Shit. Naruto thought.
He'd been captured and incapacitated by Sasuke and his small group of followers and brought to this place so the bat-shit insane Uchiha Madara could extract the Kyuubi from him to complete his stupid plan that involved doing something to the moon which was - according to Madara - some sort of dead ten tailed rock monster that had belonged to some guy called the Sage of the Six Paths. He didn't know what the hell Madara had been on when he had come up with that plan but, he wanted some so he could be completely out of it when the damn furball was extracted. According to Gaara, the process was extremely painful.
Brat, I have a way to get us out of this. said the nine tailed squatter in his belly.
"Why the hell didn't you tell me this before?!" he indignantly screeched at the fox.
Honestly, contrary to all evidence otherwise, I didn't actually believe that you would be stupid enough to be caught. After that it was a toss up of who I hated more, you or Madara. I picked Madara. The ginormous fox replied.
"So how are we getting out of this?" he asked.
Time travel. was the fox's response.
"Time travel? You're even crazier than that freak Madara, and that's saying something. Time travel is completely impossible." he said before he started laughing.
So, when do you want to go back to? the fox asked. Despite the fact that I'll be providing the Chakra, you're going to have to be the one to do the actual Jutsu since, despite the fact that I possess opposible thumbs, my paws aren't exactly the right shape to do handseals.
"If, and I mean if time travel were possible, I'd like to go back to the day I joined team seven. I always wanted to get back at Kakashi for what he did to me during the bell test, and beating some sense into Sasuke while I still could would be fun too." he mused, remembering the good old days when he hadn't had to fight criminal organizations whose rosters consisted entirely of S Ranked missing-nin.
Fine, we'll go then then. the fox grumbled Now let me show you how to do the jutsu so we can get the hell out of here. I like being myself too much to be mashed together with the others to create whatever monstrosity that cursed Madara is planning on making.
"Two problems. One, as I said before, time travel is impossible and two, I'm freaking unconscious and therefore can't do any jutsus!" he yelled back at the fox.
You can do the jutsu in your mindscape.The fox replied, looking as if he wanted to hit his head against the nearest wall repeatedly.
"Fine, whatever, I'll humor you since I don't have anything better to do." he sighed.
The instant before the extraction process started, there was a loud pop and an inhuman sounding scream of rage.
After an insanely wild ride that would have caused Naruto to puke had he the stomach to do so at the time, he opened his eyes and was promptly stunned to find himself in his old apartment. The apartment that he could have sworn had been destroyed by Pain a couple weeks earlier. As he wandered around said apartment exploring everything in order to see if anything was missing, which would conclusively prove that he was in a Genjutsu, he noticed that something seemed off. It was when he got to the bathroom that he realized why. Looking in the mirror, he saw his twelve year-old self staring back at him.
"Holy shit!" he yelled the instant before he fainted.
Kakashi knew he'd arrived too late that day. Before he'd even found Naruto, he'd had that same uneasy feeling in his gut that he had the day he'd been forced to kill Rin, and the day Minato-sensei had died, that feeling that told him that he had failed yet again. When he reached it, there had been fresh signs of battle all over the Valley of the End but, the fighting had obviously been over. Since he couldn't see either Sasuke or Naruto in the immediate vicinity, he sent Pakkun out to search for them. When Pakkun returned a few minutes later, whimpering as if he'd been beaten half to death, he knew that the feeling that had begun to settle on him as he approached the Valley had been entirely correct. Dreading what he would find when he got there, he followed Pakkun to where Naruto lay face down at the base of the statue of Uchiha Madara. The boy was completely still, and Sasuke was nowhere to be found. When he turned the boy over, he knew immediately that his student was dead. He had a wound from a Chidori in his chest, and his throat had been cut.
Since becoming the teacher for Team 7, he'd often gone out of his way to avoid looking at Naruto since the boy had reminded him of two of the most painful losses in his life, the man who had been like a second father to him after his own father had committed suicide, and the cheerful teammate who had saved his life at the cost of his own. Seeing him like this, dead just like they were, was a hundred times worse however.
Minato-Sensei's son was dead and it had been his fault. It had been him that had taught that traitorous snake the jutsu that had weakened Naruto enough for that heartless monster he had mistakenly believed to be a reflection of himself in his youth to kill him. It had been because he had been wrong about the Uchiha boy whom he'd come to think of as a version of his former self who just needed proper guidance like he'd received from Minato-sensei, that he had ended up costing Naruto his life.
As he knelt by Naruto's body, he set Pakkun to hunting after the little bastard who'd killed the child he should have taken care of and watched out for but, the poor dog had been unable to pick up the Uchiha's scent due to the pouring rain. The traitor was long gone and, if he'd tried to search for him then, he'd have end up going in circles so, he'd sat down beside Naruto to wait. After what had seemed like an eternity, the rain finally let up, and he'd sent the dogs out in every possible direction to try and track the little traitor down down.
Instead of sending Pakkun out with the rest of dogs this time however, he had sent him on ahead to Konoha to give the Hokage his report as he prepared Naruto's body for its return to the Village. It was unnatural to see the child so still. Naruto had always been moving somehow, especially when he was supposed to be sitting still, frequently bouncing, running everywhere, and twitching constantly. Every time he saw him, he'd always seemed so full of an energy that he could barely contain.
All of that energy was gone now, and it wouldn't be coming back...
After Naruto's funeral, Kakashi took to spending most of his time alternating between the memorial stone upon which Obito's, Rin's, and Minato's names had been inscribed, and Naruto's grave, since he had not been allowed to join the hunt for his former student after his ninken had failed to find him because, the Hokage had wanted the boy to be alive long enough to be used to breed a new Uchiha clan, which left him with a great deal of free time on his hands since he'd been put on leave for "health reasons". When he wasn't visiting Naruto or his team, he was working on something that seemed almost too fantastic to be real and probably wasn't but, it had given him a small measure of hope, and occupied his time until there was news of his traitorous former student who had vanished without a trace, and had not been seen since the day of Naruto's murder.
It was just as well that he'd been placed on leave because, after Naruto had died, he'd practically lost the will to do anything, didn't leave his bed for over a week, and didn't leave the apartment for nearly a month. During that time that he'd spent shut in his apartment, he had sorted through the things he had recovered from the wreckage of his former Sensei's home after the Kyuubi attack, more to torture himself than anything. Before then, he hadn't really looked at any of the items in thirteen years, and even when he had last looked at them, it had been little more than a cursory glance to see whether a particular item would have belonged to his Sensei or to Kushina so he knew which box to put it in. Amongst the items that had belonged to his Sensei was a scroll that had contained what purported to be a near finished time travel jutsu that his Sensei had been working on when he died.
On the day that he finally finished or seemed to have finished the hastily scrawled and rather incomplete jutsu his Sensei had left behind, he went to Naruto's grave for the last time. By that time the next day, he would either be in the past or, he would be dead due to Chakra exhaustion, as it appeared that it would take all he had to go back the two years that was the farthest his Sensei's jutsu could take him. Either way, he would be seeing the child he had failed more times than he could count again. Alive or in the afterlife, it really didn't matter at this point.
When he arrived at Naruto's grave to say good-bye to it, Iruka was there, meaning that he would have to wait and come back later. When he had brought Naruto's body back, Iruka had nearly killed the first person who cheered over the fact that Naruto was dead, and it had taken a dozen people to pull him off the man. When Iruka had later discovered that it had been him who had taught Sasuke the jutsu that had caused Naruto's death, he'd tried to kill him as well. The man hadn't cared that he was just a Chunin, and that he was going up against a man who was said to be nearly on par with the legendary Sannin. If a squad of ANBU hadn't arrived and stopped the fight, Iruka probably would have killed him. He still wasn't entirely certain whether or not that would have been a bad thing considering. He'd taken to avoiding the man since then though.
Eventually, after Iruka had left, he paid his respects and headed home to perform the Jutsu that would either be giving him another chance or, would turn out to be suicide. At this point, he didn't really care all that much either way.
Kakashi groaned as he awoke to the early morning sun, mildly surprised to find himself on his bed rather than on his living-room floor where he'd expected to end up if anywhere at all. Since he had a massive headache and was actually able to move, he could be reasonably certain that he hadn't died of Chakra exhaustion. He was still in his apartment, which didn't tell him all that much, since the decor hadn't changed much over the years since he'd acquired it, which meant that he couldn't be entirely sure if he had been successful or not. The Team 7 photograph with the traitor's face scratched out wasn't in its usual spot but, as it could have somehow been knocked behind his nightstand, this may or may not have been a good sign. The quickest way to tell whether he'd succeeded in his endeavor or not would be to go to the Hokage tower.
If he received another beating from a drunken Tsunade who also blamed him for Naruto's death, and another assassination attempt from Danzo, it would mean that he had failed and had wasted a great deal of time that he could've spent tracking down and killing the traitor instead, even if that had meant turning missing-nin himself. Both Tsunade and Danzo had been fond of Naruto for different reasons. Tsunade because, the boy had reminded her of her little brother, and Danzo because, he'd been fond of the boy's mother whom he used to bribe with ramen to pull pranks on the Sandaime. On top of this, Danzo had been exceedingly upset with him for losing Konoha a very valuable weapon as well as the last of the Uchiha who had been valuable because of his Kekkei Genkai.
When he got to the tower, he entered the Hokage's office through the window as he often did. Upon seeing the Sandaime Hokage, he didn't know whether to cry or cheer. He had succeeded. He had actually gone back into the past, back before Naruto had died, and he would be able to change things for the better. He'd been given another chance, and he wouldn't fail Minato-sensei this time.
As he stood there in the Hokage's office planning out what he would be doing now that he was back in the past, he barely noticed the fact that the Hokage appeared to be suffering from a heart attack because he'd "shown up to a meeting over an hour early".
Jiraiya surveyed the destruction that surrounded him. Konoha had been destroyed, and most of its populace was now dead. The few survivors of the brutal attack wandered through the wreckage in shock. Konohamaru, his sensei's grandson, stood over Naruto's body crying. Naruto had died in the fight with Orochimaru who had been occupying the body of Uchiha Sasuke while the village was overrun by ninja from Sound and Iwa. The village had fought alone because Suna had been unable to send reinforcements in time. He had been supposed to have been the one to fight his former teammate but, he had been seriously injured in a fight with a former student of his the week before, and had been unable to do so.
Like his father before him, Naruto had sacrificed himself to save the village. Unlike his father however, he had been just a little too late, and despite his best efforts, the village had been destroyed. Konoha was gone, and it didn't look like it would ever be able to come back from this. At least not now...
He would have lost all hope for for the village if he hadn't known of his former student Minato's most ambitious project. Before he had died, the young man had worked out how to successfully travel through time. The complex seal array Minato had created wouldn't take him back more than a few years but, a few years were all he would need to bring down Orochimaru so Naruto and the village as a whole could live a long and happy life.
For now though, he would have to help rescue survivors and bury yet another student he had outlived.
When Jiraiya awoke with a headache to end all headaches in an inn that he didn't recognize a few short days after the destruction of Konoha, he knew that he'd either gone on one hell of a bender that he'd completely forgotten about or, that he'd succeeded in traveling through time. After going downstairs and asking what the date was, he came to the conclusion that he had succeeded in what he had set out to do, which was the time travel, not the three day bender that would have left him with blurry memories of being slapped repeatedly and, possibly had him waking up in bed with a transvestite at one point.
"At this point in time, the only time Orochimaru was really out in the open where I could get at him was during the Chunin exams. I guess now would be a good time to pay little Naruto a visit since I'll be heading to Konoha anyways." Jiraiya mused as he packed some rather familiar belongings that he'd found scattered about the room he'd apparently rented the night before - a few years before in his personal timeline - because, it was conveniently located within viewing distance of the dorm for the upper years at an all girls boarding school, if one used binoculars.
Tenzo picked his way through the wreckage that was Konoha. Most of it had been destroyed during Pain's attack but, the rest had fallen when Naruto had completely released the Kyuubi in his grief over the death of Hinata and his anger at Pain who had taken another one of his precious people away from him. He was one of the handful of survivors left wandering about what was left of their home after Pain's attack and the Kyuubi's rampage had ended.
As he made his way around the blasted remains of the Hokage tower, a surprisingly intact scroll caught his eye. Curious, he picked it up and unfurled it.
If this was what he thought it was...
The first sign of success was the fact that he woke up in his own apartment. The second was the date on the swimsuit calendar that was stuck to his fridge with a banana magnet. He had truly gone back in time, and would be would be able to save Konoha. Now that he was here, he would change things so Pain didn't attack, and he would keep Naruto from ever using the Kyuubi's chakra so he wouldn't unleash the monster that had gone tromping through the ruins of Konoha and killed most of the survivors before taking off for parts unknown.
Despite the fact that doing so would easily solve a number of problems, he wouldn't be killing Naruto. When he wasn't releasing the monster that had been sealed into him, Naruto was an exceedingly valuable asset to Konoha, as the bright and cheerful boy had turned enemies that could have seriously harmed Konoha into allies with a smile and whatever mysterious power he had that made others see how horrible they were and want to improve themselves, a power that had often made him wonder what would have happened if Naruto and Danzo were ever locked in a room together.
If he remembered the file on Naruto correctly, the boy had first used the Kyuubi's power during the mission to Wave, which was still a few months away. So, he would have time to find a way to keep Naruto from starting down the slippery slope that led to him releasing the Kyuubi, which shouldn't be too difficult, since he knew how horrified the boy was of the fox, and how terrified he had been of releasing the creature up until his pain and grief at the destruction of his home and the loss of one more of his precious friends had consumed him. He would of course explain to the boy the dangers of releasing even a little bit of the Kyuubi's power and, if necessary, he had the abilities he'd inherited from the Shodai Hokage, which would bring anything under six tails under control before Naruto could release any more as long as he could get Tsunade to part with her necklace.
Getting Tsunade's necklace off of her several months earlier than Naruto had managed to would be a good first step.
Author's Note Version 2.0: This story actually came about when I was reading a rather good story called It's For a Good Cause, I Swear! by Sarah1281 in which four people from the same timeline end up at four different points of the same timeline and are forced to deal with the changes that those who'd arrived at earlier points on the timeline have made before they arrived. As I was reading that story, I thought it would be interesting to see people from four very different timelines end up in the same one, each with a different plan, and each pretending to belong to timeline they are in after they all arrive on the same day, hence Time Mixup.
Naruto comes from a timeline where Tobi was indeed Uchiha Madara rather than Obito, and the Fourth Shinobi World War doesn't happen. Instead of gate-crashing the Hokage Summit, Sasuke and co., who have formally joined the Akatsuki, capture Naruto.
Kakashi comes from a timeline where Sasuke kills Naruto while he's unconscious instead of sparing him at the Valley of the End.
Jiraiya comes from a timeline where Sasuke failed to subdue Orochmaru and retain possession of himself and instead became possessed by him.
Tenzo/Yamato comes from a timeline where Pain's attack ended differently when the Yondaime's failsafe fails to restore the seal as it should have and the Kyuubi is completely freed.
Later on, there will be someone who comes from a timeline where everything ended up pretty much working out in the end and Naruto managed to get his happily ever after as Rokudaime Hokage (Danzo didn't count). For those who don't already know who that person it, you'll have to read on to find out.
6-29-10 made some minor cosmetic and wording changes to the Prologue and first 15 chapters of the story, so if they're slightly different than you remember, that's probably why.
11-4-12 More edits and wording changes to the entire story.