Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or anything else this story borrows from.
Author's Note: Fair bit of filler here, but it's all necessary to get on with the good stuff, like training, fighting, and plot of course.
Chapter II – Hokage's Apprentice
As Senju Tobirama walked into the Hokage's office he quickly scanned around the room, noticing the many changes to it since his time. One thing that had not changed, however, was the veritable mountain of paperwork heaped up on the desk before the man in the big hat.
"I see paperwork is still the bane of a Hokage's existence," he said, chuckling.
Sarutobi sighed before setting down his pen and meeting his sensei's eyes. "Why didn't you warn me about this?"
The Nidaime grinned. "If I had, would you have taken the job?"
"Exactly. Anyway, Hiruzen, I'm here to settle a few things," Tobirama declared, his voice taking on a serious tone.
"Yes, for starters how about giving me Uzumaki Naruto's birth certificate and official documentation? I was serious about naming him my heir."
Sarutobi nodded and signed for one of his hidden ANBU to retrieve the documents. The elite ninja disappeared with a prompt Shunshin.
After a moment's thought Tobirama gave a nod. "When I saw him in the hospital this morning it occurred to me that the boy is the last male descendant of two of Konoha's clans. If he dies, they will end with him. Likewise if he does not learn the skills of those clans, then it will be as if they never existed. What is a clan really besides its bloodline and signature techniques? The boy must learn what it means to be a Senju and a Namikaze."
Sarutobi had never considered this before, but it made sense. Naruto represented the future of not two as Tobirama suggested, but three of history's most powerful and respected clans. For him to not learn what was distinctive about each clan was the equivalent of those clans being erased from the ninja world.
"Actually, Tobirama-sensei, the Uzumaki clan was almost wiped out years ago when Uzushiogakure was destroyed. So that makes Naruto the last known heir of the Uzumaki clan, too."
After reckoning with this grave and upsetting revelation, the Nidaime only felt surer about his plan.
"So what do you propose to do about this predicament?" Sarutobi asked.
The Nidaime grinned, unable to contain his excitement about this. "I will take him on as my apprentice and show him what it means to be a Senju."
The Sandaime nodded, having expected this. "Of course I won't deny you. It is Naruto's dream to become Hokage one day, and being apprenticed to one would certainly help him reach that goal."
Tobirama's eyes widened ever so slightly at this. So that is my descendant's dream. Hm… very well. I swear to support you, Naruto. I will help you make your dream a reality, he thought to himself with firm resolve. It is the least that I, as a Hokage of Konoha, can do for our human sacrifice.
"But, tell me," Sarutobi began. "What about his Namikaze and Uzumaki heritage? As your student he won't learn much about either of those clans."
The Nidaime nodded. "Well, I recall you saying his father, my grandson Minato, wasn't the last Namikaze – only the last one to carry the family name."
"Ah, you caught that, did you? Indeed, Minato was not the last Namikaze. There is one other who yet lives. He was born a member of a lesser branch of the family. Unfortunately that branch was cut off from the Namikaze clan due to a dispute about inheritance of the toad summoning contract. The person I'm speaking of was just a boy when that dispute occurred. He grew up impoverished and without a surname, since by the laws of Konoha he could no longer be called a Namikaze. But luckily for him, his family branch did inherit the toad contract according to the same legal code," Sarutobi explained.
"Okay, this sounds promising. Who is he, this disowned Namikaze?" Tobirama asked.
"His name is Jiraiya, the Toad Sage. He was one of my students and is considered a kage-level ninja. He was also the Yondaime's sensei. Jiraiya regretted the split of the Namikaze clan and wished to reunite the families by taking Minato under his wing and sharing the toad contract with him. Regrettably, Minato died before he could officially reinstate Jiraiya's clan membership to him. And since then Jiraiya has never pressed the issue with me. It has been many years, I think, since petty clan politics held any interest to him."
"Ah, interesting. Well then, I see no reason why I can't share teaching duties with this Jiraiya. After all, my brother assisted in your training, and that turned out well. Another kage-level ninja at hand will only improve the boy's training results," said Tobirama, hoping that Sarutobi would agree to this request.
"Well, you're in luck. Jiraiya has already asked me if he could take a hand in the boy's education. He is after all Naruto's godfather."
"What! Why didn't you say so?" the red-eyed Senju demanded. "And where has he been the boy's entire life, anyway?"
"I already told you, sensei, we couldn't endanger Naruto by revealing his heritage. If Jiraiya had paid him any attention it would have been obvious to any half-decent shinobi who he really was. Jiraiya has kept his distance until now to keep Naruto safe. In addition to that, Jiraiya runs our biggest espionage ring. His services outside the village are invaluable and have kept him away from Konoha for years," Sarutobi explained, hoping to prevent any misunderstandings between Naruto's new teachers.
"I don't like it, but I guess I do understand. In any case I'll expect this Jiraiya character to start making up for lost time," Tobirama said with an ominous note in his voice.
Sarutobi gulped nervously for Jiraiya's sake. Tobirama was not as light-hearted as Hashirama had been. He had an exacting sense of justice and despised those of low moral fibre. He had a particular disliking for perverts, which guaranteed an interesting time for the Toad Sage in the coming months and years.
"Well, sensei, I approve your request to train Naruto with assistance from Jiraiya. I'll inform the boy's jounin-sensei that one of his charges is being reassigned. You have licence to take Naruto out of the village and train him as you see fit."
The Nidaime nodded, satisfied. That had been the main reason he had come to the Hokage's office in the first place. Although he did still have a few questions about the state of Konoha.
"Hiruzen, there is something else. I noticed during the battle yesterday that there were no Uchiha present. What happened to the Konoha Military Police Force I established?"
Sarutobi groaned, having feared this question ever since his sensei had returned from the Pure World. He had already decided to be honest with the Nidaime about all matters. Tobirama had been a proactive Hokage and was completely trustworthy. Nonetheless some secrets were loathsome enough that their retelling was cause for significant discomfort.
"Tobirama-sensei, what I am about to tell you is an S-ranked secret of the village," the Sandaime said while gesturing for his ANBU bodyguards to leave the room.
Tobirama nodded and gave no sign of surprise, having expected something like this. For a clan as large and powerful as the Uchiha to simply disappear from Konoha, in which they had invested all their ambitions after the period of warring clans, was peculiar to say the least.
"Several years ago the Uchiha plotted a coup d'état against Konohagakure. Their reasons for doing so were linked to the Kyuubi's attack. You know that in your time Uchiha Madara was able to control bijuu with his Mangekyou Sharingan, and this information was never a very well kept secret. So it is not surprising that after the Kyuubi's rampage, many turned the blame on the Uchiha clan. A proud lot, the Uchiha resented the accusations and began to plot to take control of the village. Also driving them was a deep resentment of what they perceived to be a Senju dynasty of Hokage. Fortunately for Konoha one of our ANBU was the Uchiha heir and his loyalty to the village was greater than that to his clan. In the end I gave him a burdensome order…" Sarutobi trailed off, his eyes unfocused, lost in an unpleasant memory.
"To slaughter his clan," Tobirama finished for him, having already reached the obvious conclusion. "Which is why I have seen no Uchiha. They are all dead."
The Sandaime gave a curt nod. "All but the loyal perpetrator himself, who has taken on the burden of being a missing-nin, and his little brother, who he spared. Uchiha Sasuke is the last Uchiha remaining in the village and quite a talented shinobi. In fact he is your great grandson's teammate and rival."
Tobirama grimaced, trying to work out if the massacre had been the correct course of action. It seemed that Sarutobi had had to deal with many episodes of crisis in his time as Hokage.
"I underst—" Tobirama began before being interrupted by the door opening and admitting an aged man whose right arm and face were covered in bandages.
"Ah, Danzou," Sarutobi muttered neutrally. "I expected you sooner."
"Did you?" the bandaged man replied flippantly, not expecting an answer. He then walked up to Tobirama and gave a shallow bow.
"It is an honour to see you again, Tobirama-sama."
"Is that you, Danzou-san? My, time has not been kind to you, has it?"
"On the contrary," Danzou replied while giving the Nidaime a stony, blank stare. "I carry my scars and injuries with pride."
Tobirama gave a respectful nod. Danzou then turned his attention to the Sandaime, each man matching the other's challenging stare.
"Hiruzen, what do you plan to do about Suna and Oto?"
Sarutobi sighed, having expected this sooner or later. "Suna has been misled by Orochimaru, who assassinated and then impersonated the Kazekage. I will negotiate peace with Suna's council."
The only sign that Danzou vehemently disapproved of this was a twitch in his left cheek just under his eye.
"They have betrayed our alliance and joined forces with a traitor to our village. If we negotiate with them now it will be seen as a sign of our frailty by the other great ninja villages. Suna is weak and we are strong. We should crush them now and send out a message to potential enemies: Konoha is still the leading power," Danzou declared.
Sarutobi had already thought of this but it was his belief that Suna could still be an ally, which would make Konoha stronger in the long run.
"I'm sorry, Danzou, but the decision has already been made. We will have peace with Suna so that we can focus on waging war against Otogakure. Orochimaru is our main concern."
Having said what he came to say, Danzou turned around and left the office without another word. A long moment of silence stretched out until it was uncomfortable to bear.
"You should be wary of that one, Hiruzen. He begrudges you your authority and I suspect he will not obey you in this matter except publically," the Nidaime warned, having met Danzou's type many times in the past while working alongside the Uchiha clan. Even as a young boy, Tobirama recalled, Danzou had been jealous and resentful of Sarutobi Hiruzen. Despite the many tumultuous upheavals in Konoha since he had died, some things apparently never changed.
"I know. Danzou is troublesome but he does love this village in his own way. I allow him to play devil's advocate, but there are times I regret not having him… put down," Sarutobi muttered, thinking that Danzou really was a lot like an unruly dog.
"Well, I think it is time I leave you to your paperwork. My descendant should be waking up soon and I wish to be there to greet him."
"Of course. By now my secretary will have the documentation you requested. You may lodge the forms with me later and I'll present them to the council. Normally they would be… difficult about recognising Naruto, but your reputation should give them pause. Of course your grandniece Tsunade will remain the Senju clan head even if you claim Naruto, but he is the only chance you have to continue your line and keep the Senju name from disappearing."
"Ah, yes, that reminds me. A final question. Where can I find my grandniece?"
Sarutobi pinched the bridge of his nose. This whole resurrection affair was tiring.
"Tsunade hasn't been in Konoha for years. She lost some people who were very close to her and blames the village for their deaths. From what I understand she has taken up a nomadic lifestyle of binge drinking and gambling. Apparently her debts are quite legendary. I'm not sure where you would find her, but maybe Jiraiya knows. I'll be sure to send him to the hospital to visit Naruto, so you can ask him later."
Tobirama frowned in disappointment, not having expected his grandniece to have fallen so low. Evidently she did not inherit her grandfather's values.
After wishing Sarutobi a good day, Tobirama turned and left the office.
The Sandaime promptly returned to his paperwork, which mostly concerned war planning for the approaching conflict with Otogakure.
Naruto awoke with a start. His dreams had been filled with dark images that hovered just outside of his awareness, evading every attempt to recall them. For a moment the blond was confused by his surroundings, but then his memory of his epic victory over Gaara returned to him. Grinning from ear to ear, Naruto remembered the sheer rush of adrenaline that had pulsed like a jackhammer through his body as he rode atop Gamabunta—transformed into the Kyuubi—against Shukaku the sand bijuu. Never before had Naruto excelled in a fight as he did then. It felt at the time as if his blood was singing to him, as if he'd been born to fight battles like that – feuds of havoc and grandeur. His grin became a goofy smile as the realisation set in that he, once the dead-last, had surpassed Rookie-of-the-Year-Sasuke on the battlefield. It was not the Uchiha genius that had defeated Sabaku no Gaara, rather the Uzumaki knucklehead!
"Congratulations on your victory, Uzumaki Naruto," came a voice from the corner of the room, its owner obscured by the bed curtains, which the blond genin quickly cast aside.
"Who're you?" Naruto bluntly demanded, staring at the unfamiliar, white-haired man with suspicion.
"I am Senju Tobirama, Nidaime Hokage," the man replied, equally blunt in his speech.
Naruto stared at the resurrected Senju with a shocked and perplexed look on his face, which gradually morphed into a sour frown.
"That's ridiculous. The Nidaime is long dead." Although he does look a lot like the Nidaime's face on the Hokage monument…
"I died long ago, yes. But Orochimaru used an old kinjutsu of mine to resurrect and enthral me. Unfortunately for him, I had taken precautions before my death to ensure that my own technique could never be used to control me. To cut a long story short, instead of fighting my old student, the Sandaime Hokage, I turned on Orochimaru and drove him out of the village."
Naruto's frown didn't last long as he absorbed this information. It all sounded pretty outlandish, but then that was hardly unheard of in the world of ninja.
"Well, if that's true then it's pretty cool. But why are you in here with me?"
"I am here to adopt you, Naruto," the Nidaime said simply.
"WHAT?" the blond cried, more and more confused thanks to his mysterious visitor.
The Nidaime proceeded to explain how his daughter's son had been Namikaze Minato, the Yondaime and Naruto's idol.
"Well that's awesome and all, but how does it relate to me?" Naruto asked, completely baffled.
Tobirama prepared himself for an outburst as he began to speak his greatest revelation yet. "Naruto, it is time for you to know your heritage. You are the son and heir of Namikaze Minato and thereby my great-grandson."
Instead of an outburst, Naruto went completely silent, his eyes widening in surprise. Finally his expression changed to one of happiness and excitement.
"This is great, old man!" the boy cried.
"How so?" Tobirama questioned, choosing to ignore the 'old man' label for now.
"I'm pretty much born to be Hokage! Dad was the Yondaime and you were the Nidaime!"
Tobirama chuckled and nodded. "Yes, possession of the hat does seem to be a recurring theme in our family. But you should know that the way to becoming Hokage is a test of spirit and skill, not a bloodline inheritance," he chided lightly.
Naruto nodded solemnly as his features hardened with purpose. "I know. There are no shortcuts to becoming Hokage. The only way is through hard work!"
The white-haired Senju nodded with pride at his descendant's words. "That's right. And while there are no shortcuts, there are certainly some applications of hard work that are more… expedient than others if becoming Hokage is your goal. What I mean is that you'll need the proper guidance to get you there. Hard work without direction is at best a shot in the dark, at worst a wasted effort."
Naruto considered this and found the logic in the statement. "What are you suggesting then, gramps?"
"I'm offering to be your sensei in the ninja arts for the foreseeable future. I will help prepare you to accomplish your dream to the best of my ability," the Nidaime said with utmost sincerity in his voice.
Naruto's eyes began to glisten with barely controlled emotion. No one had ever offered to help him achieve his goal with such faith and conviction before. Sometimes Naruto's own conviction in his dream would slip a little when the realisation pierced his skull that no one believed he would ever be Hokage. Though he despised himself in those weak moments, the doubts of others had wormed their way into his own thoughts, if only just a little. But here was a man—a Hokage himself—who believed with unerring certainty that Naruto could accomplish his goal. And he was offering his aid unconditionally as far as the blond could tell.
"You really mean it?"
"You are my blood and the future of my clan. I would not lie to you about something like this. And besides, you already show much potential. To summon Gamabunta and defeat Shukaku's jinchuuriki are both incredible feats. I am sure you will make a formidable Hokage one day, descendant."
Naruto leapt out of his hospital bed with a gleeful shout, pumping his fist in the air. "Come on then, sensei! What are we waiting for?"
"Well, you might want to put on some clothes. That gown is rather revealing," the Nidaime commented with a smirk.
A gust of wind blew in the open window, highlighting for Naruto the fact that his modesty was poorly shielded.
"Oh, right…" the blond muttered, gazing around in search of his orange jumpsuit.
"Uh, if you're looking for that orange… getup that you came in here wearing, I'm afraid it was rather torn up from your fight with Gaara. Irreparably so," Tobirama said in a sombre voice, belying the fact that it was he who had destroyed the jumpsuit. There was no way he was letting his descendant run around in such a ridiculous outfit. Senju pride aside, it was also plain dangerous to wear such clothes in the ninja profession, where stealth and concealment were often vital to survival.
Naruto's devastated expression made the elder Senju feel guilty on the inside, but on the outside he forced himself to carry on with his plan.
"I took the liberty of arranging some new clothes for you," he said while gesturing to a neatly folded pile of garbs sitting atop the bedside table.
"Oh, thanks, I guess. Damn, I'm really going to miss that jumpsuit, though."
"Yes, well… moving on… why don't you try those on?" Tobirama prodded gently.
Naruto nodded and quickly began changing into his new clothes. They included a black, high-collared tee-shirt; a pair of royal blue, knee-length shorts; dark grey, toeless ninja shoes; a grey kunai pouch; and white bandage wraps for forearms and shins. On the back of the tee-shirt was a white symbol that Naruto didn't recognise. After asking his new sensei about it, he discovered that it was the mark of the Senju clan. Another white symbol—the kanji for 'oil'—was stitched into his shorts just above his left knee.
"Why 'oil'?" Naruto asked, curious as to its significance.
"All will be revealed in time, Naruto. For now, just be aware that that symbol connects you to the Yondaime and his clan."
Naruto smirked at this smugly. That was the sort of connection he would be more than happy to advertise, loudly and often.
"Looking good, great-grandson. Now come with me if you want to be Hokage one day," the Nidaime declared while leaping out the open window.
Laughing somewhat manically, Naruto chased after his ancestor, giving an excited yell as he flipped out into the blue Konoha sky, feeling assured of his future success and greatness.