Summary: Naruto had disappeared when he was five years old, leaving his parents to be heartbroken. After years of searching, they had finally found a lead to him. Will they find their little lost sunshine again or will they be too late to save him? Alive!Minato and Alive!Kushina. Minato POV
Warnings: There might be spoilers on chapters 498 up to 504 in the manga. In other words, the story about Minato and Kushina.
Pairings: MinatoxKushina, KakashixRin. There might be others as well, but right now these are the only ones. This is after all not a ROMANCE fic, but a FAMILY fic. I just don't want people to flame me because they don't like the pairings. There is a reason the pairings are that way, and it's not because I prefer that pairing.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. This applies to all subsequent chapters.
A/N 2010-12-06: I forget to mention that this story is a bit AU. It more or less follows canon until just before the Kyuubi attack, but from there it changes completely. In this story, the Kyuubi attack never happened and Madara never interfered.
The air is silent. Too silent. Something is wrong. He knows this instinctively, and his instincts have never proven him wrong. Something is happening that is not supposed to happen. He walks in a corridor in his house, opening a door and peering inside, only to find nothing out of the ordinary. He closes the door and moves on to the next one, repeating the pattern. He continues this pattern endlessly; opening and closing endless doors until he finally reaches the last one in the corridor. He feels his breath fasten with trepidation as he reaches out with his hand to open the door. Fear grows inside his chest, threatening to engulf him. The sense of wrongness seems to radiate from the room beyond the door. His trembling hand hesitantly touches the doorknob and with agonizing slowness he turns the knob. He feels his breath fasten even more as he waits for the agonizing minute it takes for the creaking door to fully open to pass. He feels his heart beating a thousand kilometres per hour in fearful anticipation as the creaking door slowly opens to reveal...nothing.
He stares in absent confusion at the room that appears exactly like all the others he has opened. The navy-blue curtains in front of the window billows out slightly as a soft breeze enters the room through the window. The dresser in the room is still standing in the same spot where it has always stood. The pictures placed on top of the dresser are still in exactly the same position they are supposed to be. The toy-box still stands in the corner of the room, its lid completely closed. The bed with its blue-and-orange covers is still standing against the wall, completely made and not a wrinkle in sight.
He stares in confusion at the room. He knows that there is something wrong with the room; his instincts are still shouting at him. He allows his gaze to carefully move across the room; focusing on everything. There is still nothing wrong. He frowns in utter confusion at the feeling of wrongness that his gut is still yelling at him. Did his instincts finally fail him? He sweeps his gaze across the room: across the simple dresser, the closed toy-box, the window and its billowing curtains before it stops at the neatly-made bed. He feels the sense of wrongness intensify.
His breath catches in his chest when he finally realises what is wrong. The bed is not supposed to be made. The bed is not supposed to be empty. A little boy with shocking bright blond hair is supposed to be sleeping peacefully in the bed without a care in the world. He steps completely into the room, his hand releasing the doorknob for the first time. The door closes with a creak behind him and a thud as it slams into the frame. He spins around at the loud sound and stares bewildered at the closed door.
"Daddy..." A soft, whimpering voice sounds from the direction of the window. He spins around quickly at the sound and his eyes widen when he sees the little boy standing by the window, clutching his favourite stuffed animal. The boy's large cerulean eyes stares frightened at him. The boy trembles slightly in fear and continues to stare at him, pleading desperately with his eyes.
"Daddy...help me. I'm afraid..." The fear is almost palpable in the soft whimpering voice. The frightened cerulean eyes continue to stare at him and he reaches out towards the boy with longing. He wants to take his little boy into his arms and assure him that everything will be alright. He steps closer towards his son, but his son starts to disappear with each step he gives. He rushes towards the child, desperate to reach him in time. He reaches out with his hand and is mere millimetres away from the frightened face when the boy disappears completely. He stares at the empty space where his son had stood not even a minute ago, tears streaming soundlessly down his cheeks.
His eyes drift towards the floor where the stuffed animal lies forlornly, staring at him with empty beady eyes. He bends over slowly and picks up the stuffed toy, holding it between his hands. Something breaks down inside his heart and he sinks sobbingly down to his knees on the bedroom floor, clutching the stuffed animal to his heart.
Minato jerked upright in his bed, breathing heavily. The dream was still prominent in his mind, the images flashing through his head and the feeling of grief and hopelessness lying heavily on his breast. He stared at the cream covers of the bed for a few minutes before closing his eyes and willing himself to calm down. 'It was a dream. It was just a dream.' He opened his eyes again and stared unseeingly at the covers. 'If only the fact that he is gone was also just a dream,' he thought sadly, his thoughts lingering on the absence of the little blue-eyed boy.
The covers on the bed shifted as the woman lying beside him stirred slightly. Kushina opened her grey eyes and looked sleepily at him. Her eyes widened in concern however when she saw his haggard expression and she half-rose, leaning on her arm.
"Minato? What's wrong?" she asked concernedly. He broke out of his stupor and threw his legs off the bed, sitting still for a second before he buried his face in his hands.
He took a deep breath and closed his eyes. "Nothing. It was just a dream," he answered her and stood up from the bed. He could feel her gaze follow him to the bathroom, but he paid no mind to it. He walked into the bathroom and opened the tap, pouring himself a glass of water.
His thoughts flitted through his mind at an unbelievable speed. It had been more than a month since his last nightmare and he had thought that they had finally ceased. So why did it return again? He closed the tap when the glass was full and drank the water slowly, the coldness burning through him and causing his mind to clear. The images from the nightmare were still lingering in his mind, banishing any hopes of returning to sleep.
A soft rustling by the door caused him to glance over his shoulder. Kushina leaned against the doorframe with her arms folded across her chest. There were a thousand questions and emotions in her eyes, but the most prominent one was comprehension.
"Did you dream about him again?" she asked softly. He felt his heart sink slightly at her words. He had never been able to hide anything from her: she had always been able to read him like an open book. It was one of the many reasons he loved her so much.
He turned his gaze back to the sink, nodding mutely. Her nightgown rustled again as she approached him, circling her arms around his waist from behind and resting her head on his broad back. They stood a few minutes in complete silence, revelling in each others' presence. Nothing more was said: nothing more was needed. He could feel the grief in her posture as well: the grief that was always prominent whenever she was reminded of the hyperactive little bundle they had called their son.
He turned around in her loose grip and enveloped her in his arms, soothing her in turn. He closed his eyes and gently rested his chin on top of her head. "I'm sorry," he murmured softly. He truly was sorry for opening old wounds.
She shook her head in his chest. "It's ok. It's not your fault. It's just...I miss him so much," she said, her voice cracking at the last part, clearly indicating that she was desperately trying to keep back tears.
He felt the guilt rise in his chest and he tightened his arms around her reflexively. "I know. I know you do. I miss him just as much," he murmured softly into her hair. Her body started to rack slightly as her sobs finally broke out. He just stood there, allowing her to cry herself out.
It still felt unreal: the knowledge that their son was gone. He had been a part of their lives for five years when he had suddenly been ripped away. He had just disappeared one night: he was sleeping peacefully in his bed when Kushina looked in at him before she retired for the night and gone when Minato returned to their home from the Hokage tower an hour later. Somehow, the seals Minato had placed around the house had been circumvented (though nobody had managed to figure out how) and Bear, the ANBU that had been responsible for guarding the boy, had been found knocked out in an extremely strong genjutsu. It had required someone with impeccable chakra control to dispel the genjutsu. It had been no easy feat, especially since Bear himself was a genjutsu master as well.
Bear had been mortified and vowed to find the boy and bring him back. Minato had approved of the mission and Bear had taken his team to search for the boy. It had already been five years since that fateful night, but there was still no sign of the boy and Bear was still searching faithfully. He returned every now and then to report his progress, but he never remained for longer than it took to report and stocking up, before he and his team returned to the search.
Kushina leaned back from Minato's chest and wiped her eyes. "I'm sorry. I just..." she started softly, but drifted off into silence. Minato gently touched her tear-stained cheek.
"It's ok, I understand," he told her with a gentle smile on his face. She smiled wanly at him and embraced him once more before turning around. She looked at the small clock sitting demurely on the bathroom counter. Its glowing hands indicated the time: 4:28.
She laughed forcedly and turned to Minato. "Well, it would be pretty pointless to start the day this early, so I'm going back to bed." He could tell that she was faking her cheerfulness, but he could not blame her. It was another thing that he loved about her: she refused to stay down. She always tried her best to go through life with a cheerful attitude, even when she was hurt. He watched her leave, wishing he could relieve her from her pain. He knew, however, that the only thing that would take her pain (and his) away would be the return of their child.
Minato sat in his chair by the mission station at the Hokage Tower, utterly bored. He had been forced to listen to mission reports on D-rank missions for an hour already and there were still three hours left of torture. He was starting to wish for something more exciting to happen, even though he knew that that was not necessarily a good thing. He sighed slightly at the prospect of piles of paperwork waiting for him to be completed when he was done with the daily four hours of boring mission reports. The chuunin sitting beside him shot him a sympathetic look when he heard his Hokage sigh.
A knock sounded on the door and after a curt order from Minato, the door opened to reveal another genin team and their jounin sensei. The two boys in the genin team were dirty with leaves and twigs in their hair and the girl was only slightly less dirty. However, instead of leaves and twigs in her hair, her face was sporting several sore-looking scratches and she was clinging with all her might to a very nervous cat with a red ribbon on its left ear that was desperately trying to escape. Minato groaned inwardly: they had clearly gotten the mission to catch the Fire Daimyo's wife's runaway cat.
The jounin sensei cleared his throat to deliver their mission report. Minato sighed internally. It was at times like these that he wondered why he ever wanted to become Hokage. The jounin delivered the report neutrally, but Minato could sense that he was disgruntled with his team. Well, it was understandable: it had taken the genin team four hours to catch the blasted cat. The girl was staring at the cat with undisguised hatred and handed it to its owner with glee. Minato just sighed at the sight: clearly they still had a long way to go.
He dismissed them after they handed the cat over to its owner and settled down again to wait for more mission reports. He glanced at the clock on the wall: still two and a half hours to go.
There was another knock on the door and it opened to reveal a chuunin. The chuunin cleared his throat and addressed his hokage.
"Hokage-sama, there is an ANBU who wishes to speak with you. He wears the mask of a bear," the chuunin told the Hokage. Minato sat up straight in his chair, surprised to hear the message. He did not expect Bear, the ANBU who had taken it upon himself to find the Hokage's missing son, to show up. Bear had reported in a few days ago, so just the fact that he was here again showed that he might've found some new information. Minato dismissed himself from the mission desk and briskly walked to his office. He entered his office and saw Bear waiting for him in front of his desk. He took his seat by his desk in his office and neutrally looked at Bear. He could feel the anxiety build up in him, but he did not allow it to show on his face. He still had an image to uphold, after all.
Minato formed a tent with his fingers. "So? Did you find anything?" he asked Bear hopefully, not bothering with any pleasantries. Bear started to speak, but before he could say anything, a gruff voice interrupted him.
"Not yet, Minato. But I had, and thought that it would be prudent to let the both of you know. I'm lazy, so I told him to meet us here. That way I don't need to say it twice," the gruff voice stated from the direction of the window. Minato looked at the window and saw his white-haired former sensei sit on the windowsill. He sighed internally. Why can't his sensei just enter a room the way a normal person does?
He turned his attention to the white-haired man. "What do you mean, Jiraya? What did you find?" he asked his former sensei, a slight frown between his brows. Jiraya jumped into the room and looked at Minato with a solemn expression on his face.
"I received a message from one of my agents some while ago. This agent told me that there is some kind of prison located close to Amegakure. It is in the charge of a number of missing-nin from all over the world and all of them have one thing in common: they all want somebody in their pasts to suffer. According to my agent, there are innocent people in that prison that are all treated like criminals. At first I thought that it's very sad and all that, but it had nothing to do with me, until my agent continued.
"They don't only hold innocent people in there, but children as well. And, my agent heard a rumour that there is a young blond-haired blue-eyed boy in there," the sannin told the Hokage solemnly.
Minato's eyes widened. It was very indefinite, but if the rumour was true, then it was possible he could have his son back. Even though a rumour about a blond blue-eyed boy could be anyone, he knew that it was possible. It was more than possible, since he knew that he had enemies that wouldn't think twice about it if they had been given the chance to let Konoha's Yellow Flash suffer.
He fixed his attention on Jiraya again. "What else did your agent tell you?" he asked the sannin tensely.
Jiraya sadly shook his head. "That was all. But, I thought I'd let you know. It's definitely worth investigation," he stated.
Minato's eyes narrowed slightly. "You're right," he muttered softly. "It is definitely worth investigation." He turned his attention to the ANBU who had listened to Jiraya in silence.
"Bear, I want you to take your team and gather as much information about that place as you can, even if it means that you have to infiltrate it. Find out if my son is truly in there, whether Amegakure knows about this and also exactly who is controlling that place. I want you to bring any information you can find directly to me. I'm sure I don't need to tell you this, but one of the most important things you need to find out is whether Ame is involved at all and if they are, what level of involvement they have in this affair. I want you to conduct this in a manner which would attract the least suspicion and I want you to return before the week is over. Remember, I only want information right now. Once you have found the necessary information, return immediately. Do you have any questions?" he asked the masked ANBU.
Bear hesitated slightly. "And if we find your son?" he asked tentatively. Minato felt his heart clench at the thought of his son in that place.
"As much as it goes against my heart, I don't want you to spark an international incident. If the leader of Amegakure is involved in, this, ANY change could stir an international incident. I repeat: I ONLY want information. If my son is in there, we'll take it further once you return. Is there any other questions?" he asked the ANBU. Bear merely shook his head.
"Then you are dismissed," the Yondaime said authoritatively and Bear immediately departed from the office.
"You don't seriously believe that Yahiko had anything to do with this, do you?" Jiraya asked Minato, a slight hint of anger in his voice. Jiraya's student Yahiko had become the leader of Amegakure a few years ago after they had successfully defeated Hanzou with Jiraya's and some other Konoha-nin's help. Minato had found enough evidence in that battle to execute Danzou on the charge of treason as well, so it had been a win-win solution for both Konoha and the Ame resurgence. Minato could understand the reason for Jiraya's anger.
"Sensei, I don't know what to believe anymore. I don't want to suspect him, but if something like that had been happening beneath his very nose, then I can't help but to suspect him. If he is innocent, fine. I'll ask him for permission to handle that place if Bear finds any concrete evidence that my son is in there. If Bear finds nothing, then we'll never mention it again," he fiercely told his sensei. An uncomfortable silence fell between them for a small while until Jiraya broke it.
"And if he is...guilty?" he asked Minato very softly. Minato looked away from his sensei.
"We'll deal with that when the time comes," he stated levelly.
The wind blew softly over Konoha, gently rustling the leaves on the large trees. Butterflies fluttered colourfully over flowers and birds chirped happily on the branches of the trees. The entire village was basked in a slightly orange glow as the sun started to set in the horizon.
A loud crash filled the air and the birds flew away from the trees, startled away from their nesting places and several ninja reflexively grabbed a kunai. They looked around for a few seconds and relaxed when they saw no danger anywhere close to them. They realised it was just another ninja training before they shrugged it off and returned to their own business.
A blond shinobi stood in a large training area, surveying the damage he did. A boulder standing in the middle of the clearing bore several large spherical indentations. Minato stared absently at the rock and a blue sphere slowly started to swirl in his hand, but dissipated as he let the energy go. He sighed in frustration as he continued to stare at the boulder with a slight scowl on his face. He focused chakra in his hand again and continued his exercise.
Several new indentations later he angrily gave up on his exercise. He turned around and moved towards the edge of the clearing where a masked silver-haired man with his forehead protector across his left eye leaned against a tree. The man's black eye followed the blonde until Minato reached him. The man wordlessly handed a towel to his Hokage which Minato took gratefully. He wiped the sweat from his face while the other man just continued to look at him.
"Still no luck, sensei?" the silver-haired man asked Minato.
Minato sighed and shook his head. "No, I still can't manage to add my element to the Rasengan. I'm starting to wonder if it is possible at all," he said and turned his gaze to the masked man. "You're lucky you didn't have that problem with the Chidori, Kakashi."
Kakashi smiled and shrugged slightly. "True, but Chidori doesn't incorporate perfect shape manipulation like the Rasengan does. What you're trying to do is on an entirely different level of difficulty," he pointed out. Minato acknowledged the point with a slight tilt of his head and they both walked away from the training field in silence, the ANBU responsible for guarding the Hokage following unobtrusively.
They walked in complete silence for a few minutes until they reached the village. A young woman with neck-long brown hair and rectangular purple stripes on her cheeks leaned against a building, but quickly rushed towards the two men when they came in sight. She flashed Minato a smile and bowed slightly at him before she grabbed Kakashi's forearm.
"Good evening, Hokage-sama. Would you mind it if I steal your companion for the rest of the evening?" she smilingly asked her Hokage.
Minato smiled at her and a hint of amusement twinkled in his eyes. "Of course you can take him, Rin. He is your fiancé, after all," he told his other student with a smile on his face. Even after he had become Hokage, he had still kept constant contact with his two students. They had all become very close after Obito's death, as they had helped each other to deal with the loss of the cheerful Uchiha.
Rin smiled again at Minato and with another bow, she dragged Kakashi away from him. Minato stared after them in amusement for a few minutes before he walked towards the Hokage mansion. Kushina had said that she was going to make his favourite meal, so he had been looking forward to going back home. A gentle smile crossed his face when he thought of his fiery red-haired wife. He always looked forward to seeing her in the evenings, since she was one of the few people who had always been able to cheer him up.
He sighed softly when another thought flashed across his mind and his smile dwindled slightly. There had been only one other person who had been able to cheer him up instantly: his son. His son had been a little ray of sunlight in their lives and he had always been able to cheer the both of them up through his hyperactive actions. His foxy grin was deeply engraved on Minato's heart and there wasn't a day that passed that Minato didn't long for his son. He knew that Kushina felt the same way he did.
He thought about his son's cheerful attitude and his thoughts suddenly turned to the discussion he had had with Bear and Jiraya in his office. He remembered they told him that other children lived in there as well. Even if his son wasn't in there, just the thought of innocent children locked away in a place like that caused a chill to settle into his heart, especially when he tried to imagine the kind of lives those children must've lived. Of course, he did not know why those children were in there in the first place, but if what Jiraya told him was true, then those children were completely innocent. He felt the chill in his heart intensify when he tried to imagine his son in the kind of conditions common of a place like that. He shivered at the thought and desperately tried to turn his thoughts away from it. According to Jiraya, there was a possibility that his little hyperactive bundle of energy was in there. A part of him hoped that his son wasn't in there, but another traitorous part of him hoped that he was, since that would mean that they would finally be able to find the boy. Still, he did not want his son to spend five years of his life in that manner.
He sighed again. There was nothing left to do about the matter. All he could do was wait for Bear's next report. He angrily banished the thoughts from his head and turned his mind again to the jutsu he had been working on that afternoon. In theory, it should be possible to add his elemental chakra to the Rasengan, but in practice it was incredibly difficult. But maybe if he tried to...hmm. He would need to experiment more before he can be able to make any concrete decisions. If he was lucky, his plan might work and he will finally be able to add his element to the Rasengan. Only practise and time would be able to tell.
A dark figure crouched beneath the bushes on the cliff, attentively keeping its gaze on the building beneath it. A few other figures laid in wait behind the first figure, attentively awaiting orders. The figure scanned his surroundings for a few minutes before he deemed it safe and gestured with two fingers, gesturing the other figures forward. The figures behind him disappeared into the darkness before he himself also moved down into the ravine where the building rested. His bear mask glimmered slightly in the wan moonlight for a split second before he moved into the darkness again.
He soundlessly approached the building and waited for the patrol to pass, slipping into the building when the sentry moved away to investigate a sound he had heard in the opposite direction. He remained in the shadows inside the building, moving from room to room until he found one that interested him. He slipped into the room and investigated the room first for any traps before he finally got to work. He dismantled a few traps surrounding the cabinet against the wall and cautiously pulled out a drawer filled with folders.
He pulled out the first folder and his eyes widened slightly when he noticed that it was a record of a person living in one of the cells. The record contained detailed information about that person, including the person's name, surname, current age, age when imprisoned, family history, current cell number and reason for imprisonment. It also bore miscellaneous information as well such as medical history, current caretaker etc. He felt a slight nauseous feeling rise in him when he read the reason the girl whose folder he was holding had been imprisoned: her father had once insulted the leader of the missing-nin in charge of the place.
He replaced the folder in the drawer and searched through the rest of the folders until a name finally caught his eyes: a name that was very familiar to him. He quickly made a copy of the folder with a special copying jutsu the ANBU had developed for missions such as these and sealed it into a sealing scroll.
His earpiece beeped softly into his ear and he mutely listened to the code one of his team members was relaying to him: they had found evidence that the leader of Amegakure had absolutely no knowledge about the place and that the missing-nin had been operating completely on their own.
He nodded slightly to himself and ordered his team to regroup at the previously planned location. A slight smile crept onto his face as he was reminded again of the folder tucked inside the scroll.
They had finally found enough evidence for them to report back to the Hokage. The evidence the others had found had been enough reason for the Hokage to order them to thoroughly investigate the place, but he had found enough reason for the Hokage to order an assault on this place.
They had finally found the Hokage's missing son.
A/N: Please review! I want to hear your thoughts on this story!