A Naruto Fan fiction
I do not own Naruto and I am not affiliated with it in any way. This story is purely for entertainment value.
Pein's final technique wasn't control over death, but time. Naruto, sent back to start his life over, has a chance to change it all. Stuck with a differing Kyuubi attack and a wary, overprotective Fourth, will Naruto be able to do as he planned?
"I will believe in you, Uzumaki Naruto. I entrust you with setting the world right. I'll give you a chance to do it again, because though you are strong, it's too late. When the time comes, I will remember, but you will be sent back with all of your knowledge. Use it. Do not give up." The emaciated man put his hands together one last time, offering a small smile to the stunned teen, "Jikannohizumi no jutsu!"
Minato stared at the Kyuubi with sad eyes. Things like this weren't supposed to happen. His son—and he looked down, his breath catching, because the tiny baby was so damn beautiful—had just been born. He had a family now. He had a wife—a hot-headed, loud, cranky, sarcastic, gorgeous, loving, generous wife—and a perfect newborn son.
He tore his eyes from his baby boy to look at the disaster that was going to rip his life apart.
The Kyuubi was a ruthless creature; it had only been, at most, sixteen hours since it had first attacked and half of Konoha's military force was gone. Minato supposed it was a bit selfish to be glad that Kushina was still bed-ridden after Naruto's birth, and that Jiraiya-sensei and Tsunade-hime weren't in the village, but he couldn't help it. As it was, he had had to force a promise out of Sarutobi's old, withered hide to not fight (because it was suicide, and even though many of Konoha's ninja knew this, they still fought) and take back the mantle of the Hokage once he was gone.
Gamabunta had assured him that he would be able to linger long enough after his death to get both him and Naruto to a safe place. He wasn't worried about falling from Gamabunta's head after the toad boss vanished because he would be dead—unfeeling, but he was carrying his son and he wanted, needed, to know that he would be safe.
He shifted on the summon boss's head, stabilizing himself for the short travel ahead of him. "Let's go, Gamabunta, it's time."
The toad didn't say anything; he merely coiled the muscles in his legs and jumped, traveling in powerful strides towards the battle sight with a grim face.
Ten minutes later, Minato was in the same spot Gamabunta had landed in, shock written across his features. The Kyuubi was gone, sealed, just as it should be (he tried to ignore the fact that he was lying to himself, because he should be dead and he wasn't), but he was still alive.
Minato decided that, at this moment, he wouldn't worry about it. He was alive, and he had a chance to keep his family. For now, that was all that mattered.
Naruto watched the slumbering Bijuu, a frown etched on his face. Something had gone wrong—something was different this time. He could feel it.
Pein—Nagato?—had sent him back. How, he didn't know, but he was a child again; a baby. The Kyuubi was freshly sealed.
It was ridiculous if he thought about it, and if this was just all some elaborate genjutsu, he was screwed anyway; the power needed to manipulate the seal itself was ridiculous—not even the Sharingan could hope to do it.
He looked away from the cage, from the beast that had caused him so much pain. He shut his eyes tightly. He had a chance to start over—to change everything. His fists tightened in remembrance of Kakashi-sensei's absent chakra signature, a sure sign that he had passed, and Sasuke's dead stare at the Valley of the End, an expression that had stayed with him years after that day. His Tsunade-baa-chan had fought so hard against Akatsuki. He remembered her collapsing limply after he had arrived, her genjutsu broken (and he didn't care what she said, she was still beautiful even in old age). Ero-sennin's death—and thinking about that still hurt—had hit him hard and now, now he was alive. And then, there was shy little Hinata-chan's courageous charge against a seemingly undefeatable foe.
And my father, he added. He bit his lip harshly, enough to draw blood had he been in the physical world. He had met his father. He had been about to become a slathering, murderous beast and his father had shown up and stopped it. He had saved him.
His father said he believed in him.
Naruto forcibly unclenched his hands and let out a shuddering sigh. There was so much to do and so little time. His eyes, resigned, cut back to the Kyuubi.
So little time.
Minato sucked in a harsh breath and his hold on his son tightened. Tears burned in his eyes and a lump formed in his throat—because, God, it hurt so, so, so much to see her laying there, her hair caked in her own blood, stomach still distended from pregnancy (and she had glowed then), with hastily thrown-on armor that didn't fit correctly around her torso—as he looked upon the scene.
He had been so hopeful, so lucky, that he had lived past the sealing. And now, his wife was gone, dead. She had done something stupid again, charging in headfirst against the Kyuubi after giving birth to their child.
He knelt, brushing a lock of fire-red hair from her pale, beautiful face, and as his calloused fingers coasted across the smooth, blood-specked skin of her cheek, Minato could almost hear his heart breaking.
Standing suddenly, he held back a sob, his chest aching, as he turned his back on her cold, dead body because he simply couldn't look at her empty stare anymore. I'll raise him right, Kushina. I promise.
Minato almost had a heart attack when he looked down to see his son staring straight at him with Kushina's eyes. The Fourth smiled bitterly. Kushina had whined and complained—all while holding him to her chest with fierce protectiveness—that her baby boy didn't look like her at all. He has your eyes, Kushina. You'd be so happy.
He had long since swathed the child in his battle coat, and was walking through the streets, seeing nothing but the tiny child in his arms. Minato let a small smile grace his face. Kushina was gone, yes, but he still had his child. It hurt to think that, because she had left her bed and the safety of the hospital for the dangerous battlegrounds around the attacking Bijuu, Naruto would have grown up alone, without parents.
He loved Kushina with every fiber of his being and he missed her just as much, but he couldn't help but be angry at her for that. Their son was worth so much more than a reckless charge at a raging mass of demonic chakra.
The Fourth let out a grief-filled sigh. He wished, for just a moment, that Kushina had been more mature, but quickly discarded the thought—Minato loved her as she had been; vices and all.
He raised a hand to caress Naruto's cheek, fingers sliding over the smooth skin and tracing the grooves in his face, the marks of Kyuubi's possession. Naruto was the only thing he had left, and he was damned if he was going to let anything hurt his son.
The shout brought him out of his thoughts, and he looked up for the first time in half an hour, eyes sharpening as he spotted a squad of ANBU hurrying towards him. His back straightened and his arms tightened around Naruto. He answered them with a nod of acknowledgment and a, "Yes?"
Minato watched warily as the team captain's face dipped towards the bundle in his arms after they bowed, "Sir, is that another orphan?" One of the man's arms stretched out towards Naruto as if to take him from Minato, gloved fingers just brushing the fabric Naruto was wrapped in, before Minato's stomach clenched, his eyes narrowing dangerously. His right arm raced forward, his left still cradling Naruto carefully, and his fingers tightened painfully around the ANBU's wrist as he yanked the man's grasping appendage away from his son.
The entire squad tensed as they watched their Hokage's stance shift from normal to threatening in a second, his entire form radiating menace. The squad leader's face contorted in a grimace of pain underneath his mask as his wrist was slowly crushed by the Yondaime's powerful fingers.
"H-Hokage-sama," the team medic stuttered out, "please release Suzume-taicho."
Minato's eyes flickered to the woman who had spoken for a second, making her flinch slightly at the icy, unnerving gaze, before they returned to Suzume. His grip tightened minutely in warning before removing itself completely, to which the man let out a quiet sigh of relief and quickly retracted his injured limb.
He quickly bowed, "My apologies, Hokage-sama, for not asking your permission before invading your person."
Minato frowned, his stare still venomous, "I removed your hand not from my person, but from the child. Do not touch, or even approach, him without my permission. Understood?"
The squad gaped at him for several seconds, before hastily agreeing when the Yondaime's eyes narrowed even more.
"Good," Minato stated, his stance relaxing. He glanced down at his son briefly to assure his safety, starting slightly when he saw that the boy's eyes were still open and watching his every move, before returning his attention to the gathered nin in from of him. His actions against the ANBU captain had drawn attention from more than one person on the street, though their stares went unheeded, "Report."
Sarutobi looked up, startled, when he heard the door to his office snap shut. Cursing his inattention, shock registered on his face when he caught sight of Minato, still alive and breathing, gazing back at him with sad eyes.
He lurched forward, out of his chair and across the room in instant, hands, wizened with old age, coming to rest on his successor's shoulders. "Was it successful?" he asked.
Minato heaved a tired sigh and nodded, shifting his arms slightly. It was then that Sarutobi noticed the bundle in them. That must be Naruto. His fingers came up to trace the indentations on the child's face, keen eyes having not missed Minato's tensing as he touched his son.
"I won't harm him," Sarutobi assured. "I can promise you that." Minato nodded and relaxed slightly at his words.
"His eyes are open," the older man noted.
At his comment, Naruto's eyes shifted from his father to him. The stare was slightly unnerving if Sarutobi was honest with himself.
"This is the first time he's looked away from me," Minato admitted. "He hasn't cried at all since the sealing."
Sarutobi frowned. Odd, he thought. Newborns don't usually don't stay this quiet this long.
The Sandaime shook his head, clearing those thoughts. There were more important things to worry about at the moment, and Naruto's blue-eyed gaze wasn't one of them. He gestured for Minato to take a seat, stealing the cushioned Hokage's chair for himself—the spoils of old age, he reasoned.
Minato still had yet to put Naruto down, but he wasn't about to deprive the man of his son.
Sarutobi pressed his fingertips together and silently gestured for Minato to begin his tale.
"Kushina is dead," the blond said bluntly. Naruto let out a quiet whimper at the words and Hiruzen's eyes widened at the information. "She died on the battlefield," he added. His grief was plain to see to those who knew how to look for it. Sarutobi had seen just how much his successor had loved the red-haired woman. Her absence would not be easy on him.
"I'm so sorry, Minato," he said.
The man held up his hand, cutting off any additional condolences. He didn't want to hear them. "It was her choice," he stated. "I just wish that she had chosen her son over her village, for both mine and Naruto's sakes. I wasn't able to choose my son," he choked, "but she was." A bitter smile traced his features, "Karma has a nasty way of making itself known. Here I am when I was supposed to die, and Kushina has practically taken my place when she was to live."
The Sandaime grunted. "We must count our blessings right now," he said. "The Kyuubi, while damaging our ninja force and the outlying towns and farms severely, did not enter the immediate village; Konoha's villagers and infrastructure survived the attack. The civilians are being led out of the shelters as we speak." Minato nodded, he had been told as much from the ANBU's impromptu report. He didn't want to think about what Konoha was going to have to do to replenish its shinobi force—they would have to take drastic measures. "What I would like to know, however, is how you are still alive. You spent an hour assuring me that the sealing was suicide—that I would need to stay in this office and take it back over once you were gone."
Minato grunted. He was not looking forward to explaining. "It was—is, actually. The reason I'm still alive, though, is because I didn't use it."
Sarutobi blanched, and scooted towards the edge of his chair, gripping the oak desk with trembling hands. "Are you trying to say the Kyuubi is still out there? That it might come back? The village wouldn't be able to handle another attack! The plan was to seal it, not drive it off."
Minato shook his head. "Don't jump to conclusions, old man. The Kyuubi is sealed—when I told you it was successful, I meant it—and it is in Naruto as planned. I've checked the arrays and everything is as it should be; only I'm still here."
Hiruzen was baffled, "Do you know how this occurred?"
The blond stilled and his eyes dropped to his son. He could only hope that Sarutobi would take this well. "Naruto did it," I think, he finally said. It was the only explanation that didn't involve divine intervention—after all, he hadn't lost all his marbles, just most of them. "The Kyuubi… it was willing. Naruto had started crying just as I was about to do the hand seals for the summoning and the Kyuubi must have heard it, 'cause it stopped—it stopped everything—and just looked at Naruto. I didn't know what was going on.
"It was when the Kyuubi started walking towards us that I tried to start the hand seals again, but neither Gamabunta nor I could move. It was like I was stuck in a block of dried cement. Kyuubi was advancing on my son, and I could do nothing to stop it. I was terrified. When Kyuubi was close enough to touch Naruto with his tails, he did just that, and stood still again." He pushed a shaky hand through his hair; the dread that his son would be killed before his eyes by the monster that was going to take everything from him still had him in its grip. "I thought that we were all done for, but it just said, "I understand," and vanished—no flash of light or puff of smoke, it just vanished. A second later, Naruto stopped crying and the seal appeared on his stomach. It was perfect, like I had done it myself."
Sarutobi's mouth was gaping. Minato's story was ridiculous and he told him as much.
The Yondaime shrugged, "Yes, I know it is, but at the moment, I don't see much more that I can do."
Stunned at the man's nonchalance, he glared, "What if the Kyuubi is possessing Naruto, then? Or what if the seal won't hold because it was done incorrectly? I can't believe you are writing something like this off! Your son could be a demon, or worse, the Kyuubi itself!"
Minato stood abruptly, bearing down on the man that dared accuse his son of being the monster that took his wife and comrades. "Do not call my son a demon!" Minato spat. "I will not have you speak ill of him or the burden he carries! My son will never fall prey to the Kyuubi's influence! I have checked and re-checked the seals: they are stable, stronger than I would have predicted, and they work! The Kyuubi is contained, and while I have no explanation for still being among the living, I never would have thought that you would not only doubt my intelligence, skill, and my son, but be ungrateful for the blessing of my life!"
He returned Sarutobi's glare full-force. "Do not even think to presume that I would risk my village or my son to carelessness. I am no fool, Sarutobi Hiruzen, nor am I an idiot. I can assure you that if I am to expect the response you so readily displayed to be my son's standard reception, I will not make the mistake of putting Konoha first again—ever. I did not become the kage of a village to watch over pitiful cretins."
Minato's angry words and arctic glare caused the Sandaime to flinch. He had never seen the blond man so furious in all the years he'd known him. He pinched the bridge of his nose between his thumb and forefinger. "Forgive an old man his mistakes, Minato. I apologize to both you and Naruto for my words and thoughts."
The Yondaime's gaze did not soften. "Your age has nothing to do with this, Sarutobi." He looked away from the former kage, "You will not tell anyone of this—and I mean anyone. No one is to know of Naruto's connection to the Kyuubi. I have told you this in confidence—if those useless bigots on the council find out, they will be signing their death warrants. I will not hesitate in protecting my son."
The Sandaime nodded solemnly. "I understand," he said, and he did; Minato was well within his rights to request secrecy.
Minato gave a nod. He was done. He wanted to go home, to mourn his wife and tend to his beautiful son, but he knew he was needed on the streets—the people should see their leader; it would bolster moral, and, right now, moral was what Konoha desperately needed. "I'll send word to you if I need anything; I trust you'll do the same."
He walked out after disengaging the office's security seals without waiting for a reply.
The streets were packed; loved ones were reuniting, families mourning, and shinobi resting or waiting for medics to tend to them because the hospital was simply too full. Minato watched sadly as team after team came back from the battlefield bearing the tell-tale scrolls, always marked with a black stripe and leaf emblem on the left side, which carried the bodies of Konoha's brave shinobi.
It seemed that news of the Kyuubi's defeat had already spread, and while none knew the specifics, most were more than happy to fill in the blanks themselves. He was greeted as a hero and martyr—and he hated it.
His stomach was churning after ten minutes of heart-felt thanks and condolences because, along with news of Kyuubi's "annihilation," knowledge of Kushina's death had also become widely known. Minato didn't want to hear their half-assed sympathies and apologies. He didn't want his face rubbed in the fact that his wife was dead and he was left to raise their newborn son on his own. He didn't want to accept the fact that just when his life was coming together, he was going to have to cope with the loss of an important piece of himself—of his heart.
As much as he loved his village and its people, he abhorred them all at that moment.
Quelling his nausea and growing agitation, he plastered a smile on his face, trudging tiredly through the streets giving nods, handshakes, and kind words to those that needed it. He skillfully dodged questions about the babe in his arms—he didn't want his offspring to be common knowledge yet and had, in an attempt to ward off the nosy, wrapped Naruto's head to conceal his vibrant hair color, a perfect match to his own, in a small blue knitted cap.
Minato knew he shouldn't feel guilty for the deaths of the shinobi, but he couldn't help but feel that he should have been out there, fighting with his fellows, instead of being in his office, pouring over seal after seal while people ran to their deaths. He shook his head. The past was the past, and there was nothing he could do to change it.
The amount of orphaned children was staggering. While Konoha's immediate village and its inhabitants (barring active duty ninja) were not harmed in the attack, refugees from neighboring towns that had been devastated by the Kyuubi's rampage were pouring in the gates. Minato watched as groups of children, many of the younger holding onto teens or each other, flocked to corners where they could gather, bunched together like some sort of pack. The adults were in no condition to take care of them—many were injured or near dead, or had their own families to look after.
He rubbed a hand across his face. As the Yondaime, and a father himself, he wouldn't allow himself to let these children go uncared for. He'd have to see if any families in Konoha would be willing enough to take a child or two in.
What pulled at his heartstrings, though, was that Naruto would have been one of them, only he wouldn't have been able to be adopted. He would have grown up alone, forsaken.
Minato was no imbecile. Just as Sarutobi had jumped to conclusions earlier after hearing his rendition of the sealing, many would harbor resentment (or outright hate, but thinking that made him angry, and he really, really could not afford to let his emotions get the best of him right now) for what he contained. The Yondaime had already seen the ugliness of humanity; he had no illusion that his son would have had a happy, easy life. As it was, had he died, Naruto would have been unaided his entire childhood because adopting him would have provided too many with an alley towards manipulation or exploitation. Kushina's death had ensured that.
He sent a thank you to whatever deity had ensured his survival; his son needed a father.
1.Jikannohizumi no jutsu – Time Warp Technique, pardon my bad Japanese. It just sounded ridiculous in English. (Many thanks to the reviewer that gave me the correct translation! Cookies for you!)
2. A Suzume is a Sparrow (bird).
3. "The past was the past, and there was nothing he could do to change it." I love irony. I hope you caught that.
4. "He sent a thank you to whatever deity had ensured his survival; his son needed a father." Pein was acknowledged as a god. Har har. Merry Christmas, you skinny megalomaniac.
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Path to Greatness is in the works, thank you for the patience.