"Sign Language/ANBU coded signing"
Chapter 14: Tsunade
"Get over here you old perverted bastard!"
"You were supposed to take care of him!" Tsunade seethed at her old sensei, "You said he would be protected! That he would be cared for! That he would be raised like any other brat in Konoha! Why the fuck is my Godson lying here nearly dead!?"
Sarutobi Hiruzen leveled a glare at his old student, directing enough killing intent that far outmatched her own. Shizune did her best to brush it off, knowing that neither oppressing feelings were directed at her, but she couldn't help feel completely and utterly fearful of the two legendary shinobi staring off at each other, nor stop the horrible visions of her death flash before her eyes.
Tsunade shrunk back a bit, but did not back down, her rage fueling her stubbornness.
"I," Sarutobi began, "am not solely to blame! It was you who decided you would never, ever, set foot in Konoha again. After all the pain this has caused you, you told me you refused to return, even when I asked multiple times to come help!" He said, finally screaming back at his old student, who finally looked quelled enough to have her mouth firmly shut, though not stop her eyes to collect tears threatening to fall. "It was you" he continued, "That refused to answer my summons, my requests that you come home! If you had, then you would have seen first hand what this Village has done to him! I doubt you even read my letters on Naruto's condition!"
Tsunade still refused to let the tears fall, though could not stop the shame and guilt engulf her body in the most painful constricting of ways. But, she stopped for a moment and reflected on his words.
Narrowing her eyes, Tsunade said, "I've only received two summons from you. One directly after Minato and Kushina's death, and another when Naruto turned five. I definitely would have come and taken him away if the last letter, ANY letter, had said anything about abuse!"
In that instant, knowing full well that his old student wouldn't lie about such a matter despite her obvious guilt and shame, Sarutobi realized that someone, or something, was stopping his posts from getting to her. The many reports he sent her over the years held nothing of vital importance to the Village's security or defenses, but did vehemently ask her to return on account of Naruto and the utterly pathetic state their medical utilities had been since her leaving. The reasons for this could be many, and without any sort of lead as to why she hadn't gotten his missives over the years, resolving the problem would be a longer process.
Rubbing his tired wrinkled face, Hiruzen straightened his back and took a quick intake of his pipe, not caring for the moment that they resided in a hospital room. "That poses a problem." he finally said, "At the moment, it's not a priority. Right now, as a direct order from your Hokage, Tsunade, you are to stay in Konoha until everything involving Naruto is resolved. There have been a few recent developments that you need to know before you do anything irrational."
Tsunade glowered angrily, but nodded anyways. She knew, from the rather serious glint in his eyes, that Sarutobi wouldn't hesitate to mark her as a Nuke-Nin should she go against him. As much as she hated being in Konoha for all the pain it caused her, she would hate being chased by Hunter-nin for the rest of her life far more.
Before Sarutobi could continue, a soft groan took their attention off each other and onto the rather small blonde haired boy that laid peacefully on the Hospital cot.
Being forcefully expelled from the seal was more painful than Minato had imagined it would be. Granted, he hadn't thought to much on the matter, but seeing as he had essentially made the seal to work for the host body and not the Kyuubi, he had believed being expelled by the Kyuubi to be impossible. Instead of feeling unharmed, Minato compared the pain to that of his failed experimentation with adding an element to his Rasengan: which in some cases, nearly took his entire arm off.
Groaning as a reflex, Minato forced his eyes to open and immediately he recognized the Hospital ceiling, from both his and Naruto's experiences with the place.
"You're awake!" he heard a familiar voice say filled with sheer relief and a twinge of surprise.
Turning his head slowly due to the stiffness in his body due to the brutal beating he had received from the oh so wonderful members of society, his blue-eyes met a busty blonde's.
It was strange, staring into the familiar soft brown eyes of the woman who had become so important to him during the latter part of his life. The woman who constantly berated him for his injuries, and kept him strapped down on the hospital bed in order to stop him from escaping and thus setting back his healing a few days. The woman whom Kushina and he had named their son's Godmother, alongside Jiraiya...the woman he had asked to care for his son should anything happen to Kushina and himself.
The woman who was supposed to care and love Naruto as though he were her own rather than abandon him to the mercy of the Village; something, once upon a time, he would have accepted. But now, now he knew just what that meant, and he would be damned if he would forgive her anytime soon. He hadn't given any leeway with Jiraiya, so he certainly wasn't going to give any to her.
"How are you feeling?" her voice, soft and gentle unlike her usual abrasiveness, and blunt personality, "Here, drink some water, you'll feel a little better after that." she instructed holding out a cup of water that seemed to appear out of thin air.
Blinking slightly, Minato struggled to get up into a seated position, at least he had tried until Tsunade gently helped him, propping the bed itself into a bent position with a few buttons alongside the cot. Once he was more comfortable, though still in pain, Tsunade helped him take a few sips of the cool liquid, helping quell the soft fire that burned his throat.
Softly pushing the cup, and her hand away, Minato answered her initial question, "I've been better, obviously." he stated dryly. Looking around, he saw that Tsunade was not the only one in the room, but rather near the door, Hiruzen stood stock straight, and to Tsunade's right was a young black haired woman whose face seemed ridiculously familiar but unmatched to any name he could think of.
Staring straight into Sarutobi's eyes, Minato asked, "How long have I been out this time, Jii-san?"
The Sandaime walked up to his cot, placing a soft but firm hand on his small shoulder, "Only a few hours thanks to Tsunade's assistance in healing your body." he answered honestly.
Nodding, Minato moved his eyes toward Tsunade's rather surprised, confused and somewhat angry expression before he realized that she didn't know the excuse he had given Hiruzen explaining his knowledge. Looking over to Sarutobi once more, Minato said, "You haven't explained anything to her yet I guess, right?" already knowing the answer he pressed on without his acknowledgement, "I'm too tired and in pain to explain, so I'm going back to sleep and you can tell her everything."
Before he could hear the rest of the shit hit the fan, Minato plopped back down to the cot groaning softly as his back hit the mattress before he let himself slip into sweet and blissful unconsciousness.
Seeing Tsunade left him emotionally exhausted, not to mention his little conversation with the Kyuubi that left him with more questions than answers.
Both Tsunade and Shizune stared confused and shocked at the small blonde lying unconscious on the hospital cot before they both turned to Sarutobi silently demanding and patiently waiting for answers respectively.
Noting their expressions, Sarutobi sighed and said, "This is a conversation that is to be had in my office, not here."
Realizing that whatever needed to be explained dealt with a certain fox from his expression, Tsunade nodded and followed her old sensei to his office back in the Hokage Tower. Since none of them were in a particular hurry this time around, Tsunade was very well aware of just how many people were staring at her; being the Legendary medic that people praised her to be had left her constantly aware of her watchers, and constantly on high alert even when she was trying to drink herself to oblivion.
When they reached Hiruzen's office, Tsunade had ignored no less than two dozen shocked faces, and blubbering shinobi who were to stunned to see her to even bow properly, let alone string together a proper sentence. While amusing, she wanted nothing more than to know exactly what happened with Naruto. Even during their small interaction, she caught on to how intelligent his blue-eyes were, and how he posture was prepared for a fight despite being physically wounded or exhausted.
Once the doors were closed shut, and the privacy seals up, Tsunade stared at her old sensei expectantly.
Sighing, Sarutobi began, "About a month ago, Naruto was attacked by a few civilians and shinobi alike, leaving him in a critical state that not even the Kyuubi could heal as easily as his other injuries he's been dealt with. After being unconscious for three days, two days over the normal amount, he began to display rather remarkable instances of intelligence, and habits only trained shinobi would."
Both Tsunade and Shizune were feeling more than a little apprehensive for whatever Sarutobi would say next, since both had come to the same conclusion that he had originally.
Quelling their fears, he continued, "I subtly questioned him about it, wondering- fearing- that the Kyuubi had taken over during the three days of Naruto's unconscious state. In the end, I learned something that was worse." his face grew grim, remembering the body-binding guilt when Naruto had first told him, "The civilians and shinobi who attacked Naruto succeeded; Naruto died."
He paused to stare at the twin pairs of disbelieving eyes, one shrouded with guilt and anger whilst the other in undiluted horror.
"This according to Naruto," Hiruzen continued, "and I'm not one to deny that Minato's fuuinjutsu was beyond anything even Jiraiya could accomplish, had forced a sect of the seal to activate, releasing chakra from both Minato and Kushina that Minato had locked within it. He informed me that the majority of their combined chakra was to restart his heart, pumping their chakra through it in order to get it to work on it's own before healing the worst of his injuries before returning to the seal itself.
Seeing that both Tsunade and Shizune wanted to say something, Sarutobi pressed on, eager to let them know everything.
"I myself don't deign to completely understand how, but during the three days Naruto spent unconscious, both Kushina and Minato were able to train him for what "seemed to be years". So, as of now, Naruto holds knowledge of two kage-level shinobi, and power akin to a low to mid chunin, despite having the physical appearance and slightly advanced strength of a seven year old." he took a puff of his pipe, "Jiraiya summed the theory behind how this may have been possible, and it's sound. Naruto isn't much of a child anymore," the admittance caused more than a little bit of pain to well in his heart, "nor is he ignorant to who you are, and the fact that you abandoned him just as Jiraiya had."
At this, Tsunade couldn't keep quiet, "But I didn't abandon him!" she defended, though it didn't sound as convincing as she may have hoped it to be.
Sarutobi looked down at her regardless of his sitting position with slight disdain, "So you have checked up on him over the years? You went out of your way, out of your grief, to check on the boy? You wished him a happy birthday? You acknowledged his existence? You loved him, and proved it through your actions?" the woman stayed unnaturally quiet, "Then yes, Tsunade, you have abandoned him."
Tsunade couldn't seem to form words to defend herself, because deep in her heart and mind she knew that she had left the sweet little blond bundle of Kushina and Minato to the village. She never cared to come back to see how he was, nor did she ever ask Sarutobi what he was like...she never bothered to question whether or not he was safe, and instead chose to believe that Sarutobi would take care of him, when she could have made sure he was cared for. As she had promised so many years ago to Kushina and Minato. Back then, she swore that should anything happen to both of them, Dan and she would care for the child as their own.
Then, Dan had been killed and she left Konoha for good; without so much as a goodbye to anyone other than Sarutobi when she said she was leaving, taking Shizune with her.
Tears welled in her eyes, but she forced them back before they fell.
She wouldn't cry. She wouldn't wallow in her guilt, shame, and grief. No, this time, she would try to rise above it and, hopefully, correct her mistakes. Starting with the blonde resting in the hospital for the nth time in his short life. She knew, that after spending "years" with both Kushina and Minato, he would hardly be easy to get through to. Kushina had her own abandonment issues, a fiery temper and even more stubborn attitude toward nearly everything in life. Minato, he was an orphan who had clung to anyone who would give him the time of day, a boy who had, once upon a time, worn his heart on his sleeve. A boy who would find it extremely difficult, if not impossible, to forgive someone of betrayal.
Neither Kushina or Minato would have thought of her in a warm light, nor spoken kind words about her after abandoning their only son.
But damned if she didn't try her hardest to make it up to the boy.
"Naruto-kun!" a very familiar booming voice jolted Minato awake from a blissfully empty dream. After groaning from the initial pain of sudden movement, he bushed the sleep from his eyes and barely had enough time to strengthen his body with a bit of chakra when Lee tumbled into him rather strongly.
"Naruto! I have come to see how you are my friend!" the eight year old boy exclaimed loudly, "I cannot believe that anyone would ever want to harm you! But I promise I will train ten times harder to be there and protect you with all my might!"
Minato couldn't help the smile that found it's way onto his face. Truly, he was glad to have someone like Lee as a friend; no matter what, he knew that this boy would have his back through blood and war, sacrifice and hell. He was hindered without chakra, but the boy was strong willed enough to force himself through and prove his worth to everyone, becoming a legend all on his own.
"Naruto-kun!" came another familiar booming voice came plowing through the door, though this time was not intending to pummel into his body without a warning. "My precious little student! I have only just heard the terrible news! Worry not though my student! Your youth shines brightly and the doctors say you may be released tomorrow morning! Then, we shall continue our training ten times more to return your body to it's previous state since Itachi-san agreed!"
Unfortunately, Konoha's taijutsu specialist did not elevate any of Minato's annoyance at being stuck in the hospital, now realizing just what awaited him the next morning. And he was sure that come sunrise tomorrow, Gai would be signing him out of the hospital and dragging his undersized body toward their training field to spend six hours straight doing something that could very well be deemed child abuse. He would complain more, but he couldn't deny that the man's training regime was extremely effective; especially for someone like him who needed all the extra physical help he could get. That, and if Itachi agreed, he couldn't very well go against his Jonin commander...or master? He wasn't all too completely sure just how this two-team thing worked out.
"Ah, thanks Gai-sensei." Minato said with a half-faux grateful expression on his slightly battered face.
Gai merely waved it off, both his hands finding their way onto his hips before one struck out in a thumbs up pose- it was all Minato saw before he forcefully closed his eyes with both his hands. He was tortured enough with Gai's "good-guy" pose during training to see it when he was supposed to be recuperating; and Lee's "sunset-with-a-crashing-wave" hug with the man didn't help his sanity either.
"It is good to see you are well Naruto-kun!" Gai said with a wide blinding smile, "We shall both see you tomorrow morning for training! Come along Lee!"
"See you tomorrow, Naruto!" Lee replied, leaving in a burst of speed with Gai out the hospital. He waved numbly, knowing that every doctor and nurse probably glared at the pair and their trail of destruction. Even from his room he could hear the groans and clatter of paper, lots of it, fall to the tile floor. He shook his head, empathy going out to all those who now had to deal with reorganizing those piles of paperwork and then getting set on going through them all. Sheet. By. Sheet.
He shuddered, momentarily lost in his memories.
With a sigh, Minato laid back on the small hospital cot, trying to organize his thoughts and create plans for the future. At the moment, he was considered a Genin, with little to no influence as the council would never allow his true heritage to come to light at his young age. If anything, they would want to keep it as hidden for the longest time possible, seeing as no one outside of the select few knew he spent "years" with his "father" and "mother" whilst inside the seal. However, that could very well be used to his advantage...if he played his cards right and at the proper moment.
Then, he was "apprenticed" under Uchiha Itachi, the Uchiha Clan Heir, as well as the Prodigy of his generation; having become a Chunin at 10, and if his gut was right, ANBU not long afterward, effectively becoming a Jonin in the eyes of the Village when not wearing the Weasel mask. Even though he was young, Naruto knew that Itachi was more than enough to go head-to-head with someone like Kakashi, or even Gai...having him as his "Jonin-sensei" would allow him to "progress" at a much quicker pace. Perhaps, even be able to fix the rift between the Uchiha and the Village that seemed to have grown exponentially during the seven years after his death. He was certain, at only seven, there was little he could do, but perhaps he could give enough to convince the Hokage to bring the Uchiha closer to Village dealings...
Of course, in doing so he would bring more unwanted attention upon himself, and at such a vulnerable age, this brought on far too many risks. His body limited what he could do physically, and defending himself against someone who was on the same level as any jonin would be difficult. Danzo was currently number one on his list of who to look out for. Fugaku falling shortly behind. From what he had gathered, the old war hawk had a lot more power than during his brief time as Hokage...perhaps because Sarutobi was no longer as firm as he had once been. Either way, he posed a definite threat, and one he simply couldn't handle at his present state.
In the end, his thoughts went back to the biggest issue: Madara Uchiha.
He had absolutely no idea how to go about addressing the situation. Somehow, someway, the man was still alive and most likely at his prime power wise if he was able to control the Kyuubi into attacking Konoha. Any plans he made required more influence and man-power. He supposed he could drop subtle hints toward the right people, but he doubted that the indicated person would be the only one to hear them. Information this sensitive couldn't be released so easily, lest he cause more damage than what Madara originally plans for.
He rubbed his eyes tiredly. One way or another he had to tell Sarutobi about Madara, and in turn, Jiraiya as he was their Spy Master. With this little tid-bit of information, the man would be able to narrow down his search and find out just what his plans were, or at the very least, where and what the man was doing for the moment.
Looking out the hospital window, Minato gazed into the starry night, wondering what tomorrow would bring with everything that needs to come to light, and just how he would be able to bring the village together lest they allow Konoha to break away at it's seams.
In that moment, Minato felt as though something clicked in his mind. Perhaps, perhaps this was something Madara was hoping for? Konoha falling apart from within, weakening their Will of Fire enough to the point where they would be so chaotic, so distrustful of each other that he would have no problem razing it to the ground. He groaned, realizing that his information on Madara couldn't be told to Hiruzen. As Hokage, this would only strengthen his alienation of the Uchiha clan. He wouldn't try to bring them together out of paranoia that they were working with the man from the very start, that they kept his existence a closely guarded secret. Minato knew better, having once been friendly rivals with Fugaku, but Hiruzen, who was trained by the Senju's who fought against the Uchiha during the Clan wars, didn't see much good in them outside of the few exceptions like Itachi and young children.
Which left him only one choice.
He needed to talk with Jiraiya.
A/N: For those who would like to continue to comment on Minato's interaction with the Kyuubi and how you felt it was crap or something similar, please remember that this is FAN-FICTION, stress on the FAN part. I, as a FAN, can turn the entire Naruto dimension into anything I desire, meaning everyone's interaction with each other will be how I want it to be. Don't like how I'm making everything go? Simple, stop reading and leave. Now, if you would explain as to why you didn't like their interaction, or why you don't like something else in my story, then, THEN we can get somewhere.
Also, I'm not particularly happy with how the past few chapters have come out, so I'll more than likely change them, though only in composition and not the actual context of the story. Anyway, I apologize for the wait once again!