A/N: So, I got this idea from re-watching Naruto and Sasuke's encounter after Sasuke defeats Danzo. Naruto says, what if we were in each other's places, or something like that. Minato has a new plan for sealing the Kyuubi, and Naruto ends up meeting Sasuke's family in a very different fashion from canon. I own nothing but my ideas.
CHAPTER 1 - Heroes: The Beginning
Minato looked around at all of the grim faces of the men and women in his office. He too felt the fear they felt, but none of the doubt. Looking out of the window of his office, Minato had a clear view of the battle in the distance. The orange sky, whether a manifestation of the despair Konoha felt that day or a natural sunset, was harshly lyrical. All of nature held its breath as the Kyuubi roared its challenge.
Turning back to the clan heads gathered in what was an impromptu war council, Minato shut out the feelings of despair. He was Hokage, and as such, he would act as one. They needed to accept his plan. It was the only way…
"Are you sure this will work, Hokage-sama?" A voice suddenly spoke up.
"I swear on my life." The conviction behind the blonde-haired man's words could not possibly have left doubt in the minds of the clan heads. Looking at each other, everybody in the room realized the somber truth: that this was their only chance to stop the carnage around them. Finally, Fugaku Uchiha spoke up. "But what about the second child. You said that you already had one host, your son, but what about the second host?"
Minato looked at Fugaku. His plan was bold indeed. He was planning on sealing the fox away, but in order to ensure that the hosts would be able to control the fox, he would be separating the fox's yin and yang chakra. The past Jinchuuriki of Konoha had been able to control the Kyuubi, but that was only because that they either had special chakra or kekkei genkai. His own son, Naruto, and most likely the second child, would have neither.
The only problem was, the new eight trigrams seal and heavenly spiral seal he had devised would only be able to work on a newly born child, not even a month old. It was an issue with the host adapting to the minute seepage of the tailed beast's chakra. His son had been born that night, so he had one child, but what about the other?
"And that is why I gathered you all here. I must ask for one you to volunteer a child under your jurisdiction to be a joint Jinchuuriki with Naruto. He or she must be a newborn, under a month old."
The clan elders all looked shocked. "WHAT?!" Choza Akimichi shouted out. "Are you insane?!" He was clearly angered by the absurdity of such a request, as were the other clan heads.
Minato looked back with steel in his eyes. "You heard me, Choza. I need one of you to volunteer a child from your clan to become a Jinchuuriki." Stopping the outpouring of replies with a wave of his hand, Minato continued. "Normally, I would seal the fox in myself, but performing the seal will kill me." Minato paused to let the clan heads absorb this information. It wasn't the whole truth, but he preferred that only a few trusted be given knowledge of the seals.
"The seal I've designed needs time to stabilize the Biju within the Jinchuuriki. On my death, there is a chance that the Kyuubi will be released, which is why I need a young child. I'm sorry to ask, but again, does someone want to volunteer?"
All the elders looked away in silent shame. Their Hokage would never have asked such a question unless he was not sacrificing everything he had. To even contemplate sacrificing one's child, and atop that, one's family for the village… Well, who could be so selfless? This was why everybody was stunned when Fugaku said, "Sasuke will be the joint Jinchuuriki."
Whispers swirled around the minds of the assembled shinobi.
Fugaku? No way!
Why would he do something like this?
What's the catch?
The clan heads all glanced at Fugaku suspiciously. Minato looked at the man who had been his long time friend and rival. "Fugaku, are you sure?"
The others present who knew of Fugaku's icy nature all had the same questioning look. The famous Uchiha pride seemed above making such sacrifices.
Fugaku returned the steely look. "Of course, Minato," he said, dropping the honorific, to show how serious he was. "I am an Uchiha, and like everybody else here, we have a responsibility towards Konoha." He was an Uchiha at heart, and his pride and loyalty for the village compelled him to sacrifice for the village. Besides, he owed at least this to Minato, the man sacrificing his life, family, and even morals for the sake of Konoha.
Even a sacrifice such as this. His heart wrenched as he thought of Sasuke.
Minato nodded. "Alright, everybody move out. Assist the evacuation process. I want to make sure that everybody's safe by the time I get a containment seal up. Let's move! We have a village to protect!" With that, Minato disappeared in a yellow flash. All the clan heads nodded and raced away, hoping to save their precious village and people.
The small baby squirmed in Minato's arms, as if it knew what was going to happen soon. "Shh, Naruto. It'll be alright. I promise." Minato looked out from the top of the Hokage's tower, then down sadly at his son. Kushina Uzumaki, his beloved wife and Naruto's mother had been killed by Uchiha Madara not even an hour ago. The masked man had been enigmatic at best, but his intentions toward the village had been clear. There had been a feel of vengeance about the man.
Minato had fought the masked alleged-immortal and driven Madara away, proving that his legendary status was well-merited. Wresting control of the Kyuubi away from Madara, Minato was able to prevent the total annihilation of the village. But the problem remained that the Kyuubi itself was still rampaging at the gates of Konoha.
Shaking away his gloom, Minato repositioned Naruto into a more comfortable position and plunged headlong into the chaotic streets, shouting out words of encouragement to the villagers being evacuated. A "Stay strong" here, and an "I'll take care of it" there renewed the villagers' faith in their charismatic leader.
But when Minato arrived in the village center, he was horrified at the sight that he saw in the distance. Even a quarter mile away from the village, the Kyuubi was gigantic, able to be seen clearly. Minato could distinctly see the Kyuubi drawing in chakra towards its mouth, readying for a devastating attack. An eerie red glow came into being, casting lurid shadows on the village and Minato felt a tugging in his gut.
The Kyuubi was aiming straight for the Hokages' monument! The Tailed Beast Bomb! Minato thought, a pang in his heart as he remembered his isolated training sessions with Kushina. Quickly jumping up to the higher buildings in the village, Minato hoped to step in front of the projectile and redirect it with his Flying Thunder God Jutsu.
But as soon as the chakra missile left the fox's maw, a huge gate with a demonic face leering out rose up to intercept the bomb. A blinding white light exploded across the entire village, but when the attack died, the gate was gone… and the village was still safe.
A rousing cheer arose from the shinobi fighting at the front lines. Minato breathed a sigh of relief. Orochimaru's jutsu. It's good that Sarutobi-san picked that up from his student. Continuing on his way, Minato's step had an added urgency, lest another attack like the Tailed Beast Bomb occur. Arriving at the Front Gates, the Hokage was greeted by the sight of dead and injured comrades laying in the scattered debris. Steeling his heart, Minato broadened his senses. The fox was about a quarter mile away. Sarutobi was drawing it away from the village. Good.
Several ANBU dropped silently next to Minato, who was already falling into what others had dubbed 'Hokage mode.' Minato barked out, "Report!"
"Hokage-sama! The fox tore through our defenses! Sandaime-Sama was able to prevent the destruction of the village and right now, he's leading it away! He ordered a general retreat for all shinobi in the area. He is holding back the fox on his own and he won't last long without backup!"
"Backup's on the way," Minato said, already moving toward the sounds of battle and where he knew Sarutobi would be battling the Kyuubi. "Just get a containment seal up in another five! Evacuate everybody - and I mean everybody - from the immediate vicinity! Take the wounded to the hospital! No more casualties!" Already racing away, Minato turned back and called out, "And when Fugaku Uchiha arrives, let him through!"
The ANBU agents nodded, and after picking up their wounded comrades around them, shunshin'd to the other shinobi to spread the word, flickering away in the still air.
Minato sped through the trees toward the fox's overwhelming chakra signature. He had to hurry. Fugaku would arrive soon, and he had to stop the fox from reaching and destroying the village.
Minato arrived about 60 yards away from the fox, landing next to Hiruzen Sarutobi, the former Hokage. The Third was breathing hard, having laid everything on the line and ready to do so again.
Minato took a second to take in his bearings. Around the fox, Minato noticed that there was a huge clearing where felled trees created an obstacle course of sorts, but there was nothing to obstruct long range attacks. That was good. Then the Kyuubi gave another terrifying roar.
Its roar, filled with rage towards the puny humans that dared to rise against it, was so strong that Minato needed to channel chakra to his own feet to remain standing.
He saw that the Third had used an earth jutsu to bind the Kyuubi in place, but nature itself could not stand to be near such a malevolent force. The dirt was cracking and falling apart already.
"Minato! I'm glad you're here. This fox is taking everything I'm throwing at it and spitting it back out. I was able to restrict its movements, but it'll break out soon!"
"Don't worry. I've got a plan. But first, I'd like you to meet my son, Naruto Namikaze."
The sadness in Minato's voice wasn't lost on the Third, nor was the blank and hollow look in his normally bright and lively eyes. Looking at the bundle in Minato's arms, he saw a pair of shining blue eyes. For a moment, time stood still in the battle with the Kyuubi. "He looks like you, Minato," he commented. "He'll grow up a fine young man. Though I dread the reason you would bring him to this battlefield, of all places."
Minato figured that the Third would see through his plan. Doing his best to push down the grief threatening to spill over, Minato said, "Kushina's dead. The one of who- who killed her unleashed the Kyuubi… right after she gave birth." Finishing in a rush, Minato's voice broke even as he thought about the death of his wife.
"What?" The Third cried out, alarmed at this development. Seeing the fox loose, Hiruzen had immediately known that something was wrong, but he had hoped... Biwako... Kushina. Even as the grief he felt for his wife redoubled in his own heart, his thoughts went out to his successor, who looked deep in contemplation.
Kushina had given her grudging approval for Minato's plan, but had made her husband promise to find a way to allow them to see Naruto one last time in the future. His heart broke when her eyes closed for the last time, but Minato was the Hokage, and he had a job to do. Taking a deep breath, Minato focused his mind back to the crisis at hand. As if Kushina's death isn't already a crisis, the Yondaime Hokage thought bitterly.
"Yes," Minato replied, calming the waver in his voice. "I drove him off, but before he fled, the killer claimed to be Uchiha Madara, exacting revenge on the village. Although I don't believe him, you should still be wary in the future."
The Third saw the grief in Minato's face, and noticed that Minato had said you, not we. "Minato, please tell me that you aren't going to do what I think."
Minato looked up at Hiruzen Sarutobi, nodding as his eyes filled with an incomparable depth of sadness. "I'm going to seal away the fox in my son, but only half of the Kyuubi."
"What do you mean?" Trying to quell the sadness in his heart, the Third grunted as he felt the control over his jutsu breaking.
"He means," A third voice said, "That my son will be housing the other half of the Kyuubi's chakra."
Hiruzen turned to the newcomer, surprised that his fatigue had prevented him from sensing him, but even more so to see Fugaku Uchiha. In the past, political resentments would have brought about tension, but today was altogether exceptional. Both men nodded at each other, a tacit agreement formed to put aside the past.
Suddenly, the Third fell to one knee as the Kyuubi gave a roar, breaking free of the binding jutsu. "It's loose! Minato!" Hiruzen called out.
"On it! Take Naruto!" Minato cried, handing his son to his predecessor. Forming hand seals in a blur, Minato called out, "Lightning Style: Lightning Storm!" Slamming his hands to the ground, the sky rumbled, before unleashing a pillar of lightning right on the fox.
"GRRRRAAAAHHHHH!" The fox roared out in rage. Its fur was singed, and the smell of burnt flesh wafted into the air. "I WILL NOT BE DEFEATED TODAY!" The fox roared as it gathered chakra for another tailed beast bomb.
Minato stepped back, panting lightly. That jutsu was usually a big finisher and quite chakra intensive, even for his above average stores. However, it only seemed to annoy the fox. "Stay back," Minato ordered Hiruzen and Fugaku. "And don't move. I've got this." Fugaku and the Third trusted Minato, but even they had to fight their instincts as the volatile chakra missile shot toward them.
His hands blurring as he formed another set of seals, Minato put his hands forward, palms toward the tailed beast bomb. No words were said as Minato activated his jutsu. A void seemed to open up, right in front of the fox's attack, sucking it right into Minato's space-time slipstream. Minato grit his teeth at the effort and concentration the jutsu required to redirect the attack.
Giving a mighty yell, Minato pushed forward with his hands, redirecting the tailed beast bomb back out straight at the fox.
"YOU LITTLE-!" The fox roared in surprised anger. It tried to move out of the way too late. The chakra missile collided with the fox and the world became blinding white and a deafening roar for an instant. When the light died and the dust cleared, the Kyuubi was down on the ground, panting hard, trying to recover from his own attack. Minato had completely redirected a tailed beast bomb, crippling the Kyuubi if only for a moment.
"CAPTIVITY! PATHETIC!" The fox roared at itself frustratedly as it tried to stand, before stumbling forward. It never expected that his own attack could be used against him in such a way. The last human to push him this far was the Shodai Hokage.
Minato nearly fell over, trying to stay upright after performing his jutsu. His chakra levels were now roughly a quarter of his full stores. Such a large scale use of the Hiraishin was draining. After maybe one more jutsu, he'd have just enough to see the sealing through.
Fugaku and the Third rushed over to help Minato. They were amazed at the level of Minato's prowess. It was unreal. To go toe to toe with a tailed beast!
"Hokage-sama, are you alright?" Fugaku asked, still holding Sasuke with one arm.
"Yes! I'll hold up, but we have to finish this now! Fugaku, Sarutobi-san! Cover me!" Minato ordered, before rushing forward, oblivious to everything except the goal of saving his village. You mess with my village, you mess with me! Minato thought grimly.
"Damn!" The Third yelled out. "Fugaku! My chakra stores are nearly gone. Give me Sasuke, and cover Minato!"
Fugaku merely nodded, placing his complete trust in the older man as he gave his son to the Third. He rushed off in Minato's wake, unleashing several devastating fire jutsus on the downed fox.
Meanwhile, Minato, seeing that the fox was starting to recover from the effects of the tailed beast bomb and Fugaku's jutsus, threw one of his special Hiraishin kunai over the fox's head. Teleporting to the location of the kunai, high above the fox's head, Minato made five hand seals in quick progression. "Summoning Jutsu: Food Cart Destroyer!" Minato cried out during his descent. In an instant explosion of smoke, a huge toad materialized and slammed onto the fox with the force of several hundred tons.
The fox roared out in muffled pain and anger as its entire body was crushed by the boss summon of the toads. Minato landed on top of the toad he had just summoned. "My thanks, 'Bunta. I hate to involve you in this fight, but I need you to stop the fox from moving!"
"Minato! You summon me to fight the Kyuubi?!" Gamabunta asked in surprise. He was strong sure, but the Nine-tailed fox was on a whole other level. Maybe a lesser demon, but the Kyuubi? Doubtful.
"This fight won't last much longer, but we need to protect the village! And… my son..." Minato trailed off sadly.
The boss of the toads was surprised to hear that Minato had jeopardized the life of his child by bringing it into a battle with the Kyuubi. "You brought your son?! Are you mad, kid?!" 'Bunta asked angrily. Already, he had taken out his tanto, squirming to gain a better position above the struggling and roaring Kyuubi.
Minato's reply was equally steely. "I plan to seal the Kyuubi into my son. It's the only way…" He trailed off as he thought about the possible futures that Naruto might face.
Gamabunta was silent for a second. For it to come to this, Minato must be desperate. He's a man of honor, and to have to sacrifice his family… well, that must be driving Minato crazy with guilt. 'Bunta thought sadly. And I'm certainly not helping.
"Alright Minato. Do it now, and quick! The fox is getting loose!" Gamabunta said quickly, mind darting back to the battle at hand.
Minato recognized the gesture. "Thanks, 'Bunta. I'm going to give the key to Geratora, so when the time comes, Naruto will have the chance to control his destiny."
Gamabunta nodded, before shifting his weight again. Even wounded, the Kyuubi was putting up a fight. Grabbing the fox in a sort of head lock, Bunta addressed the summoner on his head.
"Kid! We've gotta finish this before the Kyuubi gets free! I'm not gonna be able to hold him forever!" The Boss toad yelled, before unsheathing his sword and stabbing the Kyuubi through its hind leg.
"GRAAAAAAHHHH! YOU'LL PAY FOR THAT, YOU DISGUSTING FROG!" The Kyuubi yelled in pain and anger, thrashing around under the weight of the Boss Toad.
"Hurry up, Minato!" Gamabunta yelled, shifting his full weight to the fox beneath him. "And it's Mr. Toad to you! You overgrown furbag!"
Ignoring the verbal and physical exchange between the two behemoths, Minato teleported to the seal that he had marked Naruto with, appearing right next to the Third. Fugaku and the Third had already retreated back a ways, to keep the children safe.
"Okay. We have to start this now, before the fox breaks free from 'Bunta!" Minato cut his hand with a kunai and started drawing the trigrams for his seal. He had practiced this several times before, and the seal diagram came easily. After a minute, he was finished. "Ok. Hiruzen, pass me Naruto."
Taking his son from the former Hokage, Minato gently placed his son toward the right of the seal.
Minato gestured toward the Uchiha. "Fugaku, place Sasuke next to Naruto."
Fugaku moved forward, placing his son in the empty slot. Taking a moment, he touched Sasuke's face with a tenderness he did not often display. The leader of the Uchiha remembered the determination and the strength his own wife displayed when he told her of Minato's plan… and Sasuke's part in the plan. "Son, I'm so sorry, but this is for the good of the village. Please forgive me, for I know that you will be able to handle this."
Minato glanced worriedly at the battle between 'Bunta and the Kyuubi. The tables were turning slowly but surely. The destruction all around them was all too real of a reminder. "No pressure, Fugaku, but we have to start the sealing now!"
Fugaku nodded, and stepped away from his son. Minato thanked him, and finished the sealing complex on both Naruto and Sasuke.
Meanwhile, the Third had gotten back up, half his chakra replenished by a soldier pill. "Minato will probably need cover," he said to Fugaku. "We must protect the children from anything that could disrupt the sealing."
Fugaku nodded in response. As one, both men primed up their chakra and yelled out their jutsus in unison.
"Fire Style: Super Heated Particle!"
"Fire Style: Dragon Missile Jutsu! Uchiha Style!"
Twin massive projectiles of fire arced across the battleground, blasting the Kyuubi in the face. Dazed for a bit, the demon fox stopped struggling for a moment.
"Minato! Now!" Gamabunta yelled out, seeing the window of opportunity.
Minato took his chance and teleported to the mark he had left on Gamabunta's head. Throwing a kunai right toward the fox's head, Minato teleported, landing neatly on the Kyuubi's head. Looking up, Minato gazed right into the massive eyes of the Nine-Tails. They were filled with hate and malice.
The Kyuubi glared at him with those hateful, yellow, slitted eyes. The fox's chakra was so potent and filled with hate, it made Minato's limbs feel heavy with despair. "I KNOW WHAT YOU TRY TO DO! YOU WILL NEVER SUCCEED! I WON'T LET YOU!" The fox growled out, as it tried to get out from under Gamabunta.
Minato just looked the fox straight in the eye. "I have a village to protect, so I WILL succeed!"
The fox just growled as it struggled against Gamabunta's weight.
"DIIIIEEEE!" The Kyuubi continued to struggle, dislodging Gamabunta's tanto from the ground and freeing his limb.
Gathering his courage and shutting out the voice of the fox, fueling his own feelings of misgiving and despair, the Fourth Hokage raised his hands toward the fox. "Draw!" He yelled. Using his own chakra as a focal point, Minato drew out the Kyuubi's Yin chakra.
The Kyuubi's eyes widened as it felt its power leaving it. The demon fox started to shrink to half of its normal size, becoming visibly emaciated. "HOW ARE YOU SO STRONG?!"
Minato only gritted his teeth and kept on drawing away the fox's chakra, his will inexorable. When he was finished, a red mass of boiling yin energy hovered above his hands. As he ran back to Sasuke and Naruto, the Kyuubi, smaller than before, managed to wriggle away from Gamabunta and unleash another chakra missile at Minato. Not even looking up, Minato kept on running, placing his trust in his comrades.
When the missile was only twenty meters away, the Third appeared in front of the projectile, signing several hand seals in a blur. "Earth Style: Multi-Layered Protective Wall!" A huge mound of stone and earth rose in the path of the projectile.
The explosion that resulted blew over several trees and released a blinding white light, but everybody was safe for the moment. The Third breathed a sigh of relief and exhaustion, as he released his jutsu. The fox was still putting up one heck of a fight.
Gamabunta jumped into action, literally, landing on the fox again and gripped it's neck in a strong headlock. "You won't escape me that easily!" Bunta yelled gruffly.
Minato managed to stay on his feet from the resultant blast and maintained control over the Kyuubi's chakra, held above his right hand. As he ran toward Sasuke and Naruto, the Third and Fugaku continued pummeling the fox with every jutsu they had, hoping to wear down the fox.
Kneeling before the children, in a split second decision, Minato decided to place the Yin chakra in Sasuke. When he awoke the Sharingan, he would have an easier time controlling the Yin, rather than the Yang chakra, given the spiritual nature of the Sharingan and Yin energy.
Minato was glad that he had designed his seal to completely separate the minds of the Biju and their host. He had heard of crude seals where the Biju was able to overwhelm its host. He was not going to let that happen to Naruto or Sasuke.
Setting aside his misgivings, Minato started to seal the chakra into Sasuke, and when he was finished, he yelled, "Heavenly Spiral, Seal!" A spiral marking drew itself quickly over Sasuke's stomach. The Heavenly Spiral seal was the initial seal holding the Kyuubi's Yin chakra in place. "Eight Trigrams, seal!" The Eight Trigrams seal would allow that chakra to seep slowly into the host, and allow the host to adapt to the Biju.
Seeing the familiar eight points appear on the edge of the spiral, Minato cut off the chakra flow to his jutsu. The young baby passed out, his body overwhelmed by the presence of a new being.
Gamabunta was having a hard time restraining the Kyuubi, who was getting angrier and angrier by the moment, despite Fugaku and Hiruzen's attacks.
Minato, seeing the urgency of the situation, teleported back to the seal he had placed on the Kyuubi's head. Minato shrugged off the heavy weight of the Kyuubi's intense, hateful chakra, ready to finish with the sealing process.
"SCUM! I WILL KILL YOU FOR THIS! EVEN IF IT'S THE LAST THING I DO!" The Kyuubi roared out, unable to believe that this pathetic human was defeating him. Not to mention his oversized bag of warts! He had grown complacent in his captivity.
"One more time! Draw!" As Minato started to draw out the fox's Yang chakra, he felt something strange. Although the fox had lost its yin chakra, it was fighting much more aggressively this time around. Narrowing his eyes, Minato realized that the fox was drawing his own chakra out!
Oh crap! This is not good! Minato thought, as he felt his own power being drained.
The fox grinned maliciously at his adversary and chuckled. A deep throaty chuckle that imbued fear into the depths of Minato's mind. Even being thrashed by Gamabunta and being hit by the A-rank level jutsus of Fugaku and Hiruzen, the Kyuubi was so focused on his enemy that he ignored his wounds. If anything, the Kyuubi's will was becoming more and more empowered as he battled with Minato's will.
"HAHAHAHAHA! I WON'T BE DEFEATED SO EASILY" The fox roared out as he felt his hated opponent's life force draw into his own.
No! Minato thought, desperately, feeling more and more of his essence being swallowed by the fox's hatred. I've lost! I've failed you, Kushina, Naruto! Forgive me! But as the faces of his wife, his son, and his friends flashed before his face, Minato realized that he couldn't give up. Not here! Not now!
"Minato!" Fugaku roared from across the battlefield. "Don't give up!"
"Think of those who rely on you!" The Third yelled in encouragement.
"You can do this, kid! You're stronger than this furbag!" Bunta said, while renewing his struggle on the fox.
They - they're right! Minato thought with renewed conviction. I have people to save. They're counting on me! I will not let Kushina's death be in vain! I have to do this! I will not give up!
"I WILL NOT GIVE UP!" Minato roared out. Finding strength that he never knew was there, the Fourth Hokage turned the tide of the battle in that single instant.
The Kyuubi was shocked when Minato began to turn the tide by pure willpower alone. He felt his chakra being taken by an inexorable force.
He narrowed his eyes at the Hokage. What was this power? "HOW?"
As Minato drew away the last of the fox's chakra, he looked his enemy straight in the eye. "My precious people depend on me, and I will not fail them!"
The Kyuubi stared back, his eyes filled with hatred, but this time, there was something else. Respect. Knowing that this single man had somehow defeated him – and without a Sharingan – had humbled the Kyuubi even further, if such a thing was possible. "I WILL REMEMBER YOU, NAMIKAZE." Then in a final battle of wills, the fox gave a mighty roar, struggling in one final attempt to overcome this worthy opponent.
Feeling the crucial moment of the battle, Minato too poured his entire being into the sealing process, drawing on his memories, his loved ones. Letting forth an incoherent shout, Minato gave a great heave, drawing the fox's remaining chakra away.
Then, just like that, the rest of the fox was sealed away, it's physical body burning away without the Biju's willpower and chakra to sustain it. An eery quiet seemed to descend upon the battle scene as the Fourth Hokage trudged back to his son, holding a condensed mass of energy over his hand. The Third and Fugaku breathed a sigh of relief. The battle was almost over. They rejoined Minato, looking over the two boys whose fates were now irreversibly intertwined.
Looking at each other, the three members of Konoha's newest and deadliest secret nodded, silently encouraging each other.
Taking a deep breath, Minato sealed the remnants of the Kyuubi into Naruto. But before finalizing his seal, he poured every last bit of his own chakra into Naruto, and his wife's remaining chakra, which he had sealed in himself in anticipation of this very moment.
At least he and Kushina would be able to see their son one last time. He had kept his promise. But then, he thought about all of the promises of a father that he had broken by condemning Naruto to the life of a Jinchuuriki. He wasn't stupid. He knew that Naruto and Sasuke would most likely be outcasts in Konoha. Setting aside his feelings of guilt, Minato focused back on the task at hand.
"Seal!" His jutsu completed, Minato collapsed to his knees, the strain of his jutsu and the previous battles taking their toll. The sound of Minato's voice rolled across the war-torn battlefield, echoing with a strain of loss and hurt.
The Heavenly Spiral and Eight Trigrams seal appeared on Naruto's stomach. The village had been saved, but at the price of who was perhaps its greatest Kage. In an instant, the Third and Fugaku were there, supporting their Hokage. "Hokage-sama! You did it!" Fugaku said, supporting Minato.
Minato looked at both Fugaku and the Third with a sad smile. "Yes, but now, I must go see Kushina." Taking a racking breath, Minato coughed into his arm, still mindful of his manners even at death's doorstep.
"But first," Minato bit his thumb and summoned a large scroll, which he unfurled. In the middle of the scroll, there was a complex diagram with an empty section in the middle that had been previously drawn. Using his blood, Minato finalized the diagram, the key to the boys' seals. "Gamabunta! Give this to Geratora, please… until the time's right."
Gamabunta stepped forward taking up the small scroll somberly. Fugaku and Hiruzen were silent as Minato made his last wishes clear. Minato suddenly realized that he was crying. He looked at his son one last time, and felt a pang of regret, realizing that he wouldn't be able to be there for his son as he grew up. "T-T-Tell Naruto that I love him and that… that… I'm sorry." The blonde Hokage looked at those around him with a renewed fire in his eyes. "They're heroes, no matter what anyone says! They're heroes… heroes…"
Trailing off, Minato began to close his eyes. "It's time we're together again, Kushina." With that, Konoha's Yellow Flash and her greatest Hokage, Minato Namikaze closed his eyes for the last time.
Fugaku could only stare as his friend passed away. Minato had a smile on his face. Gamabunta as well looked on in sadness. He hoped that one day, the toads would be able to honor Minato's legacy. One day…
The Third too stood in sad contemplation. This was not the way it was meant to be. The old generation is supposed to sacrifice for the new generation. Not the other way around…
This was a sad day not only for Konoha, but for the toads as well. Minato was well loved no matter where he was. He was a man well worth the title of hero.
Gamabunta was the first to speak. "Well, Hiruzen. I will be taking my leave now. Give my regards and regret to Jiraiya when next you see him." Leaving the realm with a puff of smoke, neither shinobi realized the tears that threatened to overwhelm the boss toad's eyes.
But they were both snapped out of their reverie by the crying of the babies. Looking over the boys, both men pondered the futures of the children.
"Sarutobi-san, it appears that you are the Hokage again."
"Yes," the Third said sadly. "It appears that I am."
Fugaku continued, "We must hide all information regarding the two boys as Jinchuuriki. No one outside the shinobi council can know about this. Not even the civilian council. The village would turn against them."
"I agree, Fugaku. Which is why, although it pains me to say, you cannot adopt Naruto."
Fugaku was surprised. "How did you guess what I had planned?"
"Call it Hokage's intuition, but you are right, when you say that we cannot let any hint of what has happened to these two boys be released. They are now a double-S class secret." The Third said gravely. "If other nations got word of this, their very lives would be endangered. Especially from nations like Iwa. Think of their hate for the 'Yellow Flash of Konoha.' The chance to kill his legacies… they wouldn't be able to pass it up.
"Not only that, but to adopt a non-Uchiha into your family would certainly arouse suspicion," The Third said. "People would start inquiring, and inquiry leads to truth. And do not forget about clan politics."
Fugaku nodded reluctantly, before turning away. There were simply too many obstacles to adoption. He didn't want to admit it, but the Third was right. As much as he hated leaving Minato's son alone as he grew up, he would have to for the sake of his safety.
But then, the Third continued. "Also, Naruto will not take the surname Namikaze -"
"What?!" Fugaku burst out. "You would deny him his birthright?" To an Uchiha, the pride associated with one's name was very strong. To take away one's name… That was tantamount to exile in Fugaku's eyes.
The Third held up his hand. "Until he is old enough to properly protect himself and his father's legacy." The Third understood why Fugaku felt the way he did, but this was for Naruto's protection. "I understand that for you, Fugaku, a name holds great importance, but it is because of his name, that Naruto's life could be endangered. Sasuke has the protection of the Uchiha, but Naruto has nobody in his life who can protect him. I can only do so much from the shadows. This is for his own good. We can't afford the risk of others catching wind of Naruto being the Fourth's legacy as well as a Jinchuuriki."
Fugaku wasn't happy with the decision, but he saw the sense behind it. He bit his tongue and nodded to his Hokage, who himself was grieved by his decision.
What neither man knew was that they were not unobserved. A shadow darted away back to its master, its chakra network concealed expertly.
Now though, the destroyed forest and the ruins of the battleground surrounded the two men, enveloping them in a somber, dark, and foreboding silence that seemed to foreshadow the trials of the future. But more than that, the very forest mourned the loss of Konohagakure's greatest Kage. The fallen trees seemed to weep in silence, their branches and leaves littered all over the ground. The rocks cried out, lamenting the fates of the Fourth Hokage and Konoha's two newest Jinchuuriki.
The two men themselves were mourning internally. This was a sad day, but a glorious day at the same time. Konoha had gained a great hero that would mark its history with glory, but it had also lost a great leader, one that could have brought peace and prosperity to the village.
Just then, the ANBU Commander landed next to them. "Sandaime-sama! Uchiha-san! I saw the battle from outside the containment. Then, the fox disappeared." He noticed the sleeping babies. "What happened?"
A week after the Kyuubi attack, Konoha was rebuilding itself, wary for attacks from hostile ninja villages. The Third Hokage had returned from retirement to lead his village during its time of need.
During the hectic post-attack week, the Hokage destroyed all possible information regarding the status of Naruto and Sasuke as Jinchuuriki, such as Minato's seal designs and the minutes from his last war council with the clan heads. The only records he preserved – and those he sealed under every conceivable seal he knew – were those pertaining to Naruto's parentage.
If nobody knew of their status as Jinchuuriki, and more importantly, Naruto's parentage, then maybe they would be able to lead normal lives. An old war veteran, the Third knew that he could trust most of the the shinobi clan heads who made up the shinobi council and his ANBU Commander, but what Hiruzen wasn't counting on was Danzo.
Several days after the Kyuubi-attack, Hiruzen and Fugaku were discussing various matters regarding Naruto, Sasuke, and this man who claimed to be Uchiha Madara. The Third had told Fugaku of his conversation with Minato, and both had agreed that it was impossible for this man to have been Uchiha Madara. But to use such a feared name could potentially lead to trouble in the future.
But another matter disturbed Fugaku at the moment, and that was Naruto's wellbeing. "Hokage-sama. You must allow me to take in Naruto," Fugaku said in a hushed tone. "An orphanage is no place for that boy!"
Although the room was protected by silence seals, both shinobi were taking no chances.
"Fugaku. We've gone over this. Such a thing is too conspicuous. I believe that we have spies already snooping around. If my suspicions are correct, they belong to Danzo."
Fugaku cursed under his breath. "That man is a worm! There was a time that I agreed with his policies, but after Minato, I find his methods to be despicable. One does not protect the village by subterfuge!"
The Third was more composed. "True, but he is powerful with the council." If his suspicions were further proved, Danzo also headed a black ops group. That would explain certain anomalies he and Minato had noticed. "We will have to-"
Knock knock knock. "Who could that be?" Fugaku wondered. The Third had specifically given instructions that they were not to be interrupted.
Hiruzen narrowed his eyes. "I don't know. But we'll find out soon." Disarming the seal on the door, but not the silence seals, the Third called out, "Come in!"
The door creaked open slowly, revealing the man that the two had just been talking about. The devil incarnate? Close.
"Danzo… What do you want?" Hiruzen said in a very controlled and cold tone. His teammate and former friend had never been the same after being crippled on his right side.
"Now, Saru-kun," Danzo began mockingly. "Aren't you happy to see your teammate?"
"Frankly, no. I'm busy, so what's so important that you interrupted my meeting with Fugaku."
"Ah yes, Uchiha-san. How nice to see you." Danzo greeted, his voice oily smooth.
"Shimura-san." Fugaku was brief and curt. He didn't feel like talking to this machine. This soulless form. He was no man.
"How appropriate that you're both here," Danzo continued, his gaze falling back on the Hokage.
Fugaku narrowed his eyes and Hiruzen, swiftly schooling his features, felt a sense of dread coming. Could it be that Danzo has found out? Impossible! But if he has? "And why would that be?"
"Well, he is after all, the father of one of our Jinchuuriki."
The temperature in the room fell a full twenty degrees. Both the Hokage and Fugaku released a large amount of killer intent, none of which seemed to be affecting Danzo.
Receiving a glance from the Hokage, Fugaku wisely kept his mouth shut, though he wanted to choke the life out of this- this- this piece of-! Calm. Be calm. Fugaku breathed out, composing his features with some effort.
Hiruzen breathed a sigh of relief. Dealing with Danzo would require tact. "Is that all? I believe that all in this room are currently privy to that information."
If this riled up Danzo, the Third wouldn't have known it. His teammate had always been exceptional at deception and manipulation. More so than himself.
"Actually, no. I have a request." Danzo said.
"No!" Fugaku cut in. "The answer to your request," he spat out, "is NO!"
"You don't even know my request." Danzo said, almost chuckling it seemed. "I don't want your son. I want Naruto Uzumaki."
Now Hiruzen was truly becoming worried. Just how did Danzo get his hands on this information?! "Why?" He asked, signaling Fugaku to back down.
"The answer is simple. He must become a weapon. And I only really need one. This is for the good of Konoha, after all. Other shinobi villages have Jinchuuriki, and that we finally have acquired two, we must begin their training immediately."
Hiruzen didn't miss the fact that Danzo's goals were self-centered. But to bring it up, Danzo would only claim that it was for the good of the village. And he probably believed it too. Hiruzen hated the person that Danzo had become.
"As Fugaku said, the answer is no." But not even this seemed to put Danzo off.
"But I think you'll disagree when I tell you that it is Naruto Namikaze that I want."
The temperature took another plunge, the mood in the room freezing over. How the hell did he find out?! Did one of the clan heads tell him?! Fugaku thought angrily. The Third's thoughts were running along the same line.
Thinking furiously, the Third tried to find a way out of this corner that Danzo had tried to squeeze him in. Until Danzo continued.
"Because I believe that the council will love to get ahold of this information…" Danzo let the threat hang in the air.
The room suddenly heated up instantly as Fugaku stood up furiously, violently kicking his chair away. Before Fugaku could rush at Danzo, Hiruzen moved with all the speed that a Kage was known for and placed a hand on Fugaku's shoulder. Giving him a warning look, the Third turned back to Danzo. He had found his way out. Trust me, his eyes seemed to say to Fugaku. The Uchiha could only nod and step back helplessly.
"If you want to inform the council, please do. Endanger Konoha. Go ahead Danzo." The Third said, keeping his tone neutral. Although Danzo was a master manipulator, nobody knew politics like a Kage. And Hiruzen was a Kage in every respect of the word.
Danzo narrowed his visible eye at this development. He was not expecting this.
"Excuse me?" He asked slowly, trying to buy time to figure this out.
Fugaku too looked so angry, his eyes demanding an explanation.
"If you want to allow our enemies an excuse to attack us in our moment of weakness, tell them that their hated enemy's son, the son of the Yellow Flash, lives. If you would like to endanger the village, not to mention your life as well, please. Be my guest."
The Third's voice was steely cold and held no emotion in it whatsoever, but Danzo knew better. Hiruzen was furious beyond furious. There was no way to describe the hidden rage beneath his calm exterior.
"What do you mean, Hokage-sama?" Danzo asked carefully. Discretion is the better part of valor, here.
"Let me spell it out for you, Danzo. To speak of either Naruto or Sasuke in any terms regarding the Kyuubi or the Yondaime will result in immediate death. Effective as of now."
Danzo was beginning to seethe on the inside, but he kept his calm facade up. "Do you have the authority to make such a law, Hokage-sama?"
"Of course I do. The period of martial control is not yet up, considering the crisis that we have just recently undergone. So if you have nothing more to say, leave. Now." The Third turned back to his desk, walking slowly and regally. He was pleased to see that Danzo gave a brief nod in his direction before turning and leaving quickly.
Fugaku gave an angry sigh as soon as Danzo had left. The Third quickly resealed the door and began writing furiously.
"What are you doing, Hokage-sama?" Fugaku asked, seeing the Third completely absorbed by his task.
"I am writing down the law onto paper to make sure that it is instituted as soon as possible. I have no doubt that Danzo will tell the council soon, but for now, this should deter him until we can set up more permanent and ensured measures. The man's first priorities, believe it or not, are for Konoha. He simply goes about in a different way."
Fugaku sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. Oh how he hated Danzo, despite whatever the Sandaime may have felt for his ex-teammate. "Hokage-sama. I believe that if this knowledge has already been compromised, then so might be the knowledge of this Uchiha Madara impostor. If Danzo knows, he can turn the village against the Uchiha clan, and we'll be powerless to protect either Sasuke or Naruto."
The Third realized that this was something else to figure out. "Alright. Thank you Fugaku. We'll keep in touch to discuss how to truly put Danzo in his place, but for now, please. Go home. Your family needs you."
Fugaku knew that it was time to leave. "Thank you Hokage-sama. We must find Danzo's informant and the man's plans. For the sake of Sasuke and Naruto. For Minato's legacy and Konoha itself." Turning away, he missed the sigh the Third gave and the sadness in the old man's eyes. The Hokage would never have revealed it in public, but he was tired. He had lost his wife, his successor, and now, he was burdened with the leadership of the village again, a post he thought he had retired from. He simply didn't want to deal with this issue right now.
The Third though set aside his personal grief and focused on how to protect the boys. However, as more laws were silently passed, no matter what Hiruzen tried to do, Danzo had attempted to circumvent him. Finally, the old war hawk had succeeded in revealing to the council the news of Naruto, Sasuke, and even Madara all at once. The only thing he left out was Naruto's lineage.
Hiruzen sighed. In his own twisted way, Danzo desired to keep the village safe. Clearly, he hoped to do this by controlling the clans. By revealing the identity of the man responsible for the Kyuubi attack, Danzo had effectively turned the village against the Uchiha and would be able to use fear to control and manipulate both the Uchiha and Naruto. Danzo had future plans, Hiruzen would stake his position as Hokage on it.
Konoha may have been considered accepting and open minded about bloodlines, but the concept of a Jinchuuriki, especially one hosting the Kyuubi, the demon responsible for so much tragedy, would not be accepted easily among Konoha's populace.
In fact, after the council was told the news of Konoha's Jinchuuriki, vicious rumors started to spread regarding a certain blonde-haired, blue-eyed demon brat as well as a traitorous clan in the midst of Konoha's elite!
Hiruzen Sarutobi was an old man, there was no need to deny it. And the stress he had to deal with as the rumors of a blonde haired demon and a traitorous Uchiha clan were not something he wanted to handle at the moment.
Did the villagers even know that their beloved Hokage wanted the boys to be seen as heroes? Did they even know that Naruto was his son? Did they know the sacrifice that the boys had to go through everyday? Just to protect the village?
No of course not. But unsurprisingly, the villagers were all blinded by the bias and hatred that had developed from seeing so many of their loved ones fall to the claws of the fox. If the Uchiha and the "Demon brat" were being scapegoated, they would accept it willingly.
Hiruzen knew that he should've made the regulations of the law much more specific, but the council had by then gained even more power and overruled him. He had managed to confine their power grab within the civilian realm, maintaining most of his old power. But to have an advisory council with the power to veto his bills was quite annoying.
But those matters would have to wait. Yes, Danzo was an idiot and a subversive traitor for spreading those rumors and he needed to be taken care of, but for now, there were bigger fish to fry. There were agreements and non-aggression pacts to sign. Wars and conquests to deter.
But compared to the Hokage's domestic issues, foreign issues were nothing. The village was still a formidable military power even after Kyuubi's destruction. No, it was the problems of hate and mistrust surrounding Naruto and the Uchiha that Hiruzen had to wade through.
Hiruzen was able to prevent violence with a small amendment to his previous law, but because the council openly opposed his every move to protect the Uchiha and Naruto, he could not stop the double talk of the villagers' gossip. Damn their biases and prejudices.
The only thing that actually kept the boys safe from the villagers' words was the (waning) influence of the Uchiha clan and the Third's law. Naruto and Sasuke both grew up alone, outcasts of their own society. But soon, that would all change, because already, fate had been decided. Konoha's Jinchuuriki had been born, and the world would never be the same.
A/N Edit: Updated! Tried to improve quality of writing and characterization. Thanks for reading, and please review.