Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
-A Testament of Things that Never Will-
Naruto watched in mute horror as Mizuki obliterated his mass amount of shadow clones that he had called up in his moment of desperation. The man had been about to kill Iruka-sensei and he had acted without thinking and managed to pull off one of the coolest things in his life but it seemed that it wasn't enough as the man who was now his enemy tore through his clones. Sure, some got in some good shots and cut him a few times with their kunai but nothing that was too serious.
Mizuki dispatched the final clone and turned his eyes on the real Naruto. His breathing was labored and a small trial of blood leaked down his leg. It seemed that at some point in the brawl one of Naruto's clones had ripped off the cloth of his right leg just below the knee and the man took a shaky step.
"Naruto, run!" Iruka yelled as he threw a kunai into the air. An explosion lit the sky a second later. "See that, Mizuki? ANBU will be here any moment. It's over."
Mizuki chuckled. "That's where you're wrong, Iruka. When the ANBU arrive I'll tell them how an academy sensei and a student stole the Forbidden Scroll and how I was forced to put both of them down. Corpses can't speak and there will be none to question me."
Iruka's eyes widened and he turned to Naruto who hadn't moved from his spot next to his favorite sensei. "Naruto, you have to run."
"No," Naruto growled. "You're my friend, Iruka-sensei, I-I won't leave you to die. Besides," he thumbed his nose and a large grin spread over his face, "we can handle him."
"You think so?" Mizuki questioned and rushed the two without warning.
Iruka threw a kunai at the man but it was dodged with little effort. Naruto charged, as befitting his nature, and learned just how much he had underestimated his opponent when he barely managed to duck under the slash of a kunai.
He stumbled back when Mizuki stabbed at him and he fell onto his back. Mizuki neared him and he worked as hard as he could to back away from the man.
"Mizuki!" Iruka bellowed which changed into a wet cough.
"I want you to watch," Mizuki said. "I want you to watch the life leave the demon's eyes. I want you to watch knowing that there is nothing you can do."
"Naruto! Run!" Iruka called out desperately as he attempted to stand again.
Naruto glanced at Iruka and then back at Mizuki. He could try rushing the man again but he had the feeling that it would only result in an earlier death. He could run, doing as Iruka-sensei was telling him to do but the very thought of doing such a thing left a sour taste in his mouth.
"Prepare to die!" Mizuki screamed and plunged a kunai down toward Naruto.
Everything seemed to slow then. Naruto saw the razor edge of the kunai coming toward him and could hear Iruka crying out for Mizuki to stop. Behind Mizuki he saw the air shimmer and then a blue haze filled a small area. A sound like a tree being torn from it's roots exploded across the clearing and when Naruto registered that something had happened he looked back to where Mizuki was only to find that he wasn't there.
In the place that the traitorous sensei had been standing, ready to take away Naruto's life, stood someone else. There wasn't much to see of the man as he had a black ANBU mask covering his face, black pants typical of a shinobi, black combat boots, and a slim dark green flak jacket over top a tight crimson shirt that went to just past the man's elbow. The thing that was truly strange about the man, besides his sudden appearance, was that his clothing was ripped and torn in dozens of different places and blood stained nearly every part of him. His mask was cracked and looked like it would fall off at a slight breeze.
The man's fist was extended toward Naruto and he looked to where the fist pointed to see that a large tree had been ripped from it's roots when a, now unconscious, Mizuki had hit it.
Naruto look back at the man who had saved him with wide eyes but before he could say anything several other ANBU appeared in the clearing with the Hokage himself among them. There was no movement in the clearing until the man who had saved him collapsed to the ground.
"ANBU," Hiruzen commanded in a voice that Naruto had never heard the old man use before, "take the traitor, Mizuki, into custody. Bring Iruka-san, Naruto-kun, and-" he paused when he looked at the man that had fallen to the ground. "It's blank," he whispered. He frowned and finished, "And the ANBU who took down Mizuki to the hospital. I want to be the first to see the blood analysis of the ANBU with no exception. This ANBU has just returned from an S-rank mission and everything about him is considered S-rank knowledge until I say otherwise."
The ANBU jumped into action and soon Mizuki, Iruka, and the odd ANBU were gone. Naruto struggled when an ANBU made to take him away.
"I'm fine," he hollered and ducked under the cat mask ANBU's reaching hands. "I don't need to go to the hospital."
Hiruzen sighed and waved his hand. "Leave him, Cat," he said. "I'll take Naruto-kun to the hospital myself."
Cat bowed and vanished from sight.
Naruto saw the old man nod and start to walk over to him. He felt his face start to heat up and he said, "I'm sorry, Jiji. I tried to beat him but-" He stopped and felt his words catch in his throat. Kami, he was so embarrassed. He had failed to defeat Mizuki and protect Iruka-sensei and he had failed Jiji when he allowed himself to be tricked into getting involved in this fiasco in the first place.
Naruto flinched slightly when the old man kneeled in front of him and looked down to the ground.
"Look at me, Naruto-kun" Hiruzen ordered.
Naruto hesitated but finally looked up at one of the few men he respected in the whole of Konoha, one of the many he had failed, and was shocked to see a smile on the man's wrinkled face. His eyes seemed to beam with some emotion that Naruto hadn't seen before and he was taken by surprise when he was wrapped into a bear hug.
"I am so proud of you. Naruto-kun," the old man said with an emotion filled voice.
Confusion tore into Naruto's mind and he took a step back when the old man relaxed his hug. "Why?" he asked quietly and his heavy emotions caused him to stutter. "I didn't do anything, Jiji. How could you be proud of me when all I did was fail you?"
"Fail me?" Hiruzen asked aloud. "Naruto-kun, you brought a traitor to light, protected the Forbidden Scroll, fought against an opponent who was vastly stronger than you for the sake of saving a friend and comrade, learned a jutsu that would take most many months, and didn't abandon the battle to save yourself. You displayed a courage that is only rarely seen and you showed a will that burns beyond imagining. You didn't fail me, you showed me what it meant to be a shinobi of Konoha and it is with great pride that I present you this."
Naruto watched as the old man took something from his robes and when he finally saw what it was he couldn't stop tears from leaving his eyes. In the wrinkled hands of the old man was a hitai-ate attached to a black ribbon. Naruto looked at the old man and, after a quick nod of encouragement, he reached out and took it.
It was lighter than he had thought it would be and the ribbon was soft to the touch. He placed it on his forehead and tied it tightly into place. He took a deep breath and looked at the old man with a pride and happiness he had never felt before in his life.
"You are a Genin now, Naruto-kun," the old Sarutobi said. "I would tell you to be at the Academy in a weeks time but due to the traitorous activities of Mizuki, I must perform an investigation to see if this goes any further than him. Because of that, the team assignments will have to be pushed back to about a month from now."
"Ah, what am I supposed to do until then?"
"Train, Naruto-kun. A good shinobi trains often to better their skills and while you have impressed me this night you still have many things to learn before you can become Hokage."
Naruto smiled and said, "Alright, I'll train but where can I do that?"
"You're a shinobi now, Naruto-kun. The training fields are open to you." Hiruzen's face became serious and he said, "Now, I have other things to address tonight and you do need to get a check up in the hospital. Come along."
-A Testament of Things that Never Will-
Hiruzen watched the procedure with half interest through the one-way glass. He was in the observation room for the operation room that ANBU were taken to when they needed immediate care. The unknown man who had saved Naruto's life was covered in wounds ranging from minor to mortal and the medic-nin were doing their best to save his life. From what a nurse had told him, the man apparently had some form of self-healing ability but they were hesitant to call it a bloodline just yet. Whatever it was, that ability was the only reason he had survived even this long and it was still touch and go.
"Hokage-sama," an exhausted looking medic-nin said as she entered the room. She bowed and handed him a cream-colored folder. "The blood analysis you asked for. None have looked at them, as per your orders."
He took the folder and said, "Thank you, Keiko-san. You are dismissed and may go home. You look tired."
Keiko, a brown-haired medic-nin, was a cute girl and a damn good medic-nin from what Hiruzen knew of her. She was in her mid-twenties, was short, and her facial features were small, hence why many thought she was cute
"Hai, but before I go," she said, "may I speak freely?"
"I encourage it."
"Just what kind of mission did you send this ANBU on?" she asked heatedly. "I don't mean to be offensive, Hokage-sama, but the only reason this man survived this long was strictly due to the healing ability he has and even that seems to have been stretched to its limit. If he had come in even an hour later he wouldn't have made it this long and to be frank, I don't think he will survive the night even if we manage to get the most severe of his wounds taken care of. The strain his body is under is great and that toll will likely kill him over night."
Hiruzen nodded and filed away the new information that was given to him. He smiled warmly and said, "Keiko-san, you never cease to amaze and humble me."
"Your level care for your patients is a uniqueness among your field that I have only seen once before and that was Tsunade-san. Honestly, I know of no other medical personal that attend the funerals of those they only knew by being the one who had worked on them and tried so hard to save their lives."
She blushed and said, "Thank you."
"As for the mission of this ANBU," he said and his tone became a touch more serious but still held a gentleness to it, "you know I can't say anything about it."
She bowed. "I understand, Hokage-sama. Is there anything else you wanted of me before I leave?"
"No, you are free to go and thank you for your hard work," Hiruzen said and gave Keiko a deep bow. He already respected medic-nin but the effort that Keiko had put into saving this man she had never met before deserved an even higher level of his respect.
A small look of shock came over her tired looking face and she bowed back before she left.
Hiruzen opened the folder she brought him and studied the papers inside looking for anything that might tell him who this man was or where he was from. There was the typical information about his blood type, height, and weight but after that things became more interesting. The man had massive chakra coils in his body, indicating that he had a monstrous amount of chakra at his disposal. Hell, the man's coils were bigger than even his and he was a Kage.
The man's chakra type was equally lightning and wind, another curiosity that started to make Hiruzen suspect that this man was possibly from Kumo. He read over a list of injuries and began to understand just how lucky the man was to be alive. The typical list only went to about half a page with only one for two minor things but this man's list spilled well into three pages with the majority of the third being life threatening things.
He about closed the folder when he found another page that surprised him. Apparently the man's blood had matched another's in the Konoha data base. He pulled the sheet out from under the rest of the stack and everything seemed to stop when he saw who the blood had matched to a near one-hundred percent.
He pulsed his chakra to call his ANBU and when they appeared he commanded, "Bring me Inoichi Yamanaka immediately. I will take no excuses."
Not even seven minutes had passed when the blonde mind reader came running into the room. He bowed and shot off a quick, "Hokage-sama."
"I know you quit the interrogation force two years ago," Hiruzen said, his eyes never leaving the man in the operation room, "but I must call upon you skills now."
"What's the issue?"
Hiruzen told Inoichi all he knew of the circumstances that had lead up to Naruto being saved by the man based off the information he had gotten from Iruka and Naruto. He explained how the man wasn't one of Konoha's ANBU. "This is why I need you to take me into his mind. We must find out who this man is and if he is a threat. The only reason I have allowed the medical teams to work on him was because he would have died otherwise."
Inoichi nodded slowly. "I don't like it," he said, "but I agree with you we must find out if he is a threat or not. When do you wish to proceed with the mind-walk?"
"Immediately," Hiruzen said. "If he is a friend I will have the medical teams continue their work on him but if he is an enemy I will grant him a swift death for protecting my shinobi."
Inoichi frowned but didn't argue. He understood what had to be done.
Hiruzen and the Yamanaka Head exited the observation room, went down a flight of stairs, and entered the operation room. The smell of blood filled the air and Hiruzen marveled at that. Even during the worst of operations the smell of disinfectant and bleach always beat out the iron smell of blood and it made him wonder just how much of the red liquid had been spilled in the room to do such a thing.
"This will only take a second," he said and made his way to the heavily injured shinobi's head with Inoichi in tow.
The beauty of a mind-walk was that the mind worked faster than the body and one second in the walk would be about three hours in the mind. Inoichi placed a hand on the man's head and his other on Hiruzen's own. The old Sarutobi saw the man concentrate and then the world started to melt away. Colors started to run and blend like water colors and the sharp edge of reality fell away.
Then he was in a ruined city. There was no blending of colors or gradual reveal. A more inexperienced Yamanaka might have done such a thing but Inoichi wasn't a novice.
"By Kami," Inoichi gasped and Hiruzen could understand why.
They were in a ruined city and the smell of smoke and death hung in the air. Black husks were all that remained of some buildings and others were so badly damaged that he wouldn't dare enter them. The sky was dominated by black clouds that warned of a coming rain and behind them Hiruzen could make out a blood red sky.
"Never have I seen such a mindscape," Inoichi commented aloud.
"Is it damaged?" Hiruzen asked.
The man shook his head causing his pony-tail to fling around. "No, if it was damaged you would see cracks in the very aspect of reality but there is none of that here." He turned around, taking in everything he saw, and went rigid.
Hiruzen turned around to see what the Yamanaka had seen and he too tensed. There, in the distance, was unmistakably the Hokage Monument. The face of the Shodai Hokage was nothing more than a crater and the part of the Nidaime's with it. Hiruzen's own head had a large scar running down it and the Yondaime's was charred black. There was another face next to the Yondaime's and Hiruzen didn't understand why the face of his student, Tsunade, was on the monument.
The old Sarutobi swallowed and started walking hesitantly toward the cliff and he heard Inoichi follow. Now that he knew that the ruined city was Konoha he could make out the many different buildings that he was familiar with. He could see the husk of the Hokage Tower with half of the top caved in and he coud see several shops that he frequented as nothing more than rubble.
They walked several blocks before they reached something that made them both stop. In the burnt out husk of a large building was a graveyard. There were dozens of rough stones marking each of the dead that laid below with names that Hiruzen knew on each of them.
Inoichi took a shaky step and pointed to one. "That one has my daughter's name on it," he said with fear and pain evident in his voice. "Who the hell is this person, Hokage-sama?"
"The blood test matched with a person in the Konoha data base," he answered quietly.
Inoichi waited for him to say more but when it became apparent the the old man had said all that he would at the moment he walked to the grave that was marked by his daughter's name. He reached out to touch it but Hiruzen stopped him.
"Is it safe?" the old man asked.
"Y-yes," the Yamanaka head answered. "There are memories stored here and they might answer the question as to who this man is."
Hiruzen let go of Inoichi's hand and when the blonde touched the grave marker the world changed in an instant. There was the same red sky and there were no discernible landmarks in the horizon, just a plain of charred, black earth. In front of the two men was a blonde-haired man that looked distinctly like Minato Namikaze with the only exception being the cloths the man wore. They were the exact same as what the man's whose mind they were in had on.
Hiruzen took a slow step but stopped when his foot hit something. He looked down and saw that it was an arm and he began to notice that the ground was littered with the bodies and parts of humans. Most of the bodies he could identify as samurai but some were clearly shinobi but he couldn't see any hitai-ate to figure out where they were from.
The old man heard Inoichi make a strangled gasp and when Hiruzen looked at him he whispered, "In his arms."
He looked and he saw what made the Yamanaka become emotional. In the arms of the man he looked at earlier was Ino Yamanaka. She was older than the one that he knew by several years but it was easy to see that it was her. She was stunningly beautiful and her eyes were closed. For all intents and purposes she looked like she was sleeping but Hiruzen knew better. This was a memory of her death.
To the right of the man who held the Yamanaka girl appeared a man who the Hokage knew well, Kakashi Hatake.
"Naruto," the man said confirming what Hiruzen had read in the blood analysis report, "we have to go. They will be here soon and our forces are in a full retreat."
"They took her from me, Kakashi," the man said quietly.
Kakashi placed a hand on the man's shoulder and said, "Naruto, we have to go. We can mourn later but for now we don't have the time."
"I was going to ask her to marry me," the man said. "She always talked about wanting to raise a family."
"Naruto," Kakashi started but paused. "You know what has to be done."
"She deserves a hill covered in flowers, Kakashi. Not this."
"She would want you to do this, Naruto. You know what happens to them if we don't destroy the bodies."
The man called Naruto nodded slowly. He didn't move at first but he eventually kissed the girl on the forehead and placed her on the ground. His movements were slow and jerky due to the emotions that he was clearly feeling. He preformed a few hand signs and fire flooded out of his hands and consumed the body of Ino Yamanaka.
Just as fast as the memory had started it ended and the two men were back in the grave yard. Hiruzen could hear the Yamanaka head choking back a sob and he couldn't blame the man. Having been on a few mind-walks in his days he knew that memories that were seen with a Yamanaka couldn't be fake because the Yamanaka would know if they were.
"This man is-" Inoichi stopped when another sob reared its head.
"He is Naruto," Hiruzen finished for the man. "He is Naruto-kun."
"That isn't entirely true," a voice said and Hiruzen looked behind him to see the man who they had just seen holding the body of Ino Yamanaka. He wasn't wearing a mask and the old Sarutobi was shocked at how much he looked like his father. His face was lean and handsome but his blue eyes were dark and held a weight that was rarely seen in men his age.
"You...are Naruto?" Hiruzen questioned.
The man smiled softly and tilted his head slightly in acknowledgement. "It is good to see you again, Sarutobi-san."
"Again?" he questioned and the man who calmed to be Naruto gestured toward a gravestone. The name on it caused a chill to go down Hiruzen's spine, it was his own. "Ah," he muttered.
"Just who are you?" Inoichi asked. His face was stained by he tears that had spilled from his eyes and he had a grim look on his face.
The man was silent and moved through the graveyard without looking at either of them. He placed a hand on a stone here and there and his eyes were glazed over as if he was seeing something that neither of them could.
Finally he turned to them and answered, "I am Naruto Uzumaki."
"How is that possible?" Hiruzen asked.
Naruto shook his head. "I don't know," he said. "One moment I was locked in a great battle with the enemy of all mankind and the next moment I was in the clearing saving a kid's life. A kid who looked exactly like me when I was younger. A kid who was convinced by one of his Academy sensei to steal the Forbidden Scroll and learned the Kage Bunshin no Jutsu in the hopes that he would become Genin."
Hiruzen stopped, prevented the shock of the man knowing such things from showing on his face, and thought about what everything he had seen and learned meant. The blood analysis said that this man was Naruto, the memories showed things that only a man from another time could know, Inoichi had all but confirmed that the memory wasn't fake with the way he had reacted, and the man, himself, had acknowledge that he was Naruto and demonstrated it by telling Hiruzen something that only Naruto or someone intimately involved in the Forbidden Scroll fiasco would know.
Hiruzen came to a conclusion and he might have felt silly if it wasn't so apparent. "You're from the future," he stated.
Inoichi gave him a look of confusion and before he could say something Naruto said, "You really are the Professor, aren't you? Anyone else would have found such an idea ridiculous and disregarded it in a heartbeat but you say it with confidence. I'm not sure but I can guess from seeing you that I am from a possible future that will never be."
The old Sarutobi nodded grimly. "With your appearance in this timeline you have already changed the future in such a way that it would be impossible for whatever future you've seen to ever happen. But then, how are you here? How have you not disappeared due to the paradox that your existence creates?"
"Just because it will never happen in this timeline doesn't mean that it hasn't already happened in another," Naruto answered. "The timeline that I am apparently from is now only a parallel of what will never be in this timeline. I am from a timeline of impossibilities and my presence is a testament of things that never will."
"Parallel," the old Hokage whispered. He considered a few things and said, "Well, that explains that."
"You believe him?" Inoichi asked incredulously.
Hiruzen raised an eyebrow and said, "I don't see a reason not to. All of the evidence suggests that he is Naruto from the future or now a Naruto from a parallel timeline that will never happen. Do you deny what you've seen?"
"No, but, it's just..." he stopped. He frowned as he visibly struggled to find the words that explained his thoughts and finally turned to Naruto. "You loved my Ino?" he asked in a voice only just above a whisper.
"Technically you're Ino is different from the Ino I knew," Naruto answered, "but yes, I loved her."
Inoichi nodded at the answer and stayed quiet.
"Naruto," Hiruzen spoke getting the man's attention, "what of the Kyubi?"
"Kurama?" Naruto questioned. "He's gone, ripped from me a few years ago."
He pointed to the south of the ruined Konoha and Hiruzen could make out a large mountain in the distance. The mountain was destroyed and it looked like something had exploded out of the side of it.
"I survived," Naruto continued, "but it was only due to Kurama giving a farewell gift."
"Your healing ability, I presume?"
The old Hokage studied the man in front of him. He radiated confidence and his presence alone inspired respect. "Are you loyal to Konoha?" Hiruzen asked.
"I would give my life for it," the blonde answered.
"I don't know a way of sending you back to your timeline and I'm afraid that it might even be impossible but would you be willing to fight for this one? Would you be willing to fight to prevent whatever happened in your timeline from happening in this one?"
Naruto seemed to think about what was being asked of him and Hiruzen could only marvel at how much he looked like his father. The man that stood before him was nothing more than a stranger but Hiruzen felt like he had known the man all his life. Perhaps it was due to the man knowing the Hiruzen Sarutobi of his timeline or it was because both of them had survived the worst of what the world could give them but whatever the reason the old Sarutobi felt a connection to the man that made him want to trust him.
"I can't guarantee anything," Naruto finally said, "but I would be honored if I could continue the battle as a Konoha shinobi."
"Good. Inoichi," the pony-tailed man looked at him, "what has been discovered here is considered an S-rank secret."
Hiruzen turned his eyes on the other blond and said, "As for you, we can't have you running around looking like the Yondaime or the Naruto of this timeline nor can we have you telling others that your name is Naruto Uzumaki."
"Understood," the man said. "I went by the name Yuri Karasu for a period of time when I was being hunted by some shinobi. I can also change my hair color to black with a jutsu. With the dramatic change in hair color, the lack of whisker marks due to not containing Kurama, and the slight physical differences caused by my life in my timeline it should be enough to pass off as just another shinobi."
"That will work," the Hokage said. "Your story will be that you are an ANBU of the hunter-nin division who had returned after a failed hunting attempt of an S-rank missing-nin. You have been reassigned to normal Jonin duties until such a time that you're skills are needed again."
Naruto tilted his head to the side and asked, "Will people really buy that?"
"When someone becomes ANBU all their files become Hokage eyes only. This is only broken when it comes to medical reports but even then the medic-nin that operate on the ANBU are ANBU themselves part of the Medical Division of ANBU. The story will work because there is none who could claim otherwise and of those who could are loyal to me."
"Alright," Naruto said and he looked off into the distance, his eyes glazing over for a second before refocusing. "It appears that I must put my full attention on my healing. I'm not out of the woods yet it seems."
"Then as my first order to you as your Hokage; don't die," Hiruzen commanded.
He nodded to Inoichi who closed his eyes and in a blink of an eye they were back in the operating room.
"Medic-nin, you may continue your work," he ordered. "I want hourly reports on his condition and I want to be notified the moment he wakes up. Anything that is seen or heard in this operating room is considered an S-rank secret, am I understood?"
All of the medic-nin in the room answered at once, "Hai," and returned to their desperate attempts at bring the man back from the brink of death.
As the old Hokage and the Yamanaka head exited the operating room, the Hokage asked, "Are you okay, Inoichi-san?"
"I just...I mean I saw-"
"What you saw was something that will never happen," Hiruzen said. "Your daughter is alive and when you return home you will wrap her in your arms to remind yourself of that."
Inoichi nodded and asked if he could go. Hiruzen dismissed him and turned his thoughts toward what the presence of this Yuri Karasu meant for the future of his world.
-A Testament of Things that Never Will-
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