III


It's a dark philosophy,

And it haunts her constantly,

It's a false alarm to me,

She's a false alarm!

- Abel Tesfaye, False Alarm


Two weeks. Two long, tortuous weeks.

That's how long it took for the nightmares to stop.

Now, I wouldn't have complained too much- okay, that's a lie. I still would've complained, but it's more about the principle of thing, you know? Had the nightmares been different, or something, maybe I could've even learned a thing or two while sleeping, but no- for half of the month, it was the same damn nightmare every night.

The pale moon would hang low in the night sky. The yellow room would swim into view. I could smell the burning incense in the room. I could feel the tension in the air. Everything would start to blend together, with Biwako, the old man's wife's scream, playing out hauntingly slow in the background.

"Fourth Hokage- Minato. Step away from the jinchuuriki."

I'd be back there- back in front of the Masked Man, watching Kushina writhe in pain underneath me, screaming Naruto's then: a blur.

I'd black out, and the next thing I'd know, I would catch Naruto, throwing the blanket off him and skipping away from the explosion.

"If there's only one thing I'll regret: it's that I won't be able to see Naruto grow up."

And I'd wake up, screaming bloody murder, chakra flowing through my veins, and a kunai in my hands. Every. Single. Time.

Now, even after the second week passed, and the nightmares become infrequent, I realized I wasn't out of the woods just yet.

In fact, I was just beginning to understand my second set of problems: some of Minato's PTSD was starting to seep into me, affecting my day-to-day life.

It started off small: sometimes, when I'd wake up in the morning and go to sleep at night, I felt this compulsion to double-check my windows and doors and make sure they were locked as tight as possible.

I tried ignoring it the first time, but I soon found that if I didn't handle it within the first few minutes, my hands would get clammy. Anxiety would build inside of me, alongside this weird sense of dread. My fingers would start drumming against the nearest surface. Bad thoughts would start to pop up in my head, accompanied by whispers in my ears, taunting me.

On the off-chance I left the house without checking, everyone around me was instantly suspicious-looking.

The old lady with a stroller? Yeah, she could be a seasoned vet with her backup henged into a little baby, waiting for me to let my guard down.

The vendors in Konoha's financial district? Bandits, wearing the guise of nobles, selling me poisoned food and dulled weapons, hoping that in my next fight, their purposely doctored weapons would do me in.

It was hell. Eventually, I just gave in and made checking the damn locks a part of my daily routine.

That doesn't sound too bad, I'm sure. It isn't that bad if I'm being honest.

Sleeping with a kunai under my pillow isn't exactly the definition of insanity, either- lots of ninja do that. The blunt pipe hooked under my bedframe shouldn't ruffle too many feathers, either.

Setting up elaborate traps around the entryways, hooked up to explosive tags and ready to fire on a hair trigger, though? Having to tap my foot on the ground three times before running? Needing to make sure my forehead protector rested perfectly in the center of my forehead, with two strands of hair poking out on either side? Maintaining chakra in my tenketsu at all times?

Now that was the crazy stuff.

Half the time I'd smell incense, I'd obsessively create a Rasengan in my hand, ready to blast the nearest person into oblivion.

Speaking of which, though: training was going well.

Learning, or relearning the Rasengan was easier than expected. Naruto's nearly limitless chakra made it possible to use the memory retention of shadow clones to an unprecedented level. With Minato's knowledge kicking around in my head, by the end of my two-week tenure, I could easily create a passable version of the Fourth's jutsu.

Though, it still wasn't perfect. For any ninja under jonin, the move would probably be a killing blow, but I was aiming higher than that now. I needed to be able to perfect it and even build upon it as Minato had originally intended, but that sort of finesse would only come with time and practice.

On the usage front; I was still kind of struggling with the application of the Regulation-Velocity theorem, but on the bright side, it was still helping me with my chakra control.

The shadow clone technique was still the easiest for me to wrap my head around. My chakra seemed to instinctually grasp how they were made. I wouldn't quite say it was as easy as breathing just yet, but in the past two weeks, my average time for creating shadow clones dropped from a total of six to ten seconds, on average, to about two.

Tweaking the process definitely had a hand in that.

Before, I'd slam my hands together in the ram seal, and summon the right amount of chakra needed. The chakra would start off in my stomach, work its way up my arms and into my hands, topping off the seal and exploding outward into a physical manifestation- my desired shadow clone.

Now, with Minato's mold theory, most of the hard work was already done. You see, molds were, in my opinion, basically mental versions of hand seals.

The exact amount of chakra necessary to perform a technique, normally, is manipulated through hand seals. With molds doing the heavy lifting there, I could cut down on the seal part and just create them straight-up.

Mix that in with Minato's obsessive need to always have chakra in his tenketsu, and I could basically generate shadow clones with little more than a thought.

Physical training was going well, too. Minato had always been kind of a workout junkie, and with the Kyuubi's chakra healing my body after any wear and tear, I was easily pushing four to five workouts a day, each one more grueling than the last.

I'd also taken to jogging around Konoha wearing weighted vests and ankle braces in the early morning and late night. Buying them from the local army set me back a few grand, but I figured it would be a good enough investment once I started getting higher-ranked missions.

The last change to my day-to-day routine was my kanji practice. Minato had been a once-in-a-generation sealing prodigy, and some of his sealing applications were mind-boggling. With all of that knowledge kicking around, there's no way I could've ignored it.

Somewhere in my- his- memories, I saw him capture a Tailed Beast Ball that was supposed to demolish Konoha and teleport it using seals. The Flying Thunder God- one of his signature moves- was an insane combination of seals that even with his memories, I found difficult to understand.

As a whole, I certainly found seals to be interesting. They banked on the logic of the Law of Conversation of Chakra. Meaning, you couldn't create or destroy chakra, only change its form.

The fundamental elements of sealing were propositions- statements that could be either true or false- and logical operations that acted on said propositions.

Logical operators combine propositions to make other propositions, which would then let you do all kinds of things with your chakra.

It was like playing a game of gossip. You know; the first person would say the original sentence, and then the second person would change one word of it, then the third person would change something…so on and so forth until the concluding sentence would be entirely different than the original one.

That's how seals tended to work.

Take an explosive tag, for example. Military-grade explosive tags are sheets of paper inscribed with a special seal, centering around the kanji for exploding. After being infused with chakra, they burst after a set amount of time, remotely, or after being ignited by flame.

The sealing matrix is quite simple. Once infused with chakra, the input chakra is tossed through a bunch of logic gates until the output reaction is an explosion, directly proportional to both the potency and the amount of chakra provided. Depending on which sealing matrix variation you use, you can either set the time before or after pumping chakra into the construct.

Someone like, say Sakura could throw an explosive tag and it would do maybe ten percent of the damage that Kakashi or even I could do.

Regardless, the truth of the matter, though, is that the kanji is nothing more than a red herring. Writing kanji on a piece of paper doesn't inherently do a thing. Hell, when Minato got really good at this whole sealing thing, he actually went out of his way to misname his explosive tags.

He'd toss out a cluster grenade with the kanji for a storage seal on it, and when an enemy ninja got too close, it would detonate into a thousand pieces of shrapnel and glass, shredding the whole cell like cheese.

The holy grail of sealing, though, was body seals. I know it's hard to imagine, but Minato had created all kinds of body seals- seals that could feed natural energy into your stores, seals that could convert your chakra into elemental chakra instantly. Seals that could make you fly.

That's what I was most interested in. The only problem, of course, was that I was nowhere near that level, and I wasn't about to mess with my body until I was. Eventually, though, I'd get there.

I guess if there was anything else I'd learned in the last two weeks, it's that I've been greatly underestimating Minato's willpower. Earlier, when I'd first started getting his memories, I thought I, me, Naruto was still the one in the front seat, but that wasn't exactly true anymore.

Minato's undercurrents were fueling my actions. My fire to be great, to be Hokage, was being fanned by Minato's hate for the Masked Man. Every time I felt like quitting mid-workout, eating Ramen instead of the bland chicken and rice in front of me, or sleeping in, my body felt like it moved itself.

Unfortunately for me, the second week was also when my team was pulled back off retainer- the clusterfuck in the Wave had given us some time off, but today was the day the Hokage decided to get us back into the swing of things.

That's how I found myself back in Training Ground 3, twirling a kunai in my hand as my team and I waited for Kakashi to show up.

I glanced over at my team, Sakura, specifically. I felt weird looking at her, but to be fair, at this stage in my life, I felt weird looking at everyone.

I got déjà vu constantly. Sometimes, I'd stare at a lamppost for minutes on end, before being able to place it in one of Minato's more esoteric memories.

People were the worst of them all. That old lady glaring at me across the street in the bookstore? Funny she should act that way; for Minato, she'd leave out cookies and regale him with stories of Hashirama the Great, and his equally talented brother every time he'd come to buy books.

It was mind-boggling, really, how harshly people treated me. If they knew I was Minato's son, I'd bet my right arm they'd start bending over backward, trying to treat me like some little golden boy or something.

Back to the subject, though- I felt nothing for Sakura. Not the light, airy feeling you're supposed to get around crushes. Definitely not any sense of attraction.

People had this misconception about Minato- again, as they tend to about their leaders. They thought he was some pure, venerable dude who walked on daisies all the time. And don't get me wrong, he was a stand-up guy overall.

But his sensei? Jiraiya? Well, he was his sensei for a reason, and man did that dude know how to teach. He took a meek, yet dangerously intelligent young boy and taught him how to flirt with women unabashedly. Without going too far into details, I'll put it this way: I saw enough ass in Minato's memories to satisfy even the most delusional of perverts.

After seeing what Minato got up to, I was simultaneously scarred for life and turned away from girls my age.

A cruel fate, indeed.

That's neither here nor there, though. The real problem was that even the boring, but the constant feeling of safety and comfort was gone. In my mind, she'd gone from being a valued teammate to an under-average ninja.

"You look different…" Sakura interrupted my line of thought, giving me a suspicious once-over.

"Really? I hadn't noticed," I replied tonelessly, clutching a kunai, and sitting up. "It's been a long two weeks."

Sakura nodded slightly as her eyes narrowed. Sasuke seemed to take notice of our conversation, casually flicking his eyes over to me.

Sasuke was also interesting, though in a much more positive way than Sakura.

Looking at him now, it was impossible not to see the resemblance to his father, Wicked Eye Fugaku Uchiha.

Back in the day, his dad was head of the Uchiha clan as well as the leader of the Konoha Military Police Force. A solid, dependable ninja, and one that Minato had frequently been on missions with.

What startled me even more, was the look on his face. I guess earlier, I'd always thought he was this cold, cocky bastard for the sake of it, but now?

I could see the determination in his eyes, along with some pain and suffering. It was a look all ninja seemed to get sooner or later in their lives, and the part of me that was Minato lamented the fact that it was on someone so young. I made it a note to reach out to him more.

Before I could ponder any further, Kakashi appeared in front of us in a poof of smoke, his hand already raised in a lazy, half-wave. "Hello, my cute little genin!"

"You're late!" Sakura barked out, a vein popping on her forehead. "Why are you never on time, sensei?"

"Well, you see, Sakura-chan, there was a black cat in my path this morning—"

"You already used that excuse," Sasuke interjected coolly, staring Kakashi down with his hands in his pockets. "Twice."

"Ah, well, my little Sasu-chan—"

"This month," I added. "Twice this month. Which is really saying something, considering we haven't formally met in two weeks."

Kakashi paused for a second, taking in my appearance. His body language seemed normal at first, but there was a stiffness to his posture- an almost imperceptible lag in his movements. He'd been training. "Well, Naruto, I'm glad you're being more observant these days. Anyway! After our little stint in the Wave, I thought we'd all regroup and start some training."

"What kind of training?" Sasuke replied, dare I say eagerly, a moment later. "Is it going to be the ball exercise again?"

The air changed for a moment. Kakashi leaned forward, his eye staring at Sasuke, then me, and then Sakura. "No. I'm going to train you guys to be killers."


AN: I firmly believe everyone needs a story like this. This thing is just so fun to write, each chapter from my point of view is just smooth as hell. Minato was always my favorite character, so to be able to slowly reveal his genius and the changes I've made to his character has been awesome. There's definitely a nice undercurrent in the storytelling that feels a lot more humourous and it's a welcome change from the way I tell my other story, LOL.

Real fast, though, LightningStrife, to answer your question, I have my ways. I know that doesn't really answer your question, but there are definitely a couple of different ways to make her loyal to Konoha, should I go that route.

I don't know about Karin. I never liked the Naruto/Karin pairing too much. Besides, I think Naruto needs to end up with someone older than him when the time comes, like Kurenai or Anko, and if I think of a good enough way to work it into the story, Yugito or Konan.

Anyway. Let me know how you guys liked this one.