Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any of its characters
Chapter 2: The Arrival
What a weird dream… Hinata thought blearily as she began to regain consciousness. She stretched out in the grass, trying to wake herself up.
Grass? That's odd…
She slowly opened her eyes and what she saw jolted her back to full awareness. Rather than the bedroom she'd been expecting, she was in the middle of a dense forest.
Wait…the jutsu! she thought, scrambling to her feet as her most recent memories surged to the forefront of her mind, Did it work? It definitely did something…
Just then, she noticed Naruto beside her, still asleep. She knelt next to him and tried to wake him.
"Naruto? Naruto! Wake up!" she insisted as she shook him.
"Hrm…Hinata? What is it?" He asked groggily.
"I think…I think it may have worked."
"Huh? What wor-" He stopped mid-sentence as his eyes shot open. "Where are we? Are we back?" He demanded, jumping to his feet.
"I'm not sure yet, but if it did actually work we should be somewhere near Konoha…" she gazed up at the blue sky overhead. "Let's check," she said.
She quickly stood up and began to jump to the tops of the trees, Naruto close behind her.
Please be here, please be here, please be here! thought Hinata desperately.
She burst through the canopy and began to look around for her former home.
"I can't believe it…" Naruto whispered as he came up beside her.
There in the distance, no more than a few kilometers away, was the Hidden Leaf Village, completely intact.
"The monument," she whispered, as her eyes began to water, "Tsunade-sama's face isn't there…"
"It worked!" Naruto exclaimed, pulling her into a hug. "Thank God…it worked…" he choked.
Hinata was at a loss for words. She had hoped that their plan would succeed, but until now, she honestly thought it was little more than a desperate fantasy.
"We can save them," she sobbed, gripping her husband, "Our home, our friends…we can save them, we can change things this time…"
They stayed that way for few minutes, too stunned to do more than hold on to each other and pray that is wasn't all just a dream.
Hinata wiped her eyes, smiling as they pulled apart, truly hopeful for the first time in years.
"Let's get down from here, the last thing we need is to get spotted now."
"Good idea," Naruto nodded.
They jumped down from the treetops and settled into the shadow of a large oak.
"So," Hinata began, "what now?"
Naruto leaned against the tree in thought. "I think we should follow Shikamaru's suggestion," he said. "We need to find at least one other person to help us and the old man's probably our best bet."
"Agreed, but still, there's the matter of getting into the village itself," she paused, "we could probably sneak past the patrols closer to the village and at the gate, but I'm not sure about reaching the Hokage himself. He's sure to have at least a few guards besides the ones we saw and they're bound to be far from incompetent. While I'm sure we could incapacitate them, I doubt that acting like assassins would do much to help us make our case."
"You're right; we need to find a way to get a private audience somehow. We also need to figure out exactly when we were sent to. We may be back in the past, but that's no guarantee that we're exactly where Fukasaku aimed to send us."
"That's a good point too…" She hesitated, "The biggest problem, though, is our appearance. I doubt anyone would be able to connect us to our past selves; it's just too unrealistic to be believable, even if it is the truth. Still, you look too much like your father, and I look too much like a Hyuga for us to be able to simply ignore it. Most importantly…our eyes, Naruto; we have to hide our eyes. If my father even suspected that the Hyuga's Byakugan had been obtained by anyone outside the clan, he would be furious. And as far as he knows, we're both outside of the clan."
"Why does everything have to be so difficult?" he sighed. "At least my mother's clan isn't in Konoha to complicate things as well." Naruto paused, "Wait, that's it…"
Hinata looked at him quizzically, "What do you mean?"
"My mother's clan, the Uzumaki, they were one of the most prominent clans of Uzushiogakure in the land of whirlpools. The village was destroyed in the Third Shinobi World War, but the village, especially the Uzumaki, had always had close ties to Konoha. If we say that we were survivors from the village that have come to join the Leaf, it should be enough of an excuse to at least get to see the old man. It would also explain why two, unknown, highly trained ninja would suddenly want to join the Leaf instead of another village."
"That's…perfect actually," Hinata smiled. "I hadn't considered that type of approach, though we will have to be careful when anyone asks what we did during the time between the village's destruction and now. Also, only you should be a hereditary member of the clan. Even though it doesn't affect what we're trying to do, I'd rather our story include the fact that we're married instead of siblings or relatives." She sighed. "Still, there's the matter of actually disguising our appearance. A simple transformation would be too unreliable."
"Actually, I have a solution to that problem as well," Naruto added with pride.
"You don't mean…you actually managed to create that seal?"
Naruto chuckled, pushing himself off of the tree trunk. "I finished it a few weeks ago, but we were so busy with this mess that I never had a chance to tell you. Are you really that surprised? You were the one who asked me to create it for your infiltration teams after all."
Hinata laughed, "Fair enough. Regardless, it's impressive, especially considering you never had much formal training in fuinjutsu in the first place. How effective is it?"
Naruto shrugged, "Effective enough, I'd say it's pretty much on par with whatever it was that granny Tsunade did. As far as I know, it's virtually undetectable, will stay active even without conscious effort, and will still work while we're asleep. There are three main problems though. First, it will constantly feed of your chakra to keep active. Not that much, at least, not for ninja of our level, but it would still be a disadvantage in battle. Also, that means that if you don't have enough energy to sustain it, the transformation will fade. Second, you're limited to only one appearance, so you'd have to remove and reapply the seal to change how you look. Last, the seal will still be visible even during the transformation, though since I invented it, no one will know what its purpose is." He paused. "Also, there's one more thing. It wouldn't normally be too much of an issue, but the actual creation of the seal is draining, so it'd be dangerous to do in the field."
"I see," Hinata said, nodding. "Still, even with those drawbacks, that seal should be more than enough." She thought for a moment, recognizing a potential problem. "We do have to test it though. If I can see through it with my Byakugan it may make things more difficult."
Naruto nodded, "You're right. I guess I didn't have to take the Byakugan into account while I was working on it since your entire clan fought with us. Let's test it before we go any further then."
He took a deep breath before beginning a series of hand seals. After about a minute, he finished and his right hand began to glow.
"Metamorphosis," he whispered as he pressed his hand into his left shoulder. An elaborate circular design began to form, spiraling out from where his palm met his shoulder. The shape shined brightly just as it was completed. After the light faded, it looked like nothing more significant than an intricate tattoo.
"Here we go," said Naruto, grinning at her.
There was an explosion of smoke, but it was much larger and more powerful than the one that accompanied a normal transformation. When the smoke cleared, a new man was in the place of her husband, still wearing the same grin Naruto had seconds earlier.
While his clothing was the same, his physical appearance was completely different. The whisker marks that were on his cheeks were now non-existent. His face was slightly different structurally and was a bit more angular and had more softness to it than Naruto had originally had. The most apparent change, however, was his hair. He had straight crimson hair that hung down to his shoulders, a bit of it framing the right side of his face. The only thing consistent with his original appearance, she noticed, were the striking blue eyes that always reminded her of a clear summer day, though now he had two instead of one.
Naruto brushed a few strands of his new hair out of his eyes. "So? what do you think?" he asked in a voice that she'd never heard before.
"Well," she smirked, "you look handsome. Not as good as the original, of course, but I think I can learn to live with it."
Naruto laughed, though the sound had an edge of fatigue to it. "I'm glad you approve. Can you take a look?"
"Of course, just a second," Hinata said as she made a hand seal. "Byakugan."
Her range of vision increased exponentially, expanding outwards for miles in every direction. She took some time to steady herself against the sense of vertigo and strangeness that accompanied the activation of her eyes before focusing on Naruto.
"You're…it's hard to describe. I can't see through your transformation like I would be able to normally, but…when I focus intently on you, you become blurry, but only slightly." She paused for a moment. "Considering how proficient I've become with these eyes, I doubt most of my clan would even be capable of noticing it, no matter how hard they tried. Still…" She turned towards the direction of the village, "though I doubt they'd activate their eyes within the village just to study us, be careful of the stronger members of my clan. My father, Neji nii-san and maybe a handful of my other relatives…they may be able to see through our disguise. There's no way they'd guess the truth, but still, I'd rather them not become suspicious of us."
"I guess that's not too surprising," Naruto said, face pensive, "but do you think it's worth the risk?"
"It's not perfect, but in a village filled with Hyuga, it's the best anyone could ask for, so I do think it's worth it. Besides, it's not as if we have much of a choice."
"Good point. Well then," he added, becoming excited, "that means it's your turn."
"What do I do?" She questioned.
"Imagine what you want your appearance to look like and how you want to sound, just like you would when performing a normal transformation, and keep the image firmly at the front of your mind as I apply the seal. After it's applied, you simply will it to activate by channeling chakra to the seal and having conscious desire to switch to your alternate appearance. You deactivate it the same way."
Hinata thought for a minute, deciding on an appearance that she thought would be appropriate.
"Ready," She said.
Naruto nodded before beginning the same set of hand seals he had used before. Once he finished, his hand began to glow again.
"Metamorphosis," he murmured again as he placed his hand to her left shoulder.
Immediately she felt an odd sensation. She felt as if her body had somehow become water. Constantly flowing and moving, never staying in exactly the same shape for more than an instant. It wasn't an unpleasant feeling, it was just…odd. And then the feeling suddenly ceased and as she looked at her shoulder she saw a design identical to her husband's.
Naruto began to rock on his heels, steadying himself against the next to him with one arm. He seemed utterly exhausted.
"Are you okay?" She asked him cautiously.
"Yeah…Yeah, I'll be fine. Like I said, the seal is tiring to create."
Tiring is an understatement, Hinata mused as she looked him over, taking in his weary appearance and ragged breathing, he looks about ready to fall over!
After a few moments, Naruto had managed to catch his breath. "Well don't keep me waiting," he said, beaming, "let me see!"
That man… she thought, rolling her eyes inwardly. You'd think he'd have learned to take these sorts of situations more seriously by now!
Sighing inwardly, Hinata began her transformation.
Around her there was a large explosion of smoke through which she couldn't see.
As the smoke cleared, she found Naruto staring at her.
"Well, how do I look?" she asked nervously, not missing that her voice had changed to how she had imagined it as well.
He seemed to fumble for something to say. "Gorgeous…" he whispered, "but not as good as you normally look, I was just caught off guard!" he added hurriedly.
Hinata felt her cheeks flush slightly.
She held her hair in front of her eyes. It had a silvery-white hue, just as she'd imagined it before he'd placed the seal on her, and fell past her shoulders in a fashion similar to her original hairstyle. Her skin, she noticed, was a bit darker than it was before, as if it had been tanned slightly.
She took a kunai out of her tool pouch and caught a reflection of the rest of her appearance. Her face, like her Naruto's, had become slightly more angular. Her eyes, however, were quite different. They were no longer stark white, and now had visible irises of a deep violet color.
After a moment, she smiled.
"Well, I'm glad you like it," Hinata said as she put her kunai away.
"Now that our disguises are taken care of, is there anything else we need to do before we go to the village?"
She considered it, but couldn't think of anything else. "I think we should be fine," she said, "Though the headbands will have to go," she reminded him as she took off her hitai-ate and stored it into her pouch.
"Thanks for reminding me," Naruto said, doing the same with his own forehead protector. "When we get there, I'm sure the old man will give us an audience. He always was willing to hear people out and he's not about to turn down new ninja. Still, there's no way that he's ever left alone with strangers or that anyone will blindly believe we're really who we say we are…which we aren't. I'm guessing he always has two or three ANBU somewhere in addition to the regular guards, just in case. Can you take care of them while I seal the room?"
Hinata raised an eyebrow. "You do remember who you're talking to, right?" She teased with a smirk.
Naruto laughed, "You know what I mean. Besides, it's not like I could do it…not quietly at least…"
Hinata chuckled as well, "I know, Naruto. You have many strong points, but subtlety has never been one of them."
"Well," He began, "We should probably make our way over to the—"He stopped, abruptly staring off into space.
"Naruto? Naruto!" Hinata said, waving her hand in front of his face.
He sighed, "Sorry about that. It looks like we have a problem."
"He can explain it better than I can." After Naruto finished, his transformed face took on animalistic features as his eye's turned red.
"Girl," A familiar voice growled.
"Kurama. What's wrong?"
"My power..." He paused, "it's…gone."
Hinata froze, eyes narrowing "gone?" she questioned, quietly.
"Yes. Like the toad warned, the jutsu has had a…effect on me. I've been attempting to gather my power since before you regained consciousness, but it seems that this trip has drained me somehow…I cannot give Naruto any power right now, nor can I regenerate my own."
Perfect, she thought, another problem. Naruto is powerful in his own right, but without Kurama to help right now, countering Madara is going to be much more difficult.
"You don't have any good news I'm guessing?"
"There is one thing. Like I told the runt, my power should come back gradually in time."
"How much time?" She asked.
Kurama looked away "…Months? Years? I cannot be sure. All I know is that it will be a long time before I can grant Naruto the level of power I could before. Until then, I will do what I can. Try to not get killed while I recover, though; I've just begun to tolerate you two slightly more than other humans."
With that, Kurama was gone and Naruto's face returned to normal.
Hinata sighed, "Damnit…"
"Yeah, this is definitely going to make things harder," Naruto replied. "Still, there's not much we can do about it, so it's probably better to just not worry."
"You're right," Hinata agreed, though she was still concerned. "Let's just focus on what we can do right now."
"That's my girl!" Naruto grinned, though it didn't seem quite as confident as it normally would.
Hinata laughed, her apprehension melting away just a bit, Everything will be fine, as long as we're together.
"Let's go," she said, motioning towards the village.
Naruto nodded, and with that, they were off.
Naruto walked down the main street of the village, captivated by sights he'd never expected to see again.
Well, that was easier than I'd expected it to be, he thought.
Kotetsu and Izumo had been surprisingly willing to let them into the village. They'd simply sent a messenger to the Hokage tower and told them to go there to await an audience.
I guess this is what it means to live in peace. I'd almost forgotten…
He looked over to his side. Hinata seemed just as out of place as he was.
"It's been so long it surprises me," he whispered.
"I feel the same, but...It's nice," she said smiling.
Naruto smiled as well. He couldn't disagree; it had been a long time since he had felt such a sense of solace.
"HEY! GET BACK HERE!" someone shouted.
"You'll never catch me!" a child shouted back.
Naruto looked towards the commotion.
Hinata laughed next to him, "It can't be…"
"It is," Naruto said, facepalming.
Running through the street right towards them was a young boy with bright blond hair, carrying a bucket of paint and a brush.
He ran past them laughing happily as he was chased by a pair of older ninja.
"I guess we know when we got sent back to now…" Naruto said, embarrassed.
"I'm impressed you haven't gotten caught by those two yet."
"Well," he chuckled, "I did have a lot of practice at pulling those pranks off. That one was definitely one of my favorites though."
"WHAT ARE YOU DOING NARUTO?!" a familiar voice yelled.
"Until that part," Naruto sighed.
"Was that Iruka-sensei?" She asked.
"Yeah, he was usually the one who caught me. He always seemed to know where I was somehow…" Naruto trailed off.
Just then, they arrived at the Hokage tower.
"It's just like I remembered it. Feels like old times," Hinata said, "Are you ready?"
"As much as I'll ever be. If nothing else, it'll be good to see the old man again," Naruto said.
He walked inside, Hinata right beside him.
Honestly, Sarutobi thought, sighing, sometimes I wonder if I spend more time filling out paperwork than actually watching over my village.
The Third Hokage lit his pipe once again as he sat back in his chair.
And today would have had such a light load, too, if Naruto hadn't decided to vandalize an entire mountain, he thought with annoyance. What am I going to do with that boy? I know he wants attention, but right now all he's doing is wasting his potential.
"Hokage-sama," a man said, opening the door to the room, "The two ninja from Whirlpool have arrived."
"Thank you, Genma, please send them in."
"Yes sir!" Genma replied.
Well, he thought, at least this will be a welcome diversion. It's been sometime since I've met anyone from Uzushiogakure, and even longer since any asked to join our ranks. And an Uzumaki…perhaps I should introduce them to Naruto if nothing else.
As he contemplated this development, two individuals (a couple he recalled), entered the room.
The man was striking. Sarutobi did not miss the characteristic red hair of the Uzumaki clan, as well as his piercing blue eyes. He wore a black cloak that seemed strangely similar to the one Sarutobi's successor had worn, though that couldn't be anything more than a coincidence. Strangely, however, the man's entire demeanor, while powerful, seemed to also hold a hint of playful mischievousness about him. He couldn't quite put his finger on why, but it somehow reminded him of another red haired Uzumaki that he hadn't thought about in a long time.
The woman, on the other hand, seemed to complement him perfectly. She had flowing, silvery-white, hair and glowing violet eyes. She was more graceful than he was, but the Hokage had no doubt that she was his equal in strength and ability.
Both of them exuded a quiet sense of power and confidence. Furthermore, though he doubted many would be able to notice it, both of those in front of him had the unmistakable bearing of one who was experienced. Not just in training or fighting, but in war as well. These were individuals who knew the true meaning of loss and sacrifice. However, Sarutobi had seen veterans of the Third War who seemed to carry less of a weight on their shoulders than the two before him and he wondered what, exactly, they had experienced to make them this way in a time of peace.
Oddest of all, the Hokage noted, was how they looked at him. Though he only saw their reactions for a second before they were hidden, for some reason both looked as if they had seen a ghost.
"Uzumaki Sora and Uzumaki Naomi, correct? I am Sarutobi Hiruzen, the Third Hokage. I must say, it is a pleasure to see survivors of your clan alive and well. It has been quite some time since I've had the chance to meet with one of you."
Sora and Naomi bowed to him.
"It's a pleasure to speak to you as well, though…not one I'd have ever expected to have," Sora said.
"So," the Hokage replied, moving past the oddity of his statement, "what brings you to Konoha? From what I understand, you wanted to join us?"
"That and…another reason," he said.
He looked towards his companion, Naomi, and she nodded at him.
"Sorry, Hokage-sama, but we need to speak with you privately," she said.
Immediately, the woman began to move. The veins around the woman's eyes bulged out and she began performing a series of hand seals. It happened so quickly that Sarutobi couldn't react in time to stop them. As the woman finished, the Hokage felt a wave of power flow throughout the room. Just as she finished, the man threw a set of tags around the room, one for each of the four cardinal directions.
He waited a few seconds, and then puffed one last time on his pipe before putting it down. "Fuinjutsu, eh?" he asked. "It appears to be quite skillfully done. I take it no one can hear or see us in here?"
The man inclined his head. "You are correct."
"Well, considering that no one has come rushing in here, it looks like you've managed put three of my ANBU members, in addition to my normal guards, under a genjutsu just long enough to seal the room, but not long enough for them to notice it. I must say, I'm impressed," he said as he rose unhurriedly from his chair.
At this comment, the woman smirked. "Well, I did have an excellent teacher," she said.
"I don't doubt that; it's rare to find a genjutsu master of such talent." He paused, "You know, it's been quite some time since I've had an attempt on my life. I do wish you'd come some other time, though, I've had a long few hours," he sighed. "Well let's get on with it, I don't have all day."
At this, the two strangers shared a look. Then the man burst into laughter.
"What are you laughing at?" Sarutobi asked, confused. Of all the actions he could imagine of an assassin facing a Kage level opponent, laughing seemed the least likely of all of them.
Sora grinned. "Now that you've mentioned it, I do wonder how well I'd match up to you. However, if we wanted to kill you, do you really think we'd walk into your office in broad daylight to do it?"
Sarutobi narrowed his eyes. "Is there any other reason a random stranger would have for putting a seal on my office so my guards don't come rushing in?"
"He has a point," Naomi said, shrugging, "so much for trying not to look like assassins."
"I guess you're right," he replied to her. "We should probably just show him."
"Show me what? What are you talking about?" Sarutobi asked.
To this, Sora just smiled. Then there was a burst of smoke and two new people were standing in front of him.
"No…it can't be…" the Hokage whispered. He paused, his thoughts in complete disarray "…Minato?" he asked, unable to hide his shock.
After his initial surprise, Sarutobi brought himself to focus on the woman standing next to this man, finally noticing her stark white eyes. "…And are you a Hyuga? What is the meaning of this?"
The strange man, for the Hokage was now certain that Sora was not his true name, looked away. "Well you have one of us right, Old Man, she is a Hyuga, but no, I am not my father."
The Hokage frowned at the way he was addressed, trying to mask his confusion. "Father? Do you really expect me to believe that Minato had a son?"
The man turned back towards him, grinning. "Of course, Old Man, you did take care of me for the first twelve years of my life after all. I'm Naruto and this," he said, placing his hand on the woman's shoulder, "Is Hinata."
The Hokage narrowed his eyes once again, not bothering to hide his skepticism. He did see the resemblance. Indeed, the man looked much like what Sarutobi would have imagined Naruto to look within the next 15 years or so. However, ignoring the fact that this man also had what appeared to be a Byakugan for one eye, he was obviously not the same 12 year old that he constantly had to look after. Furthermore, though he claimed his companion was the Hyuga heiress, she, too, was obviously not the same, shy, 12 year old girl he had come to know. Still, he admitted, for this man to know that Naruto is Minato's son…or perhaps he's just making assumptions based on their similar appearances and is fishing for confirmation?
"Do you really expect me to believe that two twelve year olds from my village lied to get an audience with me, placed a genjutsu on all of my guards, and managed to seal this room? Without even the slightest bit of trouble?" Sarutobi asked dryly.
"Not exactly…" the man said, looking away again.
"He is Naruto and I am Hinata," the woman chimed in, "but…not the ones that you know. It may sound ridiculous, but…we're from the future," she said, almost sounding as if she herself was unsure of the truth of what she was saying.
The Hokage's first thought was to simply scoff at them and ask for the truth, but…for some reason he couldn't do that just yet. He had seen and heard strange things in his life before, though this was without a doubt the most far-fetched. However, if what the woman said was true, then everything that they were saying, all of the inconsistencies, would make sense.
"Why should I believe you?" He hazarded, ignoring the absurdity of even considering their claim.
Suddenly, the man's face changed, contorting into a feral snarl, "Because, Hiruzen," a new voice spoke, "if you don't believe them, your precious village will burn."
The Hokage froze. This presence, he thought to himself, no genjutsu or ninjutsu would be able to mimic it so perfectly…
"You're the Kyuubi…" he stated, taking a step back from the possessed man. "So…that really must be Naruto…" Then a terrible thought occurred to him. "And now you're possessing him?! How did you manage to break the seal?!"
At this accusation, the demon just scoffed, "Please," he said, rolling his eyes. "The brat himself unlocked that seal a decade ago." He turned his head towards Hinata, "I've proven your identities so I'm done talking with this fool, you two can finish dealing with him."
With that, the man, who the Hokage now had no choice but to admit was Naruto, returned to normal.
"Sorry," Naruto apologized, "Kurama does that sometimes."
At this point, the Hokage could honestly say that he had never been more confused and dumbfounded in his entire life.
"I believe you," he murmured, slumping back into his chair.
"You…you do?" Naruto asked, blinking in surprise. "Even we'll admit that this all sounds pretty impossible."
"Yes, well, impossible or not, there's little other choice considering that the last I heard, the Kyuubi was still locked behind his seal and his jinchuuriki was busy running around vandalizing monuments." The Hokage sighed, "I'd rather you'd simply been assassins, it would have been easier. So tell me, why have you two come back, Naruto, Hinata? I didn't even know such a thing was possible."
The two before him instantly took on the appearance of individuals who were very old and very tired, and from seeing their faces Sarutobi could tell that they had gone through worse than even the survivors of the Third War.
Naruto sighed heavily, "War, Old Man," he whispered. "A war that razed the entire world to the ground."
For a moment Sarutobi was silent; thinking while the implications of what Naruto said dawned on him. "Why?" he asked, "What happened?"
Naruto simply covered his eyes with his hand, growing a bitter smile. "Why? To feed the ambitions of a single madman," he said, letting out a sad laugh. "So many dead, and in the end, all we did was slow him down…" As he lowered his hand, the Hokage both sadness and rage in his expression.
"You've heard of Akatsuki?" Hinata asked as she looked towards Naruto, laying a hand on his shoulder.
"Scattered reports, mostly from Jiraiya and…" he trailed off.
"We know the truth about Itachi," Naruto supplied.
"I suppose I shouldn't be surprised," the Hokage replied. "But yes, I've received reports from Jiraiya and the occasional correspondence from Itachi, but other than their major objective I know little about the organization. Why? What do they have to do with this?"
"They're the cause," Hinata said sadly, looking back towards the Hokage. "Their leader is Uchiha Madara, and he was winner of the Fourth Shinobi World War."
"Madara?" Sarutobi asked, frowning, "He's still alive? I knew he was strong, but to challenge our entire village and win…"
"Not just our village," Naruto said. "All five of the great villages joined together to fight him."
"All five?!" The Hokage exclaimed, astounded that the formation such an alliance, as well as its defeat, could occur only a few years into the future. "How could he possibly have defeated the power of all of the villages combined?"
This time Hinata answered. "He couldn't normally. Though we'd killed most of the members of Akatsuki by then, they'd still managed to capture the first seven of the tailed beasts. They'd also managed to obtain portions of the chakra from the Hachibi and Kurama. Somehow Madara was able to combine them to recreate the Juubi and become its jinchuuriki, effectively becoming a second Sage of the Six Paths."
"He claimed his goal was to use all of this power to cast a genjutsu on the entire world," Naruto continued. "For some reason though, he was never actually able to do it. Unless he changed his mind or was just lying the entire time, we think it must have had something to do with him being incomplete because he lacked Eight and Nine Tails themselves. Either way, for the last ten years our army struggled to fight back and find some way to defeat him…but we never could. Sending us back in time was the best chance we've had since the war first went downhill."
Ten years? The Hokage thought to himself sadly, I became Hokage to protect these children from the horrors of war. It seems that I have failed them terribly on that account.
"Uchiha Madara, the Sage of the Six Paths, the Ten-Tails." Sarutobi whispered, "This all sounds so impossible, but…it's true isn't it?"
Naruto and Hinata both nodded.
"How long do we have?" he asked.
"Thankfully, Akatsuki didn't begin to move in earnest until a couple of years from now in our time, and even then it was still quite a while before the war itself broke out, so we'll be able to prepare," Hinata answered. "However, there are still other problems and dangers which hurt the Leaf that we hope to prevent. Those began during the upcoming chunin exams."
"I see, well it is good to know that we still have some time. However, I must also ask about the Kyuubi – Kurama you called him…did you really unlock his seal?"
"I did," Naruto replied. "But to be honest, I trust Kurama with my life. There's no way I would have survived this past decade without his help."
Then Hinata spoke up. "Furthermore, Kurama didn't attack the village of his own will. It was Madara who'd initially released him from Kushina. He also used his Sharingan to control Kurama and force him to attack the village."
"I see…" The Hokage murmured. "That certainly does answer some questions I had from that night…"
As he studied the faces of those in front of him, he remembered something.
"Also, Naruto. That eye of yours…" Sarutobi finished, letting the question remain unspoken.
Naruto reflexively reached up towards his left eye, before turning away. Hinata looked towards him with a sad expression on her face.
"It was a parting gift…from Hanabi." he answered quietly.
Sarutobi was quiet, studying the young man for a moment.
His grief is still fresh, he obviously hasn't had that eye for very long, but…I can't help but wonder why he seems to feel so guilty.
"What do you plan to do?" The Hokage asked them, changing the subject.
Naruto looked towards him resolutely, determination evident on his face. "We'll fight. We'll win." He smiled, "I'm not someone who gives up after just one try, even time can't stop me."
Sarutobi nodded. Perhaps he hasn't changed as much as I'd thought. I'd never have expected myself to feel this way, but I'm happy for that.
"You've grown Naruto," Sarutobi complimented. "Tell me, did you ever achieve your dream?"
At this Naruto chuckled, rubbing the back of his head in embarrassment. "To tell you the truth, Old Man, I never made it past genin."
"Genin?!" Sarutobi asked, shocked. I was almost certain that he'd really managed to become Hokage!
Hinata just sighed. "No, he didn't, but that's only because he spent two years training with Jiraiya-san. After the war began, we didn't bother wasting time on unnecessary titles. But for some reason," she said, rolling her eyes as if she'd had to deal with this situation too many times before, "he likes to conveniently forget that he was the field commander of our army, effectively making him the equivalent of a Kage in all but name. We simply haven't had an official Kage from any village since Tsunade-sama and the others died ten years ago."
"Come on Hinata-chan!" Naruto griped playfully, "You know I haven't cared about being a genin in ages!"
Sarutobi nodded distractedly in acceptance of Hinata's explanation, barely even noticing Naruto's response. "Training with Jiraiya? And Tsunade as Hokage?" he whispered. Then he quickly reined in his curiosity. "I apologize, I'm getting off track," he said, looking towards the couple in front of him. "I'm sorry, but at this rate our conversation will continue for the entire day. We can discuss more of your knowledge of the future later, but you should leave soon so that my guards don't become too suspicious. First, though, tell me, did you two only come here to inform me of these upcoming events?"
Hinata shook her head. "While we thought it best to hide our true identities from all but you for now, we actually would like to rejoin the village, to help with both this and other matters."
"I understand." Sarutobi said, smiling, "Konoha would be more than happy to have you. The cover you've developed was quite clever. There shouldn't be too many questions about Whirlpool shinobi joining our village."
"So how exactly will this work?" Naruto asked curiously.
"Standard procedure for joining Konoha is rather simple. All shinobi who wish to join the village only need to obtain my approval, which I will give to you. After that, regardless of ability, all of these shinobi must serve a mandatory probationary period as a genin before they are eligible for promotion." The Hokage sighed, "I apologize for this, especially given the fact that you are already Leaf shinobi and are obviously among the most capable in the village, but I do not want to draw too much attention to you by excusing you from this requirement."
"Don't worry," Naruto assured him, "Like Hinata said, we haven't put much emphasis on rank in a long time. Besides," he added as he looked out the window towards the village "I'm just glad to see my home again."
"I'm glad you understand. Still, know that I will promote you as soon as I am able; I wouldn't be so cruel as to make you two take the chunin exams to progress. Furthermore, despite your official status as genin, you will still be assigned higher level missions due to your abilities and be compensated accordingly. Given the circumstances, I will also give you the autonomy to operate independently and do what you deem necessary to prevent this war that you've told me of. In the meantime, I'll trust you two to inform me of any important events or developments."
"Of course," Hinata replied, "you can count on us."
"Before you leave, we'll have to make sure you have enough to live on for the time being. Take this," he said as he pulled a few envelopes from his desk, "These are the equivalent to what you'd get for completing several S-rank missions. You'll find enough money in there to support yourselves for the next few months while you get settled down and begin to complete your own missions."
Naruto eyed the envelopes apprehensively, "Old Man…"
"I insist," Sarutobi said. "Besides, I'm sure you've more than earned it through the past ten years."
"Thank you," Naruto said as he took the envelopes and put them away.
"Thank you Hokage-sama," Hinata repeated.
"We also need to find you somewhere to live as well. The village keeps empty housing for occasions such as this. You can take one of those to live in as long as you need to," he said as he began to look through his desk for a list of vacant homes. "However, you should probably live together since I believe that being married was also a part of your cover. I hope you don't mind."
At this statement, both of them fidgeted in embarrassment.
Sarutobi looked up, confused. "Is something wrong?" He asked.
"Actually…" Naruto began before trailing off quickly.
"We really are married, Hokage-sama," Hinata finished, blushing slightly.
Sarutobi stared at them for a moment, and then laughed. "Really now?" he asked with amusement. "Well I can't say I'm too surprised, I suppose. The Hinata I know has been following Naruto around for the past few years after all."
"Following me around?" Naruto asked with a puzzled look on his face. "What are you talking abo–"
"So yes, sharing a home won't be a problem," Hinata interrupted hurriedly; slightly redder than she had been seconds before.
The Hokage smiled at the two of them. Yes, he thought to himself, now that I think about it, those two do work well together.
"Here we are," the Hokage said, finally finding the set of papers he was looking for.
He handed the papers over to the couple and waited silently as they looked through and discussed them.
"We'll take this one," Naruto said, pointing to one of the entries.
Sarutobi scanned through the entry. It was an apartment on the far end of the village, opposite the Hyuga estate.
"Ah. I couldn't detect it, but you're worried about your clan seeing through that henge of yours, aren't you?" he said.
Hinata nodded, "Yes. The technique we used is rather advanced, but someone skilled enough with the Byakugan may still be able to spot some abnormalities."
"I see," Sarutobi said, understanding her apprehension. "That is a danger that is best avoided, especially with your eyes. Very well, this apartment also happens to be fully furnished so that will make things easier as well." He filled out the necessary paperwork to allow the two ninja to live in the home, as well the forms necessary to grant them the status of genin within the village. "These forms contain my approval for you to become ninja of the village and to live in the apartment you chose. Take them to the personnel office downstairs and they will take care of the rest."
"Thanks for everything you're doing, Old Man," Naruto answered.
"We're very grateful," Hinata affirmed.
They both bowed.
"We'll leave for now," Naruto said, "but we'll contact you if anything comes up." He paused, "Also, it's not much to worry about, but I'm sorry about what my younger self is going to do tomorrow."
"All right…" Sarutobi said warily. I wonder what he means by that…it's probably just some prank to celebrate his final exam.
The Hokage watched as Naruto and Hinata transformed back into their disguises and took down the tags around his office. As they were about to open the door to leave, he remembered Naruto's earlier comment about never being promoted and stopped them.
"Naruto?" he asked.
Naruto and Hinata both stopped and turned towards him.
"I want you to know that I believe you would have made an excellent Hokage, had you been given the chance."
Naruto stared at him for a moment, and then grinned. "Thanks, Old Man. Really, it means a lot, but…it's alright. It doesn't matter to me whether or not I'm a Hokage; all I really care about now is saving this village."
The Hokage nodded in response and Naruto turned to go. But don't you see, Naruto? Sarutobi thought with a small smile as he watched the couple leave. That desire to save the village, regardless of fame or recognition, is exactly why you would have made such a good Hokage. I'm so proud of who you've become.
As the door closed, Sarutobi calmly picked up his pipe and lit it, his paperwork forgotten, as he pondered what this day's events meant for the future of his beloved village.
"That went well," Hinata said a few minutes after they left the building.
"Yeah," Naruto agreed, "Shikamaru was right, the old man definitely was the best person to talk to." He looked back towards the tower, "What did you do to stop them from noticing us anyway?"
"I used a subtle technique to misdirect their senses," she answered. "I only made it strong enough so that your seals wouldn't be noticed, and only held it for a moment, so none of them noticed the change."
"That's amazing," Naruto complimented her. "Sometimes I wish that I wasn't so horrible at genjutsu, it really does seem like it'd be useful."
Hinata smirked. "I have my tricks and you have yours," she reminded him teasingly, "we're a team for a reason you know."
Naruto chuckled, "Yeah, yeah, you're right."
They walked in silence for a bit longer before Hinata remembered something.
"Now that I think about it," she began as they walked through an empty side street, "why did you apologize to the Hokage right before we left?"
Naruto stopped walking and shifted uncomfortably.
She paused, looking at him. "What is it?" she pushed, becoming concerned.
"Well, uh, you see…" he trailed off.
"It has to do with how I passed the academy exam and became a genin…"
She thought for a moment, digging up old memories. "That's right…" she said, "I remember now. You failed that exam, but still managed to become a genin. You never did tell me how."
He shifted again. "Yeah, it had to do with that. I didn't want to make you angry…"
Angry? she thought to herself, Why would he be afraid that I'd get angry? Naruto may be exasperating sometimes, but I don't recall either of us ever being truly angry at the other… She raised an eyebrow at him.
"You see," he continued, responding to the unspoken question, "I sort of, may've, stolen the Scroll of Seals from the Hokage's house…"
Hinata frowned, "The scroll filled with forbidden techniques? I can't say that was smart to do," she chastised him, "but I don't know why you'd think I'd be angry about it, especially since it happened so long ago. Or at least it did for us," she amended. "Besides I've done my fair share of dumb things too."
She started to walk, but Naruto grabbed her hand and she turned to face him again.
"Err, actually there's more…" he paused. "The reason I did it was because Mizuki-sensei told me if I stole it and learned one of the techniques inside that I could graduate. That's actually how I learned the shadow clone jutsu," he added. "But Mizuki-sensei lied to me so that he could steal the scroll himself."
Hinata froze, staring wide-eyed at her husband.
Naruto hurried onward. "I didn't know that it wasn't allowed, so a bunch of ninja were sent after me. Iruka-sensei was the one who found me. Right when I was trying to explain, Mizuki-sensei came out of nowhere and tried to kill us both." Naruto looked away, "He was the one who first told me that I was the jinchuuriki for the Nine-Tails and that it was the reason why everyone hated me growing up. But Iruka-sensei said that he believed in me and I beat Mizuki-sensei to protect him. After that, he said that I graduated and could become a genin…" He finished, looking slightly afraid of how she'd react.
"Mizuki-sensei," she whispered, "I always wondered what had happened to him, but I never thought…" She clenched her fist. "He tried to kill you?! That bastard!" she growled. "I'll put nightmares so terrible in his mind that he'll wish I'd killed him instead!" She narrowed her eyes and suddenly her Byakugan activated unconsciously in reaction to her anger. "Where is he…?"
"Damn, I knew she'd be angry," He muttered, looking around to make sure no one had heard them. "Uh, Hinata…" Naruto said, "That's probably not a good idea, especially since none of this will even happen until tomorrow…Besides, if we stop Mizuki-sensei from tricking the younger me, there's no way that will change things for the better. He won't become a genin or become friends with Sasuke, Sakura and everyone else if we stop Mizuki-sensei. I'm not sure if I'd even get the chance to become friends with you," he said, looking into her eyes.
Damn it, he has a point, she thought to herself, sighing as she deactivated her eyes. "You're right. I'm sorry; I didn't really think that through all the way," she admitted, though she was still angry.
Naruto took her hand, squeezing it. "I understand. I know you're protective of me. After all, I still remember that time you almost got yourself killed saving me from Pain," he said with a grimace. "But considering how I reacted, I may be even more protective than you are…"
She nodded, remembering the stories she'd heard of Naruto's rampage after she was struck down. "I guess we'll just have to be careful with what we do sometimes," she said.
As they began to walk away, Hinata's anger was still simmering despite her acceptance of the situation.
"Naruto?" she asked as a thought came to her.
"Did you ever see Mizuki-sensei again after that night?"
"No, I didn't. Why?"
"Just because I'm not chasing after him right now doesn't mean I'll forgive him. Make no mistake, if I see ever see him again after tomorrow night, I will shatter his mind," she threatened.
"Remind me never to get on your bad side."
She smiled, "You could never get on my bad side."
She squeezed his hand a bit harder as they continued to walk through the village.
As the sun was beginning to set, Naruto and Hinata walked towards the outskirts of the village in a direction leading them away from their new apartment. Neither had actually suggested or commented on their route. There was no need to. Both had felt the same, constant, pull to their destination ever since they had arrived in the village.
"There it is," Naruto said, seeing their goal as they walked into a clearing.
In the center of the area was a large, beautiful, stone memorial.
Once they stopped in front of the structure, he watched as Hinata reached out, gently laying her hand on its face.
Our friends' names may not be on this stone, but still, I'm glad we came here, Naruto thought to himself as he bowed his head. Even if everyone's alive now, it wouldn't be right to just forget the people we knew, the ones who fought and died to give us this chance, he reflected as an image of B flashed through his mind.
They stood there for a few minutes before Naruto broke the silence. "I think everyone would have laughed at us if they had heard the crazy plan we gambled on," Naruto said, a touch of amusement in his voice.
Hinata smiled fondly, shaking her head. "I don't. Betting on this might have been foolhardy, even a bit crazy, but still…I'm sure that the others would have been proud knowing that even when things were at their darkest, we still had the courage to keep fighting. To try and defy destiny itself."
Naruto chuckled. "Well, I guess when you say it that way, it does sound more impressive. Maybe you're right."
They continued to watch the monument, content to simply stay lost in their respective thoughts.
"Well, well," a familiar voice said, "It's rare to see other visitors out here."
Naruto turned, smiling at the man, I should have guessed that he might show up here.
"Yo," the silver haired man said, "I don't think we've met. Hatake Kakashi, at your service."
"I'm Uzumaki Sora," Naruto answered, "and this is my wife, Uzumaki Naomi. We've just joined your village as genin."
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Hatake-san," Hinata added.
"The pleasure is all mine, and please feel free to call me Kakashi. We're going to be comrades after all," he replied. "Uzumaki? It's been a while since I've met one of your clan, though we do have one of your members in our village." He chuckled. "It's also been a while since I've met such obviously skilled genin, I'd forgotten about that rule for new additions."
Hinata shrugged, "It's just a rank, so we don't particularly care that much about it. We're just happy to have been accepted into the village."
"That's a good attitude to have; skill always meant more to me than rank. Anyway…" He looked behind them towards the memorial, "I'm curious. Since you've just joined us, I doubt that you're old enough to know any of the names on this stone. I wonder…why would you come here?"
"Because it's a reminder," Hinata answered, looking towards the stone. "Of others we've known and lost."
"But more than that," Naruto continued, "we came because it helps us remember that we never want to see another name have to be etched into that stone."
Kakashi was silent for a moment. "You know, I plan to test some academy students in the next few days to see if they are ready to become genin. In the off chance that they actually pass and I become their instructor, I would be honored if you would join us during training one day. I don't know who they are yet, but I get the feeling that any genin would have something to learn from you two."
Naruto frowned, "You would ask complete strangers to train with your genin?" he asked in surprise.
"Well now," Kakashi said, a hint of a smile appearing underneath his mask, "you are now Konoha shinobi and I have no reason not to trust my comrades. Besides, the reason you came here…for some reason it reminds me of my old sensei. If you are even the slightest bit like him, I would want my students to meet you."
Naruto nodded blankly at the unexpected comparison to his father. "We'll…think about it," he said honestly, looking towards Hinata who also seemed a little surprised.
"Please do," Kakashi said. "If they do pass, we will train in this area on weekdays. If not…" he shrugged, "You'll probably find me here at least. To be honest I would like to speak with you again, regardless of whether or not I have genin to train."
Naruto smiled, looking back at Kakashi, "So would I."
He turned towards Hinata and she nodded.
"Unfortunately, we have to leave now, but I'm sure we'll see you again," Naruto said.
"It was nice to meet you," Hinata added.
Kakashi nodded at them, "You as well. Good night." He gave them a lazy salute, then turned back towards the stone to begin his silent vigil.
With that, Naruto and Hinata left the clearing, walking in the direction of a home that they'd never dared hope to see again.
Here's the second chapter. It's quite a bit longer than how I'd originally envisioned it to be, but I couldn't really think of a way to split it up in a way that I liked, so I hope you all like more content. That said, I'm very happy with the response I've gotten so far and I'm glad to see that my story didn't fall through the cracks, so thanks everyone! I hope you like this chapter even more and, as always, please review with what you think!
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