Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto
Naruto didn't really know how it happened. One moment he was cuffed to the chair the next he found his head on the elderly shinobi's shoulder. His arms were wrapped around him with near rib cracking force.
How he managed to get there at that moment didn't matter to Naruto. So little mattered at that moment. The sticky seals pulling at all the invisible hairs on his arms didn't matter. Him being in nothing but a pair of shorts didn't matter. The scrambling of the ANBU didn't matter. The kunai suddenly poised at his throat didn't matter either.
All that suddenly mattered was the steady heartbeat he could feel under his arms and the healthy warmth coming from the old man.
"Stand Down!" Naruto barely registered the barking command coming from over his head. As he cried uncontrollably, two streams of wet flowing down his cheeks soaking into the robe of the Third Hokage. He felt the kunai reluctantly withdrawn from his jugular.
They stood there for several minutes Naruto holding on venting all the pain he felt at Sarutobi's loss. He never did cry when he died before. Some part of him never accepted it. The old shinobi pats Naruto's blond hair as if he was a very small child in need of comforting.
As the minutes go by the Naruto's racking sobs slowly subside. Seeing no end to the bear-hug Sarutobi clears his throat and nudges the solid shoulder of the teenager.
Getting the hint Naruto backs away slightly and looks up at the Hokage with red puffy eyes his lower lip still quivering, snot running slightly out of his equally puffy nose.
Ignoring the broken restraints still attached to Naruto, Sarutobi couldn't help but be heavily reminded of a much younger blond. Sarutobi knowing what to do he gives him the same reassuring smile he used to give him on the rare occasion he came to him during his younger years.
The older Naruto freezes, his face scrunches up at the look and for a moment Sarutobi is almost sure that he was going to burst into tears again, instead his expression clears and it was like the sunlight suddenly chose to flood the small interrogation room as an ear to ear grin cuts it's way across the blonde's face. It was honestly the happiest the older man has ever seen Naruto.
"Naruto we have..." Sarutobi starts just as a series of knocks sound out from the door. Turning away from Naruto for the first time since entering the room he turns to the ANBU stationed near the door and nods. The woman behind the mask nicks her palm and smears the blood onto a suddenly glowing blue seal, opening the door.
A man walks in and forward into the light. He approaches Sarutobi and stands at attention.
Even in attention Iruka was doing a fairly good job of not staring at the older 'Naruto'. Even some of his most disciplined shinobi would at least let their eyes stray to the young man considering. He supposes the young school teacher had enough staring during the retrieval mission.
"Excellent Iruka, you made good time. Let me 're'introduce you to Naruto Uzumaki your new charge."
Sarutobi resists an instinctual wince as Naruto shout echoes around the enclosed room.
"Old man, I don't need a keeper!" The expression on Naruto's face made it clear that the very thought was highly offensive.
Sighing heavily, knowing he was facing a possible uphill battle, "Naruto I have not seen your skills and we need to error on the side of caution for now."
Before Naruto could argue the point a throat clears interrupting another outburst. "Na.. Naruto Hokage- sama?! But I thought the younger was..."
The Third turns to the young school teacher and lifts a hand to stop the barely discernible babble coming from him. "The younger Naruto is Naruto also. The older Naruto seems to have done something unexpected. He is now in his past." a pause "Permanently."
Half an hour later in the Hokage's office the three stood quietly each going through their own thoughts about the odd situation.
The aged shinobi was surprised how easy it was to convince Naruto to hold off on his questions and put up a henge to travel to the room.
The blinds were drawn and the ANBU guards were dismissed.
Naruto was giving him a careful measuring look so mature he could scarcely believe this was the same young man who would prank and laugh in the most serious of situations.
Naruto suddenly nods to himself clearly coming to a decision.
"Old Man, I can't stay here. I need to get back. The village is in danger." the quiet tone practically screamed to the other two occupants that the younger man would accept no arguments on the matter. It was a tone that Sarutobi associated with the few people he knew who could walk onto a battlefield and completely turn the tide. They were the people you would avoid fighting if you could.
"Naruto it isn't a question of if I allow you to go back. It's a question of what's possible." Sarutobi says grimly.
"I can't accept that! They'll die if I'm not there! You have to send me back, Old Man!" Naruto shouts holding Sarutobi's gaze an agonized desperation in his eyes.
Not flinching or looking away from the near frightening gaze, Sarutobi takes a deep drag of his pipe and slowly releases the smoke from his lungs. "I stand by what I said Naruto." he says quietly.
Naruto's eyes narrow into a furious glare opening his mouth to further shout.
"Time travel isn't completely unknown Naruto." Sarutobi interrupts. "In order to send you back the seal involved would have to be destroyed."
"Then destroyed it." Naruto glares.
"It's the seal holding the Kyuubi." a pause, silence reigned throughout the four corners of the office.
"Would I survive long enough after it's gone to help them?" Naruto asks quietly after about five minutes of silence.
"No" The older man shakes his head and elaborates "If you're lucky you might survive a minute or two but then Kyuubi would be loose. Not to mention that specific seal can't be truly destroyed." Sarutobi vaguely points to a book on the corner of his desk. "My research tells me that after a significant amount of time the timeline will be incapable of being healed. The old one will simply be over written."
Naruto's brow was furrows in confusion but pain was clear in his every movement. "What does that mean for them?"
Sarutobi smiles slightly in reassurance "They are alive now they just won't remember what happened and you will. It's as simple as that."
"Wait a minute!" Iruka speaks up, "What about the two Naruto's will one of them disappear?"
"Disappear?! It's possible for me to disappear?" A look of complete stupefaction flashes across Naruto's face. "I DON'T WANT TO DISAPPEAR!" Naruto shouts in complete childlike horror, hands in his hair panic in every movement.
Ignoring his lamenting Sarutobi palms his pipe and calmly draws it away from his mouth. "You are not going to disappear."
Naruto lets go of his hair slowly considering and looks towards the older ninja, confusion still on his face.
"Younger me?" worry still in his voice.
"He's safe. Medically you two will be considered identical twins. You're just a couple of years older."
"A brother.." Naruto says softly a sudden hopeful look flashes across his whiskered face.
Sarutobi smiles and nods knowing words were not needed.
A full-blown grin quickly grows across Naruto's face nearly cracking his jaw with how wide it was.
They stand there for a few minutes Sarutobi smoking his pipe and Naruto grinning at the world.
Believing enough time passed Iruka clears his throat gaining the attention of the two. "You mentioned that he's my charge Hokage-sama?"
"Yeah about that old man, I don't need a keeper! I'll just stay with younger me. I know I won't mind."
Sighing heavily once again Sarutobi pinches the bridge of his nose, "It isn't about living arrangements Naruto. You're not looking at the whole picture."
"He needs to be hidden.." Iruka says thinking, positive he was right.
"Precisely" the Hokage confirms, nods and turns back to the blond, "I've chosen Iruka because he knows you best in this time. You'll need someone to help you remain hidden on a day to day basis. There is no telling how the other nations will react to you being here with knowledge of the future. Relations with Suna for example are becoming particularly strained as of late."
"Gaara wouldn't..." Naruto stops his sudden outburst, a look of shock filtering across his face as realization comes to him. This wasn't his time. The Third was still alive, so Gaara wasn't the Kazekage yet. Gaara hasn't been saved from himself yet. He was still drowning in the painful loneliness that he himself was once trapped in.
"The Chuunin exam invasion.." he says quietly, his brow furrowed once again voice solemn.
Sarutobi gaze sharpens, "I see. It seems we haven't uncovered that information from your Bingo books as of yet."
Naruto's brow furrows in confusion once again, "Why haven't.."
"From what I understand from the reports the case investigators are working their way from the very beginning of the older Bingo book confirming what information they can." Sarutobi points to three stacks of manila folders that began at the floor next to the desk and ended about the height of the third's seated head.
"As you can imagine the T&I department is being very thorough. From what I understand they just came across information on what happened to the Third Kazekage. That was quiet some time ago. He gives the young shinobi a piercing look. "I believe I'll have them switch directions and begin on the modern entries, shall I? In the mean time however I believe you need to give me a full accounting of that last few years Naruto.
Naruto sighs deeply wondering where exactly to start.
Author's note: Okay I'm at the point where I have no plan for the story... should be interesting... Might take me a bit to figure something out though.