Konohagakure no Sato. October 11.
Sarutobi Hiruzen let out a breath, smoke billowing out of his dried lips. He felt the weight of the hat atop his head more acutely than ever, to the point where he found the need to remove it entirely, placing it on the desk, the fire logo, placed to face away from himself as he sighed.
He had not planned to return, it'd barely been a year since he retired his post, entrusting it to another. And he had been more than content with such. Whatever higher powers that be may have cursed his existence or maybe Konohagakure no Sato in general; all things considered.
To think that just yesterday, the village was almost destroyed and hundreds of shinobi and even more civilians were slayed by what could only be described as a living, natural disaster.
The dead were still being tallied, the injured, in the thousands easily.
This thing had many names, but it was better known as the Kyubi no Yoko, "The Greatest of the nine" It'd been called.
He would not dispute the reputation.
'What went wrong?' thought the old man as he leaned back in his chair and surveyed the village from the open balcony just a few feet away. The business districts were spared, but the residential area suffered, hence the staggering civilian causalities, even now nearly a thousand, or more were missing under the wreckage and debris the demon's rampage caused.
He remembered Minato, and now the late Hokage, and his expected wife, Kushina, had been assuring him that they were able to obtain the best seal masters in all Fire Country in order to prevent the fox from breaking out. Minato was one of those seal masters himself, having taken his first teachings from Jiraiya, and surpassing him years ago with innovations and methods that were still having an impact on how fire country made its most basic of seals.
This shouldn't have happened. It never should have happened.
But then again, there were the warning signs.
During Kushina's pregnancy, the fox was disturbingly quiet, his chakra receding from her coils and her increasing fatigue. Part of him had chalked it up to the pregnancy but they'd taken precautions, even deigning to call in some other Fuinjutsu specialists from across their territory. But even the best laid plans of men tend to go wrong, and the last 48 hours had proven that old phrase beyond the shadow of a doubt in his mind.
So many many dead. People he'd known for years. People who should have seen him die, not the other way around.
Minato and Kushina had been among them.
It had been a moment of desperation and impulsiveness that had carried him back to office. Screaming elders and councilmen clamoring for someone to lead them before Minato's body was even cold.
He didn't blame them.
Konoha had many enemies, all of which would be more than happy to deliver the hammer's blow on the cracking anvil.
He'd been placed here to keep them at bay, despite his weariness, and his withered body he was still known far and wide as the God of Shinobi, and even if his martial might may be diminished, his mind was still as sharp as ever, maybe even sharper, honed to a fine edge with the experience of age.
He held secrets that could still destroy men. And that, more than anything else, would probably be what kept the wolves at bay.
But still...so many many dead.
But...there is always hope. And one person in the weary Sarutobi's mind was shouldering the burden of the Kage's hopes more than most tonight. The one to survive the tragedy amongst the fox's wrath was none other than a newborn babe, and the Hokage knew who that child was, just by looking at him. He turned towards the crib nearby his desk, the sleeping babe within it. .
Namikaze-Uzumaki Naruto, the third jinchuriki of the Kyubi no Yoko and the son of Namikaze Minato.
The signs of him being the jinchuriki were obvious thanks to the whiskers on his cheeks and the seal of the most powerful ninja in fire country emblazoned in faintly glowing runes atop his navel. The Shiki Fuuin.
Sarutobi was unsure whether to be proud or disappointed, for it spoke of how Minato would have treated his son in the future if a tragedy like this occurred later rather than when it had. If his son was in a crisis and if there was a choice of either village or family, he would always chose village. Hiruzen couldn't imagine how Kushina, who detested being the Kyubi's jailor herself to begin with, would have reacted with Minato choosing to seal the beast in his own son rather than back into her or maybe another object, or even a stranger. The woman loved Minato a great deal, but he would not have been surprised he wouldn't have been surprised if she divorced him if such an event did occur.
The Hokage checked some papers; one thing he dreaded upon returning to the job was the paperwork.
Oh the paperwork. He was sure that he be rid of it forever, and now…
He let out a sigh. This for the good of the village, after all. Just he was about to get started, he heard a knock on his door. Only person would be so nonchalant as to knock on a Kage's door.
"Come in," and the door opened up, revealing his old student, and the only one who is in contact with him.
"Hey..." His voice was dejected, sad, but still holding back. "I came as fast as I could…" He stepped into the office and the Sandaime noticed him holding an odd cylindrical object and... He wasn't alone for that matter either…
"Kakashi. May I ask what you are doing here?" asked Hiruzen. The young Hatake stood behind Jiraiya, hands in pockets as usual, and his face showing nothing but silent sorrow.
"Jiraiya-sama asked me to come along, Hokage-sama," responded Kakashi "It has to do with…sensei." All of the room's occupants fell silent in remorse.
"Well, it has to be important." Hiruzen finally said. "Speak it then. There is much to do yet."
"His will," mentioned Jiraiya as he placed the object on the desk. It was the size of a soda can, yet it had a paper around it with a kanji seal and other symbols wrapped around it.
"He had his will stored within a cryptex I see. As expected," mused Hiruzen.
"I recognized some of the markings, turns out this do-hickey here and only be opened by those the deceased trusted in life. In other words, us," said the sage. The Hokage held the cryptex up. Nodding, he took a knife opener and made a little cut on his finger. He then proceeded to smear a smidge of blood on the seal. He turned towards Kakashi.
"Close the door and tell no one to come inside," he ordered. The boy nodded going out of the room to tell the secretary to go on a break and closing the door. Jiraiya then placed a few tags along the walls of the room and the windows.
"Sound proof. This info doesn't escape this room," said the sannin. Hiruzen nodded and he perked as he heard a click. As the cryptex geared and churned, Jiraiya and Kakashi walked up to the crib and inspected its charge.
"He looks just like sensei…" whispered Kakashi.
"No kidding about that," agreed Jiraiya. He amazed about how the child looked just like how he pictured the main character of his book series to look like! Maybe it was Minato's influence. He did inspire the character design after all.
Hiruzen gave a small cough, gaining his student and the Hatake's attention. The cryptex has opened and within it was a small scroll. He held it up in order to read it out loud.
"Dear Sarutobi, Kakashi, or Sensei,
If any of you are reading this will, then it means I have been killed before the conception of my child. A shame really, but such is the life of a shinobi, even if you are a Kage.
-To Sarutobi, you're probably one of the best Kage's out there staying in office as long as you have. Too bad I didn't match your record, hehe.
Continuing, I am sure some of you are confused as to why Kushina isn't the ones selected to open the cryptex. Well, let's just say that I and she got into a few big fights…
"Whoa hold on," interrupted Jiraiya. "Minato and Kushina were fighting? They seemed to be getting along just fine!"
"You of all people should know how women are Jiraiya-sama," mentioned Kakashi.
"But still! They looked like they were on Cloud Nine whenever I stopped by!"
"If we continued, I'm sure Minato may be able to give us a valid reason why," said Hiruzen. The two remained silent and the Hokage continued.
"Now I suppose this was to be expected, but the reason for our fights was a few reasons:
Kumo has begun negotiations with Konoha and I was more than happy to hear what they have to say for the sake of stability and cooperation between the two villages. But then again, Kushina was nearly kidnapped by them, and wanted nothing more than to isolate them and I can't really fault her for that. She was defiantly not happy when we had ambassadors meet up in Hotsprings country. I have my duties as a leader and peace between villages has a higher priority than a personal grudge.
Due to my job as Hokage, I've been spending more time at work than at home. Kushina is starting to feel that she's being ignored. I quote, "You love the village more than you love me!" As much as I love her, I have a duty she doesn't understand. Hopefully she may if she is present in this will reading.
She doesn't like that I hang out with you Jiraiya, after reading your pilot for your next series. I must admit that it's a bit bland and here's a suggestion: have the protagonists get girls of all sizes. Flat as board to as a big as Tsunade. Hell maybe bigger because why not? Add in variety and maybe have some girls with nice asses, whether sculpted or as big as the Monument. You wanna appeal to all men(or women) with varied tastes, and it will sell. Maybe go for monster girls too. You never know…"
Jiraiya started grinning from ear to ear, though it was more nostalgic than his normal smiles when venturing into these topics. Kakashi's eye went up.
"Never knew he was into stuff like that," mentioned the gray haired ninja.
"That's my pupil," the sannin wiped his eyes to dry up any tears forming. Hiruzen smiled and continued.
"Moving on. Now, if I were to die before my child's birth, I leave my estate and all pertaining to it to my wife, Uzumaki Kushina and her child.
However, as Kushina is the wife of a Kage, her having enemies is reasonable. In addition, I think that the fox is up to something. He's been far too quiet and I think he's gathering strength for the due date. So in the event if not only I were to become deceased, but also my wife as well after my child's conception, here are my terms:
My child is to be taken to the residence of my longtime teammate and friend, Kazama Arashi, and placed under his care. Arashi has been married longer than I have and is probably a better father than I ever would be, what with not being bogged down by the Kage hat. "
"He isn't giving Naruto to me?" pondered Jiraiya.
"I'm getting to that," said Sarutobi. "Sorry Jiraiya, but Kushina detested the idea of a child being raised by you, so I am at least fulfilling one of my wife's wishes, no offense sensei."
Jiraiya gave out a sigh. Kushina, despite being a tomboy, was one hell of a human buzz-killer. "None taken…" he responded, as if speaking to Minato.
"However, I wish for my son to embrace the Will of Fire, as you all have experienced, so I am placing my child under Jiraiya's care at the age of 11 and my child is be moved to Konoha. If you could give this will to Arashi, sensei, I'm sure he would understand. Knowing him and that Inazuma Mari, they maybe baking babies like Chouza's wife bakes meatbuns. And if he wishes to become a shinobi and inherit my estate, then so be it. Until then, I will lend my estate to my sole pupil, Hatake Kakashi, and all jutsu pertaining within the estate with the exception of the Hiraishin and the Shiki Fujin. However, upon my child's return, he may receive the estate and will live with Kakashi as a fellow tenant. There's a lot of room after all, and I'm sure you'll get along just fine.
In closing, I hope for Kushina and/or my child to have a future in which they will live happily. I am sorry if I made any mistakes and wasn't the husband you dreamed of having, but I did the best that I could with the circumstances Kushina.
And to my child, whatever path you take in life, always know that these four men: Sarutobi Hiruzen, Hatake Kakashi, The Gallant Frog Sage Jiraiya-sama, and Kazama Arashi and his wife, will become your guardian angels. And embrace the Will of Fire, for it will be your light whenever you are in your darkest hour.
I love you both with all my heart.
Namikaze Minato, written June 28."
Sarutobi took a deep breath as the room's occupants absorbed the information within the will.
"So….when do you want me to take him?" The Hokage perked up towards Jiraiya as he looked down at the sleeping child. He was quite a heavy sleeper…
"What do you mean? We have no clue where Arashi is."
"I know where he is. Arashi kept in touch with me after he retired from shinobi service to devote to family life. If you could give me Naruto, I could get him to Arashi within the week." Sarutobi nodded as he took this information.
Maybe this was for the best. After all, Naruto was the son of the Yondaime of all things, so he's an instant enemy in the eyes of Iwa. Despite Kushina and Uchiha Mikoto having a good relationship, her husband Fugaku, another Yondaime candidate, treated Minato with disdain, mainly due to losing to a "commoner" of all things.
And then there's the possibility of the rogue Snake Sannin Orochimaru and the Director of Root: Shimura Danzo may catch wind of Naruto being a jinchuriki and will stop at nothing to use the boy for their own ends.
And that would not be allowed.
"Jiraiya," the sage perked up and looked towards his sensei as he wrapped the sleeping baby in a blanket. How Naruto was still asleep was anyone's guess.
"No one must catch wind of this... What has occurred in this room, stays in this room. This is an S-class secret that we must protect, even if we must give our lives. Understand?" Kakashi nodded. And Hiruzen handed the babe towards the white haired man.
"I'll protect this knowledge to my dying breath Hokage-sama," responded the cycloptic boy. Jiraiya then proceeded towards the door, baby covered in blankets, and still asleep.
"Must have taken Kushina's sleep tendencies. The woman slept like a log from what I heard from Minato," thought the sannin.
"Well, I best be off. I'll report back to you once I drop off Naruto. And Sensei, how are you going to persuade your teammates and that ole war hawk. They knew Kushina was pregnant and will want answers," said Jiraiya. Sarutobi closed his eyes in thought.
"Come now Jiraiya, the Kyubi's passing has left much devastation and confusion in its wake. I'm sure however, after some searching in the damaged districts Kakashi can return to me with Naruto's remains" The young Jounin nodded, easily catching the hint.
"Danzo may not be happy if you give them that."
"He may not like it, but you just leave him to me. After all...how will he prove his suspicions? And even if he could, Root is disbanded. What evidence could he have gathered...properly?"
Jiraiya couldn't help but crack a smile. Sarutobi wasn't missing a beat.
"You should leave now Jiraiya, the confusion of the attack will give you your best chance. Kakashi, you have your orders as well." Both men and nodded and took off the soundproof seals along the walls. Jiraiya grabbed the small scroll that was Minato's will and stuffed it in his pocketed and walked out the room, Kakashi in tow.
Sarutobi gave a deep drag of his pipe. Did he do the right thing? Giving Naruto to Minato's teammate, who is outside of Konoha and away from the Hokage's protection? But then again, knowing Jiraiya, he'll visit Naruto and Arashi on occasion to check up on him, and report back to the Hokage. The only problem would be Danzo.
Danzo would always be the problem.
He looked down, and the paperwork was still there, incomplete and blank. As if mocking him.
An even bigger problem.
Oh how he wanted someone to drive a nail into his head.
3 days later. On the border between Hotspring's Country and Frost Country.
Jiraiya landed on the ground and wiped the sweat off his head. The land that was the border between Hotsprings and Frost was cold for most of the year, but never snowing. Just cold and it will switch between humid and dry on the seasons.
He saw a simple town before him, and within it his goal. He looked down at the baby in the sling in which carried. The sling had a few seals on it in order to give Naruto warmth and not shiver in the cold but it'd be best to get him into the house.
Naruto was quite a screamer too when he was awake and Jiraiya had to slow down when tree-jumping in order to lull him back to sleep. The sage would have made the trip in a single day, but he doubted his ears could handle all of the crying.
And then there was the diaper maintenance, and the feeding…Jiraiya felt some sort relief that a professional is taking him off his hands and that he was asleep, for now at least.
He walked into town, and he could see the few people in the commerce going about their buisness, their breaths visible in the chilly air. Using his memory, the sage wandered about until he found a three story apartment building.
"This is it," he said to himself and walked inside. Ignoring the stairs, he continued on the first floor until he found the room he was looking for. He knocked a few times.
"Who is it?" asked a male voice from within, Jiraiya let out a deep breath and smiled.
"Who am I? That is the question one who has been hiding a rock for many moons would know, but a good question nonetheless! Who is the man in which ladies far and wide woo and dream of? Who is the man in which men of all corners of the world look up to in awe and envy? Now unclog those ears! Open up your eyes and take a good long look!"
He got onto a pose and on one leg and started to hop, his clogs clacking the ground.
"Now behold! The Divine and Gallant Ninja Jiraiya-sama! That is who I am, Kazama Arashi!" he bellowed with a boon, swirling his head in the process. The door swung wide open, and Jiraiya beamed.
Standing at the door was a man nearing thirty, with shoulder length long black hair and steel blue eyes. He was dressed in normal attire, but the sage knew he had practiced somewhat in his shinobi skills since retiring two years ago. The man, known as Arashi gasped with surprise and awe.
"Sensei! What a surprise!" he said.
"Honey? Who was that speaking? Karui-chan woke up, he's a bit loud," said a female voice from within the apartment. Arashi turned towards the voice.
"It's my old sensei Mari-chan!" He turned towards Jiraiya, "please come in!"
"Thanks." Jiraiya beamed again. "You don't know how good it feels to just have one of my old students open up the door and be happy to let me in."
"No, I mean come in, it's freezing and we're losing heat. Costs money you know. Can't talk like this outside."
Jiraiya glared. "Can't you show at least some compassion for your sensei? What turned you into a penny pincher?"
"The fact that we are near the border of Frost Country and our heating bill is high enough as it is, that's why." The sage shrugged in understanding, stepping inside.
"You haven't changed a bit, and there's something I wish to tell you and your wife about..."