Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto, this is just fanfiction plzkthx
Honorific Guide: (or at least, how I understand/use them)
-sama : A respectful, gender-neutral honorific, typically referring to people of higher rank.
-kun : usually used towards someone of a lower status/ranking/age. Also used to refer to male children/teens. Although it is generally used for boys, it can also be for girls. It typically implies some sort of closeness between the two speakers.
No honorific typically implies a more intimate relationship such as a family member, close friend, etc
It had become customary for Shizune to check back in at the Hokage's office at midnight, despite her shift ending hours earlier. It was unpaid overtime work, but everyone seemed to be working overtime these days anyways. There was a nation waiting to be rebuilt.
During the Fourth Shinobi War, there had been quite a bit of collateral damage during the fighting. Thankfully, most of it had been quarantined to more remote areas, but the marred landscape and the spike in the number of orphans was proof enough of the devastation the war left.
But it was over. That was the most important fact and a solace to many. It was not like the previous wars where there was no absolute victory with only merely grudgingly-made treaties. In the Fourth War, there had been a common enemy and there was no question about the defeat of the man once known as Tobi.
Naruto, hunched over his paperwork with a hint of drool on his face, hardly looked like the one who had managed to take Madara's life. Jiraya had once said that he believed Naruto to be the prophesied child. The savior of the world. Perhaps he was, perhaps he wasn't.
No one person could save the world, the burden would be too great to bear alone - although Shizune knew Naruto would surely try if he could. Naruto had been the linchpin that kept everyone together when everything threatened to fall apart, but it was everyone's cooperation that had pushed the war to its successful conclusion.
A gentle shake. "Naruto-kun, are you going to sleep at your office again?"
Naruto blinked wearily, barely processing what was being said. "Mmm," was all Naruto could manage to murmur before eyelids shut close again. Shizune sighed.
"Sometimes, you're worse than Tsunade-sama." She spoke her former mentor's name with a touch of grief in her voice. Yet another precious person lost to war. Not wanting to linger on the thought, she picked up Naruto, slinging his arm around her neck so she could drag him to the makeshift coach-bed that had been added to the room days after Naruto's inaugaration as Hokage. She really applauded Shikamaru's foresight on that.
After depositing Naruto on the coach and tossing a blanket over him, she took a moment to take in the sight. In his sleep, Naruto had looked as young as ever - the youngest Hokage in Konoha's history. There was an air of maturity around him that wasn't quite there before, perhaps because he finally ditched the orange jumpsuit for a more standard ninja uniform that was hidden under the red hokage cloak, trimmed with black flame designs around the edges and stamped with the symbol of "7th" on its back.
With Naruto properly settled, she went to resort the messy paperwork on Naruto's desk. Most of the papers were confidential, but it didn't matter because she was authorized to view them as the Hokage's aid. Naruto had surprisingly let her keep the job, even though her presence may have been more needed in the small pool of field shinobi left after the war. She was thankful nonetheless, it was a familiar job that kept her grounded after Tsunade's death.
Shizune did her work swiftly and efficiently. Reports on reconstruction were properly filed away. A suspiciously pink letter from the Mizukage was stored in his desk for later. Last to be tucked into the desk were the long scrolls filled with symbols she couldn't quite understand - Naruto had become quite the fuinjutsu expert after inheriting the last records of the Uzumaki Clan's fuinjutsu techniques on his 18th birthday.
His mother had sealed the scrolls containing the deadly knowledge, knowledge that had brought even the great nations to fear the small shinobi village of whirlpool country, and had set them to open via a drop of Naruto's blood when he reached a more mature age. Naruto did not find them until Shizune had managed to dig them up among the other scrolls stored in Konoha's archives.
"It's my family's legacy," Naruto said solemnly, clinging to the scrolls. Then, with a lighter tone, he added, "I'll learn this, no problem! Just you watch!"
As everyone knew, when Naruto wanted to do something, he did it. In two years, Konoha had a new sealing expert.
With everything put away, Shizune checked the time again. 12:30 AM. Just enough to get a few hours of sleep before her shift in the morning. She gave Naruto one last glance.
"Now if only you could only learn to give your body a rest," she said teasingly while shutting off the lights to the office.
Bright rays of sun served as Naruto's alarm clock, rousing the young Hokage from his rest. A quick scan of his surroundings led him to the conclusion that he had fallen asleep in his office...again. He really needed to remember to thank Shizune one of these days. It appeared that she had carried him to the couch and had tidied up the office as well.
With a lazy yawn, Naruto forced himself up and wandered to his desk to continue his work before the hectic day began. He unfurled the large scroll containing his latest seal project. To the untrained eye, they would only see blots of ink, but Naruto recognized the pure genius of the seal.
It was a seal that warped time itself. The seal that had struck so much fear in the heart of the great nations to the extent that they took abnormally drastic measures to eliminate such a small village like Uzugakure. The seal that he had inherited and perfected.
He contemplated as he added to its length with elegant and controlled brushstrokes.
Curiosity had gotten the better of him and he had first used it, experimentally, to go back a few days. Even that much had left him slightly winded - the seal drained an enormous amount of chakra and took months to recreate as the seal could only be used once before it consumed itself.
Time traveling had its perks, it had saved him from quite a few diplomatic messes, but the experience was a bit...odd.
Naruto blinked at the other Naruto - an identical clone down to the last hairstrand. Yet it was not a shadow clone. It was himself.
"So I guess I ended up trying that time seal," the Naruto of the past commented. "How far back?"
"Just a few days," the other replied, examining his counterpart. "What day is it?"
"Thursday, October first."
"A week then," the future Naruto concluded. "This is a bit weird," he admitted, letting out a laugh and scratching the back of his head - a familiar show of nervousness.
"No kidding," replied the past Naruto. Nonetheless, he grinned and put his hand on the future Naruto's shoulder as he prepared to propose for a cup of ramen in celebration. Before he could do so, a tingling feeling met his palm and the past Naruto began to fade.
"Whoa, wait, what's happening?" past Naruto asked in alarm.
"Dunno, I feel...kinda funny." The future Naruto looked at himself curiously. It wasn't a bad feeling. In fact, it felt quite warm. And with that, the future Naruto completely faded and past Naruto doubled over as knowledge about the coming week came rushing into his head. It took a moment for the boy to recover.
"Man, that was as bad as dispelling a thousand bunshins at once," he noted as he tried to calm his raging headache.
It was as if one soul sucked in the other, reuniting two halves of the same soul into one. Only when they touched though, as his later experiments had found. Everyone else passed his future self off as yet another kage bunshin, so his time traveling antics drew little suspicion. He had warded his office so that no one would catch wind of the large amount of chakra he pumped into the travel seal.
No one could know about the seal. It had caused destruction of his mother's village and he didn't want it to cause the destruction of his own.
Sometimes, he wondered if he could go back even farther. He hadn't even attempted to use the Kyuubi's chakra with the seal. The major headache that accompanied months of time travel could put him out for at least a week and he was hokage, he couldn't afford even a day off.
Still, he couldn't help wonder what if. There were so many things he wanted to change. Tsunade had lost everything to war, including her own life. Sasuke had lost his clan, and he had lost his brother - twice. Kakashi had lost his father, Minato who had practically been a second father, and so much more. The list of tragedies that had struck the people around him could go on for hours.
After the Fourth War, for every child with a family, two others had been been hit with the loss of their own. Orphanages found that their hands were quite full dealing with the influx.
Still, the world had found peace - or as close to peace as it has ever really achieved before. After fighting as allies - and seeing how efficient joint action had been - the five great nations were much more open to negotiation with each other.
The result of such was laying on his desk - a scroll with the title The United Shinobi Nations, or USN for short. The five villages would never turn into one - they were all much too independent for that. However, the new organization allowed a forum for cooperation and joint action.
Monthly meetings - such as the one he had in a week - had helped the nations communicate more effectively than ever before. It was a period of goodwill. Cooperation was the best way to recover from the devastation that all the nations felt - even the minor ones that had not been as directly involved with the war.
The meetings were lead by Mifune who had been assigned as the neutral and unbiased spokesperson of the organization - the security-general. All five of the great nations, along with the samurai, were given a higher role in the organization's council, but they were balanced by two other minor nations that would temporarily be given equal status. The chosen two nations would rotate out every three months.
Most of the nations -and all five of the major nations - had agreed to finalize their borders, although some did so grudgingly. No one wanted another war though, and it was decided that an aggressive military act upon a member nation would be considered an aggressive act towards all nations. It was a safe way to deter all nations from attacking each other.
Some had not agreed to join at first, but the benefits soon became obvious when all of the member nations profited greatly from the increased trade from the alliance and others flocked to join.
With such an alliance, no one dared attack each other, even though the five nations were arguably at their weakest. The last time a non-member had tried, the full force of the member countries had let everyone know that the new partnership was no farce.
Naruto looked up from his work and stretched. The seal was nearly complete again. He spun around his chair to glance at the sole window in the room that gave a great view to the hokage mountain where seven faces had been carved.
Danzo's face was one that Naruto grudgingly acknowledged. Naruto could never approve of the old man's methods, but he respected Danzo's intentions to keep his village safe. In Danzo's last moments, he had sacrificed himself in an attempt to take out a threat. Like all the other Hokages before him, he had given his life for the future of his village.
And there was his face, grinning down on the village. It was almost surreal to see how far he had come.
"Pein...no, Nagato. I wish you could be alive to see this peace." He commented idly. His arm wandered to the necklace around his neck. "I wish everyone could."
"Heeey! Are you brats ready to work?" Naruto called out with an affectionate tone to the children of the orphanage. Most of the older kids ran out immediately, grins apparent on their face.
"I still don't see why you can't do it all, you are Hokage," one of the girls called out teasingly as she gave a hug to Naruto. All of the orphans were quite familiar with the Hokage who always visited on Sundays and invited them to help with construction work. Naruto had found that work of any sort, even pranking, got his mind off the darker aspects of his life and hoped to bring some distraction to the kids. He never worked them too hard, and the kids approved because they always managed to con Naruto into treating them to food afterwards.
"Hah, well, someone has to teach you brats about hard work," he joked as he pulled another kid into a headlock. They had all been a bit shy and timid at first, but now they had the backbone to talk to even the leader of their village.
"Race you there, Hokage-sama!" One of the kids challenged, and the rest of the children immediately ran off to the construction site. Naruto laughed and gave them a head start while watching them. Years prior, they had reminded him quite a bit of himself back then. Lost, lonely, confused. And now...their eyes had brightened up a bit. He wanted to keep them safe. Safe from experiencing that kind of numbing loss again.
For as long as possible at least. This was why Naruto had never stopped training, even when the war drew to a close. He had to be strong for his precious people.
A familiar presence soon came up behind him. "Hey Shikamaru," Naruto called out without even looking.
"You're still so loud, even this early in the morning. How troublesome," Shikamaru replied with a bit of a smile on his face. "I think it's contagious, they used to be much quieter."
A laugh. "Don't worry, I'm sure your laziness will prevent you from catching it."
"It's around that time of year, isn't it?" It was an off-hand comment, derailing their previous conversation completely.
Naruto's expression grew solemner at the mention of the war. "Yeah...almost five years since it ended."
"Are you still thinking about your plan?"
Naruto looked around, but did not sense anyone near by. It was too early, and the slum area that hadn't been fully rebuilt after Nagato's attack was as deserted as ever. Shikamaru was the one person that Naruto had entrusted with the knowledge of his time seal. There was no one better to evaluate the plan's chances of success.
"Yeah," Naruto replied, and quickly threw out four kunai with seal tags attached. They landed in a box-like pattern surrounding the two and after Naruto channeled a bit of chakra into them, a makeshift privacy barrier was created.
"Naruto," Shikamaru sounded dead serious when he met Naruto eye to eye, "you don't have to do this. You weren't responsible for the war, nor anyone else's death."
The gaze was too intense. Naruto had to look away. "I know, but I want to. Everyone has lost so much." Like you, Naruto wanted to add.
"But we've grown stronger because of it." It was undeniable after their display during the war and their subsequent economic boom that Konoha was the strongest out of the five nations. "Perhaps this wasn't the best path, but we managed to reach a peaceful conclusion. Any changes could lead to a much worse one."
"But they could also lead to a much better one," Naruto insisted, eyes full of determination as he once again stared at Shikamaru. This time, it was Shikamaru who looked away first with a sigh.
"You're the number one most troublesome ninja, Naruto." He stated as he began to walk away. "I'll come by later if you need help with the preparations. Don't you have some kids you should be chasing down?"
Naruto deactivated the barrier seal with a grin. "See you then!" He shouted, disappearing in a flash.
'Hirashin,' Shikamaru noted. 'Well, if anyone can change the past, it would be Naruto.'
It was late when he took his first steps into the rainy nation, and much of the usual mourning crowd had cleared out by now.
Once a year, on the anniversary of the end of the war, Naruto visited the memorial in Amegakure. Many of the other villages had taken to Konoha's idea of a memorial stone and a joint effort had been made to build a large memorial stone in Amegakure - a neutral country under the joint protection of the United Shinobi Nations.
Rain poured down on Naruto as he ran a hand across the glossy black stone that had the names of all of his fallen comrades during the fourth war. Invisible seals coated its surface, granting it resistance from the deluge of rain that washed it almost daily.
Even after the war, Amegakure had not stopped raining. It was as if the country continued to mourn the loss of those who had fallen.
"Tsunade oba-chan, I'm still alive even with your cursed necklace. I told you that curse thing was a load of bull." A tear ran down his cheek, and he was thankful that the rain masked it. His survivor's guilt still lingered, even with five years to get over it.
After he had paid his respects to the main memorial, he made his way to a second memorial - a secret one that the villagers of Amegakure granted him access to once a year. It was the memorial of the village's former god - Nagato. The three friends were permanently enshrined in a bed of origami flowers, a tribute from Konan before she herself died.
"I never got a chance to thank you," he commented softly as he dropped an orange paper flower of his own to the pile, "for bringing everyone back to life. For giving me a chance. I think you three definitely deserve a second chance of your own."
He would make sure they would get one.
"Brat, are you sure you want to do this?" Kyuubi's voice was nowhere near as malicious as before, it had mellowed out quite a bit actually, but it still boomed deeply from within his consciousness.
"Yeah, sorry you'll have to put up with me for a bit longer, Kurama. I need your help." Naruto had promised the demon fox that he would release him, as he did with the other biju other than the hachibi, when he stepped down from his position as Hokage. However now...he had a much longer mission ahead of him.
"Human time passes within a blink of an eye for biju. There's worse company to spend the time with," Kurama replied with hidden affection. "Just don't get yourself killed."
Naruto laughed, "I can't die yet, too many things to do."
The preparations were complete. A large seal scroll stretched out the full length of the office and Naruto was careful as to not smudge a single mark when he hung up his hokage cloak. He was now outfitted with his own custom ninja gear - he couldn't risk using Konoha's standard gear because in the past, he would not be a registered Konoha nin. It would be too suspicious to wear a uniform associated with any village.
The outfit resembled that of Anbu, but without the arm guards and with some other small changes such as the bright orange swirl on the back of his armor. He couldn't quite give up the orange yet - it was his trademark. His pride. Much like Bee's rhymes, although he personally thought orange was a bit cooler than rap. Naruto had never become quite proficient with the sword, so he opted out of the standard sword-strap for extra holsters to store his smaller weapons. The kunai he used for the hirashin, along with other goods, were carefully sealed away in a storage seal on his wrist - he would not use them except as a last resort.
Stealing his father's technique and claiming it as his own was a bit cruel after all.
"Ready?" He asked Kurama as he stood in the empty middle circle of the seal. In his hand was a flask of water that he had just removed from its storage seal. It seemed completely ordinary, but it was actually the legendary Hero's Water - a treasure of the village of Takigakure. He had managed to steal it a few days prior - luckily no one had noticed yet.
The water was known to increase a user's chakra by over ten fold. This would hopefully give Naruto just enough chakra to go back as far as he wanted.
"Remember, don't die."
"Here goes something!" Naruto chugged the water down all at once and immediately felt the effects. Chakra was practically oozing off of him. He was glad that no one was coming into his office after that spike in chakra. That meant that the chakra suppressing seals that he had put up before hand were working. Without them, the whole continent would have been suspicious about the sheer amount of chakra used in the office.
"ACTIVATE!" He dropped some of his blood on the seal and then pumped as much chakra as possible into it. He needed to go back - far back before he was even born. Back to the era that had deeply influenced the key people of his age - the period that all his textbooks had rambled about for hundreds of pages. He had yet another war to stop, except this time, it would be the Second Shinobi War and not the Fourth.
A blinding flash lit the room. Then, nothingness.
A/N: I can't believe I'm attempting another multi-chapter fic, but my plot bunnies refuse to be ignored. I also want to thank Mistress DragonFlame, my beta.
Time travel fics have always been one of my favorite types of fic, so I had to try to write one. This was partially inspired by Sinnatious's FF7 fanfic, The Fifth Act, which explores an Older!Cloud going back to change his past...without the typical reliving-his-childhood. Likewise, this is Older!Naruto going back to change the past in his normal body without reliving his childhood in a younger body because I'm sure there's hundreds of other fic that already explore that.
One last thing - pairings. If you are looking for romance in this fic, you will probably not find it except in the most bare amounts. Naruto will not be paired up with anyone in the long term, nor will he have a harem. There will be cannon pairings in here though - such as Minato and Kushina. Naruto will be less focused on his love life and more focused on changing the world.
This will be quite long, but hopefully it'll be a fun ride. Please leave a review if you have time time, feedback is always appreciated!