Prayer of the Jinchūriki

Chapter 1: The Neglected Pray While Kami Cries

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, or any aspect of his universe.

Secondary Disclaimer: Welcome to my third multi-chapter work of fan fiction. Before we start, I just wanted to point one thing out; this chapter will include some spirituality, but in a minimal form and for right now, only for this first chapter. If this is not something you can stand, then I apologize, but it is the only way I can get this to work. I also apologize to anyone who does not follow Christianity, Judaism, or Islam; I worked with the names and attributes of God that I was aware of as a Christian, so for those who are atheistic, Hindu, Buddhist, or any other religion or lack thereof that I may have forgotten, sorry for not representing you.

The quiet calm of the summer evening gave a semblance of security for the citizens of Konohagakure no Sato, both citizen and ninja alike. For many, the uneventful evening brought a feeling of calm that had been desperately needed in the five hectic years since the attack of the Kyūbi no Yōko. Between the attack, the rebuilding, a botch attempt at a kidnapping of the Hyūga heiress, it was nights such as these, with only the wind blowing calmly through the streets, that gave a calming effect to everyone. Well, it gave a calming effect to everyone but one lone orphan.

A young blond child by the name of Naruto Uzumaki was sitting in his room in the attic of the orphanage. His disheveled blond hair was slightly matted with grime from working to clean the kitchen today. His hand-me-down clothes, which were in good enough condition to cover his frame, but not nearly enough to keep him warm, were covered in dirt and appeared to have been dirty for some time. In fact, there was nothing that the blond "owned" – that is to say the only things the owners of the orphanage ever gave him – that was brand new or for him alone. Not one toy, article of clothing, or even a scrap of food was for him alone. Naruto knew the reason for that; he wasn't special enough. Things like ownership and possessions were lost on Naruto; he never did anything good enough to earn having anything of his own. If someone needed something, it would be taken from Naruto first.

Naruto was like a walking example of never having enough. He was given enough food so that he would not starve to death, which usually consisted of a half a loaf of bread and mineral broth for some nutrients, but he was not given enough to stop the sounds in his stomach protesting for more food. He was given enough cover from the weather to not be killed by the elements, but not enough to keep him warm – he could not fully remember the last time he felt truly warm. He was never given any presents, and if he managed to get any money by chance or out of pity from some small child that had gotten it from who knows where, he would have to use it to pay for his mistakes, whether it be from accidentally bumping into someone so that they waste their food for his mistake or for not getting the clothes as clean as his caretakers wanted. He did many chores, but never got praise for it; it was his lot in life, and he accepted it. Naruto never received acknowledgement for his existence.

People of all ages would always ignore Naruto; he learned that early on in life. No matter how cold, hungry, scared, or alone he felt, people ignored him. At first, he thought they were just being mean. After a while, he realized it was just because he was who he was. There were only two people that ever even knew Naruto was there. First, there was the elderly man in the red and white robes. Once a month, usually, the kind older gentleman would take him for a walk to the park and listen to some stories about his career as a shinobi. The man even offered to take Naruto to a small food stand in town, but Naruto always declined like a good boy should; the man didn't need to waste his money on him when he had other people to take care of.

The only other person to even talk to Naruto was a young caretaker at the orphanage. She had medium-length brown hair, wore a pair of glasses that looked worn, but not overly so, and walked with a cane despite her age due to a flaw in her leg that never quite corrected itself. She was never able to stay for long, but she would teach Naruto a few basics, like how to read and write. He knew it would not do him any good, since he had nothing to read and nothing to write on, but at least she seemed to recognize that he was still alive. Sometimes, he would pretend that she actually cared about him, but he would soon shrug it off; it was her job to make sure all of the kids were alive at the end of the day, so why would he be special in that regard?

Naruto tried to act like a good boy. Whenever any of the adults came to the orphanage to pick kids out for adoption, Naruto went into the attic so that the "special children" – those that were worthy of being adopted, unlike him – could be adopted without having to worry about him running the potential parents off. He did everything that was asked of him to do. He never complained and always gave what he had. If someone told him to work until he dropped, he quietly nodded and went to work. The only thing that Naruto could see that he did wrong was that he was selfish. For you see, there was one dream that he could never let go of no matter how hard he tried. There was one thing that Naruto wanted above all else: a family to call his own. No matter how hard he tried, he could not stamp out the desire to be like some of the other kids. Just once, he wanted to see what it was like to have a dad that would give him a piggy-back ride, or a mom that would smile at him and be genuine about how she felt. But, he knew that would never happen. No one wanted someone like him.

The only thing he could not understand was why he was so unloved. Was he ugly? He knew that having blond hair was rare in Konoha, and he tried to wash the whisker-like marks off of his cheeks many times before, but he could never get them to come off no matter how often he scrubbed. Maybe it had something to do with how small he was. It wasn't his fault that he was short and skinny; he was born that way. Perhaps he wasn't smart enough, or cool enough, or fast enough. Ultimately, he came to one conclusion; he just wasn't special enough to be loved. If he wanted to be comforted, he only had himself, so night after night he would hug his knees and cry for himself, even though he knew that he was lucky; at least he didn't live on the street like some unfortunate souls.

Naruto was staring off into the nighttime. After yet another insignificant day in his life, Naruto knew he had only one thing left to do before he would sit on his bed and wait for sleep to take him; he found it difficult to go to sleep even after everyone else had gone to bed. He walked over to the windowsill, got on his knees, looked to the stars, and prayed. Now, he was not exactly religious; frankly, he didn't know what a religion was. But, he heard one of his caretakers explain to another child about someone called Kami. Apparently, Kami was someone that lived beyond the sight of mere mortals. Kami created the universe apparently and listened to the prayers of people. Naruto thought that, maybe if he prayed enough and did enough good things, and then maybe Kami would humor someone like Naruto and at least tell him what he was doing wrong so that he could maybe have someone pay attention to him someday. Naruto looked skywards and began a prayer that he seemed to have said numerous times before, but it was one of the only hopes he had left in his short life.

"Kami-sama, it's me, Naruto again. I know I must be bad for praying this much and wasting your time, but I don't know what is wrong with me. I…I try to do what everyone tells me to do; I stopped trying to look for attention that no one will give me, and I do everything I can to be a good boy. I just don't know what I am doing wrong. Am I being selfish because I want a family? If I am, can you send someone to tell me that I am not wanted anywhere? I know I am not worthy of you sending someone to talk to me, but can I see a sign, please? Or, if it is not too much trouble, can I have a family? I know I am being selfish, but I…I just want to know what that is like, to have one. I know it is selfish of me to ask that of someone as important as you to answer my prayer, but I just can't help it. If it is within your power, all I ask is for a way to know if I will ever be special enough to have my dream come true."

After Naruto said his prayer, he crawled up onto his small bed, on top of his overused sheets, and folded his arms over his legs while resting his head on his knees. He didn't have a clock, but he had a feeling that it was going to be a long night.

Unbeknownst to Naruto, Kami had been listening to each and every prayer that Naruto had sent, and every time Kami heard Naruto's prayer, he couldn't help but weep. Kami was known by many names to many people in many realms. Some called him Yahweh, some called him Allah, and some called him The Great "I AM" or "The Lord." He could take any form and his messengers could appear to anyone as anything; sometimes, they appeared as prophets, sometimes as guardian angels, and many others in other forms. One aspect that remained true no matter what however was this; Kami hated to see the suffering of children. He may have given his creations free will, but he hated to see when the very beings he created treated someone so young with so much indifference and neglect. It was Kami's hope that someone, anyone, would come by and help to answer this young child's prayer, but that was not going to happen. Kami finally grew tired of listening to the prayer of this lone and brokenhearted child, who had been scorned by the very people whose lives he protected every day he was alive. Kami finally decided to do something about it.

"Shinigami, come forth!" Kami commanded. At once, a barely humanoid apparition appeared in front of Kami before solidifying itself. The figure wore a long white robe, hiding its sickly purple skin. Its head looked like that of a demon, with a mane of wild white hair with two horns sticking out of its head. The specter's face was hideous; eyes black as pitch with irises white as snow and pupils that could gaze into the very soul of a person, a mouth with rows of razor-sharp teeth, and a knife held inside the mouth which was used to cut at a person's soul. Tired around its clawed, grisly hands was a string of rosary beads.

"You called for me, Kami-sama?" The Shinigami asked.

"Yes, I am in need of two souls that are in your possession, Shinigami. More specifically, I need two souls that are currently residing inside your stomach."

The Shinigami gave a cold stare to Kami. "The souls that are in my possession are mine to keep. The humans that are sealed within me are mine to keep for all eternity to fight in my stomach. That is the deal set out by the Dead Demon Consuming Seal."

Just as the Shinigami finished its sentence, Kami grabbed the "God of Death" by the neck and lifted it up to his eye level. Between the glare given by Kami with an authority that could only be managed by the Creator of Reality and the tightening grip around its throat made the Shinigami begin gasping for air despite not needing to breath.

"Let us get one thing straight, Shinigami. Your job is to ferry the souls of the departed to their final resting place and to hold the souls that are given to you until I say otherwise. It is ultimately I who has power over life and death, and not you. It is I who tells you when it is time for someone to pass, and ultimately it is I that will decide to use the souls that you have as I see fit. Do not forget your place!" After that declaration, Kami released his grip on the Shinigami as it unceremoniously dropped to the ground.

Rubbing its sore neck and resisting the urge to grumble, the Shinigami responded. "As you command, Kami-sama. Which two souls are you in need of?"

"I require the souls of Minato Namikaze and Kushina Uzumaki-Namikaze." The Shinigami looked indifferent to the request as it phased its grisly hand into its stomach and pulled out two souls. Each soul looked like a piece of tissue paper in the cut-out shape of a human.

Kami then grabbed the two souls and sent the Shinigami away before turning his attention to the souls he had. "The two of you are needed once again on Earth. I have listened to the prayers of your child for the past five years, and I have wept at the circumstances of his life. It is my hope that, with a family that will love him and nurture him that he will be able to become the man he is destined to be. Now, go and save your child from the nightmarish hell that has become his life." With that, the two souls disappeared in two separate columns of light and headed straight for Earth.

Hiruzen Sarutobi was sitting behind his desk at the Hokage Tower. Currently, it was a quarter past eight in the evening, and he was filling out paperwork, which had become the bane of his existence. Taking a break from the never-ending pile of forms, mission reports, and other forms of paperwork, Hiruzen gazed upon the village and began to think of one Naruto Uzumaki, and how the aging Hokage felt that he had wronged the boy in the most horrid way possible.

No matter how Hiruzen looked at it, he knew that he had not done right by Naruto. When he was born, he was supposed to be seen as a hero in the eyes of the village. After all, Naruto's very existence was the sole reason that the village was still standing instead of being a burning pile of ash at the hands of the Kyūbi no Yōko. His predecessor/successor, Minato Namikaze, had given his life, his family, and his very soul to make sure that the village would remain safe. All he asked in return was to have his son, Naruto, to be seen as a hero. Unfortunately, that did not happen.

The people of the village did not see a child when they saw Naruto. All they could see was the monster that was responsible for the death and destruction in the village five years ago. However, rather than being openly hostile towards him, the villagers did something even crueler; they ignored his very existence. Hiruzen could tell that the boy was neglected. Naruto was overly polite, never asked for anything, resisted any attempts for outside help claiming that he "wasn't important enough," and showed many other signs that he was not treated well enough. Despite all of this, without anyone vouching for Naruto and reporting any of this, Hiruzen could do nothing out of fear that any form of close association with Naruto might undermine his authority.

True, Hiruzen did try to interact with Naruto on a more consistent basis, but the thrice damned paperwork and his job as Hokage kept him from being able to do more for Naruto. Hiruzen knew that was a pathetic excuse, but he had little choice. He simply didn't command as much respect as he did in his youth, even though he was still fairly well respected. All he could do was hope that Naruto could find someone to fill the void that Hiruzen knew he could never fully fill, no matter how much he wanted to fill it.

He was brought out of his musings when he saw what appeared to be two streaks of light in the night sky falling and landing inside the village in two distinct areas. One appeared to hit the forehead of the Yondaime Hokage and the other landed somewhere in or near the cemetery. Immediately following the unknown phenomenon, two male ANBU captains appeared and kneeled before their commanding officer. One wore the mask of a snake, the other of a dog.

"Hebi, Inu, report."

"Hokage-sama, we have received word of two unidentified energy sources descending upon the Konoha Cemetery and the Tomb of the Yondaime Hokage. No damage has yet to be reported, and we have yet to identify the phenomenon. There doesn't appear to be an immediate threat. We have no more information at this time," Hebi responded.

Hiruzen turned towards Inu and Hebi. "Can we confirm what those phenomenons were at this time?"

Inu responded this time. "Not at this time, Hokage-sama. All we can gather so far was that they were some form of energy, but they did not behave like chakra or any other known form of energy. However, most of our ANBU felt a pressure similar to high amounts of chakra, so that energy might be related, but we cannot confirm that."

Hiruzen considered the initial report. An unknown form of energy descended upon his village that behaved similarly but differently from chakra hitting a tomb of one of the most influential shinobi of the village and the cemetery. Hiruzen had a gut feeling that something big was about to happen, but couldn't put his finger on what that might be.

"I want one squad each sent to the tomb and the cemetery. I want to know just what in the bloody hell is going on here, immediately!" The two ANBU members nodded before leaving in a swirl of leaves to gather their teams together to investigate the sites.

The first thing Minato Namikaze noted when he awoke was that he was alive, and apparently on a slab inside some sort of cave while still being in the uniform that he wore the night of his victory over the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox. That was not supposed to be the case; his last memory was of performing the Dead Demon Consuming Seal to defeat the Kyūbi no Yōko and glancing down at his newborn son. He knew full well that using the seal would take his soul, but he had confidence that his son would be treated well. Yes, he knew that once Naruto found out about the Fox and his connection to it, that there was a possibility that he would be treated differently, but he did leave him in the capable hands of his sensei and his remaining student.

In spite of all this, Minato was worried. 'What in the world is going on here? I should be in the Shinigami's stomach, not on a slab in some cave. I need to see what is going on here!'

Minato lifted himself off of the slab, surprised that he wasn't stiff as a board, and proceeded to run to what he thought was the entrance. Well, he attempted to run, but his legs failed him and he fell onto his side.

"Note to self: When you don't know how long it has been since you last used your legs, walk before you run," Minato muttered to himself. As soon as he was able to get used to supporting his weight again and was able to walk around, he attempted to run again, this time more successfully. He followed the corridor that was in place, climbing the staircase at a faster and faster rate. When he reached the top, he looked out of the opening he was in to see the rest of the village he had sworn to protect. In order to get a better sense of what was going on, he pushed some chakra into his feet to climb "his" head and look out from atop what he could only conclude was the Hokage Monument.

Minato was, for lack of better terms, baffled. From his vantage point, the village seemed almost untouched. Not one building seemed to be in disarray; the signs of destruction that Minato had seen were gone. It was as if the attack of the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox had never occurred. In contrast, Minato could clearly see where there was a new growth of trees beyond the walls of the village, around what he knew was the site of the Fox's rampage. It was a massive contradiction that only led to one of two conclusions: either Minato had been brought back to life, or he had fallen asleep and the Kyūbi attack was nothing more than a nightmare.

Immediately dismissing the latter, Minato could not believe what was going on. Before he could continue to ponder the unique situation he was in, a squad of ANBU surrounded him. Minato counted four shinobi: One was wearing a tiger mask, one a bull, one a turtle, and what he thought was the captain in a dog mask. The one in the dog mask caught Minato's attention immediately due to the gravity-defying gray hair. He knew of only one individual with that kind of hair. The masked shinobi confirmed this when he began to speak while unsheathing his ninjatō.

"Who are you, and why are you impersonating the late Yondaime Hokage?" The masked shinobi asked with a drop of venom and some killing intent being added to indicate how serious the man was.

"What are you talking about, Kakashi? I am the Yondaime. Remember, your sensei Minato?" Minato seemed slightly confused. Did his own student really think that he was an imposter?

Kakashi quickly answered Minato's question. "I will ask again: Why are you impersonating Minato Namikaze? You have five seconds to respond, otherwise we will use whatever force necessary to subdue you." Kakashi was growing irritated with whoever this was who dared insult the memory of his sensei by impersonating him.

Minato knew he had to act fast. He was surrounded by a hardened ANBU squadron with his former student believing he was a fake. Using the Hiraishin no Jutsu was out of the question; currently, he did not have any of his tri-pronged kunai in his possession. That left the Rasengan. He knew that would prove his identity. Acting quickly, Minato gathered chakra into his hands and began to mold it into his signature A-ranked technique. He hoped that no one else outside of Kakashi and Jiriaya, his sensei, had known how to perform the technique.

Upon seeing the technique that his sensei was famous for, Kakashi dropped his weapon. There were only three people he knew of that could perform that technique. One was gallivanting around Hi no Kuni looking for inspiration for his next best seller, and Kakashi himself could perform the technique even though he preferred to use his own original technique, the Lightning Cutter. That left only one other individual that could pull off that specific jutsu.

"M-m-minato-sensei?" Kakashi stated as he removed his mask to show his awe-stricken face, which was covered with a cloth facemask and a Konoha hitai-ate covering his left eye. He knew for a fact that this was not supposed to be possible. He had been around at the time of the Kyūbi's rampage. He knew for a fact that they had buried the Fourth Hokage of Konoha inside one of the most guarded tombs in the whole country. He saw the body. So, how was this possible? How could his dead sensei be alive and well standing in front of him with his signature technique?

Minato gave a small grin to his student. "I know you must have a lot of questions, believe me so do I. Unfortunately, I don't have any answers right now. There is a lot of questions that I need answered, and right now only the reigning Hokage can give those to us. How about if we pay whoever is in charge a visit, eh?"

"Um…sure, but for the record, sensei, the Sandaime Hokage took over for you after your…um, demise?"

Minato gave a chuckle before him and Kakashi, along with the stunned trio of ANBU under Kakashi's command, leapt to the Hokage's office. As they made their way there, they felt a spike in chakra close to the cemetery. The signature was recognizable to both Minato and Kakashi.

Kakashi turned to his sensei. "Sensei, you don't think-"

"That I was the only one that seems to be defying the laws of life and death tonight? Nope," Minato answered before chuckling to himself in a half-sad, half-humorous sort of way. "I would say that the Red Hot-Blooded Habañero might have also gotten a wake-up call."

This was confirmed when what two ninjas were seen flying away from the direction of the cemetery, the only discernable words being "red," "angry," and "woman." A shiver went down both men's spines, knowing full well just who was probably behind the aided flight of those two saps.

When Kushina Uzumaki-Namikaze first opened her eyes, she was greeted by the sight of dozens upon dozens of urns set in rows on shelves, each with the label of one person's name or another. Right away, she could conclude that she was probably in the crematorium at the Konoha Cemetery. There were, however, three questions that immediately came to mind after she deduced where she was:

1. What was she doing inside a building full of ashes in Konoha?

2. Where was her son or husband?

3. Why in the world was she as naked as the day she was born?

She could deduce the first answer; she was supposed to be dead, so maybe her remains had been here, but that didn't explain why she wasn't a pile of ash. Upon realizing that she had died, she began to remember about the night she gave birth to her son, as well as what happened shortly afterwards. She couldn't help but remember what happened next; a man she assumed was an Uchiha by his eyes had came in, forced her to release the seal that contained the Kyūbi no Yōko, and with the last of her strength, she infused some of her "special chakras" into the seal that Minato had prepared in order to stop the Kyūbi. As for the last question, the only answer she could come up with, as incredulous as it was, was that she had somehow been brought back from the dead and that, somehow, resurrections did not create clothing for the deceased. She wanted to cry, but right now she needed to find out what was going on, and more importantly to see who survived the Kyūbi no Yōko's onslaught.

Just as she was going to find something to cover herself with, she heard someone asking if she was alright. She turned around to see three male ANBU in full uniform staring at her. From what she could gather, the masks were of a baku, a monkey, and a snake. She could tell they were male by their build. She noticed that she could feel their gazes directly on her, and being a woman currently without clothes, she did what came natural to her…

"PERVERTS!" She sent two of the elite ninja flying through the roof with her hair flowing around her in a wild fashion, looking like she had activated a Celestial Gate. The last ANBU, who appeared to be the captain if the white cloak he was wearing was any indication, was sweating bullets as Kushina stalked towards him, cracking her knuckles to show that he was in for the beating of his life.

Fifteen minutes later, Yūgao Uzuki, the last member of the team that was sent to investigate what was going on, saw a woman walk out wearing a pair of black pants and shirt that were obviously not meant for her. Earlier, she was going to help her teammates, but the cry of "PERVERTS," had made the fifteen year old ANBU think twice. This was confirmed to be a wise decision when her two teammates were sent flying, crying about some scary red woman or something like that. Assuming that this woman was the one they were sent to investigate, Yūgao had drawn the conclusion that this woman was responsible for taking out her two teammates and, unless she missed her guess, her team captain. She took a defensive stance against the woman and attempted to sound more confident than she felt right now.

"H-hault! State your business, ma'am!"

Kushina turned to the young ANBU with a thoughtful look. "Look, kid, I'm sorry if I scared you, but I don't respond all that well to perverts who gawk at a naked woman's body. Don't worry, I'm not gonna hurt you, 'ttebane."

Yūgao contemplated things for a moment before relaxing. "I apologize, ma'am. I am simply doing my job."

"I know, and don't worry, I won't attack you. By the way, please don't call me 'ma'am,' it makes me feel old. Please, call me Kushina."

"Hai, ma…I mean, Kushina-san. So, is there a reason that you were in the crematorium?"

"I'm not entirely sure, but I think I may need to speak with Hokage-sama. Something tells me that he may hold more answers for me than I can give you. Is that acceptable?"

Yūgao gave a nod and began to lead the red-haired woman to the Hokage Tower, unaware of what had now transpired and of the gears that have been set in motion…

Author's Notes: OK, so this is the first chapter of my third multi-chapter story. I have had a lot of plot bunnies recently, and this was one of them. I have had this in mind after reading a few fics where Naruto's parents were brought back from the living. After reading some of these, I decided to take a swing at it, along with a few other genres later on in other fics.

One of the biggest things that I wanted to have that would somewhat separate this fic from others would be the aspect of neglect. For those that weren't able to figure the extent of how neglected Naruto was, it can be summarized like this: He was given enough of everything to make sure that he would be alive the next morning, but not nearly enough to leave him content. He was given virtually no attention by anyone, was only taught the basics of reading and writing, and now suffers from a massive superiority complex, feeling that he is not important enough to have what other children would be given automatically.

I know this makes things a little more unusual, but as far as I can tell, we have seen plenty of fics with either Naruto being abused and neglected or purely abused. It is rare to see a fic where he is purely neglected, which would fit in better with his canon past than a past with him getting beaten every day. I don't know all that much about neglect, but I hope I have done a decent job so far.

As for Minato and Kushina, I tried to portray them similarly to how they now are in canon – the reveal of Kushina in Chapters 498 and 499 have kinda messed with my image of Kushina in For the Sake of One – so I hope I did them justice. Rest assured we will be seeing some parental righteous fury shortly, of that you can be assured.

As for pairings, this will probably be one of my first attempts at having Naruto with multiple women. No, it will not be a harem; it will be with two women, with the final two being either Hinata and Karui or Hinata and Ino, although I am open on the other girl. For me, I have found that I enjoy and do well when writing about Naruto and Hinata, so I will stick with what I know I can write fairly well for now.

By the way, in case anyone asks, Hebi is not Anko; this ANBU is male.

Well, I will see how this goes and post accordingly. Until next time, Ja ne!


Hebi: Snake

Inu: Dog

Baku: Japanese mythological chimera with parts in common with an elephant, a rhinoceros, an ox, and a tiger. Danzō has the ability to summon one. The Baku resembles a tapir.

Shinigami: Death God

Kami: God or Shinto spirit

Please Read and Review.