A Voice From the Past
Once again, quick flashes of memory are in double parenthesis.
He sat down on his bed, thinking. Nothing had been the same since he got home. "It's too damn quiet," he grumbled in his mind. He stood and began wandering around the apartment. It seemed so...empty—Lifeless. He gritted his teeth in frustration. "GRAAAA! This is stupid! Living alone never bothered me before!" he growled as he paced around the living room. "If I'd stayed she would've treated me like a baby!" he yelled to no one. But the more he walked around, the more he felt like he was gonna crawl right out of his skin if he stayed in his old place.
Eventually Naruto wound up in front of his wall calendar. His birthday was circled in red. He gingerly touched it as he remembered his thirteenth birthday. He had been in the middle of training with Jiraiya to learn frog summoning and so hadn't been able to have a party. He had been looking forward to it to, since he'd never celebrated with anyone. "It would be nice..." he said softly. He stood there a bit, turning in a slow circle as he surveyed the apartment. A sad realization came to him and he hung his head in defeat. "This...isn't home anymore..." he said before walking back to his room.
He rummaged around under his bed for a moment before finding what he was looking for. He pulled out his backpack and once again filled it with his belongings. "No more. I don't want anymore birthdays alone."
Naruto knew where Tsunade would be—her office. He was surprised, however, to find Sakura at the same place. "Sakura-chan?"
"Hey, Naruto," Sakura greeted.
"What are you doing here?" Naruto asked.
"I've just decided to take her on as my apprentice," Tsunade said with a smile.
"Yup," Sakura said happily.
Tsunade noticed the overloaded bag on Naruto's back. "Naruto...are you...?"
Naruto smiled. "Yeah. I changed my mind. Guess I got too used to having a family," he said before his expression changed to be somewhat serious. "But you have to promise that I'll still have the same freedom I had at my apartment. No bedtimes, no keeping me from dangerous missions...any of that stuff."
Tsunade smiled. "Of course not. I know you're too independent for that."
Sakura, for her part, was confused. "What...just happened here?"
Tsunade laughed. "I'm sorry, Sakura. Of course you didn't know. I'm adopting this brat over here," she said as she ruffled Naruto's hair.
Sakura smiled widely in delight. "Really?! Naruto, this is wonderful! Congratulations!" she exclaimed as she gave the boy a hug.
"Thanks, Sakura-chan," Naruto replied, blushing a bit. He suddenly remembered a piece of his conversation with Hinata from the other night.
(("What do you want to do when you're older, Hinata-chan?" Naruto asked.
"I think I'd like to be a medical ninja," Hinata replied shyly.))
Tsunade sighed. "Yes?"
"Do you think you'd have time to train two girls at once?" Naruto asked hopefully.
"Two? Who else are you thinking of?"
"Hinata-chan. She told me she wanted to be a medical nin someday."
Tsunade sighed thoughtfully. "Hmmm. I suppose."
"But," Tsunade said, holding up a finger to tell Naruto to be quiet, "if she can't keep up with Sakura then she'll have to call it quits. I don't have the time to help her catch up."
Naruto nodded in affirmation. "Nm!"
"Alright. Now, why don't the two of you go home? I need to get back to work. Sakura, we'll start your training on Saturday. I should be done with these damn papers by then," she said, gesturing to the many large stacks of paper on her desk.
Sakura nodded. "I'll see you later, Naruto," she said as she walked out the door.
"Bye," Naruto replied. He hiked up his backpack and turned to Tsunade. "Later, Granny!"
"Think I'll ever get a 'Mom' out of you?" Tsunade said with a wry smile.
"I wouldn't count on it," Naruto laughed. With that, he walked out the door.
Tsunade sighed and shook her head, then sat down to resume her daily grind.
Naruto finished putting his belongings back in his new room and went downstairs to make some ramen. Once he got to the kitchen he started going through the pantry, trying to find the delectable noodles. Izumi walked in and made a face when she saw someone was in her domain.
Naruto turned around. "Sama? I'm not a Sama."
Izumi eh hemmed. "Yes you are. You're the son of a Hokage."
Naruto was confused. "How'd you know about that?"
Izumi smiled. "Tsunade-sama called ahead to tell the staff that you were coming back and what the situation was. She also said to tell you to," she eh hemmed again, "And I quote; Keep your big mouth shut about it until she makes an official announcement."
Naruto frowned and growled under his breath.
"And by the way, Naruto-sama—I am the cook. If you want ramen, ask me and I'll make you some. If you make your own food I won't have a job," she said with a small laugh.
"So what am I supposed to do?" Naruto asked as he scratched the end of his nose.
"Read. Tsunade-sama said there's some jutsu books in the living room that she wants you to study," Izumi answered.
Naruto's expression was one of irritation and defeat. He sighed and left the room.
Naruto stood in the center of the living room, scanning the area in search of the books he needed. The first ones his eyes came to rest on were a small pile sitting on the coffee table. "Those must be it," he said as he sat down on the couch and picked up the top book.
Tsunade had just finished signing a document when she felt the need to see Sandaime's letter again. She pulled open the drawer she kept it in and saw it wasn't in there. "Where...?" Suddenly her eyes widened and her heart sank into her stomach. "No..." she said in a horrified whisper, remembering how she had hastily hid the letter under the books on the table. Quickly, she dialed the number for her home. "Please don't let me be too late," she thought.
Nabiki was walking past the phone in the hall when she heard it ring. She picked up the receiver. "Hello? Yes, this is Nabiki. Oh hi Tsunade-sama." :Pause: "Naruto? No, I don't know where he is. Okay, I'll check. I'll see you when you get here. Bye."
She hung up the phone and ran toward the living room. "She sounded so urgent. I wonder why she doesn't want him reading them," she thought in reference to the books Tsunade had told her to stop him from reading.
When she reached her destination she saw Naruto sitting on the couch. "Naruto-kun," she called. No answer. She walked around to the front of the couch. Naruto was holding a piece of paper and seemed frozen in place. His face wore an expression of extreme disbelief. "Naruto...kun...?"
Tsunade ran as fast as her legs would allow her. "How could I be so stupid?!" she thought, berating herself. Her home came into view. "Thank God the house is so close to my office. Please let me be in time!" she said as she put on an adrenaline induced burst of speed.
Tsunade burst through the living room door. "Naruto!" she yelled in desperation. She realized immediately upon seeing him that she was too late. She slowly walked up to him. "Naruto...? Naruto, say something...please," she said as her eyes misted over. She reached out a hand and put it on Naruto's shoulder. It was immediately slapped away. "Naruto..."
"How long...?" Naruto choked out, his voice shaking with rage.
"How long, what?" Tsunade questioned, softly.
"How long have you known...?" Naruto spat out, squeezing the life out of the paper in his right hand.
Tsunade closed her eyes in emotional pain. "Less than a week. Sandaime said that I could tell you when I felt you were ready to know. I...I just wasn't sure how to determine you that you were and..."
Naruto turned his eyes up to look at his adoptive mother and exploded. "WHAT RIGHT DID HE HAVE TO NOT TELL ME WHO MY GOD DAMN FATHER WAS?!"
"HE WAS AFRAID!" Tsunade snapped back.
Naruto's face twisted into snarl and his teeth were gritted. "Afraid? Afraid of WHAT?!"
Tsunade regained a bit of her composure, but her voice was still raised. "Do you have any idea how many enemies your father had?!" Naruto continued stewing, sucking in breaths through his teeth as he tried to hold back his tears. "If everyone knew you were the son of Yondaime there would have been people trying to kill you in your crib!!"
Nabiki gasped and her hand flew to her mouth. "He's the son of the Fourth?!"
The tension in Naruto's face subsided a bit. "Why?!" he asked as his tears began to flow. "Why couldn't he at least tell me...?!" he cried. He felt he had been betrayed by at least two people who were dear to him and it hurt. His anger ebbed away as it was replaced a weary sadness.
"He was afraid you might tell someone. Either during a fight or when people made fun of you," Tsunade answered gently as she sat down on the couch next to her son. "And, since it's your dream to become Hokage yourself, Sandaime believed it was that much more important not to tell you. Please understand, Naruto. He didn't want you to be killed."
Naruto sighed, pulled his legs up to his chest and quietly rested his arms and head on them. It was then that the truth of his heritage sunk in. "I'm...the son...of a Hokage..." he said softly. After a moment excitement began to fill every fiber of his being. "I'm the son of a Hokage!!" he said with a short laugh of joy.
Tsunade smiled in relief. This wasn't turning out to be the tragedy she was afraid of. "Twice over even," she remarked in reference to her adopting him.
Naruto was grinning from ear to ear. In the space of a few minutes he went from being some random orphan to being the son of the most revered Hokage in the history of the village. He turned to Tsunade. He suddenly had a million questions. "Do you have any pictures of him? What about my Mom? What's my real last name?!" he blurted out in one breath.
Tsunade held up a hand to indicate that Naruto should calm down. "Hang on a minute. Before I tell you anything, you have to promise me that not a word of what you found out today leaves this room. And that goes for you too, Nabiki."
"Hai, Tsunade-sama," Nabiki answered.
Naruto's face fell a bit. "I can't even tell Sakura-chan and Sasuke?"
Tsunade shook her head. "Hmmmm—I suppose. Just make sure they know that it's extremely important that no one else is told." She turned to Nabiki. "Naruto and I are going to be my office for a while. Make sure no one disturbs us unless it's urgent." She smiled at Naruto. "We have some memories to discuss."
Naruto smiled broadly.
Tsunade shut the door. "Sit down," she said waving a hand toward the small couch on the east wall.
Naruto did as instructed. Tsunade walked over to her desk and unlocked the left drawer. From the drawer she pulled a scroll and a small photo album. She sat next to Naruto on the couch and handed him the scroll.
"What's this?" Naruto asked as he turned the scroll over in his hands.
"A letter from your father," Tsunade said gently.
"A letter from my father...?" Naruto froze. He felt like he couldn't breathe.
"Naruto?" Tsunade said, trying to break the boy out of his trance.
Naruto blinked back his thoughts. "Ah...y...yeah," he said as he gingerly began to open the scroll. He unrolled the parchment and began to read:
If you're reading this, then the Third must believe you are finally ready. I commend you on gaining the strength of will needed to keep your lineage a secret.
I don't have much time left. I must perform a jutsu tonight that will mean my death. I regret that you won't have a mother either. At this point in the letter Yondaime's writing had become a bit slurred. She died in battle tonight, fighting the Kyuubi. Naruto closed his eyes as some tears leaked out. He knew his father was dead. Sandaime had told him that much. But he had always secretly hoped his mother was alive somewhere. I'm so sorry, Naruto. I tried to keep her safe for you. But she was an anbu captain and she felt she was needed.
You look so much like me. Your hands are so small. I wish...I wish I could hold them as you grow. Just to know I won't see you graduate from the academy or be there on your wedding day. I'd rather die a thousand times than feel this pain.
I'm sealing the Kyuubi within you. Hopefully, its power will protect you in my place. Sandaime has convinced me that it's best if you don't know who you really are until you are able to keep it a secret. There are many people who would try to kill you if they knew you are my son. I hope you won't hate me for the pain you'll no doubt endure from the people of Konoha. Don't judge them too harshly, little one. They've been through hell today. So many deaths...
Please know that I love you and, even though she barely got to meet you, your mother also loved you very much. Her name was Kushina. She was a very beautiful lady and she had such a kind heart. I wish you could've known her. There were some dark spots on the paper where the ink had run a bit. Naruto could only assume they were tears.
I'm not sure what else to write. There's so much I want to tell you. I know I'm the Hokage and that I must make sacrifices for Konoha, but you shouldn't have to. Please forgive me for what I must do.
Sandaime just told me that the sealing circle is complete. You look like a small angel with all the candles around you.
Be a good boy. Try not to cause too much trouble. If you're anything like me, then I know whoever takes care of you is going to be driven insane. Treat the ladies with respect. Not that I'm the one to talk though. At least, not until your mother straightened me out.
I have to go. I love you so very much.
P.S- If you ever run into a man named Jiraiya, don't listen to a damned thing he says. He'll turn you into a pervert.
Naruto laughed a little as he wiped away his tears. Tsunade looked at him strangely. "What is it?" she asked.
Naruto chuckled a little. "He told me not to listen to Erro Sennin."
Tsunade found this so amusing that she laughed till she could barely breathe. Once she managed to stop herself she opened the photo album that had come dangerously close to falling off her lap. "I've had these for a long time. I never thought they'd be so important."
Naruto just stared at the first picture. Minato was sitting in a tree looking down at whoever was taking the picture.
Naruto touched the image of his father. "I wish you were here..." He turned the page and saw Minato standing next to a woman with short red hair. Something about her just screamed 'tomboy'.
"That would be your mother," Tsunade answered a little sadly.
"Wait...if you knew my parents, then why didn't you know who I was?" Naruto asked suspiciously.
Tsunade swallowed. "The Third told us that you died when your mother was killed. And that Minato gave you the name Uzumaki to honor Kushina," Tsunade sighed heavily. "Minato and Kushina were very close friends of mine. If I had known you were their child, I would never have left Konoha," she said as she slowly clenched her fist. She suddenly sat bolt upright, eyes wide. "Wait a minute! Naruto, you have a cousin!" she exclaimed excitedly.
"What?!" Naruto yelled, dropping the photo album to the floor.
"Well, first cousin once removed, actually," Tsunade corrected her self.
"Who?!" Naruto asked urgently.
"Doctor Tokiha is Kushina's cousin, so he's also your cousin," Tsunade finished with a smile.
Naruto smiled softly. "So much family...all in one day..."
Tsunade put her arms around Naruto and squeezed him gently. "Always, Brat—From now on you'll always have family."
...TO BE CONTINUED
Wow. My muse was on caffeine or something. Lol. Hope ya liked it. And please review! :) I really, really wanna know what you guys thought of the letter.
Please read and review. I love reviews! Thanks!
Rachel: I never liked the Hinata Naruto pairing, I prefer Hina/Kiba, but this is too great! You've opened my eyes to the utter CUTENESS of them as a couple! WAI WAI! I'm always so happy when I get someone to like NaruHina. :)