Jiraiya just stood there, frozen. Kushina was staring at her son, her mouth opening and closing with no words coming out.
Jiraiya was the first to react.
"Of all the lives you had to live before this one, it had to be him…This is GREAT!" he said enthusiastically with a thumbs up sign.
Naruto grinned at the man's response. Jiraiya reminded him of how he used to be as Hashirama. How he still was, to a large extent.
He and his godfather would reconcile just fine.
"Because of my study of seals I know you are still my son, Naruto. The unexpected keeps happening to the Namikaze family. Having the reborn Hashirama as a son… Minato would be so proud. I am too. So proud...", Kushina said wonderingly still unable to believe.
She shook her head, still trying to accept Naruto and Hashirama being one. Her little boy was the rebirth of the most revered ninja since the Sage of the Six paths.
Naruto sent a sly glance towards Kakashi.
"You reacted better than Kakashi-sensei, Kaa-san and ero-sennin. He only…fainted."
Kakashi managed to look indignant even with his mask on. Jiraiya and Kushina were snorting with laughter, imagining Sharingan no Kakashi fainting like an academy fan girl.
"I'll get you for this, Naruto…" threatened Kakashi.
Kushina then looked at Hiruzen and Kakashi.
"I hate asking this…but all this seems too surreal to me, Hokage-sama. Do you believe Naruto?"
Hiruzen nodded without hesitation.
"He is Hashirama-sama reborn, without a doubt. That seal there was attuned more to soul than to chakra, and only Hashirama-sama could use it. There is no doubt."
Kushina nodded, trying to comprehend the implications and her own chaotic feelings. It was not every parent who learned that their son had such a truly beautiful soul.
"Also, to convince me, He raised a massive wooden bridge from Nami to the mainland with just a single hand seal. Only Shodai-sama could ever use Mokuton with such skill and power…No Genin however talented could do that. It is acquired through decades of experience only…" said Kakashi.
Kushina was stunned. She had no choice but to believe her son after what Kakashi and Hiruzen said. She stared at Naruto with mixed emotions on her face. Love for her son and reverence for his greatness.
Minato's idiotic mistake had awakened a legend…
"Would you prefer Naruto or Hashirama when we are alone, Naruto?" she asked.
"Call me Naruto, Kaa-san. I am still your son, even if I was Hashirama back then…"
Kushina nodded, looking relieved. It would take her a long time to get used to the reality of Senju Hashirama being born as her son. She would adapt for her son's sake.
The Sandaime looked at all of them.
"I called all of you here primarily to discuss the matter of Orochimaru. Jiraiya, Naruto, you have to stop tailing Kabuto from hereon. Our Jounin Gekko Hayate who was tailing him yesterday has been killed."
Naruto had a sad look on his face, as did Jiraiya and Kakashi. Hayate's death was a great loss to the Jounin, as he was very talented at Kenjutsu.
Jiraiya looked at Hiruzen. "I assume you called me and Naruto to brief Kushina and Kakashi of our findings, Sensei."
"In part, Jiraiya. Kakashi and Kushina are informed of the essentials of Orochimaru's involvement. They need more specifics. We also need to discuss how we are to meet Orochimaru's invasion with the limited information we have…"
Jiraiya nodded and turned to Kushina and Kakashi.
"Naruto here discovered that Orochimaru was planning to use the Edo Tensei to resurrect Hashirama and Tobirama, and use them to kill Sensei. He was unable to resurrect Hashirama, and has found a replacement for him."
Kushina was first outraged that Naruto was being sent on such high level missions at such a young age, but she remembered just who he was.
He would be in no danger even if discovered. It would be hard indeed for her to curb her protective instinct as a mother…that too after seeing her son a decade later.
Naruto took up the narrative.
"We know for certain that he will be using two Edo Tensei summons and one of them will be my brother, Tobirama. It will be easy to subdue Tobirama because Orochimaru would not dare bring him back at full strength. Our only worry is the unknown summons…"
The Sandaime now interjected:
"We also know that Orochimaru is going to invade with a considerable force of Oto Ninja. He will want to kill me personally, so I assume he will be present at the stadium in a disguise. We are still unable to find out what…"
Kakashi asked, "How do we respond then, Hokage-sama?"
"First we cannot let anyone except the Elite Jounin know of this. I have the opportunity to finish off Orochimaru once and for all, and I will take it no matter what. Orochimaru will call off the invasion if he smells too much wariness on our part. We should lay a careful trap…"
Jiraiya then spoke: "We will have three teams composed entirely of ANBU, each lead by one of us. Kakashi will lead a team to respond to threats within the stadium, Kushina and I will lead teams to guard Konoha from without. The Jounin will be able to guard the village itself once the invasion happens, under Kakashi's guidance….."
"What will Naruto be doing?" asked a worried Kushina, observing her son who looked calm and solemn.
"Hiruzen will be there at the stadium to deal with Orochimaru once and for all, and I will be there with him to subdue Tobirama and the unknown summons. I could always beat my brother in a fight even at his full strength…" Naruto said.
"What of the evacuation of the children of the academy?" Kakashi asked Hiruzen.
"We will send Jounin and Genin to oversee their evacuation."
The Sandaime looked at them all.
"There is one last matter. Naruto, your true lineage will be announced after this whole affair is done with. Until then, please keep it under wraps as the Raikage will be visiting. He will be unsettled enough with the Red Death's presence, but knowing that her and Minato's son is still alive will be a matter of alarm for him and the nations…."
"I know politics, Hiruzen. Did you forget who taught you its fundamentals when you were little?" asked Naruto in an amused voice.
The Sandaime looked sheepish. "Right, Sorry sensei. Just making sure…"
Kakashi, Jiraiya and Kushina stared, amazed at this interaction. They forgot easily that Naruto used to be Hiruzen's sensei in another lifetime.
"I need to release the seal, Hiruzen. I am starting to feel the drain…" said Naruto and released it at the nods of assent.
When the room jerked back to normal, Naruto spoke to Kushina.
"Where will you be staying, Kaa-san? Will you go to the Namikaze house you and Tou-san stayed in?"
Kushina looked regretful. "That place holds too many memories for me, Naruto. I will find someplace else…"
"You can stay with me, Kaa-san…"
Kushina looked uncertain. She wanted to stay with him. How she wanted to. But how would he feel if his mother who left him for so long, for whatever reason, was back in his life so suddenly?
"You don't want to?" Naruto asked, looking vulnerable.
Kushina cursed herself. "It is not that, Naruto-kun. I would love to stay with you, but I do not wish to impose…"
Naruto looked happier. "There is no question of imposition within family, Kaa-san."
They left for his apartment, a couple of blurs flashing through the air.
"So this is your apartment, Naruto."
"Yes, Kaa-san…do you like it?"
Kushina mused to herself as she stared at the rather untidy apartment.
"It could use some tidying up. Boys…all the same. Minato was just like you, you know. He used to Hiraishin all over his apartment to tidy up before our date there…" she said wistfully, remembering her beloved husband.
She looked at Naruto quickly, and asked him the one question eating at her.
"Naruto, do you truly forgive me for my absence or was it something you just said? Tell me the truth please, son. I can handle it. Tell me the truth about what you feel about me and my actions..."
"Look, Kaa-san. I have lived my life as Hashirama with little of motherly love. I have been denied that for the entire duration of my life as Naruto. I have no idea how to accept a mother's love…"
Kushina was near tears. She would never forgive herself for depriving him of her love as a child, no matter how good her reasons.
Excuses and iron-clad reasons just became dust for a mother when faced with her child's anguish.
"…The best I had as Naruto was the Old Man. But you forget something. I may be a child in body, but I was the one who ended the age of warring clans and built Konoha. I am Senju Hashirama, and I have learned the misery and happiness of life a long time ago. I know all too well to keep family close and to forgive them…"
Kushina looked at her son with wonder blossoming again in her heart. This was Senju Hashirama speaking! The greatest ninja himself, reborn as her son!
Naruto did not notice his mother's fluctuating emotions and continued speaking of feelings long buried.
"Even if I had no one during this childhood, I had family as Hashirama. Those memories let me lose much of my resentment for you. I may look young, but I am old…"
Naruto was now feeling the full import of his two lives. Kushina was just staring at her son…he was extraordinary beyond measure. She did not dare interrupt his thoughts as he seemed to be pouring his real feelings out.
"I know exactly how you are feeling, Kaa-san. I was a father too. And I can imagine how it would feel if my children were to resent me in these circumstances. So, that is why it is easy for me to forgive you…I have the perspective of a father." Naruto said to her sincerely, taking her hand.
Kushina nodded tremulously. There was no other word for to describe her son.
Naruto was extraordinary, a gift to soothe this hate filled world. He was precious.
She would be there for him and help him with his dreams and goals however lofty they may be, she promised herself as his mother.
They stayed up late into the night, exchanging the details of their lives. Getting to know each other.
Naruto had someone he could truly call his family, besides his granddaughter Tsunade. He had a mother for the first time in two lives, and he was happy.
The trees of Konoha seemed to shine benevolently and flowers began to bloom in the village.
"The flowers are blooming…" said Jiraiya, while adjusting the anti-intruder sealing array. The Sandaime and Kakashi looked at the trees in the park and they seemed healthier.
Jiraiya was right. The withering flowers of the park bloomed.
"Naruto" whispered the third, recognition on his face.
Kakashi looked at him questioningly.
"He is happy. It always happened during my childhood. When I learned the first Doton jutsu he taught me …the earth wall, he was so happy that Konoha looked like Kami's garden for a month or so…", said Hiruzen, the memories of his childhood lighting up his old face.
Jiraiya and Kakashi listened to the story like little kids listened to Iruka at the Academy.
"Harsh winters make the village desolate and shorn of its beauty. It happened once more when he was carrying a two year old Tsunade in his arms, she was so little…he was walking to the Hokage tower.
A snowflake fell on Tsunade's cheek, and she was crying, "Ojisan!" from the sudden cold. It was her first word. Hashirama-sama was crying tears of joy and the ground just thawed, responding to him and converting itself into a lawn…spring arrived a month early in Konoha that year."
"I remember after that, the children used to make him happy deliberately, and flowers would bloom in Konoha. That Konoha was lost though, when he passed during the first war…" finished Sarutobi.
Jiraiya looked entranced by the story. Kakashi looked reverent.
"He has returned now, sensei. The flowers of Konoha are blooming again…" said Jiraiya.
Hiruzen looked around them, noting the returned beauty of the park.
"So they are" he said with a wide smile on his face.
FIFTEEN DAYS LATER
Naruto and Sasuke walked silently to Naruto's apartment.
"So your training is over, Teme?" asked Naruto breaking the silence.
"Yes, thank kami. I know you and Kakashi told me to take the remaining two days off to recuperate, but can't I do it myself? I just want to be lazy for the next few days, believe it or not…"
Naruto looked at him seriously. "There is someone I want you to meet, Sasuke. Someone very important to both you and me…"
Sasuke looked at him quizzically but followed silently as Naruto opened the door to his apartment. Someone important to him, what did that mean?
The first thing he saw when he followed Naruto into his apartment was that it was cleaner. The walls were gleaming, the books were arranged, the bedding was new…it was a different place altogether.
But what shocked him even more was the beautiful woman with long red hair, whose face resembled Naruto's greatly. It was as if she was his mother. Wait…his…
"Who are you?" he asked the woman. Naruto just stood to the side, watching them silently.
She walked up to him silently and began introducing herself softly.
"Hello Sasuke-kun, I am Uzumaki Kushina. I am Naruto's mother and…and your godmother. Uchiha Mikoto was like a sister to me…."
Sasuke stared at Kushina with pure shock upon his face.
"Where were you all this time…?"
It had taken them the better part of three hours to explain to Sasuke the story of the Namikaze family, leaving out Naruto's secret.
He sat stunned at the end of it all…
"So you are the heir of the Yondaime and Red Death of Konoha? No wonder you are so strong…"
Naruto nodded. "We were raised together for two months, Sasuke. Mikoto-san took care of me along with you when Kaa-san was incapacitated…"
Sasuke's face softened considerably at this.
"Do you…do you mind if I come over sometimes to talk, Kushina-san?" Sasuke asked hesitantly.
Kushina hugged them both to her tightly, Sasuke squirming with discomfort at being within Naruto's proximity.
"Not at all, Sasuke-kun. You are as good as a son to me…."
Naruto sighed with happiness as the family of two became three.
He knew it, now. Sasuke would become more powerful than Madara in due time…
Uchiha Sasuke and Uzumaki Naruto would bring the everlasting peace and understanding Uchiha Madara and Senju Hashirama could not.
He knew it well.
COUNCIL ROOM, KONOHA
"Greetings, A-dono", greeted the Hokage. The Raikage A had arrived two days back and submitted a proposal on Kumo's behalf.
"Greetings, Hiruzen-dono. Let us get down to business. What is Konoha's response to Kumo's proposal?"
The council members looked at Hiruzen and nodded. Hiruzen responded:
"Konoha agrees to Kumo's proposal, Raikage-dono. The non-aggression pact is accepted by us in exchange for your...aid...and will be valid for the next three years between our two nations."
"The formalities will be complete by tonight. Will you not stay , A-dono?" asked Hiruzen, hoping he would not.
The Raikage staying while they executed their trap was a complication they did not need. His hopes were answered.
"I would like to, but cannot, Hiruzen-dono. I have a scheduled conference with the Mizukage in five days, so I cannot pause. I have faith in Yugito, though, she is quite strong…"
"As you say, A-dono. I hope our countries shall prosper with this newest treaty…"
Do not break the treaty, A.
"I hope for that as well, Hiruzen-dono."
The same to you, Hiruzen.
Hiruzen watched as the muscular Kage collected his brother who was really annoying the ANBU with his so-called rap.
A and B, they were strange but true brothers. It was time to make the final preparations for tomorrow's plan to work.
They had polished the rough edges to the plan. They were ready to take out one of the biggest threats to the village.
Naruto and Kushina ate their food in silence. They had discovered that they both shared a maniacal worship for Ramen.
"So, Kaa-san, all these days it has been only about me. Tell me more about what you did when you left me…"
Kushina's face scrunched up in pain at being reminded of that. She looked down in shame.
"I have clearance from the Old Man, if that is what you are worried about. As long as you have a good security seal array protecting us, you can tell me…which you do.", he continued obliviously.
Kushina looked at Naruto.
"No, Naruto. I will tell you, you deserve to know. Ever since I left you, I was Konoha's diplomatic envoy and of course non official spy to Kiri. I headed our intelligence there, just as Jiraiya-sama does for the rest of the nations.
We were getting disturbing reports from Kiri back then, and I was sent there to assess the situation. I managed Konoha's front there for the next five years, after which the Yondaime Mizukage Yagura spawned a civil war with his persecution of bloodlines."
Naruto listened with rapt attention.
"I don't need to tell you of the horrors of a war, you are Hashirama after all…Anyway, I was instructed to lend aid to the rebel forces as Konoha is a great supporter of bloodlines and did not want anymore of them lost.
Then I rescued an extremely strong Jounin, Mei Terumi who is about six years younger than me. Her bloodlines, Lava Release and Boil Release make her a feared opponent. She is part Uzumaki…"
Naruto felt happier. The Uzumaki clan still thrived. The most resilient and long lived clan would take more than a single war to wipe out, he thought with pride.
"The two of us led the bloodline faction for three long and bloody years of internal war. We managed to kill Yagura in the end, though. In fact, by the time I got Hiruzen's call, Mei was already the new Mizukage…"
Naruto nodded. His mother was a very strong Kunoichi indeed.
"I am impressed, Kaa-san. Do you think I can meet this Terumi Mei of yours…?"
Kushina looked elated. "Of course, Naruto. She used to be raving about how she wanted to meet you. We became such close friends that I even told her the truth about you being alive…just like me and Mikoto. At least I can do this for you; you need none of my training…"
"What do you mean?" asked Naruto, tilting his head.
"What can I teach Senju Hashirama? I thought of training you in the Fuuinjutsu of the Uzumaki and the Kenjutsu developed by me exclusively…but I cannot have everything I suppose." said Kushina tearfully.
"We can still spar together, Kaa-san. I just did not bring it up because I have no wish for my first clear memories of my mother to be ones of conflict…we can spar after the finals, though. I can always learn from someone of your stature…"
Kushina looked happier. She suddenly brought up a topic that was very painful for Naruto.
"Do you like any girls, Naruto? Any academy chicks gotten into your sensory field?" she asked mischievously.
Naruto let his pain show, which made Kushina go silent very fast. This was something he had shoved in the deepest recesses of his mind, lest it overwhelm him.
"I'm so sorry musuko, did I say something…oh…" she got an understanding look on her face and felt like punching herself, hard. She always ran her mouth too much sometimes.
Naruto looked her in the eyes and Kushina gasped. Those forest green eyes showed so much anguish that it froze her. He was still grieving for her…?
"Kaa-san, please avoid that topic unless you wish to cause me pain. My heart shall forever belong to Mito and her alone. I can never even think about loving another woman as long as I am alive…", said Naruto.
Kushina nodded mutely. She should have never brought that up…
"Anyway, have you been given your team yet, Kaa-san?"
Kushina allowed the change in subject, and they dwelled upon the specifics of their roles during the invasion.
ARENA, CHUUNIN EXAM FINALS
Naruto stood alongside Hiruzen disguised as ANBU, watching Sasuke and Gaara face off against each other in the first match of the finals.
He reached his hand to his back and caressed the beautiful black Wakizashi blade gifted to him by his mother. It felt so light strapped his back, so sharp. Sasuke had gotten one too, but he had gotten a katana.
They were all ready. His mother and Jiraiya were patrolling outside Konoha with their teams.
Kakashi and his team were on guard in the stadium, as were all the Jounin. They had prepared as best as they could.
The Kazekage came strolling towards his seat, his face covered by a veil. Naruto extended his senses to sample the Kazekage's chakra for the first time, and he was shocked. Beyond shocked.
Clever, Orochimaru. Clever indeed.
Orochimaru was masquerading as the Kazekage. The real Yondaime Kazekage was probably dead.
Orochimaru's plan fell into place in his head like pieces of a jigsaw.
He plans to use Suna and Oto to attack us simultaneously. Suna from within and Oto from without. Good that we divided our forces evenly…
Naruto watched as the 'Kazekage' and Hiruzen greeted each other, and sat on their respective seats.
He bent down and whispered the truth to Hiruzen. The Sandaime's eyes widened in alarm and he whispered back in Naruto's ear.
"Warn Kakashi to be ready for this. Ask him to send a message to Kushina…"
Naruto nodded, concealed by his cat mask and disappeared and reappeared back again after a few moments.
He had sent a wood clone with a message to Kakashi.
"A problem, Hokage?" inquired the 'Kazekage' solicitously.
"Just a small adjustment to today's programme, Kazekage" said Hiruzen lightly.
"Let us enjoy the show, Kazekage. It is my prized Genin versus yours after all…"
They watched as Gaara just gave his trademark stare of death to Sasuke.
Sasuke just smiled back.
This seemed to have annoyed Gaara as sand poured out of his gourd and just shot towards Sasuke.
But it was not really fast enough to keep up with a Sasuke who had made such progress with shunshin. Every time Gaara lunged for him with sand, the Uchiha disappeared and appeared elsewhere.
The crowd were going bonkers as they enjoyed their beloved 'Last Uchiha' make sport of the red headed sand using maniac.
Naruto had warned Sasuke not to use Genjutsu, though. It was of no use against Jinchuuriki like Gaara, whose bijuu was a psychopathic raccoon that induced fluctuations of its own in the host's chakra network constantly.
Not conducive for Genjutsu.
Naruto saw what Sasuke was doing, though. It was a good tactic to dodge the sand and analyse Gaara's attack pattern and Jutsu with his Sharingan. If he could predict those accurately, he wouldn't even need shunshin to dodge.
The teme still wouldn't say how he got the third tomoe of his Sharingan. He could feel the beginnings of exertions in the Uchiha's chakra flow.
He couldn't keep up the shunshin use forever. It was a rather draining jutsu that consumed a lot of chakra. Chakra that Sasuke was yet to develop. It was already impressive that he used it the way he did now…
Gaara's irritation showed itself at last.
"Stay still, Uchiha. Mother craves your blood…"
Kurama snorted with amusement in Naruto's mind. The Kyuubi had been rather silent as of late, allowing its container to deal with his tumultuous life by his own. He was hardly an expert at soothing humans, so he helped the best way he knew.
He shut up. And Naruto was grateful for it.
Kakashi only paid minimal attention to the match as he considered Naruto's message. He had sent an ANBU to warn Kushina and Jiraiya.
His ANBU were undercover as civilians, and ready to respond at a moment's notice. The Jounin with him were ready as well.
Kakashi watched as Sasuke stopped flashing around, and simply waited for Gaara to attack again.
He had instructed his ANBU not to interfere with the Sandaime and Naruto. To ninja like them, more help would just be a hindrance.
Kushina and Jiraiya met at the east gate, their teams on reserve. Their sensors and scouts were constantly patrolling the territory within sight of Konoha.
"Kushina, did you get the message?"
"Yes, Jiraiya-sensei. I worry for Naruto, he will be facing Orochimaru again so soon…"
Jiraiya snorted. "I wouldn't worry about the Gaki, Kushina. You know who he is…"
Kushina nodded, but still looked worried.
"My team has found no indications of any invading nin. What is Orochimaru up to?"
"That teme is unpredictable, if anything. We must be ready for anything, Kushina. You take north and east; I will take south and west…"
Kushina nodded in confirmation. "Hai, Jiraiya-sensei."
They separated in a blur.
Sasuke watched calmly as the sand shot towards him from multiple directions. He had the Jinchuuriki now.
He could predict how he struck and could avoid with his greatly increased physical speed.
The crowd gasped, stunned, as he neatly avoided Gaara's attacks as if he knew how they would hit a year ago.
Running towards Gaara, he dodged even more sand attacks gracefully, his Sharingan spinning. His speed increased as he leaped high into the air, twisting cleanly to avoid Gaara's whip of sand.
He landed right in front of Gaara and unleashed a hard punch to his face, well before his shield of sand could kick in. The sand user flew back hard, hitting the walls of the arena with a crunch.
A bit of sand fell off his face, revealing the skin underneath. It seemed that his armour of sand had protected him.
Sasuke disappeared and appeared in front of Gaara with a fast kick, but retracted at the last second when a dome covered the Sand nin and extended spikes toward him.
Not wasting a second, he appeared high upon the wall opposite Gaara and began concentrating chakra into his hand. The technique he was using could cut through anything.
Naruto watched as Sasuke charged up his version of Kakashi's technique, Chidori. A sound of thousand birds chirping filled the air as blue lightning crackled in Sasuke's hand.
The young Uchiha charged fast and hard at Gaara, causing the Suna Genin to extend those sand spikes at him.
The Sharingan was too formidable, though and allowed Sasuke to dodge the spikes and plunge his Chidori right through Gaara's so called ultimate defence.
A horrible scream filled the air as the sphere of sand encasing Gaara blew apart, revealing Sasuke with his hand right through Gaara's shoulder, near his heart.
"NO!" screamed Gaara's siblings. Naruto wasn't too concerned, though. A Jinchuuriki would not die so easily.
Sasuke pulled out his hand, spattering the blood of his opponent. Sure enough, Gaara's wound began to steam and close up.
Soon, it was fully healed. The red haired Jinchuuriki looked furious beyond description.
"BLOOD! MY BLOOD? I WILL KILL YOU ALL!" he roared. Sasuke looked at him, wary of his bloodlust. The crowd seemed stunned.
Naruto observed Orochimaru, as he sat by the edge of his seat waiting for something to happen.
Gaara was obscured by a huge pillar of sand, blowing Sasuke away. Orochimaru signalled to someone, and Naruto could feel Genjutsu being cast on the entire stadium, feathers falling everywhere.
He and Hiruzen were abruptly enclosed along with Orochimaru by some sort of barrier that reached up high and had two layers. It was held by what looked like ridiculous teens, who situated themselves within the layers of the barrier.
It had begun.
The crowds were falling asleep, but Kakashi's team and the Jounin had dispelled the illusion.
Kakashi and his team spread throughout the stadium, taking out the sand Ninja mercilessly. The Konoha Jounin led their Genin out efficiently to help in the protection of the village.
Temari and Kankurou were out fast, but Sasuke pursued them on orders from Shiranui Genma, the proctor who engaged the sensei of Gaara, Baki. Things were taking place too fast.
"TANUKI NEIRI NO JUTSU!", came the shout from within the sand pillar. The sand dispersed, revealing the huge form of the one tailed bijuu, Shukaku.
"I'm BACK!" roared the funky bijuu. Gaara had released the sand demon at last.
The Kazekage flew back, pulling off his veil.
"Hello, Sarutobi-sensei and Naruto-kun…" said the now revealed snake-sannin.
"Orochimaru, my foolish student. You are really stupid to fight me here and now…"
"I wouldn't say that Sarutobi-sensei, look at Gaara, would you? What do you think will happen if…Konoha takes a full on Bijuudama..?", he asked with glee.
Naruto and Hiruzen looked at Gaara, their eyes blazing. Orochimaru signalled, and another barrier separated the two from him, protecting him while he summoned. He slammed his palms together.
"Kuchiyose: Edo Tensei!"
Two coffins began to rise out of space-time rips in the ground. Hiruzen watched silently, as he knew Naruto would hold the Shukaku off till help arrived. Then they could deal with Orochimaru and his summons….
Naruto flared his chakra and watched the Shukaku as it turned its attention to the battle on the roof.
"YOU ARE THE ONE ANOYING ME! I FOUND SOMEONE TO KILL!" yelled the bijuu, and opened its mouth, gathering enormous chakra.
Dimly Naruto noted Orochimaru completing the Edo Tensei. Just a little more time for her to show up…
Yugito could conceal herself, but Matatabi could not conceal herself from Kurama.
"Kurama, is Matatabi here yet?"
"Yeah. I can feel her Jinchuuriki changing into the Tailed state…You will have to hold off that Bijuudama Shukaku has aimed at you before she deals with the raccoon."
Naruto nodded. Shukaku's strength had nothing on Kurama. He bit his finger, and began his summoning.
"Kuchiyose: Sanjuu Rashoumon!"
The tailed beast bomb of Shukaku exploded towards the podium in a hail of destruction, but was intercepted by three demonic gates and a blinding explosion ensued.
Orochimaru was impressed. To summon the Rashoumon at such an age was a daunting prospect.
When the air cleared, Shukaku was facing another bijuu. The two tailed hellcat, Niibi. Yugito had come through, Naruto thought with relief.
Hiruzen had made a really good deal with that Raikage.
Naruto had to act fast to keep the village from being destroyed. He had to contain the bijuu within the stadium and conserve his strength for Orochimaru's summons, which were nearly out.
"Mokuton: Yokusei no Mokusei Hankyo"
Massive wooden pillars arched from the edges of the Arena to confine the two bijuu in a huge hemisphere of wood. The stadium and city were safe for a while.
Naruto turned to Hiruzen. "It is done, Hiruzen. Shukaku will be defeated by Matatabi before he breaks out of sphere. Oh, and hello again, Orochimaru…"
Orochimaru was looking at Naruto with absolute amazement on his face.
"Mokuton….Well, no matter. Meet your former teachers again, sensei…"
The coffins' door fell, revealing two figures.
Sound ninja were pouring into Konoha territory in a concentrated assault on the east side, about two hundred of them.
A Massive snake appeared with them, going straight for the gates.
"Katon: Gouryuuka no Jutsu!" yelled Kushina, breathing out a huge dragon of fire. The snake was completely swallowed by the fire dragon, and was vaporized.
Kushina's team nodded appreciatively.
"Team, engage the Sound ninja! We cannot let them enter Konoha! Let's go!"
"Kuchiyose no Jutsu!"
There was a large puff of smoke, and Jiraiya stood upon the Toad Boss, Gamabunta, facing the huge snake and the Oto ninja attacking them.
"No time for whining, give me oil Bunta!"
The boss toad looked annoyed, but did as he was told.
"Katon: Gamayu Endan!"
The stream of fire from Jiraiya ignited the torrent of oil spewing out of Gamabunta's mouth, creating a massive conflagration of fire.
The snake summons was done for, but the Oto Ninja defended themselves well.
"Suiton: Suuijinheki!" roared twenty Oto ninja, neutralizing Jiraiya's attack with a collective water wall.
They charged in formation and were engaged by Jiraiya's team in front of Konoha's South gate.
The battle was joined.
Kakashi and his team moved through the village, encountering the Sand ninja within and neutralizing them.
It was a brilliant plan they had devised. The hunters were now the hunted.
"Kakashi-taicho! That is Jiraiya-sama's summon, meaning he should be facing a considerable force. Do we assist?" questioned Uzuki Yuugao urgently.
"No. Jiraiya-sama and Kushina-san need no assistance. The two of them are powerful enough to defeat entire battalions, but their wide range jutsu will cause us collateral damage which is why they are holding back. They can take care of themselves and their teams…"
His own team nodded.
"What is the status of the fight in the stadium?" questioned Kakashi.
"Naruto-san has confined Ichibi and Niibi Jinchuuriki with Mokuton…" said Tenzo, hardly able to believe it, but continued.
"He and Hiruzen-sama are currently fighting Orochimaru and what looks to be the Niidaime Hokage and Uzumaki Mito…"
Kakashi was extremely concerned for Naruto. If there was any way to thoroughly upset him, this was it. But he had his orders and he had to defend the village.
"Thank you, Tenzo. Leave your wood clone right where it is to give us direct updates. Since most of the Suna-nin are taken care of, we will stand by as a reserve and help where we can, inside the village…" he added pointedly.
Naruto stared at the forms of his brother and wife with tears in his eyes. Tobirama looked just the way he remembered, blue armor, long spiky white hair…
That head guard he had liked so much…he was barely holding himself together as he saw his dead little brother in the world again.
But when his eyes alighted upon his wife, the tears suddenly started falling. Fuuinjutsu tags as her ear ornaments; white kimono and looking like an angel.
He had forgotten how beautiful she was.
Hiruzen was not looking at his former superiors, but at Naruto. The pain this reunion must be causing him…This would bring out the secrets Orochimaru did not need to know. He had to deal with Orochimaru as Naruto dealt with his reanimated family.
The barrier between the adversaries dissolved, but the one confining them on the podium remained, held by the four Oto ninja.
Orochimaru looked intrigued by Naruto's reaction to his summons. Something did not add up here…
He walked to Mito and Tobirama and thrust Kunai with Fuuinjutsu tags into their heads. Their bodies started steaming, and they began to gain the complexion they had possessed in their prime.
Tobirama and Mito looked up and saw their two opponents.
"Saru, you have grown old…" said Tobirama dispassionately.
"Hiruzen-chan, you seem like an ancient monkey. I seem to remember you telling me as a little boy that you would never become older than twelve years…", Mito laughed happily.
Naruto's heart quickened at hearing his wife laugh again. He couldn't even speak, looking at her.
Then it struck him.
"Orochimaru, you idiot…" Naruto shook his head pityingly.
Mito glanced at him, as did Tobirama.
"Who are you, youngster?" Tobirama asked in a stern voice.
Naruto was incensed, his little brother calling him little? Orochimaru was watching the byplay interestedly…
Naruto flared his chakra considerably, and the tiles of the roof were cracking and floating away in pieces. Hiruzen and Orochimaru were doing the same but were drowned by Naruto's strength…
"Enough conversation, old people. Kill the boy, Mito-san. Tobirama, attack the old man…Konoha will burn under my hand!"
But nothing happened. Tobirama and Mito were staring at Naruto, their eyes wide.
"You have the same chakra as my brother, boy. How is that possible…?" asked Tobirama. Mito was staring at him amazed. Naruto sighed; she had still not deduced the truth.
A fight such as this was no place for a reunion such as theirs, no matter how much he wished it.
"What? What is happening? KILL THEM!" screamed Orochimaru, who was looking frantic.
Mito looked at Orochimaru with an intrigued look on her face.
"So…you are the one who brought me back with Edo Tensei. You brought me back at full strength, while you suppressed Tobirama's. Youngster, you underestimate the wrong people…." said Mito, shaking her head.
A dense grey chakra was rolling off her, causing ripples in the air.
"Bringing me back was foolish if you wanted me to attack Konoha…You did well to shut Tobirama's emotions, but leaving me with complete control of mine was your last mistake…"
The Kunai in Mito floated back out and was crushed into smithereens.
Naruto's chakra was saturating the air in a terrible joy as he watched his wife cast off Orochimaru's weak bindings. Hiruzen was watching disbelievingly, he had no idea of Mito-sama's strength.
Orochimaru was looking very disturbed at this unexpected turn in events, and he held up a half ram seal.
Tobirama walked forward as if he were on strings and ran at Hiruzen, while Orochimaru was trying to get Mito back under his control, cursing all the while.
"Hiruzen, hold off Tobirama will you? I will deal with Mito and that foolish student of yours…"
Hiruzen nodded and disappeared, meeting the Niidaime for a fierce bout of Taijutsu in the air.
Naruto stared at Mito who was making various handseals, fast. He recognized this technique well, it was incomplete. He had made her promise never to use it again because of the consequences.
Why was she….
"FUUINJUTSU: JUNSUINA SEKAI NO KAIHO!"
Liberation of the pure world.
The counter she had devised when Tobirama had made Edo Tensei. Only she understood enough to use it…it was so impossibly complex that not even Tobirama could understand the seals.
Orochimaru watched open mouthed as Mito not only threw off his binding like it was nothing, but was actually returning to the living world.
He had miscalculated terribly.
Mito's body which had seemed unnatural and otherworldly was changing. She got colour back in her cheeks and the spark of life returned to her eyes.
Naruto was thanking Kami with every fibre of his body. His wife was somehow, inexplicably returned to him. How could that technique have this effect…
"How…" sputtered Orochimaru.
Mito took in her first breath again, an expression of joy upon her face.
"Hashirama-kun made me promise never to research this technique further, as its price was death. It is an incomplete counter to Edo Tensei, and its price for bringing back a soul from the pure world is death for the caster…"
Orochimaru had a look of comprehension upon his face.
"I have to thank you for bringing me back in the prime of my youth youngster….When I used the liberation of the pure world, my soul which was between worlds suffered what might be called a reverse death bringing me back from the pure world to here…it is a matter of balance."
Orochimaru turned to the sound four with absolute frustration upon his face.
"Release the barrier and be ready to run. The invasion is not going as expected…"
"Orochimaru-sama…" the four looked uncertain. Naruto watched them with interest, which was counterintuitive. Why would they want to stay in a fight they would die in?
Hiruzen sent a large torrent of white hot fire at Tobirama, who easily stopped it with water. At the same time the dome of wood holding both Jinchuuriki exploded, revealing two figures upon the ground.
Yugito was standing over an unconscious Gaara. The arena was completely destroyed and looked more like a massive crater.
Naruto appeared beside Mito, shelving his high emotions. He had to deal with Orochimaru first and only then reunite with Mito.
"Well, Orochimaru…your ninja cannot release the barrier, your work I presume, Mito-chan?"
Mito was puzzled at being addressed so affectionately. There was something very familiar about the blonde, besides his possession of Hashirama's chakra and bloodline. Something that made her heart beat faster.
She looked at Orochimaru. "Indeed. Do you think I would let you leave so easily, youngster? I don't take kindly to people who try to destroy my husband's legacy…"
Orochimaru looked like a cornered animal.
"You are truly powerful, Mito-san…"
Hiruzen appeared alongside Naruto and Mito, looking at them as if all his dreams were come true.
"I need to face Orochimaru myself, Naruto…"
Naruto sighed. "Can you handle him and Tobirama together?"
"Yes, Tobirama-sensei is not at full strength. Leave things here to me…"
Naruto nodded. "Tell Tobirama nothing…I don't want him to be in turmoil…"
The sound four looked like caged rats. Orochimaru's anger was palpable…
Naruto turned to Mito. "Come, Mito-chan. Let me explain to you how I am the exact same as your husband on the way. Konoha needs our assistance. You can get through the barrier, I assume?"
Mito nodded. "Easily…"
Naruto extended his hand to her and Mito took it. Mito's Fuuinjutsu ornaments glowed and the couple just flashed through the barrier as if it didn't exist.
Hiruzen turned to Orochimaru and Tobirama, preparing himself to correct the mistake he had made a decade ago.
Jiraiya and Kushina met at the South gate, looking worse for the wear. Their teams had managed to completely eradicate the invading sound ninja.
"Jiraiya-sensei, we have several wounded on our team. Can you lend us more medics…?"
Jiraiya nodded, ordering his medics to heal Kushina's wounded. The battle had extremely fierce, but their plan had been good enough to grant them victory.
Of course, having S-class ninja lead the defenders never hurt.
"How do you think Naruto is doing…?" Kushina asked.
"He will be fine…he has regained a considerable portion of his old strength and you know that is no laughing matter…"
Kushina seemed relieved with Jiraiya's reassurances. They watched as their teams recuperated from the fierce battle.
They could not re-enter Konoha till Orochimaru was dealt with. The village's perimeter had to be guarded till then…
A young Konoha ninja suddenly appeared in front of the two S-class ninja, Kunai piercing him all over his body.
Kushina and Jiraiya appeared to steady him, yelling for medics. Jiraiya looked at the Chuunin urgently…
"You are a border patrol ninja, aren't you? What happened?"
The ninja gasped out…"Iwa…it was Iwa. About two thousand…White explosion…dust everywhere…border guard overwhelmed…"
The medics were arriving. Kushina looked stunned, and Jiraiya shook the border patrol Chuunin trying to keep him conscious.
"Hey kid…answer me…how far away are they…?"
Before he could ask any more questions, the medics came and dragged the boy away to be healed.
Jiraiya looked at Kushina with apprehension on his face, which was mirrored by her.
"Of all the times for Iwa to turn on us…No matter. We have little time for healing, Kushina. We have to reorganize the defence and hold till our reinforcements get here…send a message for them…"
Kushina looked determined and a little afraid. Not for herself or Jiraiya. They could survive. She was afraid that her team of ANBU, none of them tested in an open battle would die…they were already weakened by the sound ninja.
"Hai, Jiraiya-sensei. By the boy's description it seems as if Onoki the fence-sitter himself is leading the Iwa shinobi. It will need both of us to stop him from massacring Konoha…"
Jiraiya nodded. They would be lucky to leave alive…
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