He could hear Kyuubi snarling and snapping his jaws all the way from the end of the tunnels where he always started his short walk to the main chamber of his soul. Tiredly making his way to the giant fox demon, Naruto rubbed his face. He needed a good nap, and perhaps a good drink to forget what happened to Hinata. He choked quietly as the memories of his daughter's death flooded him.
"Kit." His almost affectionate nickname from the fox rang out, startling the blonde. He hadn't realized that he had walked all the way into the chamber. Greif always put spaces in his attention.
Gazing up at the fox, Naruto gasped. The usually arrogant and regal being was now fading. He looked no more substantial than smoke. Naruto held his breath; he didn't want to blow Kyuubi away by accident. Despite being a murderous demon, the two had grown close, in an 'I can't kill you so I might as well make the best of it' way. Kyuubi lowered his muzzle on to his paws so that he could look the blonde in the face.
"What happened to you? What happened to me, actually? Why am I still alive?" Naruto asked, barely louder than a hoarse whisper. Kyuubi sighed, letting out a small whine. When he spoke, his voice sounded muffled, like he was speaking over a telephone.
"The Yondaime. That rat-bastard. His plan B was to send you back to yesterday to redo the events and stop whatever had made you pull the seal off. Ugh. I was finally free too." Naruto sat down. This was pretty big. If he was in yesterday then he could save Hinata and Sakura! A large grin rose on his face as he thought of his daughter, looking more and more like her mother every day.
"This is amazing! I can save her!" Naruto was giddy, and he was glad he was sitting down, his legs felt like jello from the stress being lifted. The Kyuubi whined quietly. He had really actually liked the older Hinata, especially when Naruto would forget to turn his mind off when the two decided on being intimate. He also liked the little runt of his, although Naruto had never noticed it, the girl reeked of fox, and Kyuubi couldn't be prouder if it had been his own. The bad part of this was going to kill him.
"Why are you smoky?" Naruto said, suddenly and solemnly, almost expecting the worst. Kyuubi looked at him almost sadly.
"I'm sorry, Kit, I truly am." Naruto frowned, creasing his mature face. Kyuubi never apologized. Never. Something was up. Standing unsteadily, he made his way to the polished and sparkling bars of the cage. He paused, hesitating, before sticking his arm through the bars, and right through Kyuubi's face. Gasping in horror, He backed up.
"I interfered. The chakra I released trying to get out despite that blonde bastard-" Kyuubi earned a half hearted reproachful glare from Naruto "it interfered. We didn't go back to yesterday, we went farther. I don't know when, it might be mere days or weeks, it may be years. I can't see outside your body anymore." Naruto paused to take the information. Before his eyes, Kyuubi seemed to get more and more transparent with each second.
"What's happening to you?" Naruto said, obviously worried. Kyuubi gave his best impression of a non-committal shrug."No idea. I don't think I'm dying though. Maybe we went back before you were born. Maybe we went back before I was born." Naruto gaped. He couldn't imagine a time before Kyuubi was born, the being was centuries old. He watched as Kyuubi became nothing more than a small wisp of smoke, his voice sounded more and more like he was trying to talk through a pillow.
With a final farewell from the fox demon the wisp vanished and Naruto felt the need to sit down again. He stared at the empty cage, loneliness overwhelmed him, pounding his chest with a force almost enough to move him physically. Everyone was leaving him, even the curse that was usually the cause of the leavings. Another pang struck his chest, this time it was enough to shove him back a few inches. Naruto stared at his chest in horror. Another pang and he was thrown back a few feet, smacking his head on the hard concrete, and doing the opposite thing of the real world, he woke up.
White lights blinded him, but he couldn't close his eyes. A flurry of activity rushed around him as he saw people he didn't know, all with worried and intense faces lean over him. He was vaguely aware of a shrill noise in the background that seemed to swallow everything else up. His chest and throat burned like he had been stuck in the desert for a week with no water.
One of the men hovering above him shouted something and the faces all leaned back. He rubbed two dull silvery things in his hands together and placed them on Naruto's chest. For a moment, the coldness of the paddles was all that he could feel, but that feeling was erased by the feeling of something kicking him square in the heart with the force of Rock Lee. He took in a breath, only now realizing that his chest had been burning because he hadn't been breathing. He let loose a scream of pain when that cool lifesaving breath he had taken was let out. The man, a doctor he had assumed, backed up, mercifully not intending on putting those silver paddles of pain back onto his body.
His eyes were heavy with exhaustion, and it probably wasn't helping that the only nurse who hadn't filed out of the room yet was pushing something into his IV drip, via syringe. Letting out a sigh, his throat and chest still a little sore, the blonde shut his eyes peacefully, completely unaware of the visitor that had yet to leave the room.
When Naruto woke next, he didn't panic. He knew he was in a hospital, and that he was probably not going to die. Now he had just had to figure out when and where the hospital was. His eyelids were still heavy, after effects of the drug they had used to calm him down. Groaning, he placed his hand on his forehead tenderly, noticing that he was hooked up to a multitude of machinery. He also noticed that his forehead was completely wrapped in gauze. Normally Kyuubi would have healed any wound in minutes, but thinking of the fox only reminded Naruto of how lonely he was doomed to be.
"Are you coherent enough to talk?" A smooth voice to his left said. Naruto glanced over and saw the teen he remembered hovering when he had tried to walk earlier.
"Where am I?" He said; his throat felt about as bad as it sounded. The older blonde pulled his plastic chair closer and said,
"You're in the hospital. Do you remember what happened to you?" Naruto, annoyed that he hadn't named a city or village, grunted again and said,
"No. I don't think I'm going to remember much. What city is this?" The blonde gave a sad little smile that almost made Naruto feel bad for not knowing what had happened to him. The man beside him was strange, and strangely familiar.
"You're in Konoha General, finest hospital in the five great nations." Naruto choked on his breath. In a way, this was better than he expected, Konoha's hospital had gone down when Pein had originally attacked nearly ten years prior to his memory. Unfortunately, this meant he'd probably have to restart his relationship with Hinata, not that he would miss that at all, it's just the thought of all of their happy memories had been flushed down the drain like that. The blonde was staring at him questioningly. Naruto sighed.
"Who are you?" He asked finally, and the teen stuck his hand out promptly, and said, pride lacing his every word,
"Namikaze Minato, 17, Chuunin, at your service." The name rung at the back of Naruto's mind as he grimaced at the enthusiasm in which Minato had introduced himself, and ignored the blonde's hand. Minato seemed to be unoffended when he withdrew his hand. Eyeing the shorter blonde for a second or two, Minato said,
"Do you remember anything? Your name, where you came from, anything?" Naruto was distracted looking in the back of his mind for where the name had rang a bell. He only half heard the question, and answered reflexively.
"Naru...to…" He paused halfway, cursing himself in and out. If he was in the past, he probably shouldn't have given his name out until he was sure where he was. If he ended up somewhere before his birth, he could have just killed himself. Minato seemed to see the uneasiness in his face and misinterpreted it.
"Oh, you don't really remember anything do you? Well, Naruto, I'm going to get the Hokage. We'll be back in a moment. Try to rest, and don't overdo it, that head wound is pretty nasty." Naruto watched the blonde leave. Hokage? He envisioned Tsunade in her busty glory. How he missed the woman of his youth, and not the miserable old woman plagued by memory halting diseases and a crippled body, shouting out for Nawaki and Dan, and never for Naruto or Sakura. He had tried to stop visiting her so often, every time he left the place, the hole eating his heart had grown bigger, but the woman was his surrogate mother, not easily given up.
Minutes passed, the tension to see the woman he loved so much pass through the doors into the white room was almost unbearable. When the doors finally started to open, Naruto nearly screamed with anticipation. Minato entered first, his eyes focused on the now very much alert blonde in the bed. Behind him followed someone Naruto didn't recognize. He had salt and pepper coloured hair, a receding hairline, and an unlit pipe hanging from his mouth. The older man waltzed right up to Naruto, who was recovering from his hopes being squashed like a bug.
"Hello Naruto. My name is Sarutobi Hiruzen. It's nice to meet you." At the mention of Sarutobi's name, Naruto shot his face up so fast it hurt his neck. He gaped wide-eyed at the man he loved like a grandfather. How far did he go back? The Sarutobi of his world was older, quite older, actually. So this was definitely before he was 12, maybe he was still a baby. No, there had been no recognition in his eyes at his name. Naruto shook his head sourly. Kyuubi pushed himself this time.
"Hello…" He said cautiously. Sarutobi smiled pleasantly, his face creased with the wrinkles that Naruto was more familiar with. Maybe he wasn't that young. Naruto quickly resolved to raise himself if that indeed turned out to be how far he was back. It would be awkward, and weird, but he would definitely give himself a better life. Nodding slightly, Sarutobi cleared his throat, and Naruto, who had been spacing off snapped to attention.
"Should I come back another time, Naruto-san? You still seem a little dazed." Naruto shook his head, feeling childishly sour at how Sarutobi said his name, lacking the care and love he was used to.
"I just wanted to ask some questions, and maybe answer some, if you don't mind." Naruto nodded slowly and adjusted himself so he was sitting up against his pillows. Sarutobi sat down on Minato's chair so that he was face level with Naruto. Eyeing the blonde up, Naruto noticed that he didn't even pause at his face, as if his whisker marks weren't familiar to him. Naruto quickly shot his hand up to his face, making sure he still had them. To his relief, three small smooth marks still decorated his face, reminding him that the loneliness he felt knowing at his gut was indeed real, and he hadn't imagined everything. Sarutobi took a note of his actions, but decided to file it away for later.
"So, tell me what you remember, Naruto-san. I'd really like to know." His voice was smooth, trustworthy. There wasn't a wonder he was always a people person. It was hard to not tell him everything. Everything would probably land him in Ibiki's care… If Ibiki was even here. Naruto shrugged and said,
"I remember my name… um…" Naruto frowned, feigning concentration, trying to come up with something that would sound plausible. "Uhm… I remember fighting with someone… I… I can't really remember anything else." Sarutobi sighed. He clicked his pipe on his teeth and said, in the same soothing voice,
"Can you remember your parent's names? Maybe your surname? We might be able to find your parents… although you don't look like any of the students here, we could even find them if they were from a different village. Anything would help. I'm sure your parent's miss you very much." Naruto twisted his mouth sourly, his eyes deadpanned. Not looking at either of his guests, he said quietly,
"I'm pretty sure my parents are dead." Minato pursed his lips, and Sarutobi sighed, sitting back. Naruto crossed his arms and looked out the window, somewhat upset that the Hokage had to remind him of how alone he was now. Although why he would be asking a grown man who his parents were was a little absurd. He glanced down at his arms. Uncrossing them he looked at the machinery attached to them.
Wait. Why were his hands so small? Turning them over and wriggling his fingers, despair started to creep up his spine. Turning to Sarutobi, he said, in a rush,
"Old man! How old do I look?" Minato let his eyebrows rise. Not very many people called the Hokage old man and went unpunished. Sarutobi merely laughed, wondering if the boy realized how rude he sounded.
"12 or 13 would be my guess, although you look a little undernourished. Listen, if you live on the streets and just don't want to tell me, it's ok, I can set you up in a good foster home…" He panned off as he saw the look of absolute horror on the boys face. He was about to ask what the matter was, but the horror switched to anger, and then to nothing.
In his mind, Naruto was screaming. 12? 12!!!? He was going to have to go through puberty ALL OVER AGAIN, he screamed. Almost expecting the fox to tell him to shut his trap, only silence greeted him and the loneliness wormed its way up, seeping all his anger away. Naruto took a second to calm himself.
"What is the date?" Naruto finally asked, through gritted teeth. If Sarutobi had been affected by the way Naruto was speaking, he didn't show it. Instead he calmly, in a voice that helped soothe Naruto's anger away, he said,
"It's June 11th." Naruto grimaced. Today was Kurenai's birthday. He imagined Hinata would be putting a present on her grave, like she did every year. Naruto resisted the urge to cry. He felt extremely weak in both body and soul.
"The year?" He asked, trying to calm himself. Sarutobi prattled off the year and Naruto almost sighed. He was waaaaay back. If his dates were right, he was back almost 8 years before he was born. Glancing at the blonde who was hovering behind Sarutobi like a mother hen, worried expression and all, Naruto choked again, this time enough to make him cough.
"Are you alright, Naruto-kun?" Minato asked. Naruto waved a hand, pounding his chest with the other. Sarutobi reached out and gave his back a pat in a half effort to help. Glancing at the blonde again, he had finally figured out why he looked so familiar. Staring at him with a concerned look on his face was the very young and inexperienced fourth Hokage. Sarutobi turned to the man who would eventually follow him in his line of work and said, quietly and calmly,
"I think you should probably get back to your class. I'll handle the boy. When he is ready to be released I will call for you. If things turn out the way I think they might, I'll have a mission for you, Minato." Minato nodded stiffly and gave Naruto one last glance over his shoulder before disappearing. Naruto had stopped choking by now, and instead was trying to sort his feelings out for the blonde man. He couldn't help but feel a little resentment for the pain he had gone through as a child.
"Are you feeling ok enough to talk some more, Naruto-san? Or should I come back another time?" Sarutobi asked gently. Naruto shook his head.
"Sorry, my throat hurts. I keep choking on it. But I want to keep going, I feel fine." He saw the Hokage's glance flicked up to the bandage wound around his head. Nodding and pulling his pipe out to inspect it, he said,
"We found you mangled up in the playground at the academy. Do you have any idea how you got there?" Naruto blinked. He hadn't. Quickly shaking his head, he pulled the blankets over his arms. He felt cold.
"After examining you, patching up your wounds, and sedating you after you had tried to get out of your bed, you started seizing as soon as you were fully sedated. At first we thought that it was an allergic reaction, but…" Sarutobi trailed off, thinking about what Minato had told him earlier. Naruto was staring at him wide eyed, anxious to here more.
"But…?" He said, noticing for the first time that his voice was strangely high pitched. Resentment smoldered in his stomach for the years of growing he had to re-do. Sarutobi didn't smile. What had happened was strange, he wasn't sure he should tell a child. Sighing, he decided that the boy might have more answers than he would.
"Well, according to Minato, when the nurses tried to hold you down to prevent you from hurting yourself, a seal, one that he wasn't able to identify, which as you might find out later, is a big thing for that kid, appeared on your stomach." Naruto gulped, letting his hand rest on his belly. Sarutobi continued. "The seal lit up and red chakra, the likes of which no one had ever seen or felt, starting seeping out. I had felt it in my office, and I can tell you boy, it was evil feeling. When it all left, you went into cardiac arrest and clinically died for 6 minutes, before your heart decided it wasn't ready to quit on us yet." Naruto gaped. Openly gaped. He knew exactly what had happened, years and years of having the Kyuubi in his body, only to lose it all at once? Naruto was secretly surprised to still be alive.
"Do you remember if you were a shinobi?" The aging Hokage asked, tenderly, as if the subject might awaken some fury hidden deep in Naruto. Glancing at the old man, willing the memories of his adopted grandfather away, he said,
"I… I remember fighting. I don't know, maybe?" Sarutobi nodded and rose from his seat. Naruto watched him stand up.
"Well, I think I've stressed you out enough for the day. The doctors say that you could be out of here in a few days if you take it easy. Just cooperate with anything they ask, and if you remember anything else, please send someone for me. They know that you are a priority patient. If you have any questions, feel free to ask anyone anything. Get some rest, Naruto-san, I'll be seeing you." Naruto shivered. The old man could be creepy when he wanted too.
Lying back in bed, he let his lids flutter. He was still so exhausted. The cheerful sun, unaware of the horrors it would witness in the years to come shone merrily on Naruto's tanned face. If he lived, he'd been years and years older than his friends, a price he'd gladly continue paying just to see them safe. Smiling softly for the first time in what felt like years, he drifted to sleep and actually slept, peacefully and dream-free.
End Chapter 2
Yay! It's finally out! Sorry it took so long, I ended up getting kicked out of my parents house, and spent a month looking for a job in a city that was nearly two hours away. So I've now moved up here, settled into my new job, and am so bored I can actually write! For anyone who reads Hitochigae, I'm going to take it down because I'm rewriting the entire thing. This time I worked the plot through, took out and added characters that the story needed, as well as changed a lot of big points in the plot. Maybe this time it won't suck so bad. Thanks for reading, and that little purple review button there, that little guy is your friend, and he loves to be clicked : )Also, this chapter's a little short, but the hospital scene is pretty much done, and it didn't feel right for me to start on the next part. Enjoy!