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Kaizen

Chapter Text

He’s been staring for the past few minutes, his mind racking up all the ideas where this strange new red-haired man came from, because he’s never seen him before, and Sakumo practically knows nearly every shinobi in the village, active or retired.

A hand sticks out in front of him and he blinks, before looking up to see dark eyes filled with the colour of blood. A canine smirk curls itself on the stranger’s lips, amusement glimmering through his sharp, sharp features. Sakumo can only gap at him with an open mouth, at the shock that he didn’t notice him approach.

“You might want to keep your mouth shut to keep the flies out,” the stranger advises, tilting his head to the side as he holds his gaze. He closes his mouth, taking the advice, and takes the hand within his own in a firm grip.

His hand is warm, and Sakumo smiles. “Hatake Sakumo,” he introduces himself, letting go. “You are….?”

“Uzumaki Kurama,” the stranger– Kurama, Sakumo reminds himself now– says. A sharp grin appears on his lips, and Kurama looks smug, blood red eyes dancing, lowering themselves down and back up into his eyes. “I hope we work….. Well together.”

Sakumo’s breath hitches in his throat at that, and he stumbles over his words. “As do I,” he tells him, letting out a breath of relief he didn’t know he was holding after saying his piece. At least he wasn’t stuttering.

“I’ll take you up on that, I usually don’t like idiots.” Kurama’s eyes sweeps through the other jōnin and chūnin chattering inside the lounging room. “Or doofuses. But then again, idiots and doofuses always dragged me into the most trouble that I ever experienced in my life.”

Shinobi near them lifts their eyes towards Kurama, staring questioningly as he stares back. Bares his teeth and they immediately turn back to whatever conservation they were having before, and respect for this new stranger builds up even more inside Sakumo.

“Show you around?” Sakumo offers, and Kurama blinks at him in confusion. He must of worded it wrong, correcting his previous question. “Around the village, I mean..”

“Sure, let me tell my landlord about it, and we can make plans for tomorrow.”

“.... Landlord?” he echoes.

“Kushina,” Kurama answers, and Sakumo winces. The female Uzumaki may be on good terms with him, but she’s a very sly and clever prankster, especially with the Namikaze by her side. “She’s my cousin.”

That…. Explains. A lot.

“Ah,” is all Sakumo says, and Kurama flashes him a sharp smile. “I can wait.”

“I bet you can,” Kurama snorts, glancing at the clock in the room. “Give me tonight and I promise you can have me all tomorrow.”

Is Kurama flirting with him?

“Ah, y-yes, alright,” he stumbles with his words this time. Damn, Sakumo’s pretty sure he’s going to die from the amount of blood loss he’s going to have tomorrow.

 

 

Chapter Text

 Kakashi stares at the new stranger his father brings home with him, hidden between the darkness of the door and the hallway. Dark red hair, and equally dark red eyes of the colour of blood, tanned skin, lean and muscular build, and he’s tall. Well, shorter than his tou-chan, but still tall.

He narrows his eyes at how comfortable the stranger is around his father, and his father’s smiling and laughing along with him. Sakumo usually never smiles or laughs that much before, unless it’s Kakashi, so this stranger must be making him happy enough to do so, too.

Smiling to himself, Kakashi turns to take a step away, away from his father’s current happiness and guest, and–

CREEK!!!

His foot immediately steps on a loosened board, and he freezes. Voices stops talking, and Kakashi can hear footsteps coming, thumping along. It steps closer and the door swings open, red eyes looking down at him. And he can see all the confusion and anger swirling inside, before they soften.

“Oi, squirt, what are you doing outside the door?” the new stranger asks, raising an eyebrow as he squats down to meet Kakashi’s height.

“Kakashi?” Sakumo asks, peering over the stranger’s shoulder and looks at him. Kakashi flinches, and looks down at his feet. Startling the stranger is one thing, disappointing his father is another. “Weren’t you in bed?”

“I-I was….” He fumbles around his words, not knowing what to really say. “B-But I saw you and him talking and… And…”

“You need to work on suppressing your chakra in the shadows,” the stranger bluntly says to him, and Kakashi gaps at him, his mouth hanging open behind his mask. What is the stranger talking about? He suppresses his chakra just fine! “You suck at it. I could sense you even through the hashirama wood, and that’s supposed to be wood that suppresses chakra even more. Hatake, what are you even teaching him?”

“My teaching skills are fine,” his father protests, making a small frown grace his features, but his eyes glimmer with amusement. “You should worry about yourself, Kurama, especially when you get a student.”

“Fuck that,” the stranger snorts. Turns to Kakashi, ignores tou-chan’s protest of “Language, Kurama,” and announces, “I’ll be coming over tomorrow to teach him.”

They both gap at him with open mouths. “Excuse me?” asks Sakumo incredulously.

“I’ll be teaching him tomorrow,” the stranger repeats. “Name, brat?”

“My name is not brat!” Kakashi protests immediately, offended at the new nickname the stranger gives him, it sounds even worse than Obito’s. “My name is Hatake Kakashi!”

“Good, Uzumaki Kurama,” the stranger introduces himself finally. “I’ll come by at three tomorrow. Sounds fine with you, Hatake?”

His father makes a strangled noise, as if this isn’t a good idea at all, but Kakashi isn’t listening to Sakumo’s floundering. He’s staring at the stranger who manages to make his father go all embarrassed and…. Weird. And Kakashi knows he never does that before.

Kurama nods, as if agreeing to Sakumo. “I’ll take that as a yes,” he grunts, before twisting around to walk to the door. How he leaves is filled with grace and feline as Kurama walks himself out the door with a slam behind him. “See you two tomorrow.”

Both son and father stare at the door, before looking at each other. “Tou-chan,” Kakashi begins seriously. “I think I like like him.”

The beginning of wheezing and choking from his father doesn’t even dampen his current mood.

 

 

Chapter Text

 “I’ll adopt him,” is all he hears when he stares up at this red-haired man who’s arguing with a member of his clan.

Obito isn’t sure what makes him interesting to the man, but he’ll take a chance to get out of this clan who treats him like he’s pathetic. After all, he is the black sleep of the Uchiha Clan, is he? Right?

“You can’t adopt him,” Ren-san hisses in frustration, glaring at the red-haired man in front of him. Obito’s sure he’s being pissed off real badly. “He’s part of the Uchiha Clan, and isn’t going with your filthiness, Uzumaki!”

Something snaps, and grows sharp quickly with red alarms and fear in the air and Obito can’t breathe, because the red-haired man is staring back at Ren with cold eyes of blood, and it looks murderous to the extent that he feels that he cares . An impassive look settles on his expression as he continues to stare. Obito only gaps at him with an open mouth.

The stranger takes a step forward, and Ren takes a step back, a tiny tremble going through his frame that’s barely seen, but Obito sees it, sees everything. Sees Ren-san take another step, sees the red-haired man bare his teeth in a savage, canine grin, and a feeling of excitement shoots through him.

“I’ll be taking the brat,” he says, tugging Obito towards him, and Ren scowls.

“Fugaku-sama will not like this!”

“So? If he wants to take it up with the Akai Chishio no Habanero and the Hokage, be my guest.”

The older Uchiha gaps, mouth open, and not really knowing what to say, and Obito knows the stranger got Ren-san tongue-twisted. Admiration blooms inside him as a sign of respect and the stranger turns to look at him. “What are you standing there for? Are you coming or going with this fucking buffoon that doesn’t seem to know how to talk?”

Ren splutters in shock, but Obito grins and takes the man’s hand, peering up with dark, dark eyes. Curiosity pokes at him, and he asks, “Who are you, mister?”, as he picks the young boy up and admiration grows.

The stranger pauses, carefully handling him, before curtly answering, “Kurama. Uzumaki Kurama. You?”

“I’m Uchiha Obito!” Obito boasts, puffing out his little chest in pride. “And I’m gonna be Hokage! Just you wait and see!”

He sees Kurama pause again and look at him, sorrow dancing within red eyes before he moves, taking Obito further and further away from what he used to call home. “You remind me of someone,” Kurama says instead. “He wanted to be Hokage, too.”

“What happened?” Curiosity is poking more, Obito can feel it.

“..... Let’s get an adoption form, alright, brat? It’s been a long day, and I’m sure you wanna go home.”

Home.

Obito’s going home.

 

 

Chapter Text

 Kushina knows exactly who and what Kurama is.

He’s dangerous, wild, and powerful, but with a look that holds grief and sorrow in one’s eyes and a tale that she could scarcely believe (but will happen, she feels it in her guts), she believes him. Believes in what he’s saying, and takes him in.

They make up a backstory for him, and plan ahead, also grabbing her lovable boyfriend to come and help (not before convincing him that Kurama is her cousin, and that she hadn’t seen him in ages–).

Threatened the Hokage and the stupid Council of idiotic elders, especially Danzō, into letting Kurama stay and defended him when one questioned his loyalty. She never liked him, as a kid, as a jinchuuriki, as Kurama used to be someone who took away her freedom, but now…

Things are different.

(He shoved ramen in her face the other day, muttering about how she’s “stupid, arrogant brat” and “who doesn’t understand that I’m not a fucking errand boy”, but she sees kindness deep inside and a faint blush when she hugs him, making him scream at her (she quotes, “PUT ME DOWN, YOU FUCKING IDIOT!!!!”), and the Kyuubi inside her growls.)

Though, she really wants to murder him right now, but she can’t, because these adorable pair of round black eyes are staring up at her and she can’t get mad at all right now–

Kurama snorts with amusement, placing a hand on top of the boy’s head. “Brat, this is Kushina, my cousin. Kushina, this is…”

“Uchiha Obito!” the boy pipes up, and did he just say Uchiha– “And I’m gonna be Hokage!”

Kushina pauses, before giving Kurama a glare. He did not. “You didn’t.”

He doesn’t flinch at her glare, glaring back at her, though Obito does. She really didn’t want to scare him, but Kurama did something even worse. “I did,” he flatly says.

“You adopted a Uchiha?! How?!” Mikoto is going to either give her an earful tomorrow when they both meet up, or congratulate her on getting a nephew. They might become in-laws, and she does not want to become in-laws with Mikoto’s stuffy husband, thank you very much. “Oh, Mikoto is going to kill me….!”

“He threatened Ren-san into backing down!” Obito says, eyes gleaming with stars. “And Kurama-nii was really, really good at it, too! Can he teach me how to do that? Can he? Can he?”

“I did what was necessary,” Kurama continues, giving Obito what seems like a pat on the head from fondness, and Kushina marvels at how the universe is dying. “And adopting him from those good-for-nothing fools? Yeah, he needed to get out of there. Did you see how he was assaulted by some of his own clan?”

….. Maybe Kurama had a point. She couldn’t wait to beat up the Uchiha Clan, and spare her best friend’s family, for her precious otouto (she’s unconsciously considering Obito as family already and she doesn’t notice the wide grin that’s threatening to split Obito’s face and Kurama’s smirk that curls his lips).

 

 

Chapter Text

Maybe he’s dreaming.

But he isn’t, and he’s standing at the doorway, gapping at the two red-haired adults and what seems to be a child in the living room. They all stare back at him, Kushina blinking, Kushina’s cousin who’s impassively just staring back, and the child…. Gapping in delight.

Minato is just about ready to internally worry. The child is still alive. Is that possible? There’s two Uzumaki in the room, and there’s bound to be trouble following them, and nothing is happening right now.

Really, Minato was expecting a fire going on, but there’s none. None.

This is a genjutsu, is it?

He lifts his hands, and performs the hand seals necessary to dispel a genjutsu and murmurs, “Kai.”

Nothing happens, so he tries again. “Kai.”

“Minato, are you okay?” Kushina asks, propping her hand under her chin. Minato isn’t sure anymore; he doubtfully stares back at his girlfriend, before looking at Kurama. Kurama only shrugs. That does not help, damn it. “There’s no genjutsu in sight.”

“Is that Konoha no Kiiroi Senkō that you were telling me about, Kushina-nee-chan?” the child asks excitedly. “Can he really teleport? Can he do a really cool Jutsu? Hey, hey, do you really have a hat of a frog like Kurama-nii told me about?”

“Slow down, brat,” Kurama scolds gently. Did he hear that right, Minato wonders to himself. “The buffoon might not catch some of your words, Obito.”

Obito– as Minato now learns– huffs, and crosses his arms, performing a pout. An adorable pout that makes Minato freeze, because it’s with puppy eyes. And those are dangerous. “But Kurama-nii,” he whines. “I wanna know!”

Wait a second…. “Did you just called me a buffoon?” Minato demands, eyes widening frantically. Stops fretting when Kurama lets out a low chuckle. The world is going insane, he’s sure of it now.

“You’re exactly like this one buffoon I know, though. He’s a massive idiotic dork that cannot stop deciding to sacrifice himself for others, and nearly gets me killed, and yet, he’s able to convince me that it was a good idea. That kind of buffoon.”

He gaps, as Obito begins to beg the red-haired man for more stories, with Kushina’s chuckle in the background.

Well, he’s home (and he will not admit that he’s enjoying Kurama’s stories of a daring blonde idiot who likes to play massive pranks and unwavering loyalty to his friends, though it sounds like him and Kushina, and won’t stop until he’s saved everyone. Minato likes the person Kurama is telling about).

 

 

Chapter Text

He reaches out, touches the ground, touches the black tendrils weaved in complications and tricks, designed to fool even the toughest of shinobi. Breathes in the iron scent of dried blood, and he can’t help but wonder, is his friend doing okay?

Is he getting along with the people of Konohagakure?

A low chuckle, and then a sob of desperation escapes, because he can’t imagine what it’s like for Kurama to just appear back. Confused? Scared? Hating him? He can’t help but wonder, if he really does.

They’ve been together for years, and to suddenly tear him apart from him is…

Someone grasps his shoulder, and he looks up to see obsidian eyes looking back at him with a aloof expression. “Oi, dobe,” his companion grunts, but his eyes flickers with something that he can’t tell what it is. “Is the seal gone?”

Pain flickers inside of him when he realizes the exhaustion that he’s been holding back since yesterday. He grunts, before looking back up and regrets it. His companion looked exhausted, too. Haunted black eyes, body too skinny, and hell, his breath is coming out ragged, too.

“Uh, teme,” he says, blinking tiredly. Even since Kurama left, he’s been so, so tired, and it shows. “Who are we sending back now exactly?” he jokes.

The companion sucks in a breath, before words float out, and it’s sheer disbelief that leaves him gapping at the other man. “I’d pick you.”

“M-Me? Why me?”

“Because that Bijuu needs you, and you’re moping around even more than usual, dobe. It’s no wonder that you’re distracted lately, especially when we’re fighting against Zetsu, probably because you’re worried for him…. Am I right?”

“You know me too well,” he chuckles, reaching out to touch the black-haired man’s arm. Other arm missing, but it doesn’t matter anymore. Shouldn’t matter anymore. “But, the seal only works once, remember? It can’t work ever again, not until we make another one, which will probably take a year and we’ll probably be dead by then.”

A dry chuckle from him escapes, and the man doesn’t even bat an eyelash. Would probably retort something else in return, a playful banter between the two, but silence remains instead. And makes him wonder how badly they want to change the past so it doesn’t change into this war-torn future that has no hope.

“No hope for us, then, dobe?”

“Nope!” The letter p is said with a popping sound, and the other man looks unimpressed. He sobers up immediately, grimace and fear dancing inside in a deadly contest as his eyes meet obsidian. They’re filled with fear. He frowns immediately. “Oi, what’s wrong?”

“Madara and Obito…. They’re gone.”

That…. That is bad, it means that lost all their purpose to keep them away from going back to the past. Kurama has to deal with them, and they’re all stuck here–

“We have to rely on the Kyuubi, huh?”

Naruto leans forward when his best friend says that, and says with most utter certainty–

“Kurama can finish them off. I believe in him.”

 

 

Chapter Text

It takes two steps forward, and it’s astonishing to see Obito not late to class for once.

And with him comes a red-haired man looking grumpily at the silver-haired man beside him, who’s giving an apologetic smile, and Kakashi giving Obito a hard glare and that is not normal at all. It shouldn’t be normal in any circumstances, but it is.

Rin peers at her best friend and her crush, tilting her head at the red-haired man. She’s seen him around Konohagakure a few times, but not much and seeing Obito with him is just really strange, too.

She edges a bit closer to them, attempting to hear the conversation being held. It’s Obito that astonishes her, and he glares at Kakashi, hugging the red-haired man’s leg. Said man looks down awkwardly, and asks, “What the fuck are you doing, Obito?”

“Language, Kurama,” Kakashi’s father (Sakumo, she thinks) warns, and Kurama (she knows his name now) only snorts. Parents shoot them offended looks, gathering their children closer to them. “There’s children here.”

“I don’t give a fuck, Hatake,” Kurama says bluntly, before shaking Obito off. It doesn’t work. “Brat, get the hell off, I need my leg, thanks. Why are you holding onto it, anyways?”

Obito looks as if he’s going to strangle someone, and when he declares his proclamation to Kakashi and all those who are near them, she nearly falls over because what he says is– “Kurama-nii is mine, so back off, Bakashi!”

An awkward silence hangs over the group of people around them, and Kurama is staring down at Obito like he’s grown an extra head. Sakumo looks faint, but she’s more surprised at Kakashi’s reaction to this. He latches onto Kurama’s other leg and glares at Obito.

When the silver-haired boy opens his mouth, it comes out like– “Kurama is mine!”

More awkward silence approach, and everyone is staring incredulously at them.

“You’re both idiots,” Kurama flatly states, an eyebrow twitching as he shakes Kakashi off. “I’m neither of yours, you two. So back off. Obito, I thought you liked that friend of yours?”

“Kurama-nii is better,” Obito declares. “And I’m going to marry Kurama-nii one day!”

“Not if I get there first!” Kakashi exclaims, glaring at Obito. An intense glaring contest between the two, and Kurama is now looking at Sakumo with an expression that Rin can’t decipher, and Sakumo shrugs. The red-haired man scowls at him.

“That’s your son,” he tells Konoha no Shiroi Kiba. “And he wants to marry me?” It’s a note of disbelief lingering in his tone.

“Technically, Obito’s your son, too, since you adopted him,” Sakumo points out. Since when was Obito adopted? Rin wonders in her mind, watching her two classmates banter back and forth. “And he wants to marry you.”

“Hatake, I’m much more interested in what you had planned when you started.”

“About our match?”

“Yeah, sure, let’s put it that way.”

Rin really doesn’t know what to do.

 

 

Chapter Text

There’s a lingering fear and hatred inside that she sees, when she first meets red, red eyes.

Her cold smile meets a snarl from him as he blocks her way towards the child behind him, who’s trembling in fright that she would take him back. He does well to hide it, though his guardian seems less pleased when he snaps at her.

“What the hell do you want, Uchiha?” he demands, anger showing up in his eyes as he bares his teeth. Beside her, Kushina is looking back and forth and muttering how they would both destroy her house. She can’t help it, but allow a small chuckle to escape.

“I would like to thank you from the bottom of my heart,” she says, as the Uzumaki’s eyes widen and his tense shoulders goes slack as he stares at her in mild surprise. She can tell how Kushina is feeling from just feeling her chakra, and it’s flaring all over in surprise, happiness and terror.

“Why the fuck do you want to thank me for?” he asks suspiciously, as Obito peers out behind him, tilting his head in curiosity when he seems to think the danger has past.

“For taking Obito out of the Uchiha District,” she answers, and she settles down on the couch. “Of course, my husband also thanks you for taking in Obito and showing him the kindness that our clansmen has never shown him,” she adds, seeing Obito looking at her in surprise.

“Fugaku says thank you?!” Kushina demands immediately, and she openly laughs at her friend’s expressions, much to the chagrin of Obito and the Uzumaki she had heard so much about these days. “That’s it, the world must be going insane. Since when have Fugaku thanked someone??”

“Because he’s a stubborn and idiotic man to refuse to do so, making his poor wife thank people for him,” she replies dryly. Enjoys the look on Kushina’s face, before Kurama lets out a reluctant chuckle at her own insult to her husband. She loves the man, yes, but for Kami’s sake, he’s being too stubborn for his own good.

“Really, Mikoto-baa-chan?” Obito asks, looking rather surprised and amused, despite himself still hiding behind Kurama’s leg.

“Yes.” Mikoto smiles at him gently. “Your uncle is a stubborn, stubborn man, but he cares greatly for the Uchiha Clan and the village.”

“.... Can I use that for blackmail when I wait something now?”

She hopes, and hopes, that Kurama will be able to take care of Obito for her, so that his parents may rest in peace in the world around them. A hand gently touches her shoulder, and she knows….

Mikoto knows that everything will be okay.

 

 

Chapter Text

He really has no clue what he’s gotten himself into.

He really, really didn’t.

Orochimaru can see why these shinobi currently sitting near, needed him, but this is ridiculous. They’re spying on Konoha no Shiroi Kiba and the new jōnin, who’s asking together in low voices and walking down the street below them. What that has to do with him, he doesn’t know.

“Why…. Exactly do you need me?” he voices cautiously and carefully, before seven heads turn to stare at him in disbelief.

“...... Aren’t you jealous?” one blurts out, pointing to the two.

“Jealous?” Now he’s really confused. Why would he be jealous of the new jōnin and Konoha no Shiroi Kiba? He certainly has no interest in them, only viewing Sakumo as a friend, but those intense looks at him makes him even more wary. “Why would I be jealous?”

“Hatake’s down there!” another exclaims. Orochimaru’s growing a headache here at their stupidity, and he isn’t even kidding about it. He had experiments to do. “And he’s your lover, isn’t he?”

That, gets his attention, and he glares. What? “.... What?”

“Your lover,” the same one repeats. “ Konoha no Shiroi Kiba? Hatake Sakumo? Isn’t he your lover, Orochimaru-sama?”

He really questions their stupidity. Why would he think– Oh. Oh. He recalls the month before the Uzumaki had arrived, he was spending time with Sakumo, inquiring if the jōnin could use Raiton in his kenjutsu match against him.

Then the conversation dived from that topic to another topic, then to another and another, ending with a promise from Sakumo to keep in touch with him for another spar after they had tied each other in the match they had promised each other. He still views Sakumo as a friend.

No wonder everyone gave him glances as he walked down the streets these days. They thought he was eloping with Konoha no Shiroi Kiba. He peers down again, and the two are still talking with each other.

Sees Sakumo shaking with laughter, with Kurama giving him an amused look out of the corner of his eyes. Watches them continue down the street again as Kurama points at something, and Sakumo seems to be replying in a retort. They seem happy, and that gives him an idea in his head.

A smirk appears, and the group of chūnin look at him warily. “We…. Are going to help them, thanks to your little idea,” Orochimaru purrs. Watches their face goes slack with terror and shock as he laughs, a genuine laugh since he had last saw his teammates.

This is going to be so, so much fun since the last he had did this.

 

 

Chapter Text

There’s a reason for him to live.

A reason for him to survive.

A reason that he’s here.

He just simply didn’t know why they wanted him to have it. Why they thought that he’s worthy of it. He’s not . He killed too many, left too many and his heart’s breaking from all the bullshit that he’s been dealing with.

Fresh scent of rich iron fills the air–

His “cousin” helps, helping him fit in when she knew he really didn’t belong here. She didn’t have to, but she did. Teaches him all the customs of one, how a Uzumaki acts, and all the wonders and flaws of a human. Grins with a smile when he does something successful.

Watches as everyone falls to the ground, one by one, and he can’t do anything but watch (fire roars with fury when he sees this and he attacks blindly)–

His adopted son glomping him whenever possible, black eyes shining when he sees him, and adorable goggles hanging over his forehead that he places on when he doesn’t want anyone to see him crying.

Corpses littering the ground, before he sees them becoming ashes that flutters in the air and burns to the ground with a rage, and he’s filled with guilt and anger–

The snake smiling warmly when he sees him, reaching out to him to become friends and push him to a path that he can’t see well. Argues a point when they walk down a street, before a soft laugh rings out with glee and shock painting themselves on other jōnin’s expressions.

Screams when a seal consumes him with writhing black tendrils (chakra’s coming from every direction and it hurts , because they’re chaining him to an anchor and holding now–), screams when he sees the person he cares for most falling to the ground and he screams once more when chakra burns him–

The wolf coming up to him with a smile as he gestures to the streets, a sharp, sharp smile that he’s beginning to enjoy seeing when something makes the wolf brighten up. Shares news with him as they sit near the fireplace, and warmth spreads through him like a soft blanket when they laugh together.

Unwanted tears falling out when he curls up on soft grass, under the shade of trees, and it hurts, because dammit, why him? He doesn’t fucking deserve this–

The tiny pup, a fierce Uchiha (that he grudgingly respects), the future Hokage and a tiny civilian girl makes up bits of his life, too, but he can’t forget the sacrifices his precious person gave to give him this.

A second chance.

And Kurama isn’t going to waste it–

“Kurama?” He jolts up and out of his thoughts, spinning around to see Sakumo resting against the doorframe. Blinks, before two more, and then three, as the silver-haired man pushes himself off and walks slowly towards him. A warm hand gently brushes something wet from his eyes when warmth settles itself on his cheek. “Are you alright?”

“I’m fine,” Kurama says slowly, tilting his head up to peer at dark grey eyes. They’re glazed with worry, before he adds, “Don’t worry about me. Worry about that brat of yours coming up with fucking tricks with my brat and his friend.”

“Pranks,” Sakumo corrects, placing his hand down quickly from his cheek. Smiles amusedly before looking out the window. “Ready to go check on them?”

“And hope they don’t explode a fucking tree somehow? Yeah, I’m definitely ready for that stupid experience again.”

“That was just once!” the other man exclaims. Kurama bares a canine smirk at him, before heading to the door.

It’s just one more chance, before everything falls apart again.

The blonde grins in a chakra imprint of himself, shouting words that Kurama heard several times by now from the one he called friend and brother-in-arms, if not the most painful when he hears him laugh.

“I love you!!!”

 

 

Chapter Text

Dark grey eyes narrow themselves as he observes his surroundings, darting left and right for possible ambushes. When he sees none, a sigh of relief escapes his lips. Slowly heads towards the compound in hopes of succeeding.

He’s almost there to the door–

A shriek rises from some bushes and he freezes. “ATTACK!!!!!”

Someone flings several kunai from a tree, and his eyes widen, before whipping out his own kunai and quickly deflecting them around him. Is it too much to ask for one break? Just one? Whose idea is this exactly? He’s going to have a long talk with them about allowing children near kunai–

Tiny bodies immediately clutches onto him when he isn’t paying attention, and he stumbles around with the weight of three tiny kids. Falls down, knocking the breath out of him. Three pairs of eyes stare at him as he looks up.

They stay like this, unsure of what to say, before his son giggles. “Tou-san, did we beat you?” Kakashi asks brightly, looking eagerly at his father.

Really, Sakumo doesn’t know what to say, because he’s sure that he didn’t teach anyone how to use a kunai yet. “Did we? Did we?” Obito chants with the little girl with him (Rin, he thinks). “Did we beat you?”

“Yes?” he tries, and the children cheer, as Kurama’s voice cuts through the air. Sakumo can’t help but feel gratitude to the red-haired man he’s come to treasure as a friend.

“Brats! The snake made something for all of you, so get off the poor man so you don’t suffocate him and go inside!”

Rin’s face brightens up like the sun. “Orochi-nii!” she cries, scrambling off Sakumo and races off to the door. The other two yells at Rin to wait up and bolts after her, leaving Sakumo laying on the ground, before he sits up. A hand reaches out and he looks up to see Kurama.

“Come on,” the Uzumaki says gruffly. He feels a smile tugging at his lips before taking the hand and allowing Kurama to pull him up. Grins at him as the man huffs and looks away towards the compound.

“You didn’t happen to teach those kids how to use kunai, did you?”

“That was Orochimaru. He said learning how to use one will allow them to defend themselves more easily.”

He stops, stares and before sharply asking, “He did?”, because, Orochimaru knows better than teach the three children that he considers his own ( Mine! his mind snarls into his mindscape, these kids are part of my pack). Needs to talk to the hebi Sannin about teaching them how to use kunai.

Kurama shrugs, seemingly not bothering to stare at him as he delicately steps into shade, and Sakumo’s breath hitches at the sight of the colour blood red looking at him through half-lidded eyes when the man does turn to look at him.

“So, plans tomorrow, Hatake?”

Sakumo grins with a canine smile, slinging his arm around Kurama and leads him to the door. “How about some lunch?”

 

 

Chapter Text

A slam of a fist rams down onto the table, and he can’t help but sigh. “The Uzumaki must be detained and removed from the shinobi forces! He is endangering every single one of the civilians,” a council member roars out, who is also, he notes, a civilian. “And could possibly become a danger to our village itself!”

Hiruzen sighs and rubs his temples with a single hand. This is what he gets as a Hokage, damn his sensei for passing this responsibility to him when they were escaping death. He needs a successor soon, he’s too old to deal with this (he would of said shit, but he’s the Hokage and Hiruzen is supposed to be dignified, damn it–).

“Now that’s just stupid!” the Head of the Inuzuka Clan, Inuzuka Tsume, snarls, slamming her fist down as well. The table under it cracks a little, and he isn’t enjoying the bills that comes along with it later. “Okay, sometimes I get that some of the Inuzuka ninken are a little afraid of him, but that passed over time, and he’s actually quite popular among us! You’re just saying that because he adopted that Uchiha kid!”

“And that Uchiha does not belong with a foul filthy mongrel like him,” the civilian council member spats at her (if he recalls correctly, his name is Yasha). “Isn’t that right, Fugaku-sama?”

Everyone looks over at the Uchiha at hand, Fugaku saying nothing as the famous Uchiha scowl spreads along his expression, before Hatake Sakumo breaks in to say his opinion. “As far as I’m concerned, Obito is very happy with his guardian,” he says, and there’s something dangerous under that tone of Konoha no Shiroi Kiba. “And I learned that Uchiha-sama had given permission for it.”

Fugaku nods to Sakumo. “Hatake is right,” he states coldly. “I gave permission to Uzumaki to adopt him after he asked if he could take care of him. I said yes after he gave me several reasons why.”

This new sprout of information is extremely helpful, Uchiha Fugaku, Hiruzen snaps in his mind sarcastically, as the council erupts into chaos at the information offered. You could of told us earlier and I could of avoided this! “Why did you not tell us earlier in hand?” the Sandaime asks, echoing his question from his thoughts.

“It was entertaining to see about what you would do about it,” comes the reply.

“So we are just entertainment for your own amusement when we could of gone out an hour ago?” Hyuuga Hiashi hisses, pushing himself up as he glares at Fugaku.

“You can say that, yes,” Fugaku says, and he senses a hint of amusement in his tone when the Uchiha’s face remains impassive. “However, I also wanted to see how some of the council members react after learning that the Uzumaki adopted a child of my clan.

Shocked paints itself on several council members as the Uchiha continues. “I see where I have to cut ties.”

The last statement was directed to the civilians, Hiruzen is sure of it.

“I do not mind,” Aburame Shibi states flatly. “I vote in favour of allowing Uzumaki Kurama to keep Uchiha Obito.”

The Head of the Nara Clan shrugs, something glimmering in his eyes, and the Hokage feels that Shikaku knows a little of what’s going on. “It’s a smart move. I vote in favour of allowing them together.”

As expected, the Heads of the Akimichi and Yamanaka Clans quickly agree with the Jōnin Commander and Strategist of Konohagakure. They are close, after all, Hiruzen muses, and Chouza and Inochi trust Shikaku’s judgement more than anything.

Sakumo states that his vote is headed towards allowing the young Uchiha child to stay with Uzumaki Kurama. Other Heads of the Clans agreed to it (as apparently Kurama has a way to sway their opinion somehow but still how, he doesn’t know), but few civilians voted in not allowing the Uzumaki near the child, and of course Koharu and Homura sides with them.

Danzō’s voice cuts into his thoughts, and he is forced to quickly pay attention. “While we are on this topic, I want to discuss another…. Topic of matter.”

Hiruzen groans quietly. He needs to drink. Needs to drink a lot of sake. As he proceeds to drink the water that was prepared for him, he nearly chokes when he hears what Danzō says.

“I ask that why does Uzumaki Kurama’s chakra seems much like the Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi?”


Of course he has to ask that.

 

 

Chapter Text

“I ask that why does Uzumaki Kurama’s chakra seems much like the Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi?”

 

Sakumo is the first to break the silence, which Hiruzen is grateful for. “Is that why the Head of the Uzumaki Clan didn’t come today?” he asks suspiciously, narrowing dark grey eyes at the senior council member. “You didn’t extend to her that there was a council meeting today, did you?”

“She could of been biased,” Danzō replies monotonously. “Considering that Uzumaki Kurama is her cousin.”

“And you don’t trust her when she’s proven her loyalty to this village over and over again?” Sakumo questions in disbelief, shaking his head slowly. “You’ve sunk this low to not trusting comrades who would give their lives in a heartbeat to protect Konoha?”

“The Hatake is right,” Tsume snarks, resting her cheeks against her hand as she lays her elbow on the table in a bored manner. “This is Konohagakure, and this is the village that values teamwork and comrades. What makes you think differently, Shimura? Is it because Uzumaki was able to gain more favours than you? Oh, are you jealous of that?”

Hiruzen sees that it strikes a mark, Danzō’s dark eyes flashing with an emotion of annoyance, though the man seems impassive as Fugaku. The Uchiha glances distrustfully at the Shimura, before looking away and Shikaku’s eyes gleam with interest as he studies the elder.

“I highly doubt that I would be “jealous” of the Uzumaki,” Danzō flatly replies. “Considering that the votes have already passed, I see no reason–“

Tsume pauses when Danzō said “jealous”, before grinning and interrupts the elder. “Oh, I get it. You’re jealous of his looks. That’s okay, Shimura, he is pretty hot, I can testify to that, and I get that you want him for a husband, but Hatake already got there.”

A splutter of indignation comes from Sakumo, and Hiruzen chuckles dryly at it. The poor Hatake opens his mouth before closing it, and then– “We’re just friends!”

“Friends with benefits,” Tsume sings.

“Are you insane?” Hiashi demands, pale lavender eyes glaring at the Inuzuka in annoyance, much to Hiruzen’s chagrin. “We are not here to discuss Hatake’s love life or his personal matter–“

“We are currently discussing Uzumaki Kurama’s possible endangerment to the village,” Yasha shrieks. “So pay attention to Danzō-sama–“

“This is mildly entertaining,” Fugaku comments to a horrified Sakumo as the council yells and argues. “Have you really perked the Uzumaki’s interest in you?”

“Why are you interested in that?” Sakumo demands, ears flushing red. Hiruzen’s amused to see the usually calm and easygoing Konoha no Shiroi Kiba is embarrassed. “Actually, don’t answer that. Why is the Uchiha Clan Head interested in my current relationship with Uzumaki Kurama when there are other topics to discuss about?”

“So you do admit that you are interested in the Uzumaki.”

“Enough,” Danzō booms, and the council falls silent. Hiruzen is quietly observing now. Watches how his council squabbles like children and how Danzō is taking control. “I suggest a solution, than the Inuzuka offering that horrendous idea that I would be jealous of the Uzumaki.”

“So you are jealous!” the Inuzuka crows triumphantly, slamming her fist again on the table. Hard. It cracks more. Hiruzen debates whether to decline the bill or not for fixing the table, as Tsume continues. Sighs when she does. “I knew it!”

“As I was saying,” Danzō says, directs more at Tsume, and the faint narrow of his eyes makes Hiruzen a little more suspicious. “The suggestion is to give Uzumaki Kurama to me and make him an…. Asset to Konohagakure so that we will not have to question his loyalty.”

Dead silence meets him, before Yasha nods. “A splendid idea, Danzō-sama. We should give him to you so that we don’t have to see if his loyalty is to another.”

“I object,” Sakumo snaps. “Kurama isn’t a tool, he’s a human being. He’s free to feel emotions, and I certainly don’t want to see him become a weapon.”

“How would you know that he’s a human being?” his old friend challenges the Head of the Hatake Clan.

“Bring me sake,” Hiruzen orders quietly to a standby ANBU. “I need it.”

 

 

Chapter Text

“I object,” Sakumo snaps. “Kurama isn’t a tool, he’s a human being. He’s free to feel emotions, and I certainly don’t want to see him become a weapon.”

“How would you know that he’s a human being?” his old friend challenges the Head of the Hatake Clan.

 

“I agree with Hatake.” Startled looks appear on the council’s faces as Fugaku speaks up. “The Uzumaki should not be treated as a weapon and such. The Uchiha Clan will stand by the Uzumaki Clan as an ally if one dares to try and approach them with hostility.”

Hiruzen sees stunned looks being passed around when Fugaku makes this statement. But he sees the logic in it. The boy that Uzumaki Kurama had adopted used to be part of the Uchiha Clan, therefore, strengthening the ties between the two clans is a smart move, especially against Danzō.

“I’m actually shocked that you said that,” the Inuzuka admits, scratching her head.

“The Hatake Clan will also stand with the Uzumaki Clan and the Uchiha Clan for the same reasons,” Sakumo flatly states out.

Shikaku stays silent, as Inochi and Chouza glance at each other worriedly. Hiashi clears his throat, before the Hyuuga begins speaking. “I stand with Shimura-san and Yasha-san on this topic. The Uzumaki is far too dangerous to be left to his own devices. Let Shimura-san take him and turn him into a more valuable asset.”

“I’m standing neutral,” Tsume begins, “but I’m more leaning to the side of not turning Uzumaki into an asset. Hokage-sama? Your opinion?”

The Sandaime heaves a sigh, before he speaks. Why did he have to take on the responsibility of taking care of full grown adults (who are also Clan Heads in that matter) who squabble like children? Now Hiruzen sees what Tobirama-sensei has to deal with every single time during a council meeting.

“I stand with–“

“Why did no one tell me there was a council meeting?!” a familiar voice shouts, interrupting Hiruzen. He cracks a smile at the glimmer of hope that appears. Finally. “I could of missed all the fun stuff!”

“Kushina,” he says as the door slams open and in storms a furious Akai Chishio no Habanero….. And the subject of their current matters. “Kurama.”

“Oi, jiji,” she scowls, red hair flying behind her. “How dare you not call me! I am the Head of the Uzumaki Clan and I deserve to be notified about these meetings! Instead, Kurama and Orochimaru had to tell me that there was a meeting, and you made me miss all of my ramen, dattebane’!”

“The meeting is currently over,” Danzō says curtly, standing up abruptly. “So there is no need for you to stay.”

Kurama merely leans over to Danzō and murmurs a few words, before his old friend turns sharply to look at the red-haired mystery that many are still trying to solve. Smiles a canine smirk as the Shimura walks out the doors, flanked by two ANBU, and Hiruzen wonders what possibly could Kurama say rile up Danzō?

“Finally, I can go back to my ramen, come on, Kurama! Sakumo! Kakashi’s waiting for you with Obito!”

Some things never change, Hiruzen muses as the Clan Heads and council members file out, before the question that Danzō had asked fills his thoughts.

“I ask that why does Uzumaki Kurama’s chakra seems much like the Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi?”

Kurama couldn’t possibly be….

 

 

Chapter Text

It starts….

…. With a scream.

Actually, it’s more of a horrified look at what’s dangling outside their window when they notice it, before the screaming actually happens (loudly) and catches a lot more attention than necessary. Outside in the streets though, that’s a whole different story.

Not that it matters to Obito, though. He stares at the masked shinobi, before turning to his nii-san, or if one could say, tou-san. “Kurama-nii,” he whines, pointing upwards. Kurama shifts his eyes to where Obito’s pointing. “Why is he hanging from the tree branch by his pants?”

“..... His pants?” Kurama repeats, before seemingly looking closer. Other bystanders look at how the masked shinobi is dangling, tree branch seemingly inside the pants of the shinobi and dangling him.

That’s when Kurama-nii begins looks amused and chuckles, before laughing lowly. The Uchiha (no, it’s Uzumaki now, he reminds himself, but Kurama-nii told him he could keep Uchiha as a last name) stares at his adoptive father, before timidly asking, “Kurama-nii?”

“Sorry, brat,” Kurama gasps out, chest heaving with laughter as he seemingly struggles for control again. Obito takes a chance to look at the masked shinobi again, before Kurama continues. “I’m laughing because that’s an ANBU being caught in that trap.”

That’s…. Not really impressive, considering how Obito hears heroic tales about the mysterious masked shinobi that report directly to the Hokage. And one got caught in a trap and now hanging from a tree by his pants. It isn’t that cool or heroic, if you ask the little Uchiha boy.

“.... That’s stupid,” he says instead. Continues to look at the ANBU dangling helplessly, and sticks out his tongue. The ANBU makes muffled sputtering noises before seemingly remembering something (and stops making them) and Obito giggles. “Do you need help?” he calls up.

The ANBU doesn’t answer, though his body gestures seems to pause at the question. Sees the ANBU swinging side by side, before looking at Kurama. The Uzumaki’s body is still shaking with laughter, as he guides him away.

Away from the dangling ANBU and its’ crowd.

“Kurama! Obito!” Kushina’s voice calls behind them. They turn, and they’re meet by Minato’s shy smile and Kushina’s large grin. She reaches down to ruffle Obito’s hair, making him dodge her. Pouts when he looks at her doubtfully.

“I’m not a kid,” he protests, but Kushina laughs, anyways.

“Join us for ramen?” she invites them. “The bowls are on Minato today!”

Kurama snorts in disbelief, shaking his head. “You’ll use up his entire wallet and the buffoon will still be happy that you ate the bowls of ramen and finished up his wallet and savings.”

“True.”

“Ramen!’ Obito cheers, dragging Kurama with him, to their favourite spot, with Kushina and Minato following. To what he calls a place with friends. To their happiness.

(Obito never notices how Kurama jerks his head towards where the ANBU is dangling, and Kushina grins a sharp smile and high-fives her cousin for the success of their prank. The ANBU is still dangling there and someone finally sketches a picture before calling other shinobi to get the poor guy down.

“Tell the Hokage,” he murmurs to another, “That this ANBU is not one of our own.”

Of course it has its’ perks.)

 

 

Chapter Text

His plans are going to fall apart, and it’s the fault of the new Uzumaki.

He grits his teeth at the single thought of him, and Danzō slams his hand on his desk in front of his subordinates. They seem to flinch from the loud bang, and he’s going to have to make sure they undergo more training to avoid this again.

“Are you telling me,” he says thunderously, and they seem to shrink away from him. Tools do not flinch, he wants to shout. They feel no emotions or feelings at all. “That Uzumaki Kurama had captured one of ROOT’s agents in a trap and had them dangling from a tree in the streets?”

“Yes, sir,” says one of the tools in front of him. Danzō narrows his eyes at them. Places the heat of the glare on him, and they don’t flinch. If he recalls the code name correctly, this is Bear. “The Hokage detained him and demands to know who he is.”

“Is the Nara catching on my plans?” Danzō quickly asks. Nara Shikaku, Head of the Nara Clan, and the Jōnin Commander of Konohagakure. He only needed little information about one case, and can solve it immediately after putting it together and observing one’s actions. Danzō has to be careful where he walks in this.

“The possibilities are currently zero,” Bear tells him monotonously, “as Nara-sama shows no sign of being aware of it.”

“Good.” He remembers the day of the council meeting, and what that Uzumaki had whispered to him when he was about to leave.

 

“Watch your back, Shimura. I had little friends telling me everything about what you did, and once I settled my score with someone, I’m coming for you. And you better be prepared to die.”

 

Those ominous words echo along his mind as he thinks about it. His hand curls around his cane as he also remembers what someone has told him.

 

“Uzumaki Kurama isn’t completely human,” the voice of his new ally purrs from the shadows, hidden away from the moonlight beams that glows silver on the floor. “He is the one I need for my plans, being a fierce and stubborn Bijuu, after all.”

 

It gets him thinking about those words as well. They had told him Kurama isn’t human, and yet, he is one. And they told him that he’s a Bijuu, a massive chakra being shoved inside a human body, and he wants (no, needs) Kurama so he can finally take over Konohagakure as Hokage.

The first step is to slowly convince him to join Danzō, but the pesky little Hatake and the Hebi Sannin is always with him along with those children, and the Namikaze brat and the Head of the Uzumaki Clan. They’re always with him, but Hatake’s with him the most.

Take out Hatake Sakumo.

A plan begins formulating in his mind, as he dismisses his tools and sits down on his chair, sketching out possible missions that he could use without allowing Hiruzen to know. The weak fool would probably refuse it immediately.

“Shimura Danzō,” a voice purrs from the shadows, and Danzō recognizes the chakra. He flares his own to warn ROOT to stay away from the office, and turns to the pale-skinned person with white hair. A devilish smile spreads across their features, purple rings gleaming.

The person gives a mock bow towards Danzō, as another (he isn’t sure why one would wear and white mask with black rings around it) steps from behind. “Allow us to begin our plans.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Kakashi is playing with Obito and Rin (Kurama and tou-san are talking quietly with each other behind them, an occasional chuckle and grunt here and there, but Kakashi doesn’t mind) when someone knocks on the door.

He looks up with his friends to see Sakumo’s eyes flicker with confusion and Kurama arching his eyebrow delicately, before his father stands and heads to the door. Slips past the doorway to their special place and turns, disappearing from sight.

The red-haired man that Kakashi has come to know stands and heads to the doorway, peering out. Obito stands up, wobbling a little and heads to him. “Kurama-nii?” he asks curiously, when Kurama’s body stiffens.

“Shimura-sama,” comes tou-san ’s voice dryly, and Kakashi blinks in shock. Sakumo is usually calm and easygoing, but the tone he’s using now is.... “What can I do for you today?”

“I would like to talk to you about a–“ a man’s voice stops after he speaks. “Uzumaki. How pleasant to see you here.”

“Shimura, how good it is to see you as well,” Kurama greets back, and Obito whispers to Kakashi and Rin about how Kurama never greets anyone back other than a dip of a head or (he quotes) “Like a super duper cool shinobi!”. “What are you doing here?”

(Kakashi actually really isn’t sure how Kurama greets others, but he’s seen the one he’s beginning to call a second father greet people politely. But not in this tone of chilliness that sends shivers down his back.)

“I need to speak to Hatake-sama here about a mission.” Kakashi dares to poke his head out and stares at the new man. Rin and Obito pokes their heads out, too, and stares. He wears bandages, and thick robes, and Kakashi really doesn’t like the scent of the new man. They all hide behind Kurama, latching onto his leg, and Kurama stares down at them and looks up again.

“Why do you have bandages?” Rin pipes, tilting her head and scratching herself. Bad man, bad man, Kakashi tries to warn her. Fails when she doesn’t listen.

“...... They are to cover a very old injury of mine,” he answers curtly.

“You don’t look badass with them,” Rin declares. Obito and Kakashi are staring at her now, because is she trying to get them killed here? Kakashi doesn’t want to get killed yet, thank you. “Kurama-nii looks really badass when he gets bandages, and they don’t make him look creepy like some kind of bastard who’s hiding something.”

The little Hatake takes one look at his father, who’s covering his mouth with his hand, but dark grey eyes gives him away, as amusement glimmers inside. Kurama’s muffled choked sound is heard above him, and he’s never been so glad to know that someone can face bad man down like that.

“Hatake-sama, I believe that I need to discuss something with you?” Bad man ignores them, though Kakashi can see that Rin’s statement gets to him by those little twitches of his body.

Tou-san nods, taking the bandaged man down the hallway. “Of course. This way to my study.”

When they vanish from view, Kurama makes eye contact with all of them, and his expression is guarded. “Whatever you fucking do,” he begins, “don’t ever go or talk to that man. You’ll regret everything.”

(What Kakashi doesn’t realize though, as soon as tou-san comes back and they stop playing, and Obito and Rin leaves with tearful goodbyes and Kurama taking them away after talking to Sakumo, he looks to his father and hears dreaded words.

“Kakashi, I’m going on a mission.”)

 

 

Chapter Text

Blood red eyes meet dark grey slowly, and Kurama says fiercely, “If you don’t fucking come back within the intended time, I swear to the old Sennin that I will come after you and rip some people apart and don’t you fucking think that doesn’t include you.”

“That sounds like a good threat,” Sakumo jokes, smiling tiredly at him, and Kurama feels warm and fuzzy inside like those times his blonde stayed with his Hyuuga, emotions spreading like wildfire as he napped inside the mindscape.

“You fucking think so?” he growls at the Hatake, and a laugh bursts out of the man in front of him, Kurama feeling his lips curling into a smirk at the laugh.

“It’s a promise,” Hatake whispers gently to him, before looking down at their feet and Kurama actually forgot about the brats. “Kakashi, be good for Kurama and Kushina, okay? Don’t get into any trouble or get shinobi to fall for your tricks.”

Kakashi looks up innocently at his father from beside Kurama. “What do you mean?” he asks, though Kurama can sense that hint of slyness and playfulness when he asks, and Sakumo only shakes his head in amusement. “I didn’t do anything.”

A frustrated groan escapes pale lips as the older Hatake bends on one knee and ruffles Kakashi’s hair, but he looks amused. Obito reaches out a hand and another large hand grasps his, as Kurama feels his lips twitching into another smile.

“Be good, you two,” he tells them, before looking up at Kurama with dark grey eyes filled with affection. His heart skips a beat (Kurama doesn’t know why, but it feels like it did) as he forces himself to meet the gaze and… “Kurama, take care of them, will you?”

Take care of yourself? the words left unsaid.

“Oh, I will,” Kurama promises to both questions. Watches Sakumo’s lips form into a beaming smile at his response, and sees Kakashi makes a face. He then knows that the next few minutes will be horror.

Tou-san, Kurama is mine!” the little boy all but hisses at his father, and Obito looks on in disbelief. Kurama doesn’t know whether to smack the little boy into oblivion or not, because what the fuck.

That ruins the moment.

Sakumo stares at his son, and Kurama forces himself to not make a sound, as Obito shrieks at the silver-haired boy. “No, Kurama-nii is mine!”

“Just fucking go before they rip your ears to shreds,” he tells the man, and enjoys the laugh that startles out of the man. A roll of eyes, a cross of arms. “I promise that I’ll wait for you.”

“And I promise that I’ll come back to you.”

(Kurama still doesn’t know why, but the curl of warmth inside his chest spreads around like heat again as he watches Sakumo go, but his chest slightly tightens when he stops seeing Sakumo’s vanishing back and he turns to the village holding Kakashi and Obito’s hands.

He’s going to make good on his promise.

For him.)

 

 

Chapter Text

A quick glance at his guest in front of him. Sips his tea slowly as he continues to watch the guest in front of him, who’s matching his gaze one on one, blood red reminding him of the Sharingan as he narrows his eyes.

“So why did you call me over here, Uchiha?” Kurama asks cautiously, placing his cup of tea down. “You wouldn’t have a reason, unless you wanted to ask about Obito. He’s doing fine, by the way, if you are asking about him.”

“No, I’m not planning to ask about him,” Fugaku says, his eyes meeting blood red once more before he also places his cup down. Though, it is a relief to know that his nephew is doing fine and he’s happy. Fugaku has more enough of a reason to give him to Kurama. “I’m planning to ask about what you know about the future.”

That seems to stun Kurama, eyes briefly widening in shock before returning to his usual stare. “Why do you want to know about that?”

He returns the stare. Takes a deep breath, before he continues. “I just want to know what happened to the Clan so I can avoid it.”

Silence enters the room, as Kurama arches an eyebrow delicately. He immediately regrets not choosing his words carefully. What he doesn’t expect is– “Do you want the actual truth or just bits? If I tell you the bits, then it’ll be easier for you and we don’t have to ruin the future that much.”

“..... What.” It’s more of a statement than a question.

The red-haired man completely ignores him, continuing on. “All I can tell you is that your clan will fall when you plan a rebellion. Oh, and try not to compare your two sons too much. That will ruin the both of them.”

“........ What.”

“What the fuck is it, Uchiha?” Kurama stares disapprovingly at him through a glare that makes him feel he wants to hide away from this man who only came a few months ago. Chakra flares, and he feels faint from all the maliciousness that he can literally see. “I’m telling you what happened in bits. Best that you not know much.”

“Are you’re telling me this because….?” Fugaku is sure that there’s some kind of motive behind Kurama for telling him. But he also doesn’t expect the Uzumaki’s next answer.

“.... There was once a kid, who was claimed as a monster. There was another kid, who wanted to be an avenger because his clan fell. They were rivals in every way that you can’t possibly say. Rivals, to friends, was a path that took a long time to complete for the both of them. The avenger had ran away from the village and the kid chased after him in an effort to bring him back. They fought each other, equal in every power, until the kid defeated the avenger. Then it fell apart, because of a mad man.”

There are so many questions, and so many answers left unsaid when Kurama finishes. He’s confused, slightly disturbed that Kurama is even telling him this, but why does this story have to do with anything– “What fell apart?”

He’s silent, before the red-haired man speaks again. “The world, and their bond.”

They don’t say anything after that, and Fugaku takes in the information and flips it around his mind so Kurama excuses himself (“Obito and Kakashi are leaving the academy soon.”) and leaves. Leaves Fugaku to his own thoughts.

Fugaku… Feels like there’s more to Kurama than he thinks there is.

 

 

Chapter Text

He doesn’t know what made Kurama look outside the window like this, but he is getting slightly worried about how dazed the Uzumaki’s red eyes are becoming when still staring out the window. It’s getting a little problematic.

Kitsune, is there anything wrong?” Orochimaru asks, placing a dish in the rack to dry (he calls Uzumaki kitsune, Kurama calls him hebi). Picks up another one to wash as the red-haired man looks over with glazed eyes. He doesn’t understand. His acquaintance (friend, his mind insists, friend) is not like this. Never like this.

“Nothing,” he replies curtly, shaking his head. “It’s nothing–”

“And yet everything,” he interrupts. Looks at him with smothering sparks in his chest, and the Uzumaki looks startled, red eyes blinking in shock. And then a startled laugh bursts out of the man in front of him. He calms down a few moments later, collecting himself back up.

“I’m just–“

“Worried about Hatake?” Orochimaru cuts in, and Kurama looks up. Raises an eyebrow, and the snake chuckles. Of course his friend can’t tell. “You’ve been moping around ever since he left, kitsune. Is there something you need to tell him?”

Kurama stares at him as if he’s insane. Perhaps he is, perhaps he isn’t, but Orochimaru is much more concerned about the relationship between the two, as they seem to be getting a lot more closer these past few months.

(Not like they won’t understand, but Orochimaru has been volunteering to take care of the children that he’s come to adore and telling the two to relax with each other. And they will never know that his followers had been setting up a few scenes for them to slowly fall.)

“You’re more fucking curious than usual,” Kurama says flatly.

“And you’re more irritated than usual,” Orochimaru parrots back, and lets out a soft chuckle when the man scowls at him. He hasn’t felt like this in ages, ever since Jiraiya and Tsunade left him, alone in this village that glares in disapproval.

And Kurama saved him by inviting the man to join him (telling him to stop his experiments, and he happily agrees if it allows him to stay), resulting in…. Several interesting different outcomes that includes the children setting things on fire. He didn’t mean for that to happen, but it did. Oh well, the past is the past.

“For fuck’s sake, hebi, fine. I’m worried about that stupid man!” Kurama scowls again, looking at the floor with…. Is that a tint of red on his cheeks? His smile widens at the admittance, then a soft whisper– “What if he gets hurt? Or worse, killed?”

Ah, so this is what’s bothering Kurama lately. He looks lost, tensing his shoulders as he looks at him, and Orochimaru can’t say anything. His own teammates have left him, too, and he doesn’t even know if they’re alive. He opens his mouth, and what comes out isn’t expected at all.

“Hatake is a strong man, kitsune, you don’t need to worry about him. He has a good team, a good chance of succeeding, he’s going to be just fine and he is going to come home. Trust me.”

Trust me, the words echo. Those are the words his teammates (his friends) have said to him, to save him. He repeated them, to save another.

Blood red eyes soften a little, shoulders sagging in relief and Orochimaru knows he’s succeeded in making Kurama more relaxed. “Thanks,” he murmurs.

“It’s not a problem, kitsune. That’s what friends do for each other.”

“.... Yeah. That’s what friends do for each other.”

 

 

Chapter Text

It’s so pitch dark, and he can’t see a thing at all–

His eyes snaps open and Sakumo gasps for air, dark grey darting around in a frenzy at his surroundings. Rusty metal bars, a stony path outside, and he’s inside a dark, dark cave, and he hates it. He feels so trapped inside (free, his mind screams. I need to go free– ) because this prison is so tiny.

Moves his arms and he stops when they strain. They’re behind him, and he looks, and feels sick when he sees chains wrapped around to keep him from moving. Why is he captured? No one told him that the mission had some risks of getting captured!

“You shouldn’t move around much,” a deep voice says, and he twists his head to look at the newcomer. A pale man stands in front of the bars, purple eyes with black rings gleaming in the dark. White hair, and he can hardly breath from so much saki in the air. “You might get more injured than you already are.”

“Who are you?” Sakumo barks out. Tries to walk forward but fails when the chains keep him restricted from movement. “What have you done to my comrades?”

The man laughs, leaves a sickly feeling in his stomach. “Your comrades? They’re dead.” That leaves a low blow to his chest, and he nearly sobs. His comrades are supposed to be alive with him, delivering an important scroll to the Daimyō. Not dead. That’s supposed to be him.

“As for who I am,” the man continues, seemingly amused at his distress. He wants to snarl and beat down the man for laughing. It’s no joking matter, and those are his comrades– “I am Uchiha Madara.”

That catches his attention. Uchiha Madara is dead. There is no way– “I know what you’re thinking. I’m supposed to be dead,” the man interrupts his line of thoughts, and he can see a sickening smirk forming upon his lips. “But no, I’m not dead, and you? You’ll be dead once I’m finished with you.”

A shiver slides down his back at the threat, and the man turns around. “Tobi, put the brat inside with this man. They’re both going to be bait to lure out the Kyuubi, and I want no chances if he refuses.”

“Of course, Madara-sama,” a bland voice answers in turn, and Sakumo can’t help but wonder what this Madara is talking about (and why does that voice sound a little familiar?), before a man materializes himself in front of him and he yelps in shock. Scrambles back against the wall as the man dumps a red-haired one in front of him and vanishes in a blink of an eye.

“Enjoy your time in here,” the man says, a wide and creepy grin appearing on his face. Sakumo breathes heavily, willing him to move, and he does. Footsteps echo along the passage outside and leaves him, or now them, in silence.

Sakumo quietly looks at the red-haired man in front of him, the slump form of him shuddering and the head lifts up, just a little, and brilliant cerulean eyes are looking at him through half-lidded eyes.

“K-Kakashi-sensei?”

What?

 

 

Chapter Text

“K-Kakashi-sensei?”

What?

 

“What?” Sakumo can’t help but be confused. Stares at the red-haired man looking dazed as his mind produces more questions (and more, damn it) and flings them around his mind as he analyzes them quickly.

“I’m sorry, Kakashi-sensei, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” the man in front of him softly cries and curls up into himself. “I failed, I failed everyone. They’re all dead, all dead because of me,” he babbled on. “I couldn’t save them and he killed them all–“

As he continues to ramble, Sakumo is stunned and confusion grows, because what is this man talking about? He isn’t Kakashi, Kakashi is his son. His three-year-old son that has no knowledge about the world yet. And then the next words that the man says hits him. Hard.

“I-I had to send Kurama back, before Madara and Tobi found him. That sneaky kitsune probably hate my guts right now for sending him back, K-Kakashi-sensei. What am I supposed to do? Let him go into those bastards’ hands? I don’t… I don’t want to see him suffer again at all–“

Kurama. What did Kurama had to do with any of this? What does this man mean to send him back– Send him back. The gears in his mind begins to click together, as his mind begins putting the pieces together. No, it really can’t be, but the clues are right there–

Appeared out of nowhere.

Became friends with him (and so many others–).

Adopted Obito.

Always going somewhere without telling anyone.

Always challenged Danzō.

A mystery–

His eyes begins to widen at the possibility. Kurama… Kurama was sent back to time, to here. And this red-haired man can confirm it, continuing to go babbling about it. But why? Why go back in time? He can’t imagine why Kurama has to go back–

“You’re not Kakashi-sensei, are you?”

Jolts out of his thoughts because of the sudden question and stares at the red-haired man sitting up like everything is normal and he stares. “No…. No, I’m not,” he admits quietly, then he adds. “Kakashi is my son.”

If Kurama knows this man, he can trust him. Sakumo trusts Kurama, and Kurama trusts this red-haired man who smiles with the effect of a brilliant sun and has eyes of a cerulean ocean. “Ah, Hatake Sakumo, Konoha no Shiroi Kiba. Nice to meet you!”

“... Ah. Nice to meet you, too,” he says awkwardly, rattling the chains behind him.

A full out grin explodes across the man’s features, and Sakumo can’t help but slowly smile, too. It’s contagious, to his surprise, as he hears the red-haired man babbling like a small child. “We’re going to hatch a plan to get out of here and meet up with Kurama, because for the Sennin ’s sake, he’s going to destroy something again.”

A quiet question rises from his lips. “What’s your name?”

The red-haired man stops, laughs, and the soft sound tingles in his ears like bells. “Call me Uzumaki Naruto, dattebayo’! And I’m gonna help you!”

 

 

Chapter Text

An uneasy smile makes its’ way to Kushina’s lips as she watches Kurama pace back and forth in front of her, and she’s getting tired of him doing so. Slams her hand on her armrest in frustration and he stops, turning to face her.

“Stop pacing around!” she shrills at him, flailing her arms in the air. “It’s so stupid, watching you march around like you’re worried or something, and you only have that stupid angry face on you, dattebane’! Sit down, will ya?!”

“How can I fucking sit down?!” Kurama snaps back at her, waving a sheet of paper in the air. She didn’t know what it is, but it seems to be making Kurama upset. “This fucking letter is fucking ruining my day– Hey! What the fuck are you doing?!”

She snatched the paper out of his hand and begins to read it, her other hand pushing him back as he shouts at her, but she’s barely paying attention, eyes concentrating on the letter.

Kyuubi,

It is my worst pleasure to inform you that your precious Hatake and brat are in my hands. Please, do come and visit me, and when you do, you can bargain for their lives. Tick tock, time is running out if you want to save them now.

Madara

“He got them,” she repeats slowly to herself, before turning to Kurama. “Why is this person calling himself Madara? You said we’d deal with Madara in this timeline, not another Madara! And how did he even get to Sakumo and who is the brat that this guy is talking about–“

“Shut the fuck up!”

A shock of surprise flashes through her in an instant (because Kurama never yells at her like that), and Kushina looks over to him. Kurama’s chest is heaving with exhaustion and panic, red eyes darting anywhere but her, and she understands.

He’s about to bolt, and it shows. “Oi, you gonna be okay?” She puts her hand on his shoulder, he flinches away from her touch. He’s hurt, she thinks, and says the only thing she can say. “We can go get them together.”

“...... What?” It’s a tone of disbelief and shock and a glimmer of hope when Kurama says this, and a large smirk appears on her face. Widens considerably as he turns to her with red eyes burning, and she cackles. It’s good to see Kurama springing to action again (with that boost of confidence).

She grins with all sharp teeth and lifts her chin up. “Sure! We can threaten Jiji and go! Just tell me when we’re going, dattebane’!”

“Will that save them?”

A pause at the question, a blink, and she stares at him. He seems so lost, looking up at her in a desperate attempt to see if she’s telling the truth. And it’s nothing like the Kyuubi that she knows from before, always hissing about revenge in her mindscape. But…. But Kurama is different.

He cares, and that’s all that matters.

Lifts her hand up from him, forms a fist and slams it down his head. He yelps in shock, turning to face her. “What? Who do you think I am?” she demands, feeling an annoyed smirk coming on. “I am Uzumaki Kushina, and I never break my promises! That’s my nindō!”

Red eyes widen, and a genuine smile (not those smirks, not those humourless smiles, a real smile) appears upon his lips. “You remind me of him,” he mutters more to himself, but she hears it anyways.

A sharp grin breaks out between them both (she knows that the Kyuubi inside is growling for a hunt of revenge) and Kurama says murderously with Kushina feeling a thrill of excitement shooting through her. “We’re going now, and not even the Hokage can stop us from going.”

 

 

Chapter Text

He’s supposed to be a genius, and yet, he’s getting this now.

Shikaku strides in the hallways with laziness and a rare aura of annoyance. Shinobi scramble away to make way from him and he tilts his head, acknowledging them as he heads to the Hokage’s office (It is rare, after all, when he really is annoyed).

So that man thought that he could play little mind games with the Jōnin Commander and Strategist of Konoha?

Well, let’s play a game, then.

Stops in front of the office, raises a hand, and he politely knocks on the door. “Hokage-sama,” he calls, impatiently tapping his foot on the ground. A few civilians and shinobi stare at him in slight shock and confusion when they pass him (Of course they would, he’s not one for confrontations), but he doesn’t care. He really doesn’t.

“Come in,” comes the muffled reply of the Sandaime Hokage. He takes a deep breath, and opens the door, the scent of smoke and herbs flooding his nose as he closes it behind him.

The Hokage stares at him, a grey eyebrow arching as he asks, “Is there something wrong, Shikaku?”

“Who are the Hokage Candidates?” Shikaku demands immediately. He has to know, and if he’s wrong, then they are damned. But he’s never wrong, and he’s on the right track. That man wants to play a goddamn mind game, but the Nara Clan are famous to be geniuses, and Shikaku can easily see through the plan.

This is too troublesome.

One blink of confusion, two blinks of even more confusion (Shikaku is getting really tired of this. Too troublesome again), and Hiruzen stares at him even more. “Why do you need this information, Shikaku?”

“I believe I stumbled onto something, but I want to make sure before I inform you of anything, Hokage-sama.”

“Ah, of course….” Hiruzen taps his pipe thoughtfully, though his gaze is narrowed and filled with suspicion. “One of the Hokage Candidates is Orochimaru. Chosen because of his brilliant mind and several experiments that saved most of us during the Second Great Shinobi War. Also considering that he is a Sannin, being bluntly honest and manipulative are few of his redeeming qualities.”

No, no, that isn’t even describing the hebi Sannin anymore. Shikaku knows that Orochimaru changed, ever since he struck up a conversation with the new Jōnin and the two have been seen frequently together since then. There’s already so many reports about the Sannin smiling so genuinely that makes him want to claw his eyes out from how many of their shinobi think that Orochimaru is planning an attack against Konoha.

Gives a quick nod (Orochimaru is so damn troublesome, but it’s still not who he’s looking for), and the Hokage continues. “Another Hokage Candidate that I have chosen is Namikaze Minato. A bright lad, that one, but he is one of the many people who can take control of a situation when it gets out of hand. That, and noted genius mind. Considering that he’s also Konoha no Kiiroi Senkō, he has many great deeds in fighting for Konohagakure.”

That…. Is not a bad choice, but still not who Shikaku is looking for. Minato is one of their best shinobi, but he’s young and not even ready for such a task. “Who’s the next one?”

“Ah, Hatake Sakumo. A confident and kind shinobi who would give his life for the village in a heartbeat. He defends comrades with ease, combined with his leadership qualities and given that he is Konoha no Shiroi Kiba, I believe that he is a good choice for a candidate, given the many heroic deeds he had performed for Konoha.”

His mind stops, and he sucks in a breath after the gears in his mind goes click. Of course. Of course. Why didn’t he see this before? It’s been right under their nose the entire time, and no one bothered to even look. And it’s there. It’s just too–

“Shikaku?”

“Sir, I believe we have a traitor in our midst, and that traitor sent Hatake Sakumo on a nonexistent mission.”

– Troublesome.

 

 

Chapter Text

“So, you know Kurama.”

“Yep!” He couldn’t help but say this cheerfully, as if nothing is wrong. Sakumo blinks at him, seemingly confused, and he just laughs bitterly when he remembers everything him and his best friend had been through. Chakra flickers blue on his fingertips and he slowly starts to heat up the chains that hold the Hatake still.

Switches his elemental nature to Katon and the chains starts to burn, melts into molten metal, and he looks up with a questioning look. Naruto knows that even for for a seasoned warrior, Sakumo won’t be able to handle the heat very well.

Might end with third degree burns (he’ll have to be careful to avoid that), but Sakumo waves him off. “Don’t worry, I took a few lessons in iryō ninjutsu,” he says, a small reassuring smile in his face, and Naruto can’t help but remember dark grey eyes smiling at them, with regret in them. His sensei had the same smile back then, too.

“Okay.” He nods and continues, but he doesn’t, doesn’t like how this turned out at all. He didn’t know how Madara gotten his hands on the time travelling seal, either, but a small part of him is happy. Naruto gets to see Kurama again, one more time before everything falls apart once more.

The Hatake doesn’t look at him, looking through the bars of their prison. Feels a flash of understanding for the man, when he sees the pain in his eyes, because they’re trapped in here with no way out.

For now.

“How…. How do you know Kurama?” Sakumo’s trying to make conversation, to make time go faster to forget. He remembers a time where he is also like that, but that past self of him is gone know.

Doesn’t look at him as he continues to burn the metal. How he knows Kurama.... “He…. Was my partner when we were fighting the madman out there.” Naruto jerks his head towards the bars, watching metal melt to the ground and hiss. “Madara.”

“Because you travelled back in time?” 

“....” Of course Sakumo would figure it out. He is Kakashi’s father, after all, being a genius’ father. Naruto doesn’t know how Madara ever figured out the seal, but that man did, and it costed him Sasuke’s life. “Yeah. You can say that.”

They don’t say anymore after that, and he feels himself hating how weak he is from what has happened so far. Blue chakra flickers red for a moment, and he remembers how Kurama’s chakra feels. Destructive, powerful like the massive wildfire of chakra he is when they battle, a small glimmer of hope when they connect with each other, and Naruto reaches deep down and pulls.

And red chakra explodes.

 

 

Chapter Text

They meet Madara in front of a cave.

Kurama skids to a halt, a snarl barely escaping his lips at the sight of the man before Kushina places a hand on his shoulders and he stops, glancing at her. She shakes her head and jerks it towards the entrance.

Emotions of hatred and anger screams from every direction as his eyes widen, when a small tendril of red chakra streams from the entrance. And the man catches it between a thumb and finger, bringing it close to observe it, and purple eyes narrow.

And that’s his chakra. It’s good to know that Naruto found it.

“Oh? It seems that the brat still had a little of your chakra, Kyuubi. Care to explain?”

He refuses, tilting his chin up defiantly as he avoids Madara’s eyes. There’s no telling if the Uchiha will force his control on him again, and he’s not willing to let that happen again, not after what happened before. “Why should I explain to you when your fucking ego could be deflated?” Kurama sneers.

“You should look up to someone’s eyes when you say something, Kyuubi,” Madara drawls in a relaxed voice, and Kushina seemingly tenses beside him when he sees the madman’s feet come closer. Frozen. Kurama’s frozen and he can’t move

“Kurama, snap out of it, dattebane’!” Something red flashes next to him, and he steps back, startled. Widens his eyes when he sees Kushina slam a fist into Madara’s chest and send him tumbling back into rocks. “This isn’t you, dammit! Stand up and fight!”

She stands her ground, as Madara rises and launches himself at her, materializing a staff into his hand. Swings it at her as she dodges him, before engaging into a taijutsu match. Kushina matches him blow for blow, and he’s still standing there, what is he doing

“You’re not the monster fox anymore. You’re one of my teammates from Konoha… Kurama!”

His body moves . His hand reaches out, and he feels his chakra roaring with excitement and hunger and bloodlust, and it feels exhilarating. Red chakra extends from his hand in the shape of a claw and Kurama slashes down at Madara to make him jump back.

Lands in front of Kushina and snarls at the man in front of him, and Madara laughs. “Oh, this is new, fighting for your former jinchuuriki. I thought you hated her, Kyuubi, for what she put you through, or should I say, Kurama?”

Once upon a time, Kurama may have hated his former jinchuuriki.

Once upon a time, Kurama may have hated how she was in charge of his own life.

Once upon a time, Kurama may have refused to fight for her.

But this is now. His present, not his past. And his life is on the line (with Kushina, Sakumo and Naruto’s, too), and Kurama refuses to have Madara ruin what he now calls family. Refuses to bow down to that madman’s whims.

Needs to save the family that he’s been with since he came back, and he needs to do it now.

 

(Sakumo needs him, too, and he isn’t willing to let the man go, either (he cares too much about this man more than he can admit, why does he care--). Something whispers a forbidden thought in his mind, and Kurama pushes it away, focusing on the task before him.)

 

Kurama bares his teeth. “Say all you want, but you’re not going to win! Not now, not ever!”

And he attacks, to fight, to protect, with a viciousness that Naruto would be proud of, too.

 

(Maybe Kurama didn’t realize it then, but he realizes now when he attacks to save Naruto and Sakumo. He remembers a soft laugh and murmurs of friendship and trust. Remembers warm hands touching his cheek with a gentle touch before slinking away in fear of losing. Remembers his own heart skipping beats when he sees him. Remembers dark grey eyes smiling at him softly with so many emotions and acceptance.

It’s more than what Naruto gave him, and more than the family he’s created.

Maybe he… Can’t love Sakumo, but he can still stay with him, even if it hurts when he looks and craves his touch once more.

Even if he dies now.)

 

 

Chapter Text

 

It’s raining, and Minato is worried.

He glances down at the kids huddling next to him on the couch, takes in the looks of Obito staring at the ceiling. Kakashi is huddling next to Rin in a depressed mood, dark grey eyes closing themselves while Rin tries to comfort him. He bites his bottom lip as he quickly goes through what has happened again.

Kushina and Kurama are missing for a few days now, dumping the responsibility of three upset kids on him as they raced off to who-knows-where. Sakumo has been missing for just as long. He doesn’t know if they’re safe or not and if the Hokage knows. Doesn’t know what to do with three sad kids who can’t help but mope around.

“Hey,” he says softly, making Rin look up at him with a watery look in her eyes. She wipes away her tears as he continues. He doesn’t want the kids to worry about Kurama, and he doesn’t know what to do other than to have the hebi Sannin help him. “Why don’t we go to Orochimaru-sama?”

“Orochi-nii said that he has some business to take care of,” Obito mutters, flipping onto his back as Kakashi makes a strangled noise when his arm hits the leg of the couch. Minato curses the Sannin for being busy the one time he really needs him, and glares at the wall. He needs him to distract the kids, so he can get a small break.

“That doesn’t mean that he’s not coming over later,” Kakashi points out, pulls back his arm as he hisses in pain and rolls onto his stomach. He ceases his arm carefully as the silver-haired child looks at his friends. “He promised to teach us how to maim a tree, and he always keeps his promises.”

“He said he was gonna teach me how to poison someone!” Rin giggles, and Minato stares at the tiny girl in horror as he scrambles to gather his thoughts. Twitches when Obito and Kakashi stares at her with beaming looks and jealousy. Why would Orochimaru go teach a tiny little girl how to poison someone?

That is asking for trouble!

“That’s not fair, why can’t he teach me?” Obito whines, waving his arms in the air. Sees the clock chime before Kakashi bellows something in return and Rin laughs at the two in delight. He feels more horrified by the second, especially with how gleeful the three kids sound when they talk about poisoning people.

Minato shakes his head from the thoughts, focusing on how he’s going to take care of the kids when the others are gone. He will never understand how some people manage to take care of these three when they talk about poisons.

He blames Orochimaru.

Faint wisps of shadowy chakra quickly catches his attention, making him startle when he feels familiar chakra approaching and–

Tap, tap.

His head shoots up, meeting dark eyes at the window and he stands, looking down at bickering children (looking adorably entangled in a mess of limbs, he might add). Heads towards the window and opens it, and raises his eyebrow at the shinobi at the window sill.

Shikaku.

“Nara-sama,” he greeted warily, glancing back to the kids and back to the black-haired man. Feels a little more alert when Shikaku looks around him and slips inside, slamming the window shut. He slaps a silence seal on the window, before glancing at Minato. “What do you need me for?”

“Not here,” comes the quick reply. He understands immediately; the children aren’t safe if they hear about this kind of conversation. After all, they are the future of their village, their pride, the next generation. Shikaku motions him to another room.

Minato glances at the kids with one last look (they look curiously at the Nara and slowly untangles themselves to head to him), and enters behind him, locking it behind him and seals the room. “Nara-sama?”

The Nara is stiff, black eyes staring at him carefully as the air stills and silence hangs in the air. He doesn’t know what to expect from the Jōnin Commander, but there must be trouble if the man came to him. He licks dry lips and meets Shikaku’s stare again. Panic shines in the other man’s eyes for a moment, before it disappears and leaves a blank stare again.

He isn’t prepared for the words that leaves Shikaku’s mouth.

“Danzō has most of the council hostage.”

 

 

Chapter Text

 

“As much as I would like to know how you even got Kurama’s chakra,” Sakumo says mildly, as if he is not unnerved by the sight of Naruto glowing. He’s glowing orange and the Hatake wonders if he’s even dreaming. “We should get out of here.”

Naruto only gives him a knowing smirk, one that he’s seen on Kushina once when they were watching the kids. He swallows nervously, unable to look away as Naruto turns towards the bars of their cell. There’s something nagging him in the back of his mind, and he can’t tell what it is.

He just needs to get to Kurama as soon as possible, to make sure that he’s safe and alright and that he’s not too late to save him. That’s all that matters right now, especially when Madara is using them as bait. There’s no doubt that Kurama would be rushing here right now to save them.

“You love him, don’t you?” He flinches at Naruto’s light tone, turns to look over at the man as he waves a hand around the other hand. A spiralling ball of blue chakra slowly forms. And he remembers that technique from Minato when the blond showed it to him once. 

Did Minato teach him that technique?

“W-What?” Sakumo asks, staring at the man as cerulean blue eyes meets his own. Licks his lips nervously, slightly confused as to why the man would ask this now, when they need to save Kurama. “What do you mean?”

“You love Kurama, right?” Naruto repeats, twists into an unfamiliar stance before pushing himself forward. His hand with the chakra stretches out in front of him and hits the bars of the cell, a loud crack in the room. “Rasengan!”

And the metal shatters. Crumbles rusted silver apart and lets them go free.

He tries again. “I don’t know what you’re-”

Naruto snorts in amusement, before peering outside and gives both sides of the tunnel a glance. He takes a step outside of it, motioning him to follow. “Sakumo-san, we can discuss it later, but we kinda need to go now. Oh, and this is for you.”

He nods to him, reaching into a seal and holds out something very familiar. Sakumo gingerly reaches out to take it, grabs the item in his hand, turning it around carefully. It’s his Hakkō Chakura Tō, and he smiles gratefully at the red-haired man beside him. Prays to the Sennin that Kurama would be okay. “Thank you.”

Maybe his heart’s beating faster at the thought of Kurama, but he pays it no heed as Naruto points to one end of the tunnel. “Don’t thank me yet! The entrance’s that way!”

 

(Maybe Sakumo didn’t realize it back then, when Naruto asked him, his heart pounding in his chest and in his ears when they race to the light, the opening. He didn’t realize it yet, but when he sees Kurama getting struck down by Madara, he realizes now.

Remembers all those moments they spent together. Remembers Kurama’s rare smiles and laughs when they get together day by day. Remembers the softening of his gaze when he sees the kids and their pack. Remembers snarky replies when they talk and soft chuckles that enters his ears in a soft chime. Remembers blood-red heated eyes smouldering with flickering emotions looking at him, and he realizes.

He loves Kurama.

And Kurama may not love him back.

And he may die before he tells him.)

 

 

Chapter Text

 

It takes Kushina a few moments to register a piercing cry of rage and a surge of lightning behind her and she spins around, just in time to see Sakumo jumping up and slashing down with his tantō at Madara.

Madara snarls, forcing out his staff sideways to counter the enraged man. Purple eyes narrow and a peel of lips shows stainless white teeth. “So the brat faked his damn injuries when we captured him…”

A blink and two more, and she stares at the crazed man with confusion. Who is the brat that this asshole is talking about– “Your opponent is me, Madara!” another voice yells out, interrupting her train of thought and jolts her back to reality, as a red-haired man leaps up with a spinning form of blue chakra.

Uzumaki.

Minato...

This fucking man has his every looks and personality screaming like a Uzumaki, but his eyes… His eyes are like Minato’s. She’s enchanted by them, the colour of shining cerulean blue that belongs to only one man she knows.

Beside her, a short distance away, Kurama’s blood-crimson eyes slightly widens before a whisper escapes his lips. “Naruto…?” he asks in a nearly inaudible tone, scarcely breathing, struggles to sit up, before he screams the name once more. It’s a tone she remembers when she’s taken away from home. “Naruto!”

“Oh, Kurama!” The man waves a quick hello, smashing a fist into Madara’s open palm. He ducks under a punch before his leg is swinging into the Uchiha’s stomach, sending Madara back. She can feel the shockwaves rushing at her in a quick succession, and she bites back a growl.

The Kyuubi roars inside of her, and Kushina clamps down on the feeling of nausea welling up in her stomach. Ferocity and power surges as she shudders from the sudden feelings flowing through her. She doesn’t understand. Doesn’t understand why the Kyuubi is acting like this now.

“Brat,” Kurama mutters under his breath, pushing himself up and falls down. Sakumo uses a shunshin and catches the red-haired man, eases him down with a quiet murmur that makes Kurama stare at him. Kushina doesn’t know if she wants to know what they’re both talking about.

She tears her eyes away from the two, focusing on the new shinobi and notes how he matches Madara blow for blow. The man performs a single hand seal, before two clones appear next to him and he holds out his hand. Blue chakra spins from his palm.

“You think you can defeat me?” Madara snarls out, and the man’s eyes hardens, pain shining in his eyes. “When I killed everyone you loved?”

There’s a pause of silence that follows the Uchiha’s words, making Kushina pause as she skids to a halt next to the red-haired man. Those words are cruel, she thinks to herself. The man’s quiet and the blue chakra continues to spin, before his mouth opens to speak. “You didn’t kill everyone I love, Madara.”

A hiss. “What?”

The man glances towards her and gives her a small smile. “I have everyone I love beside me,” he says with certainty in his voice. Kushina can’t help but blink at him. She doesn’t even know him, and yet... it feels like he does. “And you’ll be defeated this time!”

Madara’s lips curl into a disgusted sneer. “Then I’ll make sure that everyone you love here will die, too.”

Kushina raises her fists, allows her chakra to rise and cover them as Madara swings out his staff and jumps over towards them. The man looks at her, and she realizes what the man meant when he said all his loved ones are here. There’s a familiar glint in his eyes as he flares out orange chakra and raises his free fist towards her.

Take it, his eyes seems to say. For them.

She bumps it.

And searing red chakra surrounds her.

 

 

Chapter Text

 

There’s a numb feeling in his chest.

Jiraiya glances towards the scroll beside him as he peers up at the familiar treetops, hand pausing over his script. He just came back from one of his long term missions, and he needs to report back to his sensei. Yet, he can feel something on the horizon.

Something unsettling is happening in Konoha, and he doesn’t like it. Doesn’t like how the feeling crawls across his chest, laced with guilt and prickling with anticipation. Tsunade would have shook her head and tell him he was imagining things (but she would listen carefully and keep it in her mind). 

Orochimaru would tell him to quit his worrying, and say that they would figure things out when they arrive at that point of time (but he would have that flicker of worry in his eyes, and a sign of fear-). But they’re not with him, not anymore.

(Not anymore, not anymore, Tsunade vanished with Shizune and Orochimaru withdrew into himself after they all broke apart-)

Swallows and feels bile rising in his throat as he turns his thoughts from his former teammates and focuses on writing his report. There’s no point wondering what he could have done to change to keep them together. He has several objectives to accomplish, then maybe he can consider visiting Orochimaru.

Maybe even convince him to help search for Tsunade.

“Oi.” The voice of the man accompanying him interrupts his flow of thoughts, makes him look up to the familiar deadpanned look. “Let’s get going. I don’t want to waste time.”

He rolls his eyes, pushes himself up to grin at the young man. “You should relax a little,” Jiraiya says mildly as he tilts his head to the side. The man only scowls at him with a flicker of annoyance in his chakra. “We have plenty of time. Nothing in Konoha is gonna bite you, after all.”

“Knowing the amount of destruction I witnessed before, doubtful,” the man mutters, a single hand trailing over the hilt of the katana sheathed on his waist. Regret reflects in charcoal eyes, before the man straightens and smooths his expression into a blank one.

The way the man’s chakra flickers and twists like lightning gives away his thoughts, but Jiraiya doesn’t pry into it. He knows exactly what the man is thinking, and it slightly hurts, especially when he’s never even witnessed what the man had seen.

All he wants is to report to his sensei, finish the manuscript he’s constructing for his first book, and show the man around the Konoha he knows.

After all, the Konoha the man knew once is no more.

“Something’s happening, isn’t it?” Glances towards the man, raising his eyebrow at the tone of acceptance and defeat. “In Konoha, I mean.”

“Maybe,” he admits quietly, turns his head towards the direction where his village stands. “I can usually feel the Shodai Hokage’s chakra in the trees, but... something’s making them not...” He falters at the word, unsure how to explain to the man how the trees would always-

“Sing?”

“... yeah, that’s the word.”

Even if the trees aren’t singing, like what the man said, things at home isn’t that bad... right?

Jiraiya looks at the man instead, flashing him a smile. He’ll do what he and his former teammates always done; face their gut instincts during the right time. “So, ready to go? I did promise you a meal at Ramen Ichiraku, didn’t I?”

The man’s singular eye widens, before he gives him a faint smile in return. “You did,” he murmurs, a wave of grief washing over in his chakra, before it settles into a hum. Jiraiya grins at the success of making the man smile, linking his arm with him.

The man doesn’t resist, only a sigh of resignation escaping him while he laughs. Maybe with this man, he can meet Orochimaru again.

“Then let’s go, Sasuke.”