to observe his younger image, heart pounding madly between his ribs.
'Why does everything weird happen to me,' he inwardly fumed, probing his reflection in a desperate attempt for answers. Still, although it wasn't a dramatic alteration in his appearance, it still mattered greatly to the blonde. If his hair and face had shifted to a younger Naruto – probably around a year younger – no doubt his height had been stunted as well.
To put it simply, Naruto was furious.
It had taken him years to finally attain a decent height, and now – impossibly – it was being taken from him.
"You don't... know?" the voice echoed hollowly around Naruto, as he struggled to cope with the situation. "You're the Yondaime, for crying out loud! Surely you know something… you know everything." By now the boy was practically begging, eyes wide with disbelief, clutching his bed sheets tightly in his fists as he attempted to control his sudden accelerated breathing.
Perplexed, Minato raised his eyes skeptically. "Well," he chuckled, "I certainly wouldn't go as far as to claim that. There are many things everyone can learn and we do make mistakes," he smiled coyly, attempting to assure the distressed boy. "We are human, after all."
"…" Naruto paused momentarily before making an attempt to rid himself of the crisp white sheets surrounding him. Releasing his death grip on the cloth, he hastily pushed it away, scooting up against the bed rest, drawing his legs up to his chest. Watching over the conversation with suspicious eyes, Tsunade remained silent, merrily stepping closer to the side of her patients bed – if need be to restrain the boy from leaving.
Her movement however didn't go unnoticed by the 'patient', who shot her a confused look, before his eyes hardened considerably. "Oh," he scoffed, "so now I'm suddenly the enemy." His voice began rising with each punctured syllable, shaking slightly in anger. "You have no right to keep me here, I haven't done anything!"
"Hmm," Minato plonked himself down into a nearby chair, leaning back comfortably. "That is the problem isn't it? As far as we've established, enemy nin went to enough trouble to sneak in undetected and to get you alone. Unless of course, they weren't targeting you specifically?" he raised his eyebrows, tone indicating he believed that unlikely.
Rubbing a hand tiredly against his temples, feeling the buildup of a headache coming on, Naruto attempted to remember every detail of the attack. Why had they targeted him? It was surprising, considering he had never gone anywhere near rock country. Not even in his former time line had he gone there. So just why had those rock ninjas try to kill him, wanting him out of the picture so much by even going as far as to assign his extermination as a mission.
"No," Naruto croaked, glancing over at Tsunade who still observed him like a hawk. "They were after me - four shinobi from Iwa. They openly spoke about a mission given specifically to get rid of me, but I don't know why."
Silence once again fell in the room, each attempting to gain a little incite as to why the enthusiastic blonde was a sudden target to the enemy village. The stillness in the room stretched on, each face pitched with a look of deep concentration. Even the toad sannin had an uncharacteristic look of deliberation etched on his features, lips pursed in a grim line of thought.
Finally, a hastily cleared throat broke the stillness settling over the room. Well," Minato began slowly, attempting to weigh up the situation. "Whatever the reason why, which we will find out, by the way," he shot Naruto a slightly suspicious look who turned away with a small 'hmph'. "It would seem to be in our best interests if you were to have an escort with you at all times. No, don't interrupt me," he interjected, seeing the teenager open his mouth furiously in protest. "I will not be having the people of my village put at risk, simply for not having someone keep an eye on you." By now, the Yondaime had risen and crossed the room, opting to gaze out the window instead of looking at the boy as he gave his conditions – he didn't want to see the look of hurt in his eyes.
"Well," Naruto deadpanned, getting straight to the point. "Who's going to be the one 'escorting' me?" he scrunched his nose up in distaste.
"Minato," Jiraiya quickly interjected, striding over to his former pupil, laying a consoling hand on his shoulder. "I could keep an eye on the boy easily. I'm heading over to Suna for business and can take him with me," he nodded, liking the sound of his idea. "I'll be able to fend off any shinobi that may take a go at him, plus he'll be out of the village, so it will give enemies no reason to target Konoha getting to him.
"Ah, sensei," Minato murmured, "If only it were that simple." Turning around to face the occupants of the room, he grimaced slightly at Tsunade's confused gaze boring into him. Nodding slightly at the woman, he gave her an apologetic smile. "I'm sorry, but if you could please excuse us for a little while, Tsunade, your teammate and I have a few things to discuss."
Nodding suspiciously, Tsunade shot a calculating glare at Jiraiya, the man giving her a sheepish grin as he waved her farewell. Hard eyes demanding answers, the slug sannin instead opted to remain silent, making her way from the room. As her back was receding through the hospital door, the audible sound of cracking knuckles reached them all, Jiraiya grimaced slightly.
He was royally screwed.
No sooner than the woman had departed, the Yondaime quickly strode across the room, closing the door softly with a faint click. Turning back to a frustrated looking Naruto and a pale Jiraiya, he sighed wearily before returning back to his former seat, running a hand through his hair, giving it – if possible – an even more disheveled look.
"You aren't going to tell her, Minato?" Jiraiya voiced his thoughts, concern written across his face – from Yondaime's plan or Tsunade's promised pain, he wasn't sure.
The older blonde shook his head. "For the moment, no," he frowned. "The situation is rather... delicate, so the less people that know, the better."
"Minato," Jiraiya lurched towards his student, beads of sweat forming on his brow. "You do realize she'll kill me?" he continued rambling on, neglecting to notice the small smile pulling at his former students lips. "Not telling her is signing my death wish, sealing the letter and organizing my funeral time," his voice lowered drastically till he was barely whispering, wary of her wrath. "Did you see and hear her back there? I'm a goner."
"I assure you, sensei, that while Tsunade was here I was both blind and deaf," Minato chuckled, earning a glare from the sannin. "Relax," he continued, "I'm sure she won't be that difficult."
"Easy for you to say."
"Well, back to the topic now, there's only a few huge gaping loopholes in your situation, sensei," Minato continued off once again, snapping Naruto out of his daze. The boy had been watching the commotion silently with a monstrous grin adorning his face. "First," he held up a finger, "we are only on thin ice – at best – with Suna at the moment. Just because I give clearance to Naruto being allowed into the village because I have heard his story, doesn't mean others will be so lenient," he cleared his throat. "Even you had your doubts after hearing his explanation, so why would a different nation trust us blindly that he is safe clearance? There is no possibility of telling them about the situation, it's too risky."
"Fair point," Jiraiya grumbled, earning a slight snigger from the two blondes.
"Secondly," managing to compose himself, the Yondaime added a second digit to the first. "While you are perfectly able to protect him from any rouge ninja after him, you forget that a mission was constructed in his extermination. You won't just have the occasional ninja after you," he took a breath. "You will have lots, and the Tsuchikage will, no doubt, send his most efficient soldiers at his disposal, considering his first failed attempt." He raised his eyebrows at the toad sannin. "Can you honestly say you can protect him, when you don't know the magnitude of what you're facing?"
"No, I can't," Jiraiya lowered his head. "I really didn't think it through, did I?"
Shaking his head in amusement at the antics of his sensei, Minato plowed on. "We can't risk him getting captured. The only reason I can think of that they are after him, is if they know the reasoning behind him being here. If they get their hands on him, they'll be able to wheedle that information out of him, which would have devastating consequences for the village, as they would know all future plans."
Naruto nodded his head in agreement - he really didn't want to get acquainted with Iwagakures torture methods.
"And finally," another finger rose to join the two already standing adjacent each other. "Having Naruto out of the village wouldn't pose any less threat to the village. "They would think he's still here if they don't notice him leaving with you. Yet if they do see him leave, they would think it's potentially a trap or doppelganger. We can't underestimate them at all, they'll be constantly thinking from the box, and would target both situations, to make sure they get their target.
By now, Jiraiya had sunk low in his chair, wallowing in the loss of what he thought was a flawless plan.
"So now," Minato mused, eyes flickering back onto Naruto, the boy looking abashed at the trouble going towards him. "Who should we put you with?"
Naruto subconsciously leaned forward, desperate to hear who he would be placed with.
"I've got it!" Jiraiya shouted, "Why don't you do it?"
Naruto fell off his bed.
"What?" he spluttered, raising his head from the hard floor. "The Yondaime?"
"I wouldn't think you would come up with that idea, Jiraiya-sensei," Minato frowned.
"Have you gone senile, Ero-sennin!"
"Think about it, Minato," Jiraiya probed, "Never would they think we would place him with you. You're the most prominent figure in the village, so it's the last thing they will be expecting," Jiraiya's voice grew louder with each passing syllable, expressing his excitement. "They will, no doubt, expect us to hide him, put him out of the way with some secret shinobi so they can't find him."
"Yes…" Minato sighed. "That was sort of what I was basing my plan around, so he's not found. Unlike what will happen if he's gallivanting around with the Hokage every day."
Flailing his hands around in exaggeration, Jiraiya continued to grin. "Haven't you ever heard the saying 'hiding things in plain sight'?"
"But, what about my Hokage duties? I can't just take him with me everywhere!"
"Just give him one of your kunai to hang onto when you're not around," Jiraiya reenacted a swinging motion – no doubt demonstrating how to throw a kunai. Naruto – still residing on the floor – stuffed his fist in his mouth to stifle the giggles.
"Well," Minato rubbed his chin thoughtfully, "it could work." He looked down to the boy on the floor, grinning as he saw the teenager still attempting to control his laughter. "What do you think?"
"Sounds good to me," Naruto choked out, wiping away a few stay tears that had cascaded down his cheeks during his fit of laughter. "Does that mean I will be staying with you?"
"At my house, yes. There will be rules for you to follow as well, and I expect you to abide by them at all times."
"Alright," Naruto nodded enthusiastically, he could follow rules. He could hardly get his head around that he would be staying with Yondaime! The man he always looked up to and hoped to surpass! It was unbelievable, incredible, amazing, wonderf-
"Stop babbling to yourself, Naruto," Minato chided the teenager, yet was unable to stop himself from emitting a soft chuckle. The boy was acting as if all his wildest dreams had come true.
Naruto grinned sheepishly up at him, running a hand through his hair. "I'm just excited,"
"That much is evident," Minato shook his head in amusement before standing and holding a hand down to the boy. "Shall we go and get you acquainted with your new residence? That is, if you feel up for it."
Nodding in agreement, Naruto took the offered hand and allowed himself to be pulled to his feet. "I feel great, I'm up for it."
"Good," Minato turned back and addressed Jiraiya. "I think that's all for now, sensei. I'll let you get on with your trip to Suna."
Accepting the dismissal, Jiraiya quickly rose and accompanied the two blondes who were making for the exit. "Alright, Minato. I don't know how long I'll be gone either, but don't hesitate to contact me if anything arises." He looked down at the younger blonde who was practically bouncing with excitement. "Umm… good luck?"
"I'll need it," Minato mumbled to himself before taking off in pursuit of the enthusiastic boy bounding from the hospital door. "Naruto, come back! You don't even know where you're going!"
Skidding to a stop at these words, Naruto paused to wait for the Hokage. Minato, unprepared for his charges sudden halt, swore softly to himself as he barreled straight into the teenager, sending them both to the ground.
"Oops," Naruto ground out through a mouthful of dirt, starting to untangle himself unceremoniously from the limbs of the older blonde, the latter muttering obscurities about over exuberant teenagers.
"'Opps' doesn't sum it up," the man scathingly replied, noticing the attention they were quickly gaining from the disturbance. "Let's make haste before I'm the laughing stock of the village," he ground out, throwing one of Naruto's legs off his midriff.
"What, you aren't already?" Naruto cheekily replied, but nevertheless bounded after the older blonde who had risen and was now making his way through Konoha at a brisk pace.
The pair continued on in silence after their little accident, both trying hard to ignore the giggles and whispers that followed them in their wake, both knowing they looked a sight. Covered in dirt and – in Minato's case – his beautiful blonde hair slick with mud from an inconvenient puddle right where his head had landed. He looked like young Maito Gai.
Damn that rain.
"Ignore them, ignore them," he chanted to himself, trying to block out the laughter with his mantra.
"It doesn't look all that bad," Naruto attempted to console him, no doubt feeling guilty. "You just look like bushy brows, minus the spandex and enthusiasm."
Minato raked a hand through his hair in frustration – or tried to. Lowering the muddy hand down to his side, he took a few deep breaths, subconsciously clenching his fists as he tried to calm himself. "You're lucky," he muttered, seeing a familiar form and sighing in relief. "That we're already there," he nodded his head towards the approaching structure, the house immediately catching Naruto's eyes.
"Wow," he breathed, gazing up at the massive house before him. "It's amazing!"
The house – if he could call it that, it was more like a mansion – was structured with elegance. The creamy white house stretched out and around, almost looking like a semi-circle. The black coloured roof itself had many layers and heights, indicating different levels within the house. Light blue pillars adorned the opening entrance, with simple – yet beautiful – potted plants at either wide of the welcoming door.
It looked like a place fit for a king.
"Shall we?" Minato interjected Naruto's thoughts. "Lest you stand around gaping like a fish, drawing even more attention to us."
Not waiting for a reply, the Yondaime quickly strode up to the door, Naruto trailing along behind him. He reached the house just as the older blonde was kicking off his shoes, the man pausing to beckon him to follow as he swiftly stepped over the threshold into the house.
Hastily throwing his own sandals from his feet, Naruto joined the man who was waiting for him patiently in the entrance hallway. Nodding in approval, the man raised a hand for attention.
"Alright," he began, "I think it's best if I show you to your sleeping arrangements first, you can clean yourself up in the bathroom. We'll then go over a few ground rules of what's going to hap-"
"What an earth have you been doing, Minato!"
Snapping his mouth closed, Minato turned and beamed at the woman who had appeared at the end of the hallway. Her slim face was twisted in disapproval, although there was a sparkle of laughter in her violet eyes. Those same eyes then moved to his companion, a smaller blonde who so resembled her husband, save for the three whisker marks adorning each cheek.
Her eyes widened.
"Naruto," Minato placed a hand on top of the boys head. "I'd like you to meet my wife, Uzumaki Kushina."
A/N – Miss Lazy needs to be a bit more proactive and not ignore this story, so sorry. Very short and boring chapter, but I needed to get something out sooner or later. Naruto's growth stunt will be explained about in future chapters as well.
Reviews make my world go round, but I suppose so does a well deserved fist for neglecting this story. Either works for me.