A/N: If you see any issues, please let me know. I also like to get constructive criticism.
*Some things in this story are inspired by other authors.
**Naruto may be annoying for a bit after this chapter, so skip to chapter four if you wish to avoid that. You're missing out on some development, though.
Chapter One: Consequences
(Konoha, One Day After Kyuubi Attack)
Sarutobi Hiruzen, the Sandaime Hokage, sat in the main office of the Hokage Tower with his three advisers: Mitokado Homura, Utatane Koharu, and Shimura Danzo. The day after the attack of the Kyuubi, the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox, the Third Hokage had called the meeting to discuss the future of who could become an important asset to Konohagakure no Sato, as well as the unfortunate circumstances that surrounded him.
The aging man took a quick glance at the blonde-haired child nestled comfortably in a cradle filled with blankets before clearing his throat to get the attention of his advisers, "I presume you have all read the report I have sent you," Hiruzen said. "No one but the ones who can directly remember the attack may know of Naruto's status. His generation will grow up believing that his father killed the Kyuubi. In addition, I do not wish for his heritage to become known, so I am giving him his mothers surname."
Mitokado Homura spoke up, "Are you sure about this, Hiruzen? His heritage could very well stem any... disregard Konoha may give him." Being a politician, it was quite easy to tell that the public could easily swallow petulant lies and ignore common sense. Fear tended to have that effect.
Shimura Danzo chose to interrupt, "Namikaze Minato inflicted great losses to Iwagakure during the Third Great Shinobi War. Although they are still recovering, Minato's son will be a direct provocation and we cannot hope to match them after yesterday's attack." Homura nodded in compliance. It was likely that Iwa would stoop low enough to kill the newborn son of Namikaze Minato in the hopes that the coming of a second Yellow Flash could be stopped.
"I will assume that you hope to have the boy make his own friends by leaving his status unknown, Hiruzen?" remarked Koharu. The status of jinchuri was a well-known thing; they would grow up alone and hated, with little to no affection or attention granted to them by their surroundings. By leaving the fact that he had a Biju sealed within him in the dark from children his own age, the Hokage hoped that Naruto would be able to live a normal life as a child. Hopefully, the actions of the people would not get to him.
"Yes, that is true. It is my hope that he will make friends and that he is eventually accepted by the people. However," Hiruzen said, fixing Danzo with a stern look, "He is not to be called a weapon. He is not our weapon, despite what advantages that might grant us."
Danzo scoffed in reply, "The other villages already have trained jinchuriki. Ignoring such a boon is not wise."
"Danzo, if you recall, the Shodai's wife was not seen as a weapon. Despite Kushina's status, she did not use the Kyuubi's power in aggression," Koharu replied, turning to face Danzo as she did so. The bandaged war-hawk grunted in reply, but did not press the matter. In any case, Naruto could become a great shinobi regardless, which was fine by him.
Hiruzen folded his hands in placed them on his desk. The law would pass and Naruto's heritage would be locked away until the time was right. Was he doing the right thing? Would Naruto resent him when he found out about the withheld information?
"The law will be issued tomorrow. The civilians and shinobi will have no say over this." The Hokage then reached into a drawer in his desk and opened it, taking something out from its contents. Placing the white mask on his desk, he waited for the reactions of his advisers. Two of them stared at the thing in confusion, while another did so in hidden shock. "This is something that I did not mention in the report. When I saw Minato seal the Kyuubi away, he and Kushina sealed... something else." He paused, waiting for them to put the pieces together.
Danzo recovered and spoke first, "The Yondaime was able to stop the attack, as well as the person behind it."
Hiruzen nodded. "That he did. When the sealing was complete, this was all that was left."
"Who could have had enough power to control the Kyuubi itself?" Homura shakily replied, his face having slightly paled. "The last one to do such a thing was Uchiha Madara."
"The attack could have been from them," Koharu suggested. Unlikely, but there was always the chance.
Hiruzen sighed and raised a hand to rub his temple. "I do not know if it true, but it may be prudent to be cautious around the Uchiha." With that, Naruto yawned and woke up before starting to cry, essentially signaling the end of the meeting.
Hiruzen placed the mask back into the drawer of his desk and saw his advisers out. Danzo lingered for a moment, shooting a look to the bawling baby before finally leaving the room. Hiruzen took out a bottle from the folds of his robe and went to work feeding the baby, smiling softly as he did so.
A short meeting, but a necessary one, he thought. When Naruto's godfather returned, certain things would need to be asked. The masked man was an oddity and now that he was removed, it left questions. Many questions. Did he have any help in removing the Kyuubi? Why did he want to destroy Konoha? How did he find out about Kushina's induced delivery?
With the bottle finished, Naruto burped before closing his eyes once more. The Hokage placed the baby back into his cradle, sighing as he did so. Hiruzen briefly closed his eyes while a flash of pain crossed his visage. With his wife gone, it would be difficult to watch over Naruto. Unfortunately, Hiruzen had never had much experience raising extremely young children. His duties often got in the way, but now he would have to raise the child until he could find a suitable wet nurse. Hopefully he would find one that would see Naruto as a helpless baby and not as an avatar of destruction in human form.
(Konoha, Hidden ROOT Base)
Danzo entered the hidden ROOT base of Konoha, walking towards his office. The Sandaime had ordered ROOT to be disbanded years ago due to the harsh training it subjected shinobi-to-be through. Of course, just because the Sandaime told Danzo to disband ROOT did not mean he would actually do it. The organization had too many advantages being hidden in the shadows to be completely broken down and scattered. While the Hokage's job was for publicity and more visible problems such as border disputes, economic woes, and strength demonstration, Danzo's job as head of ROOT was to deal with the more hidden, underground issues, both domestic and foreign that threatened Konoha.
The base itself was rather spartan in configuration. Dimly lit hallways led to various rooms throughout the complex, with members either training or waiting for mission updates. The environment Danzo supplied his shinobi with was extremely efficient at creating emotionless tools that would gladly give their lives for the good of Konoha. In Danzo's opinion, emotions led to war, pain, and hatred. Therefore, removing them would lead to less war, pain, and hatred. For some reason, most people did not see the logic in his ideas, but that was not too important. ROOT, despite its small size, did its job admirably, which left Danzo satisfied.
He reached his wooden office door, opened it, and sat in a chair behind his metal desk. He had not expected that masked man to be the one behind the Kyuubi attack. The man had simply appeared in front of Danzo half a year ago, giving him some information on a small group named Akatsuki. The group was situated in Amegakure, or the Village Hidden in the Rain. The masked man had been subtly telling Danzo that the group was becoming extremely powerful and might pose a threat to Konoha, which had prompted him to start negotiating with Hanzo, despite his ire towards him.
With the masked man being the mastermind behind the Kyuubi's release, he would have to take all of the information he had been supplied with a grain of salt, not that he didn't already. Perhaps Akatsuki could wait. Historically, Ame's location had dealt it much damage throughout the Great Shinobi Wars, which led to many orphans being seen on the streets. Akatsuki was apparently comprised of those orphaned children. If that was the case, then it was likely they had less than adequate abilities. If the group could fight Hanzo, then Akatsuki would either splinter and die, or Hanzo would be killed. Either situation was win-win in Danzo's opinion. For now, Amegakure was a neutral nation.
With the current status quo, war was not likely to come again for quite some time.
Perhaps, Danzo thought, For once, ROOT will not interfere with such issues.
(Kirigakure, Days After Kyuubi Attack in Konoha)
In a misty land across the sea, while lying in his bed, the Yondaime Mizukage, Yagura, blinked for a few moments in confusion. He heard some rumbles in his head about "damned doujutsu techniques" before taking a deep breath.
A genjutsu had been controlling him, that he knew. He was completely aware of all of his actions, such as his propaganda against wielders of kekkei genkai, as well as the instating of a new, gruesome ninja academy graduation exam. Kiri was already weak at the moment, despite having not participated in any of the Great Shinobi Wars. Why would his controller want to start a genocide against those who held kekkei genkai?
Yagura closed his eyes for a moment, choosing to converse with his tenant. The effects of the genjutsu were completely dispelled, which led him to believe the bastard who had initially used it was now dead. Such a powerful genjutsu would not have been removed unless the man himself ended it or had died. His tenant believed it was the latter, which was a positive thing. However, the turmoil Kirigakure was undergoing at the moment was not.
Yagura was practically asking for a civil war if he continued with his persecutions. In the long run, this would be detrimental to both Kiri's economy and military might. Kekkei genkei were useful, regardless of the stigma regarding them. Their bloodlines could be used as tools, like how the Swordsman each used their own unique weapon for combat.
The Kaguya Clan's attack and consequent destruction had only increased fear towards those with special blood. Yagura did not know why the masked man wanted the continued persecution of kekkei genkei, but he had his work cut out for him at the moment. He would have to quell the distrust of those with special bloodlines and make it seem as if the Kaguya's attack was an isolated incident. He did not think that would be too difficult considering the clan's past and how bloodthirsty they were.
Luckily, there were a few people that had been trying to convince him of that fact that held positions of power. They were likely to be lynched by those who were against kekkei genkei and by those who had lost loved ones by the attack, but Yagura would have to start changing his policies. The civilians were easily affected by falsification and myths, so why not tell the truth? Through this, he hoped to end the persecution.
Next would be the graduation exam. It had been instated by his predecessor as a sort of experiment and it was hoped that it would turn out stronger soldiers. Yagura did not like it when he was vying for Mizukage. It ended up reducing their overall numbers, especially since many shinobi died when they first started to attempt higher-ranking missions. Less civilians and ninja-born children would attend the academy for fear of death.
Yagura sat up from the comfy bed in the Mizukage quarters he had been given upon taking the title and went to the window, looking up at the moon in the sky. Oddly enough, it was a clear night, but it did get Yagura to ponder how his change in personality would be taken. There was some distrust when he suddenly promoted the graduation exam in the first place, after all. Should he tell his village how he was under a powerful genjutsu that was controlling him?
No. That would give out the image of a weak Kage, especially considering his container status. For a jinchuriki to reach the level of Kage was unprecedented and a seemingly weak jinchuriki Kage would demean both Kiri and any future jinchuriki. Despite his stature, Yagura was a living example of how the demon containers could be accepted, respected, and hailed as worthy leaders regardless of the rumors and myths that oftentimes formed around them.
With his better judgment returned, Yagura swore to change Kirigakure.
It would be the best revenge against the actions of that monster.
(Konoha, One Year After Kyuubi Attack)
Sarutobi Hiruzen sighed as he finished reviewing the reconstruction reports on Konoha. Progress was nearly complete and Hiruzen had managed to find a suitable wet nurse for Naruto. However, Jiraiya had stated that he would return to look upon his godson sometime soon. He had been out tracking Orochimaru, but had had little luck finding the elusive Sannin traitor.
Moving onwards, there was another petition, only this one was pertaining to Naruto, or 'that thing' as some of the villagers had taken to calling him. The Hokage shook his head in irritation and threw the petition into the wastebasket next to his desk. There had been an attempted attack on Naruto, but the ANBU he assigned to guarding the young child and his current guardian made it clear that aggression was not tolerated. It would probably take a few more attempts before the attacks would stop. Luckily, most adults did not want anything to do with the young child and so the ANBU were not required to do much.
Hiruzen straightened as he heard a tapping on the window next to him. He opened the window, allowing entrance to one of his former students. Jiraiya gave his old sensei a toothy grin before jumping into the office.
Jiraiya was a tall man with long, waist-length, spiky white hair. He wore a horned forehead protector that had the kanji for oil inscribed on it. A green short-shirt kimono with matching pants was what he had on, along with a red cloak, hand guards, and fishnet mesh armor underneath everything else. On his feet were two wooden geta that he walked with practiced ease. He carried himself straight and strong, a testament to his confidence and the power he could wield.
After an exchange of greetings, Jiraiya took to leaning against a nearby wall while folding his arms. "So, how are you liking putting the hat back on?" The Hokage blinked at the nonchalant statement.
"I am doing fine for the moment, Jiraiya. I am honestly surprised you had not dropped by earlier. Do you not want to see your own godson?" Despite the minor jab, the Sandaime knew why Jiraiya did not have the time to see or take care of his godson.
Jiraiya had the decency to wince at that. He chuckled sheepishly while rubbing the back of his head. "Sorry, sensei. You know what I've been busy doing. I've had no luck, but there were rumors sprouting of a group in Ame that is gaining power in order to wrest control from Hanzo." Hiruzen's interest was momentarily piqued as he raised an eyebrow.
Jiraiya continued, "Yeah, they call themselves Akatsuki. I'm not sure who's in the group itself, but Ame is probably going to enter a civil war. The group itself wants to end suffering, apparently." The elder Hokage nodded, prompting Jiraiya to keep speaking. "Speaking of civil wars, there's actually one going on in Kiri. It's supposed to be all hush-hush, but the Mizukage is attempting to end discrimination of kekkei genkei wielders." Hiruzen hummed in thought. He had known about Yagura's previous disposition towards the kekkei genkei wielders, but to hear it change was something else.
The Hokage folded his hands and raised them to his chin for a moment, thinking about the ramifications of Kiri's civil war. In Konoha, kekkei genkei were beloved and honored. Perhaps if Kiri ended up having a similar outlook, negotiations for trade routes could be opened, even allowing both villages to grow closer with time. If the villages did grow closer, an alliance could come to fruition.
However, it was well-known that Kumo and Iwa were both sore over the end of the latest war and having more offensive power would be helpful in steering them away from renewed conflict with Konoha. Of course, the possible relationship between Leaf and Mist could be seen as Konoha trying to exert more power and influence over a wider area of land, something which would irritate the leaders of Cloud and Stone to no end. He would have to tread carefully.
Hiruzen was cut off from his musings by Jiraiya clearing his throat. The Sandaime Hokage closed his eyes before responding, "Before you leave, promise me that you will see your godson. It is what Minato and Kushina would have wanted." Despite not seeing any indication of Jiraiya's acquiescence, the Hokage knew that his past student would listen.
"I heard that you had seen them when they died."
The Sandaime Hokage swallowed, trying to wet his throat for words that might not come. "...I did." he stated simply. Attempting to bring additional words only made the pain hurt more.
A forlorn look crossed Jiraiya's face before he walked towards the window he had previously entered from. He uttered a quick good-bye to his sensei before jumping out and heading towards where he knew Naruto would be. He would have to sneak in to see him, otherwise his visit would raise suspicion.
After all, why would a shinobi of Jiraiya's fame and caliber want to visit that 'thing'?
(Amekagure, Three Years After Kyuubi Attack on Konoha)
Hanzo collapsed to the ground, numerous injuries marring his body. Three people watched him fall before they started to tend to their own injuries. One of them, a pale woman with an origami paper flower in her blue hair, looked to have the least amount of damage done to her. As she tended to a slightly tanned man with spiky orange hair, her gray eyes flickered over to another man with long, flowing red hair. His own injuries were steadily knitting together, far quicker than would be considered normal. His gray-purple eyes, containing the concentric rings of a legendary doujutsu, met hers, and he gave her a tentative smile.
"We... we did it," the orange-haired man said.
"We can finally start your dream, Yahiko," the blue-haired woman added.
"Our dream, Konan. Our dream," the red-haired one finished.
The battle itself had been intense and each of them had nearly died on several occasions. It was only thanks to Konan's special mastery over paper that she had been able to distract Hanzo enough to stop him from focusing on her friends. Yahiko's mastery of water jutsu helped keep Ibuse, Hanzo's gigantic summoned salamander, from launching surprise attacks by making it clear where it would pop up through the waterlogged soil.
The red-haired Nagato was the one who dealt the finishing blow through manipulation of gravity. Even then, the large, gas-mask wearing man had stood up, congratulated the three, and told them that he respected their power moments before falling. Around the demolished battlefield were craters, small pockets of water, and bodies of both Akatsuki's members and Hanzo's men. Quite a few of Akatsuki's members had retreated after the majority of their opponents were killed, thus allowing the main three to team up and defeat Hanzo.
Yahiko stood up and glanced down at Konan before helping her up. He gave Nagato a large grin and sauntered over to him with a slight limp. "I suppose it's time we contact Jiraiya-sensei, right? He might be interested in our grand adventures," Yahiko joked with a flourish of his right arm.
"You're going to end up exaggerating everything we do, Yahiko," Konan remarked with a wry smile.
Nagato, on the other hand, remained quiet. With Amegakure free from Hanzo's militaristic regime, he was one step closer to achieving Yahiko's- Akatsuki's- dream. The Ame trio wanted their village to remain neutral until some of the unrest was quelled. No one would seriously challenge them since they were able to best Hanzo, but they would need to make changes once they were accepted by the majority of the village. Afterward, with Amegakure stabilized, Nagato would begin advocating the ideals he had come to cultivate when Akatsuki was first formed.
If there is such a thing as peace, Nagato thought, I will find it.
(Konoha, Eight Years After Kyuubi Attack)
Uchiha Fugaku was annoyed. Eight years, eight years of dealing with the suspicion of the council towards his own clan was starting to grate on his nerves. In all honesty, he was amazed he had held out for so long. Apparently, Mikoto had been able to slightly temper him.
From his seat in his home where a clan meeting was held, Fugaku snorted as he waited for the members to take their seats. He noted that Itachi was actually present for this particular meeting. Idly, he wondered if that meant that Itachi had something to report for once. Fugaku also noticed Shishui taking a seat next to Itachi.
Once the most powerful and influential members of the Uchiha Clan were settled, Fugaku cleared his throat and stood up, his onyx eyes sweeping across the room while he wore his characteristic frown. "I believe you all know why we are here. Ever since that attack eight years ago, we have been held in suspicion, despite the strength our presence grants the Hidden Leaf.
"Perhaps it is time for the Uchiha to retaliate. Should Konoha realize the power we wield? The influence we exert? How strong we make the village itself? What should we do, brothers?" Fugaku finished with a grandiose sweep of his arm. The meeting room erupted in chaos, various members stating their agreement or wary disagreement. Itachi and Shishui exchanged glances and waited for the members to quiet down.
One of the clan members, Yashiro, decided to speak up. "Fugaku, should we really go through with this? It will, undoubtedly, cause grievous losses to both the village and our clan." With Konoha weakened, enemy villages would descend upon them like vultures. It would end in the destruction of Konoha.
Murmurs of assent rippled through the gathered clan members before Fugaku responded. "Do you not remember what occurred after the Kyuubi Attack? We were moved nearer to the edge of the village for matters that we had no power over! Should we not end these transgressions?"
More murmuring, before a member mentioned possible rejection even if the coup d'etat succeeded. Such an action would, as Yashiro stated, cause heavy losses to Konoha and the Uchiha. As such, opposition would surface and those who had lost loved ones and friends during the coup would harbor ill-will towards the Uchiha. With the members currently divided upon which action to choose, Itachi choose to rise from his seat, garnering the attention of his fellow clan members.
"Otou-sama, I have information that might interest you." Fugaku gave his eldest son, the pride of their clan, a hard look before giving him the floor. Itachi continued, "With the duties you assigned me, I was able to glean knowledge of the Hokage's actions." Fugaku's eyes gleamed in triumph and he opened his mouth to speak-
"He plans to issue a formal apology for the apprehension of his advisers and to return to us our traditional clan grounds." Itachi's declaration shocked Fugaku into staring at him with his jaw hanging. It was a comical sight, really.
Fugaku began to protest until Shishui asserted that Itachi's word was sound and reminded the clan that they had a duty to their own and to their village. Itachi was simply doing both in an attempt to avert needless chaos and death. In addition, Shishui brought the Hokage's past actions to light- the Sandaime had been attempting to reach out to the Uchiha, but was subverted or ignored by his advisers and the Uchiha, respectively.
The opinions of the members quickly went towards avoiding an internal war after a brief discussion. Although many did not completely believe Itachi, Fugaku had decided to call for an audience with the Hokage.
"Hey, aniki, why are you so happy? You've had that dumb look on your face ever since you picked me up."
Itachi brought onyx orbs down upon his younger brother, who was smirking at his previous jab. Itachi gave Sasuke a soft smile before replying, "It is nothing, outouto. Come on, kaa-san should have some food for us."
Sasuke hurried ahead of Itachi towards what would soon be their ex-clan grounds. The Hokage, as he had told Itachi beforehand, had been completely honest. Itachi was, in effect, double-crossing the Uchiha as he was spying for the Hokage under the guise of spying for his clan. Itachi believed the situation would escalate, but the Sandaime had imprinted upon him a special piece of information and then implored Itachi to pass on a message to his father.
While the situation was resolved, there was still some tension, but it was likely to fade with time. His father had accepted the formal apology and had admitted (Itachi still couldn't believe his father had done that) to having thoughts about attempting a coup, which was waved off by the Sandaime, despite the insistence of his advisers for deeper questioning.
The Hokage had simply said that he trusted Fugaku.