Alternative Titles: Full Circles, The Heir of the Whirls and Waves
Ever thought that Minato could relate to Kushina so easily because he himself was an immigrant?
It had been a long time since they had visited the Wave Country, but the country had certainly done well for itself. Out of the ashes of over 50 years of economic depression and civil wars rose a country that had all the potential of becoming a great nation once again. The industrial sector flourished, producing cheap quality products that outmatched the elemental nations on the market and that, most importantly, generated work and income for the country's numerous chronically unemployed and underpaid families. For the first time in ages, those people had a future to look forward to.
Seeing the people busy and most importantly, content, made Naruto feel good. Knowing that he and his team had somehow helped this country to come this far made him believe that the impossible indeed was possible at times when even he lost sight of his hope.
Despite the fact that he was older now and the war had ended mostly in their favor, there was still all the reason to lose hope: there was a small cold war going on between the previously allied villages. Though they did join forces during the war, the old differences came up quite quickly after the end of it and the fragile, temporary alliance was slowly but surely falling apart.
The entire situation in his home country made the change for the better that Nami no Kuni had made seem all the more better. Sure, they were still miles behind Konoha, both on terms of wealth and modernization, but they were making leaps forward. One quick look at his team told him that Sakura didn't quite agree: the mostly malnourished teens working instead of going to school bothered her for some reason. Naruto couldn't see why it did: didn't they start their job at that age either? He'd never experienced being a ninja as a burden, so he couldn't see why Sakura thought that those kids might think otherwise.
Their reason for being here was rather simple: talk to some guys and score Konoha an exclusive business deal with the iron industry that would give Konoha an edge over the other villages. In the end Kakashi did all the talking: Naruto and Sakura we're just there to remind people just after who that bridge that made their industrial progress possible had been named after. Which basically left them with a lot of spare time on their hands. The first few days had been fun, catching up with Tazuna and his family and all. But the business weren't going as smoothly as they would have hoped, and after a week of telling tales, Naruto had quite run out of stories.
Sakura and he had opted to train first, but after a few tries they had given up. Even though people respected them for what they had started (a revolution, if anything), they were still wary of ninja and their arts in general. Seeing two rather strong (dangerous) ninja's go display their strength had caused quite some disturbance in the industrial city, so they'd resigned to postpone their training until they were on shinobi grounds again. Wouldn't want to cause another revolution…
So they were basically just exploring the town all day, which bored quite easily. Despite the incredible progress, the architecture was boring: the houses had been build to quickly provide the numerous industrial workers a cheap home, not to look nice. However, they were lucky today: it was market day at the central square.
"Look!" Naruto looked back over his shoulder to see Sakura point at a stand to their right that was selling traditional Wave Country clothing. The colors we're despite the blandness of the new parts of the city, various and eye catching. Within seconds, Sakura was involved in a serious conversation with the merchant, a lady of about 35 years old, about the merits of Silk over Cotton like she had been living in the country for her entire life. Naruto stood besides her dutifully, admiring the vast sea of colours laid out before him. The contrast was nice, although Naruto couldn't quite see how these people intended to move properly in all these layers of fabric. Executing a proper kick was probably impossible, though it would be very easy to hide weapons in it while wearing it. Even though Naruto could appreciate it, he wasn't quite into it like Sakura was. After what seemed to be hours, Naruto decided that it was time for him to move on to the next stall, and just let Sakura be. She was a big girl, and Naruto was sure she could handle herself.
The next three stands were rather boring, containing food that you could get at your average Konoha grocery store, so Naruto walked passed them rather quickly. The next one was remotely interesting: the stand was smaller then most others but held a vast array of fishing tools that made Naruto quite aware just how many ways there were to catch fish. This was something Naruto could relate to: these supplies were for a fisherman like what the weapons were to a ninja; a different shape, colour or mechanism symbolized a different personality. Naruto would have most likely bought a basic rod just because if it hadn't been for a blonde man suddenly talking to him.
The man had been calling a name for awhile, but Naruto hadn't responded because it wasn't his and frankly, that fishing net he'd been ogling looked freaky and awesome. However, when the man touched his shoulder and called out that name again, Naruto reacted by instinct and faced is could-be attacker.
Instead he met a graying-blonde man, looking at him with a certain amount of shock evident in his features. "Mina?" The man repeated, his voice uncertain and his eyes searching Naruto's features.
Naruto blinked, and blinked again. Then, he smiled that blinding smile that Tsunade said was just like his mother's. "Sorry pal." He said to the man. "The name is Naruto. Uzumaki Naruto."
The man's face fell instantly, and Naruto's grin dropped simultaneously as he watched something akin of hope flush from the man's body. "Sorry." The guy said, looking away slightly. "I mistook you for someone else."
Whomever the man had mistaken Naruto for, the guy sure wanted to see him. Naruto glanced over his shoulder. There, in the distance he could spot Sakura's pink hairdo quite easily; it seemed she was still quite busy. He, on the other hand had nothing better to do, and wasn't helping people the task of a (proper) ninja? "Who are you looking for?" Naruto enquired before the man could walk away.
"Oh, nobody." The man shrugged, not meeting his eyes.
"Right." Naruto replied sarcastically. "Then who is this Mina guy you though I was?"
"Nobody." The man repeated, still looking rather sullen. "Just somebody that I used to know."
Ah, right, now they were getting somewhere, Naruto thought. "Ah. As in how long ago?"
The man looked at him now, searching his eyes for a second and obviously wary of a stranger asking such questions. Naruto merely shot his most inviting grin in order to defend his intentions, and apparently it worked because the man spoke again after a short silence, this time in gruff tones. "Way before your time kiddo. Some 30 years ago. You resemble him somewhat, or rather his brother."
"So, this Mina guy was a friend of yours or something? Did ya have a fight or something?" Naruto asked while he was still in the man's good graces.
"You could say that, though it was more like a fundamental disagreement. He was quite young you know, and frankly, so was I." The man said, sighing a bit.
Okay, so this was some sort of overdue feud between friends. Naruto happened to have quite some first-hand experiences with those, although his had probably been a bit more important for the political situation of this part of the world than this guy's one was. "So, this friend of yours, did he look like me?"
"Friend? I never said he was my friend." The man said, blinking a bit.
"I'm sure that despite the years that have come between you, you can rekindle the fire of friendship after you've found him." Naruto reassured him. If Sasuke and he could do it, then pretty much everybody could do it. They had to overcome generations of emotional baggage after all. 25 years weren't that much compared to all that.
The stared at him with a weird look for awhile, as if he'd completely misunderstood him. Which was true, it seemed. "I never said he was my friend." The man repeated slowly. "He was my son." He then said, looking rather sullen again.
Then, it was once again Naruto's turn to blink a bit in confusion. Okay.. so this was a family feud. He wasn't quite that experienced in those, but gaining new knowledge was always good. "So, I look like your son, huh?" Naruto recovered with a sly smirk. "Was he just as handsome as I am?"
"And his brother, my eldest did at the time. A blonde spark of hair like yours is quite uncommon after all." The man added, clearly a bit amused at Naruto's antics. "He had big dreams, and an even bigger will to make them a reality."
"Is that why he left?" Naruto questioned.
The man frowned a bit. "He wanted to be a ninja, see. He'd seen them a few time, patrolling our lands, visiting our cities. I don't know why, but he was fascinated by them. Big dreams, my boy had." He added, a bit mockingly.
Naruto counted to three before he answered, trying not to take offence and yell in the man's face for belittling him and his profession. "Why couldn't he become a Ninja?"
The man looked at him, frowning and seemingly only now realizing that Naruto really wasn't from around here. "A ninja doesn't harvest my crops, boy. He runs them over, spoiling a good meal. A ninja doesn't bring my fish to the market. There is no future in a life like that for a farm boy, only a certain death. Any responsible parent wouldn't allow their son to chase after a dream like that."
One. Two. Three. Four. – "That's not true!" Naruto yelled, not able to keep it in. Then, he recovered in softer tones when he noticed that people were staring at them, "I mean, ninja did a lot of good for this country."
"And their reaping the fruits from it as well. We work our butts off here so they can consume our products cheaply." The man bristled.
"At least they have work." Naruto bit back, quite as stubbornly.
The man looked at him, for what seemed like the tenth time already, strangely. Then he broke into a deep, throaty laugh that startled Naruto quite a bit. When the man composed himself once more, wiping away some happy tears from his eyes, he looked up at Naruto with some mirth that hadn't been there before. "Look at you. I'm arguing with you as if you were my son, though you're a bit older than I've ever seen him. He was quite young when he left."
"How old was he?" Naruto couldn't help himself asking.
"Only 10 years old. He was quite short for his age, too." The man said, his eyes glazing over somewhat and a small nostalgic smile haunting those features for a second before they fell.
"Oh." Naruto echoed a bit dumbly. "That's quite young."
"Yeah." The man answered awkwardly. Naruto saw the regret ghost over the man's face while they settled in an awkward silence.
Just before the man was going to excuse himself and disappear from Naruto's life forever, Naruto beat him to it. "Hey, I'll help you find him!"
The man blinked, looked as if he was crazy and then answered. "That's completely useless. It's been 30 years already since I've last seen him. If he wanted to come home, he'd done that by now."
"Some people just don't know they really want to come home." Naruto countered without losing his enthusiasm. He was right back in his comfort zone. "Trust me, I have some experience with these types."
"It's no use kid. He's probably long dead and buried by now." The man said once again, not quite convinced by the thought of a 16 year old stranger claiming to have 'experience'.
"No really, your son wanted to be a ninja right? Right?" The man nodded. "Well, I'm a ninja! And I know a lot of ninja! I could like, send a message to the Hokage with some sort of picture and ask if there's anybody like that in our village. Maybe she could even send it to the Water Country if that doesn't work, since that one is closest to this city right?" Naruto rattled on, missing the narrowing of the man's eyes when he said he was a ninja, and also missing them softening on the old man's face as he laid out his plan.
"So, whattaya think?" He said after talking ranting about all the numerous people he could ask.
The man contemplated his answer for awile. Then, softly: "How much is it going to cost me?"
"Nothing!" Naruto blurted out immediately. "I'm bored to death anyway. You'll be doing me a favor anyway."
The man eyed him skeptically, not taking his word quite yet. "What's the catch? There's always a catch. I'm a fisherman, I know all about it." The man asked, squinting his eyes a bit, but hands moving, giving away his eagerness to take the offer.
"Uhm." The man wasn't going to trust him like this. And Naruto really didn't feel like sitting around and doing nothing for the next week and a half. And those fishing rods looked rather awesome. "So you are a fisherman right? In return you could teach me how to fish!" He beamed.
The man blinked, obviously not expecting this answer. "You want me to teach you how to fish." The man deadpanned.
"Yep!" Naruto replied with an unwavering grin.
The man seemed analyze him for a few more seconds, and then relaxed. His hand, twitching restlessly up until now rose up , being offered to Naruto. "Well then, Ninja, I think we have a deal."
"Great!" Naruto exclaimed, shaking the man's hand enthusiastically. "And my name is Naruto, right! Don't forget it."
The man let out a throaty laugh once more. "I'm sure I won't forget a guy like you anytime soon." He said smiling, and despite the fact that in emphasized his wrinkles, Naruto thought it made him look years younger. Well, he was still old, but younger. Whatever. "How about you follow me home, and I'll give you some info on my son before I teach you how to handle a rod properly."
"Okay!" Naruto replied instantly, not feeling guilty at all at leaving Sakura alone to fend for herself. Naruto could feel her chakra at the clothing stand, probably fitting a robe of her own, so she wouldn't mind the alone time. Without a second thought, he followed the man through the crowd that had flocked at the square. "Where do you live anyway, old man?"
"Somewhat outside of this city." The man answered, leading him away from the mass. "And don't call me old man." He added, irritated.
'But you are' Naruto nearly countered. Instead, he remembered his manners and counted to 5 before he spoke again. "Then, what should I call you? You haven't quite told me your name yet."
The man smiled a bit before responding. "My bad. Well, you get forgetfull by age, they say. The name is Namikaze Gorou." The man said.
Then Naruto stopped instantly, his eyes wide and thoughts like 'there is no such thing as this much luck in the fucking world' running haywire in his mind.
"You alright, Kiddo?" The man, Gorou, asked when he noticed Naruto had fallen behind.
"An-nd your son's name is Namikaze too?" Naruto asked in carefull, tones.
The man looked impatient for a moment, until his features seemed to light up in understanding. "You know somebody by that name?"
"Not somebody that you could know." Naruto answered immediately. Because this couldn't be. Of all people who he could have ran into. Then again, the man had talked to hem because he looked like his son. His long lost son who would be about 40 years old by now and had a blonde shock of hair quite like his. Who's last name was Namikaze Mina-something.
"Hello kiddo?" the man was suddenly in front of him and Naruto realized he probably'd spaced out. Reacting on instinct, he grabbed the front of the man's shirt and reached for his kunai while he pulled the man closer.
"Who are you and what do you want form me?" He demanded, all playfulness gone. Coincidence like this, Naruto had learned in the years of warfare, didn't exist.
If anything, the man played innocence quite well. "What-? What're you talking about kid?" He asked incredulously, kicking and trying to escape.
"Answer me!" Naruto demanded, moving his kunai up to show the man that yes, he was quite serious and quite capable of forcing him to answer. "Where did you want to take me too? Who do you work for?"
"I'm a fisherman and a farmer kid, who do you think I work for?" The man spat back defiantly, but his eyes were fixed on Naruto's weapon closing in on him. "Let go of me!"
"Bullshit!" Naruto screeched. "Why would you otherwise ask me, of all people, about Namikaze Minato?"
"Minato? Who said anything about Minato? My son's name is Minatarou!" The man yelled out, doubling his struggles.
"Don't play stupid with me." Naruto bellowed angrily. "I quite know my father's name! There are no other Namikazes. I've checked."
The man's eyes grew wide and his body went still at those words. "Your… Father?" He asked, hesitant like those first time he spoke to Naruto and eyes that really, really got to Naruto.
"Like you didn't know that." He answered, not letting go of the man. He'd been fooled in the past, and it damn well wouldn't be done by some fisher/farmer/spy whatever.
The man didn't seem to hear him, only repeating his words. "Your father's name?"
With one last look at the man's eyes, Naruto's grip faltered. "Yes. Don't play with me. It might not be common knowledge, but it's not exactly hard to come across either." He added, putting some distance between himself and the man, still wary.
"But-" The man started, eyes wide and trembling a bit in a way that seemed all too sincere. "But-" He started again, but couldn't quite form a sentence.
"But what?" Naruto countered, kunai still held in front of him.
Gorou looked at him one more time, taking him in and seeing something there he hadn't seen before it the way his eyes lit up was any indication. "The chances of running in to you…" the man muttered, unbelievingly.
Naruto had quite a few witty remarks to counter those words, but the fact that the man looked as if he was sincerely about to have an heartattack stopped him. He didn't quite want the death of a civilian – if he was one, at least - on his track record. That, and the man looked like he really believed that, that…
But that couldn't be, because Naruto didn't have blood family. (He didn't need it either.) (Really)
"But, you said your name is Uzumaki, right?" The man asked hesitantly, looking at him with just as much disbelief as Naruto was probably looking at him.
"That's my mother's name. My full name is Namikaze Uzumaki Senju Naruto, but that's such a mouthful." And years of getting called Uzumaki only made him feel attached to the name, but the man didn't need to know that.
"Namikaze Naruto?" The man echoed.
"No, Uzumaki Naruto. Get it right, old man." Naruto said stubbornly, but in his head the possibility that maybe this Gorou-ji was actually speaking the truth. Or maybe he senile. He was old, so it could very well be.
"Come with me." The man commanded with a certain strength that hadn't been there before. "I'll… prove you my name is Namikaze."
"What, and walk right into your trap?" Naruto asked skeptically, but still followed the man when he turned around and led him through the sub-urbs at a rather quick pace "Who is waiting for me there at your home?"
" My wife." The man said, but he didn't look back as he walked. The man wasn't walking properly, Naruto noted. Any ninja at his age would at least know that walking like that was going to hurt after a while. The notion that this man at least thought he was bringing him home to his wife seemed to become more plausible by the second for Naruto. The man seemed harmless, but it didn't keep Naruto from creating a couple of shadow clones when the man wasn't looking to patrol the area and gather some natural energy in case he needed it. He had yet to put his kunai away and he followed the man at some distance.
But nothing happened, and after a 20 minute speedwalk, they neared what indeed seemed like a small farm situated near a big lake where some people were fishing, and shit maybe the man was actually- No really, the man might just be-
"Gorou, is that Ichimaru?" He heard a woman ask Gorou. She was standing at the doorpost, looking at him strangely.
The old man, face red from exhaustion of walking this fast at his age. "No Korra. He isn't." He said, and even from the small distance between them, Naruto could see her calculating eyes analyzing her husband's words, and them letting her eyes take in his own body. Their eyes met as Naruto came closer to the couple stending in the doorstep.
Her eyes squinted, and then: "Mina?" She whispered, her eyes unbelieving. "Is that you, boy?"
Naruto swallowed down the shock that came with the realization that yes, the man was actually- and that woman was probably- But he wasn't- "My name is Naruto. " He blurted out.
The woman gave him one last look and then turned back to her husband. "Gorou, what is going on here? Who is this?"
The man looked at her with strange eyes. "This is Namikaze Naruto." He said solemnly, and if Naruto had been a little bit less shocked, he'd have corrected him.
Instead he and the woman both looked at each other in silent disbelief, until she averted her eyes and hissed: "Come in. Whoever you are, or pretend to be." She added distrustfully.
Which Naruto thought was hypocritical because if anybody was pretending to be somebody else, it was probably the two of them. Hell, Naruto had a shit load of people and even a damn bridge to prove who he was, the same couldn't be said for the graying pair. He didn't say anything though, but followed Gorou and his wife carefully.
However, there were not enemy ninja inside waiting for him, nor did he step into a trap or did the wife – Korra, right? – turn around and through a weapon his way. Instead she let them to the table and silently demanded them to sit down. "Spill." She said, her blue eyes focused intensely on his own while her husband disappeared into the one of the backrooms.
Naruto kept his tabs on his nearly non-existent chakra. If he was a ninja, he would probably use Taijutsu, since with chakra-pathways like that he wouldn't be able to keep up a simple suiton jutsu for more than a minute. "Whattaya want to know, hag?"
"Manners, boy." She hissed, but remained calm quite unlike her husband. Her blue eyes so much like his own shone with intelligence, despite all the years they had seen. Her hair was silvery, not quite like Jiraiya or Kakashi's, but just aged, but her posture screamed that she was quite capable of taking care of herself.
Then, her husband returned for he could test his theory. In his hand held a small book, and at the look of it, the woman's eyes widened a bit. "Gorou, you can't- "
However, her husband didn't mind her words, and shoved the book into Naruto's hands with some eagerness that Naruto didn't quite associate with people of his age. "Look." He said, opening the book, revealing it to be an old photo album. The first page held a picture of a 6 year old blonde-haired boy holding a big fish with a calm yet proud look on his face. "This is my son. This is Minatarou when he was young."
Naruto looked at the boy, knowing that he had a picture of a boy quite like that, only proudly holding a kunai instead of a fish. Only his picture was taken later, and the boy in it was him.
Inside his mind, he panicked as it all became real. Outwardly, he tried not to let it show. The man, his grandfather for god's sake, looked like a child, so happy. His wife's face was unreadable, and Naruto figured that they were feeling quite the same right now.
Wordlessly he got his bag, and opened it. Tossing some weapons and basic supplies out, he found a small little etui of personal items that went with him wherever he went. Inside was Sasuke's headband, to name just one thing. He liked to look at it sometimes to remind him that it wasn't hopeless, when he lost sight of himself. Not today though, as all thoughts of Sasuke were, for once, placed in the back of his mind. Instead, he found a small envelope and pulled it out.
Inside, there were 12 pictures that were very precious to Naruto. With practiced ease, he singled an older, worn picture of a man and a woman smiling to the camera out and placed it on the table. As if it were a magnet, the elder couple's eyes were drawn to it instantly.
Korra's previously skeptic look now completely vanished from her face, instead her eyes went wide and she moved her hand in front of her mouth in sheer disbelief. "Is that…?" she asked carefully,eyes not once leaving the small photograph.
"This is Uzumaki Kushina, my mother." Naruto said, pointing at the red-head. Then, he moved his finger to the smiling blonde man, roughly 25 years old. "And this is Namikaze Minato, my father." He added awkwardly.
The man's face was a fountain of emotions as he reached out and touched the image of his son. "Mina…." He muttered, lost in his own memories.
In the mean time, Naruto took in the wrinkled faces of what might just be his grandparents, and found remnants of similarities that he'd refused to acknowledge himself. It was a concept that seemed just barely out of his reach; no matter how hard he tried, he couldn't quite wrap his mind around the fact that he might just have family.
The woman seemed to be in a similar state. Her eyes were hard with years, but a spark of intelligence that Naruto never quite possessed was there. (Her son, however, was quite a different case) "My son's name was Minatorou, not Minato." She said, her voice hoarse with what Naruto assumed were years of held back emotions. "Why are you here? Did he send you?" At that question, her husband's age worn eyes shot up to meet his own as well.
Naruto held his hands up in his defense. "As weird as this is going to sound, I just ran into your husband. Hell, I didn't even know I had- nobody ever told me-" Then again, they'd never quite been totally open with him to begin with. As far as Naruto knew, this could be common knowledge in Konoha. "I mean, as far as I know, his name is Minato."
Korra's eyes met Gorou's, and the man nodded. Then, she turned back to him. "And he never told you anything about us? Or that he was from Wave?"
"No." Naruto told them, feeling the disbelief disappear and be replaced with a comfortable ache. "No, nobody ever told me."
"Where are you from, anyway?" Korra asked, giving him a once over. She was skeptical, but that didn't keep her fingers from unconsciously stroking the picture of her could-be long lost son.
"Konoha." Naruto answered without second thought, looking the woman straight in the eye.
"He's a ninja, Honey." Her husband added with in soft tones.
Korra's eyes widened, and then her eyebrows rose up. "So he actually did it, didn't he?" She said softly, more to herself than to him it seemed. "He actually became a ninja…. That foolish boy." Despite her harsh words, there was fondness in them.
"Yes he did. A great one." Naruto answered anyway.
His grandmother's eyes narrowed again. "So he left his family behind to chase his dreams. It's good to know he did well for himself, that little traitor." She spat angrily, balling her fists.
Without a second thought Naruto flew up from his chair and spat right back, "He isn't a traitor!" Seriously, he was really starting to hate that word. "He did what he believed was right! He chased his dreams!"
"And left the rest of us to live out the rest of our lives in poverty. If he really was such a great person as you say he is, then he would have at least done something for his country once he'd made it big. Instead he never even once bothered to let us know he was alive! He is a traitor to his country, and to his family!" She hissed at Naruto, never raising her voice but her eyes spitting fire at every word.
"Honey, that was years ago." Gorou said, placing a calming hand on his wife's shoulder in the hope to calm her down. "What he did was foolish, but he was young and inexperienced, and frankly, so were we! We shouldn't have forbidden him to chase his dreams like we did. We always knew he was a bright kid."
"Don't defend him Gorou!" She spat at her husband, her tone unrelenting. "He left, and never turned back! He didn't even bother to inform his son that we existed!"
"Maybe because he's dead, you know!" Naruto yelled out before he could stop himself.
Instantly, the argument stopped, and the pair's eyes widened as they searched Naruto's. But he was speaking the truth, despite the fact that this probably not the way to break the news that they were never going to see their son again. 'Shit' he thought, as he saw the woman's eyes, despite her harsh words, water. The man averted his, but it didn't take a genius to spot the grief on his face. "A while ago." Naruto added awkwardly. "Sixteen years ago, actually." 'the day I was born.'
"I always told him it was dangerous, that there was no life as a ninja." The woman muttered harshly, but her voice held no strength. She lowered herself in a chair, unable to support her own weight at the whirlwind of emotions. Naruto did the same, and waited until one of them said something again. "That stupid, foolish boy, getting himself killed."
"He sacrificed himself, to save a lot of people." Naruto corrected softly, somehow feeling the feeling of grief for his own parents hit him as it hit his grandparents. "He is a hero."
Korra snorted angrily. "What's the use of being a hero when you're dead?" Her husband, still not meeting Naruto's eyes, laid a comforting hand on her shoulder.
"What matters is that without his sacrifice, I wouldn't be sitting in front of you, nor would there be something like Konoha!" Naruto bit back.
"If there wasn't something like Konoha, then there would be no ninja's and then my son would have just stayed home!" The woman countered bitterly, tears running down her cheeks. They reminded Naruto that hurt people said things they didn't mean. "Then he would be here right now, not rotting in some grave with nothing more than a few years of bloodshed and a fancy title to his name!"
"He didn't just have some fancy title! He was a hero, and Hokage! The best one Konoha ever had!" Naruto yelled back. At these words, the man's hand shot up again, tear-filled eyes meeting his, questioning.
"Hokage?" He asked, obviously knowing more about ninja then his wife. "That's like, the boss of the village right?" He phrased awkwardly.
"Only the strongest and smartest Ninja of the entire fire country gets to become the Hokage. My father was the fourth one." Naruto answered with some pride in his voice, which grew even more when he saw the understanding dawn in Korra's eyes. "It is my goal to surpass him one day and become Hokage, too."
The wife averted her eyes after that, not saying anything. She stood up and walked to the stove, where a long forgotten soup was boiling. Then the, man spoke. This time he didn't look at him as if he were crazy, but was he drinking his features in, hungry for information. "So." Gorou said. "How old are you anyway?"
"I'm sixteen." Naruto answered, watching the woman cooking in the corner of his vision.
The man looked a bit surprised. "And you're already a ninja?"
"I started the Academy at 7. I've been trained to become a ninja ever since. At 12 I graduated and started working." He explained.
"Really, now?" The man said. "Are you a good ninja? Did you fight in that war?"
The realization hit Naruto that this man knew very little about the war. Naruto, after all, had played a rather major part in it, and had established quite the reputation because of it. However here in the backwaters of the Ninja Nations, that meant nothing. "Yes, I did."
"Oh." The man said, and they fell in an awkward silence. (Then again, finding out your long lost son had a child and meeting said child was, if anything, bound to be awkward)
"Are you staying for dinner?" The woman asked suddenly, her voice heavy but composed.
Naruto's eyes widened a bit. "I wouldn't want to be a bother…"
"Please, stay! My eldest will be home soon too." The man shot in, hope in his eyes.
Naruto blinked in turn. "I have an uncle?" He blurted out before he could stop the words.
The man hesitated for a second, and then answered. "Yes. Ichimaru should be here any minute now. He always visits on Wednesdays."
Despite the man's pleading eyes, Naruto gave into his gut instinct to flee the scene. "I'm sorry, but my team has no idea where I am. It's getting late anyway, they'll get worried if I don't turn up sometime soon."
His grandfather seemed disappointed. "Oh." He heard Korra utter from behind the stove.
"I should probably go right now." Feeling a bit guilty, Naruto got up anyway and repacked his bag. He paused his movements for a second, rethinking his decision. Then he stuffed the envelope back in his back, just a little lighter than before. He handed the picture of the smiling couple to the man, who in turn looked surprised. "Here, you can have it. I have some others at home, anyway."
The man stared at the picture for a moment, and then arms strong from years of labor engulved him in a big hug. "Thanks." The man muttered in his shoulder, and Naruto hugged him back awkwardly. "Do you know your way back?" His wife asked, meeting his eyes again. They were red and puffy, but kind and calm. Naruto took her words for what they really were. ('And do you know your way back to here?')
"Of course! I'm a ninja, you know?" Naruto beamed back at her, holding up his hand. She blinked for a second, but then she took it and shook his hand.
"Of course." She said, smiling a bit.
"Now, I gotta go, see ya!" He said, teleporting out of the house. He missed his grandparents look of surprise at his sudden disappearance. As he ran back to the city, the events of the day hit him like a Fuuton in the face. He had a family, a real family. Not a cool forgotten clan that had been searching for him all his life, but a honest to god, real family. Grandparents. And an Uncle, even. (Maybe even cousins.)
It was a concept so foreign to him that when Sakura hit him for leaving her alone without a message later that evening, he didn't even bother to defend. She was worried, he could see, and frankly so was the rest of the bridge builder's household. He'd left a bored ball of sunshine and had come back like somebody who had seen a ghost. (Which was ironically, not too far from the truth.)
He thought it over, again and again. The woman's eyes were obviously so much like his, and the man, despite being slightly gray and bold, had blonde hair. That, and it felt just right.
"Hey, old man." He suddenly spoke during dinner that night, when the family of three plus the remnants of team 7 and their sensei ate a good dinner. "Do you know some Namikaze family?"
In the corner of his eye he could see the subtle widening of his teacher's eyes, but otherwise Kakashi said nothing.
Tazuna thought for a moment. "They live near the Tottori lake, if I'm not mistaken." He said then. "Why are you asking?"
"Oh, nothing." Naruto replied, though it was pretty obvious that it that was a terrible lie. "I just met some guy today. Gorou was his name."
"Ah, yes, he sells his fish and crops at the market every Wednesday." Tazuna answered with a smile on his face.
"Well, his wife used to do it, but she fell ill a few years ago and hasn't been that mobile ever since." His daughter, Tsunami, added in. "I believe they had two sons, though one died a long time ago."
"Ichimaru and Minatorou, right?" Naruto answered, keeping his eyes on the food at the realization that those people, without a doubt, were his family. It felt weird, and it hurt just a bit.
Tsunami blinked for a second, then smiled. "Ah, Gorou was always a good gossip. I believe Ichimaru actually helped building the bridge, did you know that?"
"No, I didn't." "I didn't even know he existed before today."
"Neither did I" Kakashi chimed in. "I've never heard of that name Minatorou, either." Sakura, shot him a weird look, obviously not getting it. But Naruto saw his words for what they were, and met Kakashi's eyes for a second. So, his father really hadn't told anybody. If Kakashi – the person in Konoha who probably knew the most about his father and was still alive to tell the tale – didn't know it, then his father had created another secret.
He probably changed his name, Naruto concluded. Maybe he didn't want to get found, maybe he didn't want to be remembered of his past, maybe it was just a nickname and his full name was actually still Minatorou. Maybe, maybe not. He'd never know; he'd had the chance to talk to his dad once, and didn't expect to see him until the afterlife.
He wasn't quite hungry anymore. "Can I leave?" He asked Tsunami. She nodded, but looked concerned. Sakura's gaze searched for his, but he refused to meet hers. Instead he went straight to bed.
Sleep didn't come easy that night. He imagined his father using one of those fancy rods he'd seen that noon at the market. He then imagined his father teaching him how to use one. He felt himself slip in and out of consciousness, wandering the fine line between dreams and memories.
And then he was suddenly rudely pulled out of his sleep as Tazuna opened his door. "Are you awake, kiddo?" He asked. His years of training allowed Naruto to clear his sleepfogged mind in a matter of moments, and he nodded, getting up. "There's a man outside, asking for you. It seemed rather urgent."
"Okay." He quickly pulled on some clothing and gathered some weapons. It never hurt to face a stranger prepared for everything. And Naruto was.
Except for another shock of blonde hair and a face like his own, lit by the dim morning light. When the man spotted him, he seemed equally surprised. "No way…"
"Now he's here, whattaya want from him?" Tazuna asked. The man seemed to recover instantly, and answered his superior. "My parents told me about him, and I had to see it for myself you know."
"You're Ichimaru?" Naruto blurted out, connecting the dots. The man nodded.
Gorou hadn't been lying when he said the guy looked like him. He was forty something, Naruto figured, but he was only a few inches taller than Naruto. His hair was shorter than Naruto's and his eyes were brown, but despite all that they looked eerily similar.
"So, you're really…" The man said, awe-struck and not able to actually say it. Naruto nodded.
Tazuna completely misinterpreted. "Yeah, he's the guy we named the bridge after! He saved us all four years back!"
"Pa told me Mina actually became a ninja." Ichimaru said bluntly, still looking at him as if he was talking to a ghost. "But I never thought that his son would be this famous…"
"He was a Hokage, you know." Naruto defended, but knew that Ichimaru didn't know just how important that was. Tazuna just stared at them strangely. "Let's go somewhere else, I don't want to wake up the rest of the house." He said after it became uncomfortable.
"Sure!" The man blurted out immediately, not taking his eyes off Naruto for even a second. "Ma asked me to get you anyway."
"Okay?" Naruto answered and followed the man, staring at his back. He was toned and tan, obviously from a live of labor. Naruto wondered if he had a wife, and maybe children. He imagined his father looking like that. He imagined growing up in here, in city with no future except for working in the fields. He'd changed the world for the better by being a ninja. But his uncle's children (if he had any, at least) got to grow up with a father, and that was something Naruto had been forced to miss.
In the early morning light he followed Ichimaru towards the small house. Even from a distance, he could once again see Korra (his grandmother!) looking at them from the window. Ichimaru noticed his gaze. "She always does that. She likes to be aware of everything around here."
"Me too." Naruto answered, because really, as a ninja that was more a must than a want. Ichimaru smiled good naturedly.
"Then maybe you take more after her than after me." He said, and Naruto swallowed. He'd always been told he took after his mother, but then again, nobody had known his father's side of the family. "I've always been a bit oblivious and clumsy." He added with an awkward laugh, scratching the top of his head.
"You're taking this rather well." Naruto commented softly as they neared the house. "I sure know I didn't.
"I thought he was dead, you know. I thought he'd been killed while sneaking out. Things were bad back then." Ichimaru answered, looking sad. "That's why mother probably gave you such a hard time. She and Dad had always been very against Mina becoming a ninja, saying it would get him killed. But he wanted a future, you know, and this country couldn't offer you one at the time."
Then he composed himself again, a small good-natured smile back on his face. "But I'm glad you know! I always thought my little brother, always so bright and promising, had died in a pit. To hear he actually realized his dream is great to hear, so I guess that's why I'm taking it so well." He said, meeting Naruto's eyes briefly. "Also, I had a night to think it over, even though I sprinted out of the house as soon as the first rays of light hit the earth, that's how eager I was to see if you!" Ichimaru added a bit sheepishly.
Naruto was flattered. Maybe this wasn't some enormous clan of amazing ninja's like he had imagined his long lost family to be in his youth, but this man seemed sincerely interested to meet him. They just hadn't know of his existence. "Thanks" he uttered, softly. "I didn't get much sleep anyway, so I didn't mind anyway. And I'm glad you're so… welcoming." 'like a family' Naruto wanted to add, strangely at ease with this man that resembled him in both inside and outside, but it didn't feel quite right yet.
"Even though this doesn't change the fact that my little brother is dead, I'm still glad that I get to meet you. To some extent, you are his legacy, returning home. That was more than I ever expected." The man replied sunnily, greeting his mother as they stood in front of the house. From besides him, Naruto could see that the smile he flashed her was somewhat strained. "I just don't get why he never returned, now I know he could have." He added softly.
"Me neither." Naruto answered, looking sorry. His grandmother smiled a gentle smile as she welcomed him into their house, and he felt his cheeks heat up somewhat. They caught up the rest of the day, and when she offered him to stay over for dinner this time, he didn't decline the offer.
That night, near the lake, they buried a picture of his father and some of the toys he had played with. It was a quiet affair. Naruto left the next day, after promising to come back for a fishing lesson.
None of them would ever understand how his father could have just left everything behind to realize his dream.
On the other hand, meeting his family made him understand few things. Sasuke had done the same; left, and never looked back all for the sake of vengeance. Just like the Namikaze family, he couldn't grasp how Sasuke could have just packed up and left. His father and his brother/friend/whatever were maybe a bit more similar than he ever expected them to be. (both calm, ambitious and so incredibly talented) He respected his father's dream, and had adopted it as his own. Maybe, next time he caught up with Sasuke, he'd have to actually sit down and ask him a few questions instead of forcing him to see his way. Maybe that way he'd get to know his father a bit better too. Either way, his resolve to find him was stronger than ever though.
In the end, it was all he could hope for. His grandmother was right: his father was dead, hero or not. They would never hear him explain how he had felt when he had crossed those borders. They had given him a proper family burial, returned his father to where he was born. It was a full cycle.
When Naruto would become Hokage, he'd do something for these lands. He'd finish that what his father never did. The country had come a long way, but Naruto would help it prosper.
With that thought in mind, he crossed the border and returned home.
It was a long, harsh journey towards the next border, especially with his aching hearth and empty stomach holding him back. His steps never faltered though. Within 4 weeks, the ten-year-old crossed borders and rivers, and eventually set foot in a country that he had only seen in his wildest dreams.
When he stood at the gates of a village hidden in the leaves, a guard asked him who he was. At that point, 10 year old Namikaze Minatorou ceased to exist, and 8 year old Namikaze Minato was born. He'd always been small for his age anyway, and the best lie, one who grew up in poverty knew, was closest to the truth. He was accepted as a refuge without any problems, and several weeks later, as an aspirant ninja into the academy.
He'd miss the blue of the lakes and the red of the robes of Wave, but he'd be reunited with them in his wife . At night he would dream of the calm force that had been his mother, the playful fights with his brother and the days in the field with his father, but he wouldn't look back until he looked his own end in the eye, knowing that in the end he'd die for a future worth living for. Before the world faded to black, a memory of quieter days and a house next to a lake came into his mind, and he smiled one last time.
In the background, Naruto's cries of life echoed through the forest.
Phew! Longest one-shot so far. This idea actually has been on the back of my mind for a while. Nami means wave, and Kaze means wind. So I figured that, since we know so little about his background, Minato maybe really didn't want us to know. The thought of Naruto's father coming from a simple farmer's family kind of stuck because in most stories I've read, they make him decent from some sort of lost super clan. However, if that was true, wouldn't we have heard of it by now? I personally like the thought of Minato working his way up.
And about the many comparisons to Sasuke: I've always thought that they were somewhat alike, even though Sasuke is that much more explosive. (*cough*PTSD*cough*) In the manga, Sasuke is always on Naruto's mind, and everything reminds him of his goal to bring Sasuke back. Naturally, in the fanfic, finding his family reminds him of Sasuke's cause, and strengthens his resolve not to give up on him.
And yes, I did reverence to World War II, the Cold War and the Newly Industrialized Countries that sprung up during it. Also, I made a lot of references to the Industrial revolution, and tried to make Naruto's believe in 'the way of the ninja' collide with that of a civilian a bit. To emphasize the difference, I suppose. Also, yes, I am a history geek. And I like modern history. It was too good to pass up. I hope you like the story. The ending might be a bit abrupt, but if I wouldn't have ended it there I would have missed the point of the story and probably extended it to an epic psychological/family drama. Which I don't need right now.
Anyway, I thought it was cute. I'm glad it's out of my head. Typed this for 9 hours straight, no breaks. I'm going to sleep now. ITS15 will come, soon. (I swear!)
EDIT: really sad guys, reviewing and then only saying that if it was a oneshot, I should add 'complete'. (Seriously, 9.000 words, and that's the only thing you have to say?) Maybe, you know, this was going to be a series of oneshots, diving into Minato's past? Well, since apparently the only redeeming part of this story is the fact that it is 'complete', then consider it complete.