Hello there. You didn't truly believe that I had abandoned this, did you?

Beta-Readers: PyrothTenka, Duesal Bladesinger, To Mockingbird.

"Here we are," Minato said, a barely noticeable flash of yellow light later.

"Wait, this is your place?" Naruto asked as he looked over the small apartment, taken aback. It wasn't very different from his old one: small, spartan and everything, from the clothes on the couch to the scrolls hazardly left around just screamed 'bachelor'. It was much cleaner than his house had ever been though.

"Well, yes. Why don't you—Oh, right. You've never seen it, have you?" Minato said. "I suppose it is too small for a family with two kids…"

"Yeah…" Naruto agreed, trailing off with a nervous laugh. "I suppose so!"

"I still don't get why we couldn't go to my place," Kushina grumbled, pouting a little.

"Your place is messy, remember?" Minato said, a strange look on his face.

"And I don't get why I'm here," Karin deadpanned.

"See? She agrees with me." Kushina nodded proudly, full of misaimed motherly approval, completely ignoring Minato. "We should've gone to my place!"

"No, that's not what I meant!" Karin snapped. "I wanted to go with Sasuke—"

"Come on, sis. This is important," Naruto interrupted her, trying to hide the pleading tone from his parents while hoping that she would catch on. "You'll be able to see your boyfriend later. Right?"

"... Fine," she finally answered, but not without giving Naruto a death glare. At least she had agreed to help him in this mess.

"Well, since we're here already, might as well..." Kushina sighed, drooping for a moment before immediately rising with a bright, excited grin. "Family meeting!"

"We've already met," Karin deadpanned, her glare towards Naruto all but burning in its intensity. The blond was too worried about the pensive expression that his father had as he studied the silent exchange between the two 'siblings' to care, though.

"No, dear, not that kind of meeting!" Kushina exclaimed, grabbing Karin's hand and leading her to the table beside the apartment's small kitchenette. "A family meeting! Where we talk and gossip and—"

"Kushina, we didn't come here to gossip—" Minato interjected, as he started rummaging through the kitchen, looking for something.

"Oh, hush, Minato!" Kushina playfully ordered as she sat at the table, taking the younger Uzumaki along with her. "My little girl is dating my best friend's son! Or is it my son's best friend? I want to gossip!"

"But our cover-story—" Naruto tried to protest, only to be silenced by a playful gesture from his mother.

"It's not like we can't do it later!"

"Kushina..." Minato pleaded, exasperation creeping into his tone even as he poured water into a kettle.

"Um... We can't talk about the future, mom," Naruto said with a wince. "Remember?"

"Aww. Well, there's got to be something that we can talk about. Like, when are your birthdays? Which one of you is older?"

"Kushina," Minato repeated again, but once again he was ignored by his future wife.

"I'm the older one," Karin told them all of sudden, throwing a smug glance at Naruto, who could only look at her with a mix of shock and betrayal as she had just stolen his rightful spot as firstborn.

Kushina flashed a triumphant grin at Minato before excitedly turning back to Karin. "When were you born?"

"NO!" father and son yelled at the same time, which caused the both of them to look at each other before Naruto kept going. "No... sorry mom, but... if we told you, uh... things might change. You know...?"

"What are you—oh," Kushina paused, her eyes widening as she realized what he meant. "Oh!"

"Yeah... we don't want to mess up the... circumstances of our... uh… birth," Naruto said, deeply embarrassed by having to talk about it with his parents. Future parents. Whatever.

"The knucklehead is right," Karin nodded. "Besides... I'm not your daughter."

"Karin!" Naruto exclaimed, while his parents seemed to only be able to stare in shock.

"W-What? What are you saying? Of course you are!" Kushina laughed awkwardly before realizing that no-one else was joining in.

Naruto slumped in his chair in defeat. "Is this why you told me you were our only son before?" his father asked, getting closer to him, and the time-traveller almost winced as he felt him press a sympathetic hand on his shoulder.

There went their excuse. He really hoped that if he suddenly ceased to exist because they found out thanks to Karin's big mouth, it wouldn't hurt too much.

"Did... something happen?" Kushina asked, almost fearfully, looking back and forth the two younger Uzumaki sitting in front of her. "Are we an... estranged family?"

"What? No!" Kain groaned, running a hand through her hair. "I'm telling you, I'm not your daughter! Naruto and I are... cousins, at best!"

"Cousins...?" Kushina repeated slowly, eyes as wide as saucers. "But..."

"We're not... sure. Because we couldn't find any records," Naruto quickly explained, deciding to do some damage control before he was accidentally erased from existence. "But... yeah, we're cousins."

"He means is that we decided to be cousins," Karin said, rolling her eyes. "It's quite possible, we're just not sure how closely related we are."

"But that means..." Kushina trailed off, and Naruto could feel the unasked question hanging in the air.

"My mother was another Uzumaki—"

"Where is she?!" Kushina asked, half way out of her chair before she'd finished speaking, only to stop as she seemed to realize one little detail. "Wait... was? Will be...?"

"She... died," Karin said slowly, averting her eyes.

"Karin, what happened to 'don't talk about the future'?" Naruto couldn't help but ask, because he was very aware that knowing this, his mother would try to change the events. Had he been the one being told of future events, he would've done the same.

"Hey, just because you don't want to upset your parents doesn't mean I'm willing to act like your sister," she snapped back, adjusting her glasses.

"Don't worry," Kushina calmly declared, getting up and looking ready for a fight. "We'll go find your mother and—"

"There, see?" Naruto pointed at his mother's reaction, sending a meaningful look at Karin.

"No, you can't," Karin interrupted in a sad tone. "Not until we're sure that... that changing things won't have bad side-effects."

"But..." Kushina looked to Minato and Naruto for support, but wilted when she saw clenched jaws and solemn eyes. "Alright, but if we find out that we can change things... you'll take me to save your mom's ass, dattebane!"

Naruto found himself silently agreeing. He would gladly change things if he could, and he knew that his fellow time-travellers were interested in the idea, but he had no idea how to find out if it was safe without causing a paradox. Maybe Shikamaru or his father could think up something...

"Really?" Karin asked, interrupting the brief silence that had fallen over the table.

"Sure! Promise of a lifetime!" Kushina glady exclaimed with a grin. Naruto couldn't help but snort loudly at that, trying to suppress the laugh that wanted to escape from his lips.

"What's so funny?" his mother asked with a frown.

"Nothing! Nothing mom, it's just... I remembered something, that's all," he explained, smirking at her confused expression.

"Thank you, but... what if we can't change anything?" Karin asked, addressing the bijuu in the room.

"Mmh… depends," Kushina mumbled, tipping her chin thoughtfully. "When did you arrive in Konoha?"


"I'm not asking for details, Minato! I'm just asking how long until she gets here!"

"Well... the first time I arrived in Konoha, I was twelve," Karin paused, hesitating. Naruto looked at his maybe-cousin with a puzzled expression. When had that happened? "Then... Orochimaru found me."

"Orochimaru found you?!" Kushina exclaimed incredulous. "Mmh, I'll have to thank him somehow... Maybe with a nice meal?" Karin expression didn't change at that, trying to not betray anything about how the meeting had actually gone. Naruto was too busy screaming internally to notice, though. Somehow, imagining a context that required the words 'Orochimaru', 'Mom' and 'Thanking him with a meal' together sounded very wrong.

"Why don't we just adopt?" Kushina asked all of sudden, ignorant of the scarring image she had brought to the younger Uzumaki's mind.

"... What?" three voices asked at the same time, dumbfounded.

"Well, I was thinking that if we can change things, we can take your mom here to Konoha. But otherwise," Kushina paused, turning towards Minato. "Let's adopt her!"

"Kushina, we're not even married yet!" Minato protested.

"Oh please, as if that's not gonna happen!" she scoffed, rolling her eyes.

"Hey!" Karin started, quickly getting over the initial shock "Don't I get a say in—"

"That's a great idea!" Naruto yelled happily, grinning at his maybe-cousin, maybe-adopted sister. He really liked the idea, but he wouldn't have been honest if he didn't admit that a part of him wanted to get back at Karin for having spilled the beans. Or at least part of said beans.

"... I'm still older than you, you know," she said matter-of-factly, glaring at him. Naruto quickly realized, much to his horror, that he may have just forfeited his spot as firstborn by his own volition.

While he was busy trying to remember that revenge really didn't pay off in the end, the kettle decided to whistle from its spot on the fire.

"We could've already irreparably changed the course of events," Shikamaru said from his spot on the grassy field.

"Could be," his father replied, without even turning towards him. After all, the clouds were way too interesting. And they helped somehow ignore the possible impending doom, at least for a little while.

"So…" he started, deciding that it was time to tackle the bothersome subject. "What do you figure would be the best cover-story for me?"

"Just a painfully shy Nara," Shikaku answered without hesitation.

"Shy? Really?" the younger shadow-user quizzed, stealing a glance at his father's prone form.

"What's wrong with being shy?" the older Nara asked, arching an eyebrow in amusement.

"I would've gone with mute. Less chances of people trying to question me," Shikamaru explained.

"That would've meant not being able to talk to your girlfriend in public," his father observed with a sly smile.

"Shy it is then," he quickly rectified. Temari wouldn't have taken it well if he stopped talking to her, cover story or not. "Do you believe that the others will be able to find good alibis?"

"Perhaps. But people will eventually piece together the fact that not everything adds up."

"Great," Shikamaru groaned, looking back at the clouds hoping to find their sight soothing. "Why do I have the feeling that you and I are in charge of trying to plug the holes in our sinking ship?"

"Unfortunately," his father nodded sagely.

"What a drag."

"Inoichi?" a voice called to him, which made him groggily open his eyes. And being promptly blinded by the sudden light. "Inoichi, can you hear me? Are you feeling alright?"

"Inoko...?" he called, recognizing the voice. When he opened his eyes again, he was met by the face of his sister, kneeling beside the bed he was laying on.

"Welcome back, brother," she greeted him, with a small and yet warm smile. "Do you remember what happened?"

Inoichi blinked, trying to recall for what reason he may have been sent to the hospital. The massive headache and vertigo weren't helping though. "How long…?" he asked, with a sore voice.

"Just a day or so," she said. "We were worried that a mind-walk into your mind could put you in danger, but—"

"I'm lucky to have a sister like you watching my back, then," Inoichi smirked, or at least try to.

"Actually... it wasn't me," Inoko admitted.

"What...? Then who—"

"Hey, Dad," called another voice by the other side of his bed.

"... Huh?" he eloquently voiced his confusion as he turned. His mind may have been a bit foggy, but he immediately recognized the young blonde. The one that knew his clan's secret techniques.

"Ino, please..." Inoko sighed before he could ask any questions.

"I didn't say anything!" Ino replied with a frown.

"What is she doing here?" he asked, idly wondering why there were no guards in the room as well.

"Helping your sorry ass," the girl scoffed with not exactly-subtle hostility.

"No, not that—Wait, you saved me?" Inoichi asked, actually taken back. "She's supposed to be a prisoner!" he said, looking at his sister in utter bafflement.

"You've been left a bit out of the loop, brother. You see—"

"My friends and I are from the future," the girl interrupted. "I'm your daughter."

"You're from… the future," he repeated, trying to make sense of what he was being told, even in his dazed state. "That's the stupidest thing I've ever—"

"Auntie," the 'Ino' girl said, ignoring him. "Since he's awake, maybe we should call a doctor?"

"I'll leave you two alone, then," Inoko nodded, walking towards the door. "And Ino? Don't be too hard on him. Even if he does deserve it."

And with that, the two were left alone before Inoichi could protest about being left alone with a potentially hostile shinobi that had just taken a look inside his head, who just opted to frown at him from her seat, arms crossed. 'Awkward' didn't even start to describe it.

"Let's make this quick before she comes back. Yes, I'm from the future. Yes, I'm your daughter, and before you ask, this whole mess was an accident and we all hope to fix it. And yes, the Hokage believes us. I wouldn't be here if he didn't," she quickly told him, causing Inoichi to arch an eyebrow. Even Minato believed that? He still wasn't buying it. There was clearly something else going on here.

"And I will never forgive you for what you tried to do to me," the girl finished, genuinely fuming.

"What I tried to do to you?" he briefly rifled through what he remembered before stopping with an indignant frown. "I just complimented you for your looks!" Inoichi found himself mildly offended when the girl actually gagged and was genuine in her reaction. Most girls just pretended to try to ward him off! He continued, doing his best to ignore her insulting reaction. "And how on earth did you make Minato believe that absurd lie?"

"You want me to tell you what your favourite flowers are, or something else only you would know?" Ino asked, sarcastically.

"You could've found that inside my head. Although... if you're from the future, why don't you tell me who your mother is?" Inoichi asked, snarking himself.

"What? Why? You probably already know her. Shouldn't you know who you're going to marry by now?"

"Actually, I'm enjoying my bachelor lifestyle, thank you very much."

"... And that is why I have no idea how mom ever fell for you," the girl sighed.

"What?! It's in your best interest to hook us up! If we don't, you'll never be born!"

"Oh, so you believe me now? Honestly, I'm more interested in sparing mom the disappointment."

"Ouch," Inoichi complained with a wince. He couldn't quite manage to keep the slight edge of respect out of his voice. Either she'd picked through his mind while he was unconscious, or she had way more experience dealing with him than he had dealing with her. "You know, for being someone that pretending to be my future daughter, you're not showing a lot of respect. After all, I'm supposed to be your father!"

"You are not my father! You're his bratty, younger, playboy version!"

"And I suppose that all your fellow 'time-travellers' are all kids of people from the village, right?" he asked, trying to find a hole in her story. A bigger one than the whole time-travel nonsense, at least.

"Not all of them, of course!" Ino scoffed. "There's Sakura, Hinata, Chouji, Kiba, Naruto—"

"Oh right, the boy that looks a bit like Minato—The boy!" Inoichi all but yelled, as his foggy memory connected the dots about what had transpired before he lost consciousness. "He has the—"

"So you do remember what happened to you," she interrupted him. "I believe that I have a good idea of what you stumbled upon, when you were 'interrogating' Naruto..."

"I have to tell the Hokage!" he continued frantically, struggling to get up. "Minato needs to—"

"No," Ino said, making Inoichi turn towards her. "Minato Namikaze, or anyone else, must not know of this."

"You don't understand... the beast is free! Unchained, without restraints! The boy—"

"Look," the girl tried to explain him in a soothing tone. "Believe me when I say to you that for some crazy reason, against all logic, Naruto is perfectly safe to be around—"

"He's a Jinch—"

"Also, that's classified," Ino finished, her voice becoming stern and strict all of sudden.


"We're in the past! We can't—" Ino stopped for a moment, taking a calming breath. "Listen, just like you, I have a very, very, very smart friend. He and his father—your own incredibly smart friend—figured out a few possible outcomes if things changed because of our meddling. We're not sure yet if their theories are just speculation, or fact..."

"But?" Inoichi asked, curious to see where this was going. There had to be a 'but'.

"But, a large number of said theories deal with something called paradox. It's what happens when you change things by meddling, maybe in a way that would make the change contradict what caused said change... ugh I sound like Shikamaru now."

"... is he a Nara, by any chance?" he couldn't help but ask.

"Not the point!" Ino told him with a glare. "The point is, we have no idea what would happen if a paradox occurred! I don't want to sound paranoid, but among the possible scenarios our very, very smart friends told us about was included the destruction of reality itself!"


"And that's the end of the world, Dad. Yes. Just think how upset Mom would be with you if you caused all that to happen..."


"She won't be," Ino continued before he had the chance to reply, "because we'll all be dead."

"And that is terrible," Inoichi reasoned, if reason could be applied to that explanation. "But... how did he become a Jinc—"

"That's S-rank on a need-to-know basis. Way above even your current clearance. And don't use that word. They don't like it."

Inoichi paused. Not because he had accepted the crazy explanation, but because it seemed a bit absurd that people took the effort to not offend a jinchuuriki. Although, the more he thought about it, it kinda made sense. You didn't want to treat the guy with an incredibly powerful and malicious entity trapped inside him badly. That was just asking for trouble.

"... you know that I was exploring his mind with four of our clansmen, right?" he asked, trying to change the topic. Which led to a long, stunned silence from the girl.

"Naruto's gonna owe me big time for this..." Ino finally grumbled, with a stressed expression.

Sasuke silently sat on the other side of the desk, not at all perturbed by the fact that his father was giving him a death glare. Or at least it looked like a death glare. He wasn't sure if that was the case since the room was mostly in the dark, with only a bright lamp pointed at him shedding light.

"You are courting an Uzumaki?" Fugaku asked, finally breaking the silence.

"Yes," Sasuke replied, hiding his surprise.. Of all the things his father could've said to start their conversation, that hadn't really come to his mind.

"Are the Uchiha not good enough for you?" his father asked immediately.

"That is none of your concern."

"I'm the head of the clan," Fugaku stated. "All Uchiha are my concern."

"All except me."

Fugaku frowns. "Did Mikoto and I truly raise you to be so rebellious?"

Sasuke didn't answer, although he did ponder on the question. Had he been a rebellious teen? Sure there had been his brief stint as a villain but he had had his reasons to do that. Not exactly what he would define as 'rebellious'.

"Very well, then. Let's get straight to the point..." Fugaku sighed, before looking him straight in the eyes. "You have the Mangekyou."

"Yes," Sasuke replied, matter-of factly.


"None of your concern," he repeated.

"It would be in your own best interest tell me, boy."

"I thought we were here to talk about my cover-story until we were able to proceed with Naruto's plan," Sasuke said. "As weird as that may sound."

"That can wait. We both know what having the Mangekyou means, and I will not tolerate such a—"

"Trust me, father," he said, smirking darkly. "You don't truly know what it means."

"Enough with these games!" Fugaku exclaimed as he stood up, leaning over the desk that separated them. "Who did you kill?!"

"Are you sure you want to know?" Sasuke asked, arching an eyebrow.

"I don't care if you're my time-travelling son, you're an unknown risk. The fact that you have those eyes makes you a danger to the clan—"

"If I was, you wouldn't be able to stop me even if you wanted to," Sasuke said. It wasn't an arrogant boast: both Uchiha knew that it was true.

"Do I have your word that you will not harm anyone in our clan?" Fugaku asked in a grave tone.

"If they confront me, I won't hold back," was Sasuke's short rebuttal.

"That's not what I asked you!" Fugaku thundered, hands slamming on the wooden surface.

"It's all you're going to get," he pointed out. After all, he might have to defend himself if things went south with Naruto's plan. "I suggest you take it."

"All I ask is that you don't touch my family," Fugaku said, in a somehow calmer tone. "Abide by that condition and there shall be no problems between us."

"They're my family too," Sasuke pointed out.

"Not yet they aren't," his father argued. "You're not born yet."

Sasuke's expression didn't change, but he couldn't stop himself from feeling disappointed. So what if he wasn't born yet? He was still an Uchiha. No, scratch that: back in the future—or present, it was just a matter of perspective—he was the Uchiha. Not being considered one just because he had the misfortune of arriving a bit before his birthdate seemed unfair.

"How old is Itachi now?" he asked, trying to fill the silence between him and his parent.

"He just turned two years old," Fugaku answered, looking a bit taken back by the change of topic.


"Why do you ask?"

"I'm just trying to figure out how far back we went," Sasuke replied, crossing his arms. Yet another pause fell between the two shinobi.

"How long until you're born?" Fugaku asked, deciding to breaking the silence himself this time.

"I can't tell you that," he replied with a scoff.

"Right," his father snorted. "The delicate time stream, the seams of reality or whatever, which your Uzumaki friend put at risk so casually."

"Please. Don't even get me started on that idiot..." Sasuke groaned, slapping a hand on his forehead. Oh, the things he could tell about Naruto's antics...

"I take it this is a recurring problem," Fugaku grumbled.

"There is far too much for me to complain about, Father, none of which I can tell you."

"I see... I can't say that I approve of your associating with him," Fugaku observed, stroking his chin in a thoughtful manner.

"I doubt there's any way you, or even I, have a say in the matter," Sasuke admitted. Truth to be told, he had surrendered to the fact that Naruto was his friend long ago. "Besides, I thought the clan's rivalry was with the Senju and the Hyuuga."

"The Uzumaki have blood ties to the Senju. Senju, Uzumaki, it makes no difference. They're all the same to us," his father explained, with the same prideful tone that Sasuke remembered he used when talking about the clan. "Besides, no Hyuuga would throw himself back in time by getting drunk."

"So, the problem now is that I got drunk?" he asked, arching an eyebrow.

"The problem is you allowed that Uzumaki boy to get you involved in this mess," was the grumbled reply.

"And that I have the Mangekyou," Sasuke observed.

"This doesn't have anything to do with you having the Mangekyou!"

"I doubt you would antagonize me so much otherwise," he scoffed, resisting the urge to roll his eyes. Uchiha didn't roll their eyes. "Naruto doesn't ask for permission. People get involved with him whether they want to or not."

"What do you mean?" Fugaku slowly asked, becoming strangely concerned. "Does he use his status as the Hokage's son to get his way? Does he blackmail you?!"

Sadly, before Sasuke could even start explaining how ridiculous the idea of Naruto, of all people,abusing his 'position' for something was, the lights in his father's private study turned on.

His mother was standing by the door, her finger still on the lightswitch.

"Who's getting blackmailed? And why are you standing here in the dark?" Mikoto asked, before scowling menacingly at her husband. "Are you interrogating our son?!"

"I am thinking of the good of the clan," he tried to explain. "I have to—"

"He doesn't approve of my friendship with Naruto," Sasuke stated, trying to keep the emotions off of his face.

He mostly succeeded. From the outside his face rivalled a statue in its stillness and control. On the inside, though, he was in turmoil. He hadn't seen his mother for most of his life, seeing her alive and well at that ridiculous meeting had been bad enough. But now, here in the private of his old home… now made it hard to swallow, hard to breathe. He desperately tried to crush his weakness, but found he couldn't. Not entirely. A part of him just wanted to jump from the chair he was sitting and hug her for all the years lost after the tragedy that had struck her down.

"What? But why?" she asked, looking between the two of them. "Kushina and I have dreamed about such a thing since we were teens."

"You did?" Sasuke couldn't help but ask.

"Yes," she nodded. "Didn't we tell you about it when you were growing up?"

"No. You... didn't," he replied, trying to mask his surprise. His mother and Naruto's? Friends? Since when?

"But that doesn't make sense. Kushina would've surely teased you two about it..." Mikoto reasoned. Sasuke didn't remember being teased about anything, but it raised an interesting question. Would she have had told him, had she lived longer? Would she have told Naruto about his—

"Her son is the reason why our son got drunk and showed up from the future!" Fugaku barked, trying to get his wife's support.

"We showed up because he was the one that made the seal while drunk. That has nothing to do with me," Sasuke corrected. The end result was the same, yes, but he had not been involved in causing the mess.

"I don't think encouraging a friendship between our sons is in anyone's best interest," Fugaku continued, ignoring Sasuke's correction.

"Don't be ridiculous," Mikoto scolded him.

"Don't be ridiculous?!" the older Uchiha repeated, incredulous. "Minato's spawn may have endangered the fabric of reality itself!"

"And trying to hinder the boys' friendship would mess with it even more," she reasoned, crossing her arms. "Or did you forgot what they said about changing things?"

"I don't want to mess with causality! I just want what's the best for our family!"

"So our son got drunk! It can happen!" Mikoto rebutted, albeit her tone wasn't exactly something you could call approving. "It happened to you, at Shikaku Nara's bachelor party—"

"I told you, it was Hiashi and Hizashi's fault!" Fugaku defended himself, interrupting her. "They spiked the punch, I swear!"

"—but you didn't see me trying to cause a time paradox because of it!" she continued, unperturbed by her husband's excuses.

"Hn... didn't we have to talk about my cover story?" Sasuke asked, suddenly more than a little uncomfortable.

"Sasuke, don't interrupt your parents when they're talking," Fugaku told him sternly.

"We will have words about this 'drinking' attitude of yours later, young man!" Mikoto said, pointing an accusing finger at him.

Sasuke opened his mouth to answer that, to try to defend himself by saying that it's wasn't an attitude or a habit, that he had just attended to a party and things had escalated out of control, but for some reason he couldn't produce a sound. It took him a couple of seconds to realize that he was being scolded. He didn't even remember the last time it had happened. Or that he may have missed it.

"Mother? Father?" All three of them turned to see a very sleepy Itachi enter the room, clearly having been woken up from his nap judging by his weasel-patterned pajamas. This didn'tn't stop Sasuke from almost gaping like a fish at how tiny his brother looked, like an actual child. Was Itachi ever really just a child at any point in his life? Sasuke hadn't been convinced until he saw it for himself, and even now it was jarring. "Why are you fighting…?"

"Itachi, sweetie... we're not fighting," Mikoto tried to reassure him. "It's just, we're not quite agreeing about—"

"Who are you?" Itachi asked as soon as he noticed the other person in the room, ignoring his mother thanks to the curiosity that only a child could muster.

"I'm... Sasuke," said Uchiha replied, not sure what else he could say. He wasn't prepared for this. On a theoretical level he knew that his brother was alive, and very very young since this was the past, but having to actually deal with it? That was a completely different matter.

"I'm Itachi," the child replied immediately, showing that Mikoto had raised a polite boy.

"Yes, I know."

"Are you an Uchiha, too?"

"Yes, I am," Sasuke nodded, nervously getting a step closer.

"I've never seen you before," Itachi said, confused. That was right, even at such a young age Itachi would at least know the faces of those in his clan, if not their names. People made a point to interact with their heir, after all.

"I was... away," Sasuke was now very close to Itachi, kneeling so he could look him in the eye without towering over the toddler. He was also very aware of how Fugaku was watching him like a hawk, but he didn't bother to react to it.

"Away? Were you on a mission?" the little Uchiha asked, tilting his head.

"Something like that," he lied. If Itachi came up with his own explanations, all the easier for him.

"Are you my cousin? Like Shishui?" Itachi asked, looking a little excited at the prospect of having someone else to play with, even if he was a lot older.

"Sorry, Itachi," Sasuke sighed. "I can't tell you that."

Itachi frowned adorably. "Why not?"

Sasuke smiled, then wordlessly reached out with two fingers, completely ignoring the threatening way Fugaku tensed and poked Itachi in the center of the forehead. "Maybe I'll tell you another time."

Itachi pouted and pushed the fingers away. It was probably the most adorable pout ever pouted, and Itachi of all people was the one doing it. Sasuke couldn't help it. He laughed, loudly, to everyone's confusion.

Naruto and Karin suddenly perked up, all but forgetting about the steaming tea cups in front of them as they glanced in confusion towards the window that gave quite a nice view of the village.

"What's wrong?" Minato asked, curious by the strange behaviour.

"Nothing. It's just… it's like something incredible is happening, and we're missing it," Naruto tried to explain, not sure how to describe the weird feeling he had.

"Nevermind that. Let's go back to planning your fake identity, Naruto," Kushina said, resuming the previous discussion. "What about... a third cousin... twice removed?"

"Seriously?" Minato asked sarcastically. "That is the best you can do?"

"It's not like they can say they know you're lying," Kushina shrugged.

"How so?" the Yondaime couldn't help but ask.

"Very few people know anything about your relatives. Or lack thereof," she explained.

"Hmm... He could be my brother, I guess," Minato reasoned. "It makes it easier to justify the resemblance between us."

"Wouldn't that make me my own uncle?" Naruto asked, squinting his eyes a little. The idea of having to pretend to be his father's brother sounded… weird, somehow.

"Not unless you stayed around long enough to see your own birth," Karin joked ominously. Although, if he could—or had to—stay that long…

"Better make him a half-brother. One you never knew of before," Kushina reasoned. "To explain why his sudden arrival surprised us."

"Oh we were surprised, indeed," Minato said, rolling his eyes.

"That sounds like something out of Ero-Sennin's novels," Naruto groaned, trying to dispel his train of thoughts. He would deal with that only after the plan's success.

"Who?" Minato asked, frowning in confusion at the moniker.

"Jiraiya," he clarified. Even if using his teacher's real name felt a bit weird.

"... and how would you know about what's in Jiraiya's novels, young man?" Minato asked arching an eyebrow.

Alarm bells rang loudly in Naruto's brain, and his first instinct was to blame Kakashi. Technically, it was the truth: he had never even seen those books before he had met his first sensei. Before he could even stammer an answer, though, he was silenced by a whack to the head, courtesy of Karin.

"No talking about the future!" his maybe-sister-by-forceful-adoption reprimanded him.

"Oh, now you say it!" he scowled, crossing his arms. Why did he had to live to such double standards?

"Don't bother Naruto," Kushina started in a worryingly judgemental, cold tone. "I had almost forgot about it, with everything that has happened but... I saw the box with all the books in your apartment!"

"Box? What do you—" he started, only to stop as something clicked in his mind, realizing what box his mother was referring to. Naruto felt his face paling considerably as he remembered where he had put all the books he had inherited from Jiraiya. "It's not what it looks like!"

"Oh I believe it's exactly how it looks like," Kushina murmured. "I expected better from my future offspring—"

"That was my private stuff!" Naruto exclaimed, trying to go for the last line of defense he could think of since denial had failed.

"Nothing is private from your mother!" his mother replied, and he could swear that as she said so her hair had started to wave around evilly, like if it had a life of his own. Karin rose an eyebrow and looked at Minato who just shrugged with a sheepish smile. At least Kushina wasn't mad at either of them.

"They're keepsakes!" Naruto blurted out, finally giving in to the angry motherly pressure that was assaulting him, something that he had no defenses for. Strangely enough, it seemed to work, since Kushina's hair fell down, a dumbstruck expression setting on her face.

"You mean those were from when you were younger? You were a pervert as a child?!" she exclaimed in a horrified tone, before turning towards her soon-to-be husband. "Minato, where did we go wrong?!"

"No, mom... you didn't do anything wrong!" Naruto tried to explain. True, they didn't have the time to prove their skills as parents, but he just knew they would've been awesome at it. "You see…"

"I'm a bad mother!" she wailed, hiding her face in her hands and… was she going to cry?!

"Karin, Dad… help me please!" he pleaded. The last thing he wanted was to see his mom crying because of a stupid misunderstanding.

"Sorry, brother," Karin said sarcastically. "It's your porn stash. You're on your own."

Naruto groaned indignantly. Why did everybody think it was a porn stash? He turned towards his father, trying to find some support in the older blond, thinking that he would understand. He had been a student of Jiraiya as well, after all.

Minato, though, was looking at him with a strange, calculating expression as he tried to comfort his fiancée.

"Uh, dad? Please can you—"

"Something happened to sensei...?" Minato asked, almost whispering. The question, albeit it was more like a statement, calmed Kushina instantly who looked at him with a concerned expression. Naruto felt a shiver run down his spine instead.

"Dad, "I—" Naruto tried to think about something, anything that he could say. Sadly, or maybe luckily, he was stopped by a sudden knocking at the small apartment's door, which caught everyone's attention. With a last glance towards him, his father went to open the door, revealing a shinobi in the process of knocking again.

"Apologies, Hokage-sama, but something urgent has come up. We tried to find you earlier but—" he quickly said after composing himself, before trailing off as he noticed the scene around the table. "Are those some of the prisoners?"

"Yes, yes they are," Minato admitted, matter-of-factly. "We're interrogating them."

The shinobi almost arched an eyebrow at that, especially when Naruto and Karin took a sip from their teacups in an attempt to ignore the sudden attention. But he didn't. He was speaking to the Yondaime, after all. "Of course, Hokage-sama."

"What happened?" Minato asked, moving in such a way that the ninja couldn't look much at the two time-travellers. "Is it some emergency?"

"I'm afraid that I can't say in front of the... prisoners, sir," the man said in an apologetic tone.

"Of course. Thanks for telling me, you're dismissed," Minato sighed loudly, closing the door as the shinobi was still bowing at him. He turned towards the other inhabitants of the room, he actually looked embarrassed. "I'm sorry. This can't be helped."

Kushina just rolled her eyes at that. "Just come back for dinner, would you? We're having our first meal as a family, ya know!"

"Wouldn't miss it for the world," Minato smiled, glancing one more time towards Naruto before disappearing in a yellow flash.

"I wonder what was that all about?" Karin asked with a frown.

"Oh, it's probably nothing. I swear, sometimes it's like the village can't even go a day without the Hokage to make every decision for them," Kushina dismissed with a wave of her hand. "Don't worry about it."

"... that chunin didn't tell dad where he was supposed to go," Naruto noticed after a few seconds of awkward silence.

"Mmh?" Masahiro mumbled, slightly perking up from the spot he had chosen for his nap.

"I said that it's your turn to watch the street, Masahiro-nii," his sister, Ayumi, repeated.

"I heard that," the Uchiha said, as he got up. "But—"

"Look, I don't care if you're the clan's best sensor and you can watch the perimeter of a building just by sitting in the middle of the roof!" Ayumi growled. "You—"

"No, no. You don't get it," Masahiro interrupted her, as he tilted his head a moment, a look of confusion on his face. "Something... strange, is happening."

"... Masahiro-nii, in the last few days an entire apartment complex teleported itself into the village, half of the clan was hospitalized and we're treating the people who did it as honorable guests," the girl deadpanned. "We're a bit beyond strange."

"Pervy-Shrimp, for just a moment, please shut up," he said as he looked towards the village, his tone serious even with the monicker he had coined for his sister.

"W-What?! You're so RUDE, Masahiro-nii!" Ayumi exclaimed in affront. "I'm telling mom, and then you'll—"

"Ayumi, seriously." he stopped her immediately. "I wasn't kidding when I said I felt something strange!"

"Then what are you feeling?" Ayumi demanded, remarkably unimpressed.

"... I think that it's better if I just go to the Hokage instead," he said, reasoning that it was better to report to the authorities instead of explaining what he had felt to his bratty sister.

"Wha—Hey! You can't tease me like this and then not explain—"

"Also, if you tell mom, I tell her about your porn stash, remember."

"No fair, Masahiro-nii!" she yelled, but Masahiro was already gone before she'd finished. "There will be a reckoning!"

The small waiting room was mostly plain. Even the pictures on the walls and the flowerpot didn't help to improve that feeling. Even if it was packed with people, but as the hours had passed there hadn't been much conversation.

Gaara wasn't exactly what you could call a social person. Matsuri seemed to be too scared of the idea of breaking ice with people outside of her village. Kankuro had tried to talk to Lee a little, but there was a limit to how much youth a person could endure. Sai's attempts at talking with people that didn't know him well enough were just terrible. Juugo was standing against the wall like a silent pillar made of muscle. Suigetsu was bitter about having been put 'on the sidelines', as he called it. And Temari…

"So bored…" she exclaimed, secretly hoping that someone had found a topic to talk about.

"Read a magazine," Gaara told her without even blinking.

"They're old magazines," she said, looking at the small coffee table full of the items in question as if they had personally offended her. "From the past."

"We are in the past, Temari," the Kazekage replied.

"Say…" Kankuro said, turning towards the shinobi that weren't from Suna. "I get that we were put here because we already have a cover as 'diplomatic liaisons', but what about you guys?"

"None of us have a family inside the village to talk with," Juugo explained, surprisingly.

"What?" the puppet-user asked in confusion, looking at Sai and Lee. "Not even…"

Lee slowly shook his head, before the question was even properly asked. "The closest thing I ever had to a family is Gai-sensei, and he's in the hospital right now. I tried to ask, but… I can't visit him."

"I don't know where I was born," Sai said in his usual monotone voice.

"So, what do you figure your cover-story will be?" Kankuro asked, genuinely curious.

"No idea," Lee admitted.

"We could hide," Sai suggested.

"That doesn't seem like a good—"

"Shinobi are excellent at stealth," the pale boy pointed out. "It's logical that we should be able to remain hidden for the duration of the mission."

"What about you two?" Temari asked, looking at the other two ninja in the waiting room.

"I'll just do whatever Sasuke believes is for the best," Juugo calmly explained. "As for Suigetsu—"

"I can speak for myself, man!" the swordsman protested.

"—I guess we could put him in a bottle for the remainder of our stay."

"Hahaha," Suigetsu growled, his laugh dripping with sarcasm. "Nice joke, Juugo."

"What joke?" the giant asked, perfectly serious.

"I wonder what the others are doing right now," Lee sighed, ignoring Suigetsu's outraged yell.

"Probably spending time with their younger parents," Sai reasoned. "I wonder what it's like to see people who should be dead."

"You do realize that Danzo is still alive in this time, right?" Lee asked, looking at his comrade with a concerned expression.

Sai didn't say anything. He didn't even flinch, actually. The only visible reaction he had was biting his lips. The room fell silent once again, this time full of embarrassment from Lee's part, awkwardness from most of the other shinobi. But after a few moments the room felt like if it was getting colder, and waves of killing intent could be felt, coming from the artist.

"Oh, look at these pictures!" Temari exclaimed to Matsuri, grabbing a magazine and opening it at a random page in a desperate attempt to get on a lighter topic. "I can't believe people used to dress like this, twenty years ago!"

"You mean, now," Gaara corrected her.

"Shut up, Gaara."

"You were just watching the seal... and it activated on its own?" Minato slowly asked, trying to remind himself that he had to remain professional about this. After all, just because he had forgotten to ask where he was supposed to go for this emergency, it wasn't a big deal. He had used the Hiraishin to check various locations until he'd found where he was supposed to be. Frustrating, yes, but he couldn't let it temper his judgment.

"Yes, Hokage-sama," Canary said who was in the middle of prostrating in front of him, face down on the floor.

"You... didn't touch anything?" the Yondaime questioned. "Didn't use your chakra at all?"

"I swear, Hokage-sama! I really didn't do anything!" Canary cried. "And yet, even by not doing anything, I failed my mission! I'm aware that I'm a disgrace—"

"Canary, you're not a disgrace. It's not your fault... and please get up off the floor, there's no need for that!"

"Yes, Hokage-sama," Canary said, standing. His pose remain very slouched though, and quite depressing to watch.

"So, the seal activated…" he continued. "But nothing happened?"

"No, Hokage-sama," the sad ANBU confirmed.

"No more people appeared inside the building?" Minato asked, turning to the rest of the people inside the room.

"No, Hokage-sama," another ANBU, Hare, replied.

"Or... outside the building?"

"Not that we know of, Hokage-sama," Hare said, shaking his head.

"Great. And we weren't there to see it... it may have shed some light on how the seal works exactly," Minato muttered under his breath. Like he didn't enough problems already, with the time-travellers and everything else. Then he was basically told that his teacher—and unofficial father figure—was dead in the future… which he had always known could happen someday. They were shinobi after all, their average lifespan peaking around their late thirties and early forties in exceptional cases, and even great shinobi rarely made it to retirement age… but knowing that it was going happen, well… that was a completely different feeling. "You've had a few rough days, Canary. Why don't you take a break? I'll talk to the Commander and—"

"I understand sir. I'm clearly not fit to be in ANBU."

"Wha—No, I'm just giving you a few days of—"

"I'll go guard the village gate, in shame." Canary said, prostrating again, possibly even more than before. "Hopefully I'll not fail at that, too."

"Oh, for heaven's sake! Get up!" Minato snapped, getting mildly annoyed.

"I accept your judgement, Hokage-sama. I never should've asked to become part of ANBU, and—"

Thankfully, Canary was interrupted as a chunin appeared in the doorway. "Hokage-sama? Masahiro Uchiha says he has something urgent to discuss with you. He seems... a bit shaken."

"Shaken?" Minato asked, frowning at the absurdity of an Uchiha actually showing their emotions for others to see.

"As shaken as an Uchiha can be," the chunin said with a shrug.

"Send him in immediately, then," Minato ordered, relieved that someone was 'saving' him from Canary's gloom.

"Something is strange here," the man said, coming to a sudden stop.

"What do you mean?" his partner grunted, stopping right besides him but remaining vigilant.

"The village looks... different," he said, his sharp gaze roving over streets full of people, at which his taller companion barked out a laugh.

"You've been away for a long time," the other man reasoned. "It shouldn't be a surprise if the place looks different."

Instead of answering, he gazed around the village once more. The more he looked, the more he was starting to suspect that a genjutsu was in place. There was no other explanation for why what he was seeing would look like how he remembered the village from the time of his childhood. Albeit he could attribute that to a sense of nostalgia.

Then his eyes fell on a distant district, visible even from where he stood. A place that should've been abandoned long ago...

"Hn," he replied, starting to walk again.

A\N: Yep. I'm still alive. I would've liked to update this story earlier but I was… distracted. Let's go with that. I realize that this chapter is not as long as the previous ones, but I hope that you enjoyed it anyway!

Omake time (and a crossover with my crossover story, too):

Naruto and Karin suddenly perked up, all but forgetting about the steaming tea cups in front of them as they glanced in confusion towards the window that gave quite a nice view of the village.

"What's wrong?" Minato asked, curious by the strange behaviour.

"Nothing. It's just… it's like something incredible is happening, and we're missing it," Naruto tried to explain, not sure how to describe the weird feeling he had.

"Nevermind that. Let's go back to planning your fake identity, Naruto," Kushina said, resuming the previous discussion. "What about... a third cousin... twice removed?"

"Seriously?" Minato asked sarcastically. "That is the best you can do?"

"It's not like they can say they know you're lying," Kushina shrugged.

"How so?" the Yondaime couldn't help but ask.

"Very few people know anything about your relatives. Or lack thereof," she explained.

"Hmm... He could be my brother, I guess," Minato reasoned. "It makes it easier to justify the resemblance between us."

"Wouldn't that make me my own uncle?" Naruto asked, squinting his eyes a little. The idea of having to pretend to be his uncle sounded… weird, somehow. Especially because he knew him very well, and he wasn't sure about the idea of growing a beard like him. He should've asked Sakura about it...

While Naruto was contemplating about a possible future revolving around more facial hair, something like half the world away a lonely figure was walking towards the top of what was believed to be the highest mountain in the world.

"Stupid mountain," the man grumbled, as he kept moving. His steps were slowed down by the snow, and the cold, but his body was thankfully resilient to it… that didn't mean that he liked freezing his ass off, though. "Stupid snow. Stupid seven-thousands steps. Stupid ice trolls. Stupid never ending storm to reach the peak. Stupid Greybeards. Stupid High Hrothgar. Stupid Skyrim. Stupid Tamriel. Stupid Nirn!"