A\N: I do not own Naruto.
If I did, I would troll all the shippers out there. How? Simple.
At the ending of the manga, I would draw four-five pages that shows an older Naruto going back home. His wife is not at home, maybe she's out buying groceries. He doesn't call her by her name, saying instead "Honey, I'm home!" as he takes off his shoes. As for children, we see only one child, with blond hair...and closed eyes because he's sleeping like a log on the couch. Good luck guessing the mother.
Beta: the incredibly awesome PyrothTenka.
The terrible, throbbing pain in his head was the first thing Naruto experienced once he woke up again.
Last night's party had probably been really wild if he was still suffering from a hangover.
"I'm never going to get drunk ever again," he moaned.
It was like he had been inside a giant bell while someone rang it. And then hit him with said bell.
He tried to remember the recipe for Ero-Sennin's hangover remedy, a disgusting mixture of herbs, eggs, wasabi and more booze.
He had never used it, but he had prepared it for the old pervert on more than one occasion during their training trip. It usually involved some puking on Jiraiya's part, too.
Was he supposed to put the egg in before, or after the booze? And did he even have eggs since he'd just moved into a new apartment?
Whatever. He had to get up, first.
Naruto feebly started to roll onto his side, when he realized two things.
He was not in his new bedroom.
But even if that fact strangely felt like a déjà vù to him, it was the second thing that really surprised him.
Because beside his bed, collapsed in a chair while sleeping, with red hair draped everywhere, was none other than Kushina Uzumaki.
For a long, silent minute, he just remained perfectly still. Staring at her while his brain tried to reboot.
"Holy shit…" he whispered, as he remembered the events of… how much time had passed?
But it turned out well, right? After all, he didn't seem to be a prisoner now.
A simple check revealed no seals or restraints or whatsoever on his body. No guards or ANBU creeping around the room, either.
Maybe outside of the room, sure, but not inside.
Still, he didn't feel like a prisoner. Not in a comfy bed in a nice room, at least.
From what he could see, there was even a bathroom adjacent to the room.
So why was he feeling pain all over his—
"Sakura," he whimpered, remembering that part.
He really hoped that Sasuke hadn't heard of that.
He could not sit there moping for six months, though.
Carefully, the young blond rolled over again on the bed, trying to be as quiet as possible, without breaking eye-contact with his mother's sleeping form.
Part of him was afraid she'd disappear if he woke her up, and another part just didn't want to deal with… whatever would happen once she woke up.
At least not until his headache had disappeared, because he remembered that his mother was loud. Or at least she had appeared so during the chaotic chain of events and from what he had learned about her in the past years.
Of course, Kurama was still out of commission, sleeping inside the seal. Without the bijuu's chakra, how long would it take for the throbbing pain to subside?
Wait! He could ask Sakura! No, wait, no.
Sakura would probably say something like "You deserve it for causing this mess."
He was almost on his feet, when he heard the door opening.
Panicking, since he didn't know what to expect, he took one of the few viable options he had.
He laid down on the bed again and tried to seem asleep. Just in time, because as soon as he stilled, someone entered in his—well, not his his—bedroom.
"This is highly irregular. We're not following normal procedure," a voice that Naruto knew well said. He just hadn't heard it since that disastrous Chunin Exam.
'Jiji!' he smiled inwardly, fighting the temptation to get up and hug his surrogate grandfather.
"This is not a regular situation, is it?" another voice stated. His father's.
He was not sure if he wanted to hug him, after the way he had been treated.
"No, it's not. Still—"
"Forgive me for the intrusion, Hokage-sama, Sarutobi-sama," another voice barged in.
"Shikaku," Minato's voice greeted. "I suppose you have—"
"Yes, Hokage-sama. I have the results of the blood test on all the prisoners, directly from the lab."
In the silence that permeated the room, Naruto heard the sound of paper pages being flipped.
And then, a mixture of a sigh and a groan.
"I suppose that this confirms it definitively…" Sarutobi's voice teased. "Congratulations, Minato-kun. It's a boy!"
"Am I still considered a traitor?" Shikaku asked in a completely serious tone.
"Shikaku, just—I don't know! Go bother your own son from the future!"
"Yes, sir." Naruto could hear the lazy salute from the Nara as his footsteps disappeared down the hall. And the smirk on the man's lips.
"I think I should go as well," the retired Sandaime said. "I could speak with some of our… guests while you attend to this personal matter."
His father must have agreed in some way because Naruto heard the noise of the old—well, not really that old now—man disappear once the door was closed.
Naruto remained perfectly still, not daring to move.
What was he supposed to do now?! He had dreamed who knows how many times for such an occasion, and it had already been botched by misunderstandings from the beginning! What—
"I know you're awake. I can hear your breathing," his father said, in a very strange tone. Like he was choosing his words very carefully. "It's too shallow and rapid for you to be asleep."
Of course he would notice. And Jiji probably noticed too. And Shikaku.
Great. He had—once again—been awake for less than ten minutes and had already managed to look like an idiot.
Naruto sat up, looking in Minato's general direction and trying to break the awkwardness with a small laugh.
It didn't work. Somehow he couldn't really bring himself to put any real feeling into it.
Both he and his father refused to look at each other, a mix of embarrassment and uncertainty coming between them.
"So…" Minato started, before his words died in his throat.
"Yeah," Naruto muttered.
Both blonds went back to looking at nothing.
Ten more minutes of awkward silence passed.
This was leading nowhere.
'Come on, Naruto! This is basically your fault...' he thought. 'Man up and start acting like the Hokage you want to be one day, dattebayo!'
He wisely decided to ignore the fact that another Hokage was standing just beside him, doing the exact same thing.
Otherwise they wouldn't be getting anywhere any time soon.
Naruto rallied himself. Now or never.
"I'm sorry!" both blonds exclaimed at the same time.
Even if with different tones.
Naruto blinked. His father was apologizing?!
"What are you sorry for?" he asked, loudly. "I'm the idiot that got drunk and sent himself and his friends back in time!"
"How you managed to unravel time-travel while drunk is beyond my comprehension," the older blond sighed, rubbing his temples.
"Well, I don't know how I did it, but I did, dattebayo!"
"... You sound like Kushina," Minato laughed softly. "But please, don't yell like that. You could wake her."
The blond time-traveller quickly checked his mother's sleeping form. Luckily, she still looked—and sounded—asleep.
"And I don't know how she'd react after what happened in your cell," the Yondaime concluded.
"Sorry about that," he said sheepishly. "But what would you apologize for?"
"Almost killing you, capturing you, putting you into Konoha's highest security cell, not believing you when you first told me the truth, and having you undergo a Yamanaka kinjutsu?" Minato deadpanned, arching an eyebrow.
"Riiight," Naruto flinched. "But it's okay, really! I mean, I almost killed you, too! What if mom hadn't arrived when she did?"
"Or your redhaired friend… Gaara, right?"
"I don't even want to think about it…" Naruto said, massaging his neck, remembering where Minato's blad had almost stabbed him.
"Let's change the subject. Agreed?" Minato asked quickly, not looking him in the eyes.
"Yeah, let's! And we'll never speak of it ever again."
"Not really something you want to talk about at family dinner, right? Especially in the future..." his father said, trying to lighten the mood.
And unknowingly, failing spectacularly.
If he noticed Naruto's flinch, he didn't show it.
Naruto was not the sharpest kunai in the pouch, but he knew some things.
Letting his father know about what would happen was not a good idea. Especially if it ended up ruining everything.
What if he ceased to exist?! He wanted to exist! Existing was good!
And not having his parents know about how difficult his life had been seemed a nice bonus too.
What was he supposed to say?
'You know, Dad… you both died when I was half-an-hour old, so I don't know much about family dinners' ?
No way he would do that.
No, he would try to keep the whole thing secret, at least for now.
At least he knew what kind of consequences there would be.
"Nevermind. How long was I unconscious?"
"Almost two days. Your… girlfriend has a good punch."
"Tell me about it…" Naruto muttered. "Hey, what happened to those Yamanaka guys?"
"They're fine, but in a deep coma. Their jutsu failed for some unknown reason… Do you have any idea why?"
"Uhm, not really. One of them lost control and the whole jutsu crumbled. I didn't really do anything," Naruto said, not really lying. He just tell the whole truth.
"That's a shame… it could take weeks for them to get out of it on their own."
"Wait, their clan can't help them?"
"They say that it's really dangerous to interfere with such a case."
Even if Naruto did feel sorry for the poor guys, he rejoiced. He had some time before Kurama was revealed!
"But that's not something you should be worrying about now," his father concluded.
"If you say so… Hey, where are we? And where are my friends?"
"After what happened in the cell block, and the… strong evidence regarding the truth, you and your friends were moved from the prison. Right now we're in a hotel on the outskirts of Konoha. Secured by multiple ANBU teams, of course."
"Of course. Are they—"
"They're fine, don't worry. With this latest piece of evidence, and the results from Kushina, Sarutobi-san, and my own examination of the seal… I would say that you're not prisoners anymore. Even if that was just a technical detail by now."
"That's great! So… what happens now?"
"Now?" Minato sighed. "Now we have to find a way to explain what happened to the village."
"Hey, you! Mask guy!" Kiba yelled through the door of his room, knocking loudly. "The mini-bar's empty! If I really have to stay here, at least get us something to drink!"
"Kiba, it would be highly logical to remain sober while we are… in custody," Shino said calmly from the bed he was sitting on.
"Oh, shut up, Shino! If I want a drink, I'll get my damn drink!"
"You're just mad because of your sore pride. Why? Because your mother kicked you in the—"
"SHINO!" Kiba interrupted him in outrage.
From his spot on the rug, Akamaru whined at the memory.
"So, dad…" Both of them twitched at the word. It felt so weird, especially since Minato was only a few years older. "Is there any way we could keep, well, my friends and I a secret? Oh, I've got it! We were on a secret mission, and—"
"The problem is that the entire village already knows of your arrival. You can't exactly keep an entire building hidden without some serious sealing jutsu, and that wasn't an option at the time."
Naruto blinked. "Why not?"
"Who in their right mind provides a potential enemy with camouflage right after they more or less infiltrated their home?"
"Oh... right," Naruto admitted. "Well, you couldn't have known the truth back then, so it's not really your fault..."
The two blonds remained silent for a few minutes, trying to figure out a solution.
"What about a drill? You know… for evacuating the civilians?"
Minato just stared.
Naruto squirmed uncomfortably. "Hey, it could work!"
"That sounds like a lame excuse… and there was too much collateral damage."
"We could say it was a realistic battle scenario!"
"Half of the Police Force is in the hospital," Minato deadpanned.
"... A few jonin went overboard? And they were reprimanded for it, of course."
"And more than that, who authorized the 'exercise'? People saw the two of us fighting. And how do we even explain where you came from?"
"I… was on a mission for a few years? And the records were lost. And you thought that I was an enemy?"
"Could work for one person. What about your other friends?"
"They were on a mission, too...?" the younger blond offered, not really convinced by his own words.
"Naruto… there are nineteen of you. And a dog. Even if we claim that it was some kind of secret undercover mission...it would be highly impractical to send so many shinobi."
"Well, you could just say that we were doing different missions, and pass a decree that says so!"
"This is getting us nowhere," Minato sighed.
"Hey, I'm trying to help, here!"
"Naruto did what?!" Ino asked again, still in shock.
The five of them, Hinata, Sakura, Ino, Tenten and Karin had just been moved in the same room of the hotel.
The room was a little overcrowded and they had had half-joked, saying that they could consider it a slumber party.
The ANBU outside had promised them to find some extra pillows for a proper pillow fight.
Of course, the girls started to talk about serious things almost immediately, so obviously the first thing they did was talk about what had happened.
"You heard me right, we're in the past because of him," Sakura growled. "Before any of us have even been born!"
There was a long, long silence as all the girls in the room realized the implications.
"So, the guy who was hitting on me that looked like my dad..." Ino slowly said, her expression twisting in utter revulsion. "I think I'm going to throw up."
"Ino-san, don't feel bad..." Hinata said. "I'm sure Inoichi-san didn't realize you were his daughter."
"THAT DOESN'T MAKE IT BETTER!" the blond mind-walker vented.
Hinata didn't know how to reply to that, because she was dealing with her own inner turmoil over her attacker's identity.
"Please, tell me you've clobbered him," Karin sighed, massaging her temples. "Does that idiot realize what he may have caused?"
"To be fair, from what Sakura-san says, it was an accident," the Hyuuga heiress quietly pointed out.
"He really did it, this time," Tenten sighed, still sad after realizing that all her dear ones were in the future, and not only her people. Her entire weapons collection was gone.
"Oh, I've done more than clobber him," Sakura grinned evilly.
"What do you mean?" Hinata blinked.
"Let's just say that the next several months will be the longest of his life..."
Without any warning, Naruto sneezed abruptly.
"Bless you," Minato wished by reflex, while his mind tried to formulate a plan.
"Thanks, Look, we could—"
A snorting noise interrupted the younger blond, and both shinobi turned towards Kushina's form.
It seemed that the redhead had changed her position on the chair slightly, and she was now making more of a ruckus than a sawmill while sleeping in a strange stance.
As Minato smiled at the sight, Naruto realized that that was another thing he had gotten from his mother.
"You know," his father's voice said, while looking fondly at the snoring Kushina, "there are so many things I would like to ask you. If only we had more time."
"Well, I think that anyone in my position would be curious. No, wait. I'm sure that just about anyone in my same position would be curious. No matter how much Shikaku tries to deny it."
"Sorry, dad… I don't get it," Naruto lied. He was actually very worried about his father's curiosity.
"Well, you're from the future..."
"Look, dad, I'm not sure if it's a good idea—"
"Naruto, how old are you now?" Minato asked in a way that reminded Naruto of his first encounter with his father.
"I...I'm almost nineteen," he said without thinking. Surely he could tell him that, right?
"Nineteen?!" Minato exclaimed, surprised. "You're barely five years younger than me!"
"... Time-traveller, remember?"
"Yes, I know that. But still… it's quite a lot to take in."
Naruto decided to remain silent, to avoid putting his foot in his own mouth.
"Don't take that the wrong way!" his father quickly added, confusing Naruto's expression for who knows what. "I'm actually happy to meet you this soon, I was just… surprised."
"Yeah, yeah. I get it. So, can we talk about—"
"Do you have any siblings?" Minato asked in a suddenly excited tone.
Naruto could actually see his eyes shine. What the heck?!
"Uh, no. I'm an only child."
"What?" Minato blinked. The shine was gone. "Why?"
'Because one of your students caused the death of you, mom and countless others. Oh, and he pretty much single-handedly started the Fourth Shinobi World War,' Naruto thought. 'By the way, that student is Obito.'
No, no! He couldn't tell him that!
What could he say?!
Not knowing how to reply, he did what he always did during a fight.
He charged in head first without thinking.
"I don't know your guys' reasoning! I never asked!"
"Woah, calm down!" Minato said, gesturing placatingly to him. "If you're always like this, I can guess you were quite a handful as a child."
Naruto felt so dirty inside. He didn't like lying to his father, even if it was for a good cause.
He just hoped that it would not come back to bite him in the ass.
For some reason, Gaara had obtained a suite.
It was not a suite like most people would imagine, with fancy furnishings and luxuries. After all, it was a cheap hotel.
The 'suite' was little more than a glorified apartment with two bedrooms.
Which was good for the needs of his siblings and Matsuri.
He didn't sleep much, not even now after all the years of Shukaku influencing his mind had long passed.
But having the option of a bed was somewhat nice.
"The… past, you said," Matsuri stated more than asked, breaking the silence that had fallen over the room.
"Yes. As I've already told you," Gaara said calmly.
"And Naruto is responsible?" his former student and current girlfriend asked.
"Yes, I was present when he admitted it."
"I'm going to—"
"Shut up, Kankuro," Temari said.
"What's wrong with you, sis? He ruined us! He—"
"Mom is still alive," the blond woman said with a sad tone.
Realization quickly replaced incredulity, but before any of the Suna shinobi could say anything, they all heard the door opening.
"Good day. I hope I'm not intruding, but I wished to speak with you," an aging man that was standing at the door said. Behind him, the occupants of the room could see a small number of ANBU.
That seemed to be quite afraid of Gaara, which was understandable.
"Sandaime Hokage-sama," Gaara greeted in his monotone voice.
Temari and Kankuro instead just widened their eyes, seeing a man that they knew to be dead.
Matsuri, however, was just confused since she had never met the short man.
"Please, I'm not the Hokage anymore. But there is an urgent matter that I would like you to help clear up."
"We will help as we are able to," Gaara said, while the other three exchanged puzzled looks.
'What could the old monkey want from us?' Shukaku growled.
'Quiet,' Gaara mentally reprimanded.
"As you may know," the Sandaime, retired or not, said while gesturing towards Gaara, "we have come to understand how you arrived here, even if it was a regrettable accident."
"Good. Can we leave now?" Kankuro asked, just to be shut down by a slap to the back of his head from Temari.
"Of course, to be perfectly sure, we had to do some...tests, to check your story," the aged shinobi continued, while preparing his pipe. "We have obtained positive blood tests for most of your companions. Besides three other individuals, you have no match at all in our archives. Care to explain why?"
"We are from Suna, and I am the Godaime Kazekage."
"Ah," the old man said, freezing in the motion of lighting his pipe and frowning a little. "That complicates things."
"Look, dad. We're beating around the bush, and we don't have much time, right?"
"You're right," Minato sighed. "We should probably focus on the task at hand instead of… well, talking about the future… which for you, is the past… you know what I mean!"
Inwardly, Naruto cheered. Mission accomplished.
"Most of your friends come from a clan, right?"
"Yeah, but why do you ask?" Naruto blinked, inwardly worrying that more questions were coming.
"If we want to keep the truth a secret from the villagers and the general public, which we must to avoid widespread panic," Minato continued, "we are going to need the support of Konoha's clans."
"Uh, dad… they're not all from a clan…"
"We'll think something for them, but for a good cover story, we need accomplices."
"Accomplices? Isn't that word a little too extreme?"
"If you really want, you could call them 'secret-keepers'. Anyway, by creating a solid cover with the help of the clans, no one should start asking questions about you and your companions. Then, we can focus on finding a way to send you home."
"Home?" the boy asked in confusion.
"Yes, you know… the future. After all, you came here by accident, so I suppose we could at least study the seal and find a way to fix it."
"Is it really that urgent?" the younger blond asked.
"The consequences of time-travel have never been recorded because it was decided that it was impossible, so—"
"Maybe someone travelled through time before, and we just don't know it," Naruto mused.
"... That is a possibility. After all, you are here, and that proves that it's possible. Still, the longer you stay here and interact with people… the more things will change. We don't know what could happen to the timeline."
Naruto had decided to not say anything,but he actually had to bite his own tongue. Still, the idea that his own father wanted to sent him back immediately was leaving a sour taste in his mouth.
But that could have just been his teeth drawing blood.
"Hey, don't worry!" Minato tried to reassure him, seeing his somewhat disappointed expression. "We'll see each other in the future, right?"
"Yeah… right. We'll have a good laugh overthis..." Naruto mumbled nervously.
Why was it so difficult to lie to his father?
"Naruto sent us back before our own births? Shika, even if you say that..." Chouji said, hesitantly.
"We fought our own parents, Cho. And I met the Yondaime Hokage. And a crazy woman with red hair, too," the Nara explained. "Besides that, Naruto admitted it. We're in the past."
"That's so unyouthful," Lee groaned, shifting the ice bag on his head. He was suffering from a terrible migraine, an aftereffect of all the genjutsu that had been simultaneously unleashed upon him.
"So, what's the plan?" Chouji asked, looking at his friend and teammate.
"We wait. I'm sure we'll have a meeting to discuss this with the others," Shikamaru replied.
The silence that followed was interrupted by a groan of realization from Lee.
"Then the shinobi I fought against—" the green-clad young man mumbled.
"Those were probably our sensei, from your description," Shikamaru confirmed, before returning his attention to the shogi board in front of him.
"That's… strangely youthful," Lee decided, putting on a strained smile.
Meanwhile, Sai was sitting quietly in a corner of the room. He hadn't participated much in the conversation, preferring to sketch in his art book instead.
Even though they hadn't been completely released yet, and were still considered a potentially serious threat to the village, they had been given back most of their possessions.
No weapons, of course.
But he couldn't really concentrate on his work. Something was bugging him, something he was having trouble figuring out for some reason.
Maybe it was because he was still trying to wrap his head around the fact that they had actually time-travelled because Naruto had gotten a hold of his ink, and—
His eyes widened, as it finally hit him.
They were in the past.
Danzo was still alive.
Sai's pencil snapped in his clenched fist.
"Here's what we are going to do. I will have a private meeting with the clan heads...and I'll explain to them what has happened," Minato said. "Meanwhile, you'll have to explain the situation to your companions."
"Uh, aren't we prisoners?" Naruto asked, confused.
"Your prison is a hotel now. I'll have them escorted in the lounge."
"Maybe it would be better if I spoke to them one at a time?" the time-traveller asked nervously.
"Why would you do that? We don't have much time, I've stalled the whole village for two days, it's necessary to get this over with quickly."
Naruto decided not to tell his father that he was afraid that his friends would gang up on him. And they would have been right to.
"Alright, alright. Then what?"
"Then we'll have a meeting. Your companions, the clan heads, me, you, Hiruzen..."
"Oh, Jiji will be there, too?"
"Jiji...? Yes, he will be there, too."
"What about Ero-Sennin?"
"Er, Jiraiya. That's my nickname for him."
Minato's eyes slowly widened as sweat started to form on his forehead.
"I'M BORED!" Suigetsu exclaimed.
"Endure it. Sasuke told us to wait, so we wait," Juugo said simply from his spot against the wall.
The orange-haired teen had been in the same position for hours, barely moving. He had not even so much as shifted his glance to look at Suigetsu while talking to him, and that grated on the former Mist shinobi.
"But it's been two days already! We haven't left the room at all, it's worse than a cell! In a cell, at least you know that you're in prison. And I miss my sword!"
Juugo turned and silenced his partner with a long, blank stare. "We wait."
Suigetsu made a wordless, frustrated noise and let himself fall onto the bed.
"You could at least say something, Sasuke," the water user said from. "I feel like I'm the only person in the room with you two being so silent."
"Shut up, Suigetsu. Go to sleep," the Uchiha said, even if he too seemed bored out of his mind, behind his stoic exterior.
"Right, like I could sleep after seeing Orochimaru again, when he and that old guy accepted our surrender. How come you haven't told us what you think about that?"
"Orochimaru will not be an issue. If necessary, I will take care of him," Sasuke replied coldly. "Now go to sleep. Your whining annoys me."
Ignoring Suigetsu's grumbling, Sasuke couldn't help but think that this, somehow, had to be Naruto's fault.
Because by some sick twist of fate, whenever something strange happened and the blond was around, he was either responsible or somehow involved.
"YOU SENT HIM WITH WHO TO TRACK DOWN TSUNADE BAA-CHAN!?" Naruto yelled.
"It seemed like a good idea, at the time!" Minato protested.
"But why would you send snake face to hunt her down?!"
"Why not?!" Minato said, his own voice rising. "He was her teammate just like Jiraiya. They are the best ones to find her."
Naruto hoped that Minato hadn't noticed his hidden hostility towards the Snake Sannin. That was another can of worms he would have to deal with, he was sure of it.
"But she's not a traitor!" he protested.
"We didn't know this two days ago, Naruto. I literally received the final proof of your origins ten minutes ago!"
"Look, dad, you have to stop them! Tell them what happened!"
"I will, Naruto. I—"
"Mmh, Minato… coffeeee..." a voice grogged from a corner of the room.
Both blonds froze, turning towards the source of the voice.
Kushina Uzumaki had been awakened by Naruto's yelling, and was now trying to compose herself in the chair she had been sprawled across.
"Sorry, Kushi-chan," Minato said, softly. "Jiraiya-sensei said something about not giving you coffee, ever. And he looked dead serious about it."
"I had a strange dream, Minato," she murmured while rubbing the sleep out of her eyes. "There was a son from the future and a pink-haired banshee that chopped off her own arm, and—"
"Sakura-chan did what?!" Naruto exclaimed incredulously, forgetting his nervousness at having both of his parents, alive and well, beside him.
In a corner of his mind, he made a mental note to speak with Sakura about her arm.
Realizing that it was not her future husband that had replied, Kushina raised her head and saw them both.
Minato shifted his gaze from mother to son, with a curious expression.
Naruto didn't dare move.
Then her eyes lit up with recognition.
"Hey… mom," Naruto greeted, with an uncertain smile.
As soon he finished that word, Naruto found himself tackled off his feet in a pincer-like hug.
Yup, she was a fine kunoichi. He had barely seen her move.
"It was real! You're real!" she whispered.
"... Yes, I am," Naruto smiled. "But you're crushing my lungs!"
"How old are you?!" Kushina asked, backing up to give him some breathing room and placing her hands on his shoulders. "How many siblings do you have?"
"Not this again," Naruto moaned.
Her eyes were even shinier than Minato's when he had asked the same question.
"Well, since you're both busy," his father said, trying to slip out the door, "I have to go—"
"Minato, don't you dare leave! We are having a family moment here!" Kushina called out.
"No, no! He has to go, now!" Naruto protested.
"Why's that?" Kushina asked, pouting. "Don't you want to get to know our grown up son?"
"... You've adapted quickly to the whole motherhood thing..." Minato muttered.
"Dad, just go!"
"Right, right. I'll be right back," the Yondaime reassured them as he finally reached the door.
"And send the fastest toad you can summon!"
"They can teleport straight to him, Naruto. They're all fast!" Minato called back as he left the hotel room, closing the door behind him.
"What was all that about?" Kushina blinked in confusion.
"Dad has to send a message with a summon, that's all."
"Toad summon...?" Kushina said with a puzzled expression, before she finally remembered about the last few days. "AH! Jiraiya! He's hunting down Tsunade for—"
"For treason, yes. Dad has to let him know she's not actually a traitor."
"That's good, that's good," she nodded. "Now answer my questions."
Naruto groaned. He was back at square one.
"I'm almost nineteen and I'm an only child because you thought I was a handful."
"What?! But me and Minato always talked about having a large family!"
"... I was a big handful?" he asked, nervously.
Kushina didn't seem completely convinced, and she was looking at him straight in the eyes with an almost inquisitorial look.
'Please believe my lie. Please believe my lie...'
"Oh, alright. I suppose we'll have to change things, then."
"Changing things?" Naruto whispered. It was happening! He had screwed up! He would cease to exist! He—
"Don't worry about it!" Kushina chirped, waving her hand dismissively. "Tell me about your girlfriend, instead. I've… met her but we didn't talk much."
"What do you mean, you met her?" Naruto asked in confusion, before starting to sputter incoherently. "Oh no, you mean in the cell, right?! Look, I can explain—"
"Nah, we fought when you guys arrived. She has a mean punch," the red-haired woman said, massaging her arm.
"Yeah… I know," the blond said. He was still feeling the pain from that last one.
"So… you used protection, right?"
"Because I want to have grandbabies one day, but you're both a few years too young for that!"
Naruto wasn't listening anymore. He was asking himself why he didn't know the Hiraishin. Or a suicide technique.
Minato closed the door of his office with a heavy sigh.
He had to admit it, he had quite enjoyed speaking with Naruto.
Sure, it had not been easy accepting the idea that something impossible like time-travel had happened, but he liked the boy.
He seemed like a good person, and he could see both himself and Kushina whenever he looked at the time-traveller.
Maybe a little too much Kushina, but he would never say that to his fiancée.
Still, his son was hiding something.
Throughout their whole dialogue, Naruto had seemed on the defensive, avoiding questions or taking too much time to answer them.
He would have dismissed this as something caused by nervousness and embarrassment much like his own.
After all, they had a rocky start, at least here in the past...present! This was the present.
He would, had he not seen the book of photos Kushina had found.
Minato opened one of the desk drawers and took out the photo album that had made her realize that the "intruders" were actually from the future.
Flipping open the the cover, his eyes fell on the note.
'Naruto, I hope you like this. I tried to put all the old photos I could find here. They would be proud of you.'
Kushina may have been too… influenced by the caffeine and the sugar to notice, but he was not.
'They would be proud of you.'
The phrasing of those six words gave him an ominous feeling, and he couldn't stop himself from frowning.
What had happened in the future?
Or, what would happen? Time-travel was such a pain...
He would have to find out the truth, for his… his family's sake.
It seemed like Kushina was not the only one that had adapted to the idea of having a son, after all.
Putting the album on the desk, he started searching for a new scroll, without too much haste. After all, Jiraiya-sensei and Orochimaru had left the village two and half days ago...there was no way they had already found Tsunade, right?
"Not again!" a blond woman yelled in frustration.
The slot machine in front of her was mocking them, displaying a losing combination on its three wheels, and now the beautiful blonde was reduced to just one coin, laying alone at the bottom of her paper cup.
The woman growled loudly, but nobody in the casino seemed to pay any attention to the scene. It was an incredibly common sight, just another player that had blown away all their money.
Well, nobody but a brunette teen.
"Please, Tsunade-shishou, let's go back to the inn!" the girl pleaded, emphasizing her request with a gesture of her hands. "We have no money left, please, let's just take our stuff and find another place."
Tsunade considered this. Truly.
After all, she had wasted a lot of time in this town, almost literally burning all her savings in booze and various forms of gambling.
So why keep going? Hadn't she had enough for the day?
Not that she liked to get drunk or lose money. But it served her purpose.
To forget about those two who had died to protect that village that her sensei seemed to love so much.
… One more coin wouldn't hurt, right?
Having made her decision, the Slug Sannin reached for the lonely coin, and swiftly placed it inside the coin slot, ignoring her apprentice's moan.
Grinning in anticipation, the busty blonde grabbed the lever and quickly pulled it.
Only to freeze in shock when the machine's lights almost blinded her in a show of colors, a cacophony of loud sounds and jingles as accompaniment.
It took her a few seconds to realize that the gambling device was almost throwing up money at her.
"Tsunade-shishou, this is incredible! It's all that we lost, and more, dozens times more!" Shizune exclaimed in a joyful tone as she knelt and started to collect the coins.
But unlike her apprentice, Tsunade could not enjoy the win. Because she never won. She sucked at gambling in all its forms, even in games of chance like a slot machine.
And all the times that she had won…
"We're leaving," she said, standing up from her stool. "Pack, now."
"What…?" the girl asked, surprised. "But shishou—"
"I told you I could find her in less than three days," Orochimaru said smugly.
"Fine, you won that stupid bet. Happy?" Jiraiya said, grimly.
"Snakes are better trackers than toads," the Snake Sannin proclaimed, giving a small mouse as a prize to one of his little vipers, who hissed gratefully for the treat before swallowing it whole.
It had actually been pure chance, but he would never admit it. One of his minor summons had seen the Slug Princess walking around a small town in the heart of the Land of Fire, and had reported it immediately.
Jiraiya just scoffed, and continued to observe their mark from their vantage point.
Tsunade Senju was walking in the market square, followed closely by her apprentice, and from the looks of it, she had all the intentions of leaving town in a hurry.
For now, the two of them hadn't seemed to have noticed their presence, but they would for sure if the pair of Sannin came any closer.
"We'll wait until they're out of the city. I don't want to involve civilians," the Toad Sage said to his old friend without looking him in the eyes.
Orochimaru nodded, dismissing the small snake that disappeared in a little burst of smoke.
"Jiraiya," the pale shinobi said, "are you focused on the mission?"
"How dare you?!" the Sage of Mount Myoboku hissed, snapping his head towards his former teammate.
"You're involved, Jiraiya. Don't tell me that you're having second thoughts about this," Orochimaru said, looking the other man right in the eyes.
"... And you're not?" Jiraiya asked after several seconds of hesitant silence. "She was our teammate."
"That's just the excuse you're using because your feelings for her cloud your judgement," Orochimaru explained. "If she has turned traitor… there will be no mercy for her."
"We have no solid proof that she really is a traitor, only that she's somehow involved," Jiraiya retorted, but he didn't sound too convinced of his own words.
"That's why we were sent here by your dear student, right?" Orochimaru said mockingly. "To take her back for questioning."
"Yeah, that's why we are here," Jiraiya nodded gravely, as he started to walk away. "Come on. It's time for a reunion of old friends."
A\N: That's all for this time. I know, it's shorter than the usual, but give me a break. I can't always write monster-sized chapters.
Also, no Masahiro or Canary, here. Sorry, people.
So, what do you think will happen when Tsunade and her two old teammates meet? Care to wager on the damage? Will Minato's message arrive in time?
Let me know in your reviews (hint, hint).
And now, some recommendations!
The Sharingan Fairy, by Kyong Kybis.
Mikoto tells to little Sasuke a story about how the Uchiha receive their Sharingan if they're good and don't look for trouble. After the Massacre, hilarity ensues.
Retrospect, by Lanelle.
A nice time-travel story of the rare kind where Naruto interacts with his younger self.
Contains one of the funniest scenes I've ever read on this site.
Uchiha Shuffle, by Duesal Bladesinger.
One of the few good stories around based on Road to Ninja. Uchiha Sasuke and Uchiha Sasuke switch places without noticing, at the worst possible time...