. . .
"Memories are like bullets, some whiz by and only spook you. Others tear you open and leave you in pieces. Someday the right one will catch you between the eyes and you'll never see it coming. It'll just be a flash of a face or a smell or a a touch. Then bang, you're gone."
. . .
Sunlight poured into the hospital. It was a cool, fresh light, fitting for beginnings. Inside the operating room, the light fell across Minato's face and touched a beginning there, tugging on his lips, making the smile more radiant. The light flowed across the room, scattered a thousand tiny rainbow beginnings on the shiny medicine bottles, and finally settled on the newborn sleeping on the bed right next to his mother, satisfied in its search for beginnings.
"So, Minato, have you decided on a name for the boy yet?" asked a curious Jiraiya, breaking the happy silence.
"Why yes, indeed we have. I think you'll like it, Jiraiya-sensei." Minato replied.
"Well then, out with it, brat. What did you decide to name him?"
"Naruto." Minato said simply, allowing his smile to grow wider. It was the name of the protagonist of his teacher's first novel.
"Jiraiya-sensei…are you crying? Oh my goodness, you really are!"
"S-shut up! Something got in my eye is all!" Jiraiya sobbed.
Minato laughed at Jiraiya's rare show of emotion. He looked over to Kushina, who was smiling in her sleep. Today was, without a doubt- the happiest day of his life.
Naruto, he mouthed, tracing a path with his finger along Naruto's cheek. My son.
Later, in the chill grayness of the fading day, with remorseless rain falling from the heavens, Minato wondered where it had all gone wrong. It seemed only a moment ago that everyone had been happy, laughing, enjoying themselves and now… and now the love of his life was dying, dying in his hands. The village was in grave danger as well, the Kyuubi coming ever closer to it even with all of Konoha ninja force delaying it. Where the hell had it all gone wrong?
The environment around him was getting colder as each second passed- an effect of the Kyuubi, he surmised, it's demon chakra is sucking the life out of everything.
"Please, Kushina….please. Live. I- I can't stay here any longer, you have to understand. I'll…I'll drop you to the hospital, then I have to go and help them…it's my duty."
She didn't say anything.
She didn't need to.
He clutched the body to himself even harder, then searched for the familiar chakra signature of his special kunai. There it is. Then he vanished, with his wife's body in his hands.
Just as he was about to leave the hospital after dropping off the now unconscious Kushina, she suddenly came to life.
"My son….Naruto…where?" she croaked, trying to get up and look around for him.
"Don't worry. I have him. He's fine. You should rest…the doctors should be coming in to see you soon."
"Please…keep him safe. P-promise me, Minato."
It should have been easy- Of course I will, Kushina. What kind of a father do you think I am? That was all he needed to say, and she would be in peace.
It was almost as if someone had dropped a stone in his throat. He couldn't bring himself to say it- no, not when she was dying. He didn't want her to know. But he couldn't lie. He couldn't. Not to her.
She'll resent me forever.
"I'm sorry, Kushina. I…I can't do that. Please. Try to understand. The beast, it cannot be killed, Kushina. It…it has to be sealed," said Minato even as he saw the horror begin to set in her eyes, the realization of what he was thinking dawning on her.
"I have to! There is no other way, Kushina. And…and the vessel, it has to be a new born... " he continued, before pausing for a moment. "It has to be Naruto."
"H-has to be Naruto? You are the Hokage, M-Minato…if you were to only ask, someone will gladly give their child to you. Please, Minato. Don't…don't do this to our son. Not to our son!" Already tears were beginning to fall, as Kushina knew that Minato never changed his decisions when he made them.
"How? How can I ask someone to sacrifice their child for the village, when I don't have the will to do it myself? No, Kushina. It…it has to be Naruto. He's my son, he'll be strong…he can take it. He will be a hero, you understand? And…and he'll have you to help him with it," stuttered Minato, before Kushina cut him off. "No! Not you-" she began, but Minato ignored her and continued, "With the burden of bearing the beast. That's why you have to live, Kushina. Please. Live."
Kushina let out a sob, realizing the full extent of her Husband's decision. He's planning to sacrifice himself!
Minato nodded sadly. Why is she making this so hard? "I'm sorry that I have to do this, I really am. That is why you have to live, Kushina. You have to take care of Naruto after I'm dea-…after I'm gone." Minato said, donning a carefully blank expression. It had been hard, but he had been trained to do this. He was the Hokage, after all. "I love you, Kushina. I'm sorry that I had to do this," You have to understand. "Farewell." I love you.
And again, Minato vanished, leaving behind only a flash of yellow and tears on the ground.
He never would see his child grow up, never would teach him to walk, never would see him graduate, never would be there for him…And…and if Kushina died today, then…
No. She would live.
The Kyuubi's outline could be seen from his vantage point above the walls of the village. Now was not the time for petty emotions, the Hokage decided.
He had tried searching for other methods. He really had. But no one had ever sealed the nine-tailed beast ever before, except for the first Hokage, but that was a different time altogether. The one technique he knew that could bring the king of demons low was a sacrifice jutsu- it summoned the god of death to make a contract with the sealmaker, the price of which would be the sealmaster's life. He planned to use the same jutsu to seal the nine-tailed beast into his son- only a newborn's chakra pathways could sustain the mutation that would follow after the sealing of the beast.
"Ah, saying your goodbyes already, Hokage-san?" a disembodied voice spoke.
An involuntary chill ran down Minato's back as he turned around to see who was behind him. No one. His eyes instantly narrowed, all semblance of emotion gone from his face, now displaying a cold ruthlessness- the face of a Kage.
"Reveal yourself. Who are you?" As soon as the words flew out of his clenched teeth someone materialized right in front of him- he took in the man's appearance: he was wearing a long black coat, and a white mask with ripples in the design, and a hole for one eye- God, was that a Sharingan?
"Me? I'm Tobi. Nice to meet you, Hokage-san."
"I know as well as you that the name you just gave me is fake. Who are you really? What do you want?"
"Oh? I thought the Yondaime-Hokage of Konoha was supposed to be a genius at deduction? Surely you can tell my identity with a look? Do that trick of yours now. Deduce who I am." Tobi's voice seemed falsely cheerful.
Minato sighed- he really didn't have the time for this.
"At a first glance I'd say that you're an Uchiha. But you're not. If you were, you'd be a missing-nin, except for the fact that there has been no Uchiha missing-nin in the last seven years," The masked man twitched.
"Therefore you're not an Uchiha. And you look young…I'd say you are about seventeen, eighteen. That leaves us with only one alternative. Seeing as you have chosen to reveal only one Sharingan eye and the fact that your wear a mask to cover your face, I'd say you found an Uchiha in battle, killed him and took his eye for yourself," Tobi took a step closer to Minato. The look in the masked man's eye told him he was wrong. The man was…angry?
"I see that I was wrong about that. Ah well. But, you seem to know me- I can see the recognition in your eyes," The masked man twitched again. "and you're angry. I could go on, but I don't really have the time to squabble with a kid right now. I suggest you go back to wherever you came from before you get hurt."
The masked man started laughing. It was a maniacal, insane laughter- the laugh of someone who has lost everything.
"Very well done, Hokage-san. You're still the same as ever. I am the tiniest bit disappointed, however. I thought, of all people, you would recognize me.I guess I've changed a lot more than I thought I had," said Tobi, sighing. "Nevertheless, I'm not here to reminisce about the past with you. Give me the baby." Tobi's Sharingan eye spun wildly, and he dematerialized and reappeared right in front of Minato.
Minato, however was even faster than Tobi.
In fact, depending on who you asked, he was the fastest ninja to ever live.
By the time Tobi had begun to make his move, Minato had already used his signature Hiraishin jutsu to deliver Naruto to a safe place.
The technique Tobi was using was definitely a space-time jutsu. He knew it would be hard to fight against this strange jutsu, but he'd observed that Tobi needed about two seconds before he perform the technique again. And that opening was all he needed.
The two shinobi clashed, and this time Minato managed to use the opening- the tri-pronged kunai made its way into his hands as quick as a bolt of lightning as he slashed Tobi's arm in the two-second window before he could use the technique again.
When they seperated, Tobi was bleeding.
For a moment, the fight stopped, as Tobi inspected the nick on his arm. "It seems that I underestimated you, Hokage-san. You've only grown better with the passing of years."
Minato's lips turned upwards as he began running. Again the two clashed, and again, and again. It wasn't until ten minutes had passed –lasting ten minutes against the fastest ninja in the world was a feat in and of itself- that Minato was able to find an opening to use again.
This is it. Sensing the moment come near, he charged up a rasengan in his free hand even as he held a kunai in the other. A second later, the rasengan hit its target- Tobi.
The effect was instantaneous- the mask shattered, revealing the face of the man underneath.
Oh God, is that who I think it is?
Beneath the mask was a man- no, a boy, his face scarred on one side, black hair… it was him.
"I know what you're thinking- I'll save you time: Yes, it's me…sensei." A terrible mockery of a smile adorned his face.
Author's Notes: I actually published this without writing the second chapter first, so there may be a slight delay for the next update. I shall try my best to update within this week or the next, however. Remember, constructive criticism or feedback in reviews would go a long way in inspiring me to write more and improve my writing based on the feedback given. If you've read this and liked it, please leave a review, even something like 'nice' would be great because that way I know people like it. I am not a native English speaker so if something isn't coherent in my writing feel free to inform me via PMs/reviews. I would also love to answer any questions you might have!
*Hiraishin Jutsu- The Flying Thunder God technique, developed and used solely by Minato, allows for instantaneous travel between places where a special seal is in place.