The woman who still thought of herself as Uzumaki Naruto—even though she hadn't publicly gone by that name in exactly nine years—waited. If all went as planned today, one of the main reasons for "Naruto" being thought of as dead would be gone. She could either reveal that Menma was really Naruto or even that Tsunami, Menma, and Naruto were all the same person.
Public opinion in Konoha had reversed itself when Tsunami had used the Flying Thunder God Technique to defeat all six of the Paths of Pain at once during Pain's invasion of Konoha five years ago. In doing so, she had revealed herself to be the daughter of Namikaze Minato, the Yondaime Hokage. As Naruto's "sister," it had revealed that the former village pariah was the son of one of its most beloved heroes and the villagers had repented of their hate for her "true self," even if it was too late from their perspective.
That occasion had also spawned her first nickname, the Red Flash, which was actually the nickname she had acquired that she disliked the least—even if she didn't really like it. She loved her dad and was grateful that she and her mom had been able to adjust the seal so that his shadow clone could manifest there permanently, but she wanted to have a legacy outside of his shadow. Her other nicknames, the Goddess of Fuinjutsu and the Queen of Chains were worse in her opinion. The former because she thought it too pretentious and the latter because it was too kinky sounding. Although her feelings on that were probably mostly Karin and Jiraiya's fault. She loved her male persona's wife, but she had a tendency to go overboard on occasion.
As Menma, she had a relatively quiet life. He and Karin had been married for two years now and had an infant girl they had named Kushina. He had taken over the fledgling Uzumaki seal business upon his "immigration" to Konoha and been quite successful at it. She spent most days as Tsunami being the Rokudaime Hokage, a position she had acquired after Pain's Invasion, and her evenings enjoying her family as Menma. Her family was the main reason she would forbear from revealing her true self. The wife and daughter of the Hokage would be in much more danger than those of the simple cousin of the Hokage.
The remembrance of first becoming Hokage once again brought up her slight annoyance with Suna. Even after five years she was still somewhat irritated that Temari of Suna had beaten her to being the youngest Kage by two years. The Suna kunoichi had become the Godaime Kazekage in the wake of the Suna-Oto Invasion of Konoha at the age of 15 with the support of her brothers. Something had happened between the siblings at the end of the invasion that had brought them together and tempered Gaara's bloodlust. The jinchuuriki of the Ichibi was now a pillar of Sunagakure no Sato. Although things weren't perfect between Suna and Konoha, they tended to side with each other against the other "Great Villages"—at first for expediency and then as trust gradually built between Tsunami and Temari. She probably wouldn't even reveal that Menma was Naruto because it opened up the possibility of more speculation on who Naruto really was.
She was brought out of her musing by a quiet alarm going off. She quickly spotted the intruder and brought up the building's defensive seals to stop the man from escaping. The intruder wore a dark cloak and a mask with one eye-hole. Rather than the spiral he had worn during his Akatsuki days according to Nagato, he had returned to the squiggles that had adorned the mask he had worn during the attack that had cost her parents their lives.
"Tobi-san, I presume?" she said
"The Red Flash honors me with her presence," he sneered. "Nagato talked too much."
"He had hoped to convert me to his plan once he saw that his vengeance on Konoha wouldn't happen. It helped that he was a distant relative."
"Oh?" the masked man said. "He couldn't talk you into it?"
"The plan was stupid," she said with a snort. "Only someone severely emotionally compromised would believe that a fear-inspiring weapon could bring a lasting peace. You should feel ashamed of yourself for taking advantage of him. What were you really planning on using the Juubi for?"
"It was too easy to resist," he said snidely. "The real plan is to use the Juubi to put an eye on the moon and use it to usher in a new, perfect world."
"An eye on the moon?" Tsunami mused. "It would be a sharingan of some sort, wouldn't it? You plan to genjutsu the world? That's a worse plan than the other!"
"We shall see!" Tobi exclaimed. "With the Kyuubi mine I will be able to quickly gather the other bijuu and enact the plan."
"And how will you acquire the Kyuubi?" she asked in amusement.
"You think you can stop me, Red Flash?" he sneered. "The Yellow Flash was greater than you and I defeated him quite handily. I don't know where you learned the Flying Thunder God Technique, but we both know you're not really Minato's daughter."
"It is my other title you should be worried about, fool," she said with a laugh, ignoring the accusation. "You think you can walk into a building prepared by the Goddess of Fuinjutsu and escape alive?"
"When the Kyuubi appears," he said, "I think you'll find your preparations lacking."
"And when will the Kyuubi appear?" she asked.
Tobi pulled out a pocket watch and stared at it. "I swear Itachi said that Naruto died at 2:43 pm. It should have manifested while we were talking."
Naruto chuckled nastily. "The Kyuubi is dead. My parents killed it."
Tobi scoffed. "The Kyuubi can't die, it can only temporarily be disincorporated. And Minato and Kushina only had one child. I should know; I was there. Unless… you are really Naruto?" He giggled crazily. "What a great joke! Posing as your own sister!"
Naruto again ignored the accusation. "The seal my parents created for Naruto destroyed Kyuubi by converting all its chakra to his."
This was actually true. Naruto and her parents had eventually gone looking for the Kyuubi and found it gone. All that remained was an enormous pool of Naruto's own chakra. The only issue with it was that the seal restricted access to the chakra so that she couldn't use it. However, it did mean that she would never suffer chakra exhaustion since the seal would instantaneously replace any chakra she used out of an essentially infinite reserve. She wasn't sure when it had happened—somewhere between age five when the higher functions of the seal had activated and age 18 when they had finally checked. If Naruto were to guess, she thought the Kyuubi had dissipated when she was between 8 and 10.
"Even if that is true," Tobi snarled, "I only need some of the beast's chakra, there are other sources."
"Are there?" she asked. "We've destroyed the bodies of the Gold and Silver Brothers, as well as any other remnants of the Kyuubi's chakra."
She had also secured the mask of the Shinigami from the Uzumaki Mask Storage Temple, so that the Yin half of the Kyuubi could not be summoned from the Shinigami's stomach.
"I think you'll find…" He stopped speaking as her ANBU commander slapped a knock-out seal on the back of his head.
"He talked to much," Sasuke grumbled as he caught the Akatsuki mastermind and laid him on the floor.
Tsunami rolled her eyes. She had planned on drawing out his plans, but she supposed that Anko could get them out of him.
She reached down and pulled off the mask. The man had classic Uchiha features. He was missing his left eye and had significant scarring on the right side of his face.
Sasuke grunted and said, "Obito."
"You sure?" she said, a touch sad. There had been some indications—the name Tobi and his childish antics among them—but she had hoped that that theory on the identity of the masked man would prove false, for her parents' sake.
Sasuke grunted and said, "I memorized portraits of every Uchiha born since before the founding of Konoha. It's Uchiha Obito."
"Do you think we should tell Kakashi-san?"
He shook his head. "Let dead heroes stay dead heroes."
She nodded. He had made the same choice after he had confronted Itachi and learned of his clan's treachery and the secret mission given him by Shiura Danzou. Sasuke's fury at Danzou had been monumental and was compounded by the fact that Itachi had died of his illness at the end of their confrontation. Tsunami herself had wondered at the Sandaime Hokage essentially letting the old war hawk off with a slap on the wrist. Cleaning up Danzou's messes had been one of her first duties as Rokudaime Hokage. The man had unintentionally done more to harm Konoha than anyone other than Orochimaru. At least Itachi had done them the favor of offing the snake before he died.
She sighed. No, Obito would stay dead of the cave-in during the Third Shinobi War, the Uchiha would remain patriots to Konoha, and Uzumaki Naruto would remain a casualty of Akatsuki's power grab attempt.
"Do you think this is the end of the plan to reunite the Juubi?" Sasuke asked.
She shrugged. "Who knows? From what I know of Obito, this isn't a plan he would have come up with on his own, but it's been over 30 years since he first disappeared. Who knows if the original mastermind is still around?"
Sasuke grunted and she returned Obito's—no, Tobi's mask to his face and signaled for Sasuke to pick him up. With a grunt her ANBU commander complied. It wouldn't do for the Hokage to be seen carting around a subdued shinobi.
"Let's drop him off with Anko at T&I and then we can stop by Ramen Ichiraku for an early supper," she said. For some reason, Karin didn't think that ramen should be served at every meal, so Tsunami liked to grab a portion to fortify herself when she could.
Sasuke grunted in annoyed acceptance and disappeared with a Body Flicker.
Naruto chuckled in amusement and followed him.
Author's Note: Escape is done. I hope you liked it! My next efforts will primarily reside with The Rabbit Ascending, Double the Trouble, or one or two as yet unpublished projects. I may also slip in chapters occasionally for my other unfinished works.