Pre-Story A/N: This Chapter is the Kyuubi assault and what its changes. If you wish to better the reading experience by comparing my portrayal of it to Kishimoto's, then go and watch episodes 248 and 249 of Shippuden. I highly recommend it, as those episodes being fresh in your mind will help to set the tone of the Chapter better with a visual representation.

And now, The Fourth's World

Chapter 1

Minato slowly pushed himself up from the ground.

Because of his hasty retreat from the Masked Man's odd jutsu, he'd been forced to activate the Hiraishin(Flying Thunder God) on instinct with barely any time to think on which seal he'd teleport to.

I missed, the Yondaime recounted briefly of how his hand and kunai had passed through the Masked Man's head, almost like he'd briefly become intangible somehow. But as soon as my hand passed through, he rematerialized and tried to drag me in instantly. Just what is that jutsu?

Minato sucked in a surprised breath as he witnessed the air before him distort and begin to swirl. Out of the center of the swirling vortex the Masked Man suddenly appeared.

The Masked Man gave a small chuckle in amusement and his lone visible Sharingan closed halfway in a mocking gesture. "I won't let you get away," he spoke with a sense of superiority.

So he uses some type of Teleportation ninjutsu as well, Minato observed calmly. Regardless of how this man had nearly killed Kushina and threatened Naruto's life as well, Minato knew that getting angry would only harm his chances for victory. The Yellow Flash pulled his tri-pronged kunai out from the ground in front of him as he continued to piece what little information he'd already gathered together. Is that how he managed to move Kushina so far so quickly?

A shinobi who'd outmaneuvered the ANBU assigned directly under the Sandaime, who'd passed through a top-secret barrier, and who had known how the Kyuubi's seal would weaken during childbirth. Minato gathered what the Masked Man had been able to do in an attempt to possibly piece together his opponent's identity. An image of the only shinobi in all of history to have ever held the Kyuubi under his control passed through the Hokage's mind. Furthermore, he was able to remove the Kyuubi's seal, tame the biju, and was able to pass through the barrier set up around Konoha undetected.

I know of only a single shinobi who'd have both the will and skill enough to accomplish such a feat within such a small time. He continued to piece together what had been made clear and Minato was able to come up with a possible identity for his enemy. His blue eyes sharpened towards the foe before him and asked, "Are you Madara Uchiha?"

The Masked Man slowly reached up to his hood and removed it. The man's hair was the typical Uchiha black. However, Madara was known to have his hair grown lengthy and below the small of his back, while the Masked Man's was cut short.

"No," Minato amended. "That would be impossible. He's dead."

The Masked Man cocked his head to the side lazily and answered in a disinterested tone, "I wonder about that."

"At this point," the Hokage told him, "it doesn't matter who you are. But why are you attacking Konoha?"

The enemy tilted his head back and continued to answer disinterestedly, "I could say that I did it on a whim, or that I planned it, or that it's war, or that it's for peace." As soon as he'd finished, a thick, lengthy chain fell out of the Masked Man's left cloak sleeve.

Minato's cerulean eyes sharpened further as he realized that a battle was truly unavoidable with this man. Whatever the case is, he's no ordinary man, he observed as he brought his specially-made kunai up and readied himself for the death match that was approaching. This man can control the Kyuubi and his Teleportation Jutsu surpasses both Nidaime-sama's and mine. And he also has some dangerous ideals. I have to deal with him now, or he'll be even more trouble than the Kyuubi.

The Masked Man took the clamps on the ends of the length of chain and attached them to both of his wrists. He then rolled his wrists to check his blood flow.

If I go to the village right now and assist, Minato continued to plan, he will follow and the battlefield will become even more chaotic. A breeze blew across the small clearing, fluttering both combatants' cloaks about them. If he's anything like Madara, then I can't allow him to keep the Kyuubi under his Kuchiyose for long. It seems I will have to just trust Sandaime-sama in protecting the village for the time being. I must defeat this man here, before he can do anything more.

"Now that I have finally freed the Kyuubi, you people have no hope left!" the Masked Man exclaimed as he began to charge at Minato.

The Yondaime sprinted towards his opponent. As they neared each other Minato extended his arm, fully intent on piercing his opponent with his kunai.

However, Minato watched as his kunai sunk into his opponent, yet seemed to meet nothing. Minato then followed his kunai as he passed through the Masked Man without seemingly harming him in the slightest. Minato then ran into the chain trailing behind his enemy.

The chain then tightened and Minato felt the metal links dig into his flak jacket. Realizing that he'd indirectly been trapped, he activated the Hiraishin and teleported to the kunai at the edge of the clearing, away from the Masked Man.

My physical attacks have no effect on him, Minato analyzed further, but he materializes again to attack me. Which means I can only land an attack when we both strike blows. That means that the risk of his jutsu is during the moment just before his attack. And considering the amount of chakra it takes to maintain the Summoning over the Kyuubi, he shouldn't desire a very long battle either. This means that the one that attacks an instant quicker than the other will be the victor!

Minato turned around and sprinted towards his opponent, already having an idea on how to defeat the Masked Man. The enemy sprinted forward to reengage in response.

As they neared, Minato flung his kunai towards the enemy, and it sunk in just as expected.

Time seemed to slow as each opponent grew closer to one another. The kunai continued to inch through the Masked Man's skull. The Masked Man's hand crept up to grab Minato.

The kunai successfully passed completely through just before the enemy could grab Minato.

As soon as the kunai went through, Minato formed a Rasengan (Spiraling Sphere) in his right hand. The bright ball of swirling chakra then slowly approached the Masked Man's chest, but Minato had acted just an instant too late. Just before he was grabbed, the blue-eyed Hokage heard, "I win."

Minato acted.

The Yellow Flash lived up to his name and activated his recently-developed technique and disappeared. He grabbed the kunai he'd just thrown, turned in the air, and successfully drilled his opponent in the center of his back with the Rasengan.

Feeling indulgent, Minato informed his enemy, "That was my Hiraishin: Level Two." The force of the Rasengan continued to push the Masked Man further into the ground as dirt and rocks flew away due to the force of the Yondaime's personal jutsu.

Minato removed his hand as the Rasengan dissipated in his hand, but not before successfully marking the Masked Man with a Hiraishin Formula Seal. As Minato jumped away, smoke from the dust and dirt raised to form a thick cloud over the entire clearing.

The blue-eyed man watched as the enemy Sharingan-wielder leapt out of the smoke and came to rest on a newly-raised rock. The cloaked figure was breathing heavily as he clutched his left arm. Minato watched with a cold gaze as a type of white ooze, not blood, came out from his left sleeve and the enemy's left hand just fell off of his arm in a gooey mess.

Minato immediately activated the newest Hiraishin Seal and stabbed his opponent with one of his kunai. Those blue eyes were cold as ice as he laid his right hand on the Masked Man's chest. The fuuinjutsu master then activated the Keiyaku Fuin (Contract Seal) to remove the control over the Kyuubi.

The Masked Man seemed to actually panic a little as he realized, "Keiyaku Fuin! You intend to separate the Kyuubi from me?"

"With this," Minato stated coolly," the Kyuubi no longer belongs to you."

The Masked Man jumped away again and his posture seemed to calm back down. "I must hand it to the Yondaime Hokage," he congratulated Minato. "You managed to seriously wound me, as well as cancelling out my control over the Kyuubi. However," he added ominously, "the Kyuubi will be mine eventually. I am going to rule the world," he stated with certainty as he activated his odd jutsu and began to seemingly swirl into his Sharingan, "and there are so many ways to go about doing it," he finished as the Masked Man retreated and disappeared.

That tone, Minato realized. He's not just boasting. He truly believes it.

Hiruzen Sarutobi had been enjoying his semi-retirement after allowing Minato to take over as Hokage. He'd finally had time to spend with his family and – most importantly – his wife.

He'd led Konoha through the end of one war after Tobirama-sensei sacrificed himself and two other wars from start to finish. During that time, people had bestowed upon him two titles.

The Professor he agreed with; it fit him. He was no longer the shinobi he had been in his youth, but he was adept at nearly all of the Jutsu of Konoha. Aside from the Kekkei Genkai-required techniques and Minato's private creations, he could use each Konoha Jutsu as well as any other.

Any time someone called him the Kami no Shinobi, however, he wanted to completely rebuff the name. Hiruzen was a powerful shinobi, he was well-aware of his own strength, but there were two shinobi he knew of who were both more powerful than he, and both had been Hokage. In his eye, there has only, and only ever shall be, one Kami no Shinobi, and it was Hashirama Senju: The Shodaime Hokage and a Founder of Konoha.

Night had fallen in Konoha and he was – hopefully – performing this grueling experience for the last time in his life: paperwork. As Minato was needed to help preserve Kushina's Seal during her childbirth, Hiruzen had 'volunteered' under Biwako's suggestion to take care of the paperwork for Minato.

Minato had said it best. "A Hokage is the most powerful shinobi in Konoha. But their wives are the only creatures capable of making them cower in fear of their wrath."

The aging shinobi sighed tiredly as he set the final piece of paper in the 'Out' pile. He then leaned back in his chair and gazed out of the window.

"The moon's beautiful tonight," he said softly as he witnessed the full moon. "I hope nothing goes wrong."

One of the many lessons that both Senju brothers beat into him as a young student replayed itself in Hiruzen's head. Hashirama would always start it by saying, "Hope for the best," and then Tobirama would finish it with, "But prepare for the worst."

And that was what Hiruzen had done. As a shinobi, he knew that he couldn't rely on hope. Nothing would be done unless you would be willing to do it yourself.

The Sandaime had placed all active ANBU for the night on the highest alert possible. All he'd explained was that there was a possibility of an attack on Konoha tonight from a foe with overwhelming power, and ANBU immediately sprung into action. Although the Third Great Shinobi War was officially over a year ago, tensions were still very high between the Hidden Villages and conflicts and skirmishes still occurred with regularity.

A slight disturbance in the air prompted Hiruzen to use his sensory abilities to search out the cause.

"It can't be," Hiruzen gasped as he felt the disturbance's chakra signature.

The Sandaime immediately activated a Shunshin (Body Flicker) and flew away from the office and landed in the room where he kept his battle armor. As he began to don his armor, a piercing roar split the night that sent shivers down his back.

The Kyuubi was released.

An ANBU immediately appeared next to him as he finished strapping on his armor. "Sandaime-sama," the shinobi reported. "It's the Kyuubi."

"I'm aware of that," he answered. "I will suppress it. Have all ANBU, Jounin, and Chuunin above the age of twenty-five come to assist in suppressing the Kyuubi. All Genin are to assist in the evacuation of the civilians as if it were an invasion."

"What about those below the age of twenty-five?" the ANBU asked.

"Follow Evacuation Plan C-2."

"Roger that!" The ANBU then left to follow through on the Sandaime's orders.

As Hiruzen left the Hokage Tower, he couldn't help but think, The Kyuubi's escaped. That must mean that all of the preparations we took were a failure. The fact that no report came from the ANBU protecting the birthing can only mean one thing. A single tear escaped the aging shinobi's eyes as he pictured is now-late wife, Biwako.

Hiruzen immediately arrived atop a building where a group of masked ANBU were relaying orders. Upon his arrival, the lead ANBU called, "Sandaime-sama!"

"Status report!" the former commander ordered.

"Hai!" the same ANBU began. "Kyuubi's presence is confirmed and containment is being carried out per your orders. The Genin are assisting in the evacuation plan. All other active shinobi are helping to suppress the Kyuubi aside from those involved in Evacuation Plan C-2."


"Fifteen Jounin," the ANBU reported. "Another twenty are critically wounded and are receiving immediate care, but it is unsure if many will survive. Four Genin and thirteen Chuunin have fallen as well. Three ANBUs have left us."

It could be worse, Hiruzen thought darkly. He then asked, "Civilians?"

The ANBU shook his masked head. "Unsure of. Estimated at over two-hundred at the moment."

Where are you Minato?

Just then the Professor felt the Yondaime's Chakra appear on the Hokage Monument.

"Order all forces to temporarily cease their assault on the Kyuubi!" Hiruzen ordered. Minato… What is happening?

The Kyuubi then turned towards the Hokage Monument and glared at it. The giant fox then opened its mouth and a multitude of colored chakra began to gather and formed a spherical mass that was dark-purple in color.

"A bijudama (Tailed Beast Bomb)," the ANBU around Hiruzen gasped in recognition.

Hiruzen's face went stony as he felt the sheer power the Kyuubi's bijudama held. If that had been directed this way, all of Konoha would've been obliterated.

The gigantic fox then blasted its attack towards the Hokage Monument and Minato. The Sandaime then saw a complicated sealing array appear just as the concentrated mass of chakra made contact with the monument and then seem to sink into the air.

"That's the Jikuken Kekkai (Space-Time Barrier)!" a random shinobi exclaimed in recognition as an explosion racked the landscape in the distance. "Yondaime-sama has arrived!"

A roar of victory chorused from the gathered shinobi as the presence of the Yellow Flash was confirmed by his jutsu. Hiruzen then allowed a small smile before he quickly went back to the stone-faced commander.

The Sandaime then felt a cold sweat form as the Kyuubi let out another ear-splitting roar and he felt Minato's Chakra disappear. Minato? He wondered briefly. What happened?

"Where'd Yondaime go?" one of the sensory Jounin asked once Minato had left. This question seemed to deflate the gathered shinobi as they felt their hope disappear.

Hiruzen, however, immediately returned to barking out orders. "We need to push the Kyuubi away from the village!" he roared. "Do not despair! Reengage and defeat the Kyuubi!"

The Konoha shinobi around him then let out a chorus of cries of affirmation and courage. They all then returned to occupying the Kyuubi's attention in an attempt to minimize the destruction the biju would cause.

"I need you to buy me a few moments," the Sandaime informed the ANBU around him. "I need to prepare my jutsu to push the Kyuubi out of Konoha."

The ANBU surrounding him all chorused in acceptance of their orders before going off to engage the Kyuubi.

Hiruzen used the precious moments the ANBU gained him to gather the required chakra for his next jutsu. He then bit his thumb hard enough to draw blood for the required sacrifice and went through the required hand seals. The Monkey Summoner then called out as he slammed his palm to the ground, "Ninpo: Kuchiyose (Ninja Art: Summoning). Enkoou Enma (Monkey King Enma)!"

Immediately a gigantic cloud of white smoke appeared and covered the entire roof of the building. The smoke slowly dissipated to show the imposing figure of Hiruzen's personal summon and old friend, Enma.

"The Kyuubi, huh?" Enma spoke as the smoke was blown away. "So the seal was broken?"

Trusting in his old friend's abilities, Hiruzen said, "We're going to push it out of the village with the Adamantine Staff."

"Got it," Enma accepted. "Henge (Transform)!"

Smoke erupted around where the Monkey King had just been standing. A large black staff with each of its ends silver in color then flew out of the smoke and towards its wielder.

Hiruzen then grabbed his new staff, spun it around his body, and rested it beneath his right arm. "Let's go, Enma!" he roared.

A single eye appeared on the staff and the Monkey King's voice came from the staff, "Right!"

The Sandaime then pointed the Adamantine Staff towards the gigantic red mass of the Kyuubi and extended his arm as he called out, "Extend!"

The large staff then grew in length until it collided with the large form of the monstrous beast. The thick staff then drew in more strength from Hiruzen's ample Chakra reserves and managed to slowly push the Kyuubi outside of Konoha's walls. Homes, streets, trees, and many other constructs were completely leveled by the Kyuubi's size as it was forced back.

"I've pushed it out of the village!" Hiruzen exclaimed as Enma's staff form retracted to its normal size. "Don't let up! Keep at him! Don't allow it to even think!"

All of the Konoha shinobi present let out a collective roar in victory once more as they rushed out of the village to reengage the gigantic fox.

Only one thought worried Hiruzen at the moment though. Minato, he wondered as the Kyuubi took another swipe with his claw at the shinobi who attempted to steal his attention. Where are you?

The Kyuubi's roar shattered the night again as its huge tails continued to level the surrounding landscape and take down any shinobi who attempted to sneak up behind the humongous beast.

"Continue the attack!" Hiruzen barked as the Kyuubi batted the Adamantine Staff aside from an attempt to push it further away from Konoha. "Keep the Kyuubi occupied until Minato can arrive!"

A feeling of deep helplessness crawled up the Sandaime's spine as he watched the Kyuubi begin to gather more chakra for another bijudama.

"Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" cried a familiar voice from above them.

Hiruzen looked up into the sky and saw a familiar red mass falling down.

Gamabunta crashed atop the Kyuubi and pinned it beneath him. The Kyuubi continued to gather more chakra as it squirmed beneath the gigantic Toad Boss Summon.

A sense of relief coursed through him as Hiruzen spied Minato standing atop Gamabunta.

However, the sense of relief was short lived and was replaced by one of utter dread as he noticed the downtrodden look on the Yondaime's face. Hiruzen immediately realized his intentions as Minato yelled something to his Summon which Hiruzen didn't catch.

The Sandaime had only one thought in his head as he threw Enma's staff-form aside and rushed forward at the Kyuubi's form unarmed.

I can't let him do it.

Hiruzen didn't hear the shinobi's cries around him for him to stop. He leapt forward and managed to enclose his hand over a small tuft of red fur as the Kyuubi's mouth enclosed over the newly-constructed bijudama. The student of both Senju Hokage before him then felt an unfamiliar sense of being pulled before he vanished with Minato and the Kyuubi.

Minato teleported the Kyuubi to the clearing he'd just left with, Kushina and Naruto in his arms.

The blue-eyed man gasped for air from his exertion over the past hour and how near-chakra exhaustion he really was. "I have to put up a barrier immediately," he rasped as he winced from the pain that just moving caused him. Damn it. I'm almost out of chakra.

Kushina's pained voice then reached his ears. "I can still do it, Minato," she told him.

The red-haired kunoichi then bit her lip as she manifested her Chakra Chains. The chains dug into the ground and erected a barrier around the clearing while simultaneously restraining the Kyuubi.

"Kushina!" Minato called out in worry as his wife whimpered in pain from exerting herself so soon after giving birth and having the Kyuubi forcibly removed from her.

The babe wrapped in the Hokage's arms began to wail for the first time since Minato had saved him from the Masked Man's clutches.

Kushina continued to breath heavily as she leaned up and said to her recently-born son softly, "Did I wake you up? I'm sorry, Naruto. Mommy didn't mean to."

Minato's cerulean eyes widened in shock as he realized his wife's intentions. "Kushina…" he trailed off weakly.

Her indigo eyes were filled with the strength that sent enemy shinobi running and her love for the two males in her life next to her. "I'm going to draw the Kyuubi with me to my death," she informed her husband and Hokage. "This way we can delay the Kyuubi's revival for a little while, at least.

"I'll be able to save everyone with what little chakra I have left. Thank you for everything you've done for me, Minato," she said with a smile that communicated her truly heartfelt gratitude towards him.

Minato sucked in a sharp breath and he heard Naruto begin to sniffle. He looked down at his son and realized that his son was beginning to tear up. Even as an infant, Naruto seemed to sense what was about to happen.

"Kushina," her husband managed to say. "It's because of you that I'm the Fourth Hokage. It's because you made me a man!" Minato paused briefly as he felt his emotions begin to well over. "And yet…" he trailed off as his voice began to crack from sadness.

Kushina just gave him one of those smiles that always seemed to make his heart skip a beat and said, "Minato, don't give me that look. I'm so happy that you loved me. And today… is our child's birthday," she reminded him as Naruto had quieted down again.

"If I were to imagine me alive," she continued on, "and our future with the three of us living together as a family… I can't see us having anything other than a happy life." Minato felt a single tear finally fall from his left eye before his wife said, "If I were allowed just one regret, it would be that I won't be able to see Naruto grow up. How much I wish I could have seen that."

While his wife was coming to terms with her death Minato's idea finalized in his head. He was absolutely determined to see her only wish granted, and he would see it happen.

"Kushina," he finally spoke up after he managed to calm himself again, "there is no need for you to die with the Kyuubi. Preserve what little chakra you have left for a reunion with your son." Kushina looked at him in confusion as he wiped his lone tear from his face with his blue sleeve. "I'll seal all of your remaining chakra within Naruto. Then I'll take the Kyuubi with me with the only Fuuinjutsu that'll work since I'm not already a Jinchuuriki, the –"

"Shiki Fujin (Dead Demon Consuming Seal/Reaper Death Seal)!" came a roar from a voice Minato didn't expect to hear.

Hiruzen Sarutobi stepped out from behind one of the Kyuubi's large legs with his hands clapped together and a determined look on his face. He looked prepared to die.

"S-Sandaime-sama?" Kushina gasped in shock.

"H-How?" was all Minato could manage to say. He was certain that his Hiraishin had only taken the Kyuubi with him from the battlefield.

"I apologize for concealing myself," the previous Hokage said to them, "but I believed it rude if I interrupted such a tender moment."

"Did… Did you just…?" the lone kunoichi present trailed off.

Hiruzen answered them with a stony nod. "I did," he told them.

"But…" Minato began. "Why?" he finally asked.

"I realized your intentions when I saw how sad you looked, Minato," Hiruzen answered kindly. "I couldn't stand to see someone with such a bright future perish the way you were about to. I will be the one to seal the Kyuubi within little Naruto."

"But Sandaime-sama," the Yondaime protested, "it's my responsibility!"

"No it isn't," his predecessor told him sharply. "I am old, far too old to go back to being Hokage. Your responsibility is to live on. You are to live on and become the father and Hokage that you were meant to be."

"But –"

"Minato," Kushina interrupted softly. "There's nothing to be done now. Sandaime-sama has already called the Shinigami, and you and I both know what that means – as does he."

Minato's gaze fell as he resigned himself to what was about to happen. Now that Hiruzen had called the Shinigami, his soul was forfeit. "I'm so sorry, Sandaime-sama," he apologized sincerely. "Because of my failures you've had to call on the Shiki Fujin yourself, and I am at fault for you having lost your love."

"You have nothing to apologize for," the older man replied with a sad smile. "I know you did all you could – you would never do anything less. That is why I am certain that you'll be an amazing Hokage, capable of leading Konoha into a new age."

"I am unworthy of your praise," the Yondaime bowed in respect to the man who chose him to be Hokage.

"Nonsense," Hiruzen answered with a small wave of his hand. "But we need to decide on what to do with the Kyuubi. I know you mentioned the Eight Trigrams – is that the seal we'll use on Naruto?"

An idea appeared in Minato's head. It was crazy, but it could work. The more he thought about it though, the better it seemed. Kushina wouldn't last for much longer with her body exerting itself so much so soon after giving birth, and that thought sealed it for him. He cast aside all doubt in his mind then.

This, will work, Minato told himself. He then answered Hiruzen, "Yes and no." The fuuinjutsu master then proposed his new idea to them both, and Kushina and Hiruzen were stunned at the plan.

"That's…" Hiruzen finally found his voice after a few moments of stunned silence. "That might just be crazy enough to work. I honestly would've expected such a plan from someone like Jiraiya, not you. Are you sure of this Minato?"

"It should work in theory," he answered confidently. Minato then turned to his wife and asked, "Can you do it?"

"I… I don't know if what you're saying is possible Minato," Kushina answered him hesitantly. "My mother always told me that the Eight Trigrams Style was the most complex, but this…"

"If this works," her husband told her, "then you'll always be with Naruto. It'll mean you can't interact with him directly for a time, but once what is needed happens you'll be just as much a part of his life as me."

"I'll do it," she answered after a few moments of hesitation. "I'll have faith in you, Minato."

"I will begin the preparations then," Minato said. He then summoned the required Sealing Altar and made the appropriate changes to the seal's design. Minato created the key for the seal that was about to be made before summoning Gerotora and sending the key-holding toad back to Mount Myouboku with the key for safe-keeping until Minato or Jiraiya called him back. Minato then placed the soon-to-be Jinchuuriki infant atop the Altar and retreated away from his son so as to not interfere with the revised Sealing. Everything had to be perfect.

"Are you ready, Minato?" Hiruzen asked him as he stepped away from the Altar.

"I'll not be sealed again!" roared a resounding voice from behind everyone. The Kyuubi attempted to take advantage of everyone's distraction and Kushina's slowly-depleting strength from maintaining her Chains for so long and kill Naruto before he could be sealed.

Minato and Kushina both moved to protect Naruto as soon as the beast acted. Each parent dove in front of the gigantic claw simultaneously. As Minato braced himself to be skewered from behind, he felt an odd sensation travel over his entire body.

A sound of flesh being pierced and blood spurting from bodies reached his ears, as well as two pained grunts, but the Yondaime felt no pain himself.

Minato slowly opened his eyes and he was greeted by a site that would forever remain ingrained in his memories.

There, with their midsections completely run through by the Kyuubi's talon, were both Kushina and Hiruzen. Both of their bloods mixed together and trailed down the claw until it dripped off of the point.

"Sandaime-sama," Minato gasped as he realized what had happened. "Why?"

"I told you when I appointed you, Minato," Hiruzen shakily answered, "that if you ever forced me out of retirement that I would never forgive you."

"Minato," Kushina called over to her love while she dug her heels into the ground even further to keep the Kyuubi's talon from moving any further towards her son.

"Yes, Kushina," Minato answered her.

"Take care of Naruto," she told him with a sad smile. "Be a good father – remember that I'll be watching. Don't let Naruto grow up alone. Do you remember what I told you that Mito-sama told me about being the Kyuubi's Jinchuuriki?"

"I do," Minato said to the only woman he would ever love.

"It is possible for a Jinchuuriki to have a good life," Kushina recited her mantra since being made the second Jinchuuriki of the gigantic fox behind her. "You just have to fill the vessel with love. If you can do that, then the Jinchuuriki will be able to live well. You have to do that now. Don't let our son experience the normal life of a Jinchuuriki. Please don't let our child be alone. Let Naruto become a great man."

"I will," he promised his love resolutely, tears threatening to leak from his eyes. "I swear to you that our son will be loved. I won't let this chance go to waste." He then directed towards the man who'd taught his own sensei and said, "Thank you, Sandaime-sama, for allowing me to raise my son."

Hiruzen simply allowed a small, pained smile and a simple nod to accept Minato's gratitude.

"Naruto," Kushina began to speak to her quiet son lying upon the Sealing Altar, "you are the sun of my life. Beware of Jiraiya, he's nothing but a bad influence. Be kind to your father; I know that he may not always be the best, but know that he loves you with all his heart.

"I need you to promise me something: I want you to promise me that you'll always stay just who you are – never change for anyone." At this, the blonde infant yawned and let out a single giggle. Kushina smiled as she continued, "Grow up and find someone to love, like your father and I did.

"Make sure that you eat your vegetables, don't just eat ramen like your father over there. You know, he'd have never gotten away from it at all if I hadn't forced him to actually try something on our first date after he made Jounin. I told him, 'If you order ramen one more time then I'll force-feed you one of those kunai you're so damn proud of.'" As she recalled her many loving moments with her husband, Kushina allowed herself a small chuckle. "Your father really will be lost without me. I want you to keep him straight – we all know Jiraiya won't.

"Naruto, I love you more than life itself. If you don't remember anything else about me, just know that."

Minato couldn't fight it anymore; tears fell from his chin like raindrops. "I love you, Kushina," he choked out.

"And I love you, Minato, dattebane," she answered weakly as she smiled one of her beautiful smiles, blood dripping from her mouth.

Hiruzen then looked back to Minato, his Shiki Fujin still looming over him and ready to finish the seal. He then asked, "Are you ready to face the world as the Yondaime Hokage, Minato-kun?"

Minato wiped his tears on his sleeve and then stared at his predecessor with a fierce fire burning within his cerulean eyes. He then spoke, determination coating his words, "The world isn't ready for me!"

Hiruzen merely gave his successor a pained smile. "I'm glad I can leave Konoha in your hands then," he answered. He then looked up into the sky with a wistful expression on his face and said, "I only wish I would be able to join Biwako, but alas, the life of shinobi is that of sacrifice."

Minato walked over to his love and kissed her, one more time. "You will get to meet your son," he swore to her. "I promise. A lifetime with a father is nothing compared to just five minutes of a mother's love. I love you, my Hot-Blooded Habanero."

Hiruzen then called out from behind the red-haired woman, "Fuin!"

As the seal began to finish, Kushina's indigo eyes found Minato cerulean ones one last time, and Kushina Uzumaki Namikaze spoke her last words. "And I love you, my little…yellow…loser."

A/N: And the Naruto story I promised all of my readers months ago has finally taken off! It isn't going to be easy, but I've figured out what I'm going to be doing with the story as a whole at long last.

To those of you who've read the little preview I offered in my Code Geass story, Once More, with Feeling: yes, there are some changes between the preview and this. The main reason for that is the change in plans for the story as a whole. Some of them also just seemed to fit better in different places.

I guess i can inform all of you about the immediate plans for the story. Naruto won't become the MAIN protagonist that I'll follow until around Chapter 12-15 unless something changes. For now, Minato will be the main protagonist until Naruto's graduation to Genin. You'll see how Minato deals with the Hyuuga incident, the Council regarding Naruto's Jinchuuriki status, the Suna alliance, the Uchiha incident, as well as a bunch of other little bits and pieces I've planned.

I won't be announcing the pairings for a few chapters, as I'm unsure of a few of them at the moment. You are welcome to submit some who you think would be good. All I ask is that you avoid the overused ones: NaruHina and NaruSaku. I have nothing against either pair - personally I like NaruHina but it's not my favorite. I also don't mind NaruSaku if Sakura is actually portrayed well in the story (No going from beating Naruto's skull one day and calling him an idiot to suddenly falling in love with him the next.). Also, no Slash. I have nothing against yaoi, but I just don't write it. Also don't bother with a Minato pairing, I've got that one set in stone and refuse to budge on it.

Also, just so all of you Sasuke-haters can find this out now, instead of later: I will not engage in bashing. I have always thought that bashing a character just completely takes away the complexities of the character. I don't care who it is: Sasuke, Sakura, Kiba, etc... I absolutely abhor and refuse to ever partake in bashing. It destroys the story if you make it a selling point or repeatedly engage in the terrible practice.

Now that I've said that, let me amend by saying that I don't really like Kishimoto's portrayal of Sasuke. He utterly betrays Konoha, sticks a Chidori in Naruto's chest, spends three years as Konoha's greatest traitor since Madara Uchiha's personal apprentice, and Naruto will probably just let him back into Konoha with a small "Don't do it again." In my mind, Sasuke still hasn't, and will never be able to make adequate amends enough to allow him back to Konoha. However, I will never pervert my story with my personal desires and unhappiness with canon.

Now that that's out of the way, I hope you enjoy the fic. It will be following Minato's experiences as the Yondaime Hokage as the set-up for the meat of the story. Naruto will be the main protagonist, but patience is required.

Later, and enjoy.