Kushina fainted just before the masked man could perform the extraction.
"Falling asleep now?" he murmured. "No matter. When the pain comes, you would be awake all throughout."
It was then at that moment that the surroundings became foggy.
Obito blinked from behind his mask, feeling the slightest bit unnerved by this change in setting. The mist seemed unnaturally thick, and he could not see anything very clearly. It felt more like a blackout than a coverage.
"What is this…?" he muttered, eyeing his surroundings for even the most little of movements. Surely there was no such ninja who could perform an ingenious concealing jutsu that could even mask their own motions. The Sharingan should be able to allow him to detect something odd or out of place, but it came so suddenly…
Surely it could not have come from Kushina herself…
— and then, suddenly, there was nothing. Obito blanked out, wondering what he had been about to do. What was his objective again?
But before he had the chance to think, a flash of yellow came at him. Reflexively, he took out a kunai and defended himself with it, gritting his teeth at his brief moment of inattention.
What exactly happened back there? Obito wondered. Had he managed to extract the Kyūbi from Uzumaki Kushina? Why couldn't he remember anything? And what was with this mist? He couldn't even see if the beast did manage to come out.
Or was this all an elaborate plan set up by the Fourth? The blond-haired man certainly did not seem like he was visually blocked like Obito was, after all.
Obito clenched his teeth once more. Plans were not made to always be followed completely, but this was getting out of hand. He could only hold back the Fourth Hokage for mere moments; he did not have the current power or time necessary for the man's disposal yet.
"What did you do?" Namikaze Minato's voice was as cold as steel, and despite being obviously worried for his wife's condition, his movements remained fluid and controlled. Such was the power of the strongest ninja in Konoha.
After a succession of attacks and dodges, Obito flipped backwards until he was at a considerable distance from Minato. He had to weigh his options at the moment. Fighting him would take too long, and there would be scarcely any golden opportunity like this happening any time soon unless Kushina bore another child.
Minato chose that moment to fall back momentarily as well and immediately rushed towards the direction where Kushina was at. Naruto was already safe and sound back in their home; all that was left was to bring Kushina back safe as well.
When he saw her, she looked exhausted and weary, similar to her state after giving birth at the hideout. Although this time she looked a little more tired, if that was possible; it was probably because of the strain of being forcibly made to stand up and chained through the use of seals after labour. However, Minato knew that she would soon snap out of the haze she seemed to be currently in. Kushina was an Uzumaki; her stamina and endurance was the greatest he had ever seen.
It was then that he heard a loud, almost earsplitting roar.
Minato's head jerked towards the sound, his eyes widening in shock at the sight of the Kyūbi which had seemingly come out from nowhere. It was in Konoha! He turned back to his wife, who looked barely awake but mostly unharmed. Had the masked man really extracted the Kyūbi from her? There was no sign of the seal on her stomach...
There was no time to lose. He had to get her to safety and then protect his village.
Then Kushina's eyes opened. "..Wha, Minato?" she called out groggily, sounding half-asleep. "What… What happened…?"
Minato immediately went towards her and swiftly undid the seals holding her in place. Then he flashed them back into a house using his Hiraishin.
"Minato… Oh, my! Minato!" Kushina's voice suddenly took on a startled, urgent tone. "I—I don't feel the Kyūbi inside me…!"
Minato frowned, his eyes narrowing. "So he really did do it," he said, gently laying his wife beside their crying baby boy. However, how the masked man did it was not in Minato's mind at the moment.
"Naruto…" Kushina's voice was awed as she carefully held her son in her arms. "Naruto… Naruto…" she chanted, happy tears leaking out of her eyes.
Having been an orphan at an early age and bullied when she arrived at Konoha, she didn't have anyone who cared for her. She was alone. She was an outsider.
Because Minato changed all that the day he saved her. The day he smiled that gentle, warm smile of his as he carried her in his arms, his hand still gripping Kushina's beautiful red locks. She loved him, and she was extremely jubilant at the fact that they had a new member of the family, especially one that unmistakably had both their looks. This time, she would give her son the life she never had back when she was young.
She would protect him with her life no matter what.
Still deep in her thoughts about Naruto, Kushina hoped that he wouldn't get her '-dattebane' quirk. That would be a little embarrassing.
She heard the opening of a closet door and a swish of clothing. Kushina averted her gaze from her child and to her husband who had his back to her, dutifully putting on his Hokage robe.
As the Fourth Hokage, he was going to protect his village.
"I'll be right back," Minato told her quietly.
Kushina arduously craned her neck towards him, finding it difficult to move fluidly due to her tired state. "Minato…" She gave an unsure expression. "…It's strange, actually. I… don't know how to explain this to you…"
Minato turned towards her. "What is it?"
Kushina looked him in the eyes. "…You know that my body wouldn't be able to handle it eventually if the Kyūbi was extracted from me, right? I, as a jinchūriki, should know that best. Yet, I… I feel normal."
He watched as her expression dimmed in puzzlement and wonder.
"As if… I never had the Kyūbi inside me in the first place."
• • •
Obito was extremely pleased with himself. So he had extracted the Kyūbi after all! That odd nothingness he had felt was probably only a figment of his imagination due to being in the middle of carrying out the plan. Besides, the mist was already long gone, and he suspected that it was only a strange, coincidental trick of light that came with the extraction process, manipulating his vision momentarily.
Now nothing was going to stop him from destroying Konoha to pieces.
At that second, a flash of his old team's picture surfaced inside his mind, almost somewhat mocking him. Vividly, he could see the embarrassed yet gentle smile of Namikaze Minato, the clearly annoyed expression on Hatake Kakashi's visage, the pleasant smile curving Nohara Rin's lips…
…and his own irritated, childish face.
Obito shook the picture away from his mind, determined on seeing the end to his goal.
The Tsuki no Me Project will succeed. I will make sure of it. He directed his gaze skywards, narrowing his visible Sharingan eye. Everything will be remedied when the Infinite Tsukuyomi begins… And no one, not even you, Kakashi… Obito's thoughts now rested on said man, the one who was currently at the other side of the forest with the other ninjas of their generation — Gai, Kurenai, Asuma — and awaiting orders.
…can stop me.
• • •
Minato was on top of the Hokage Monument in the blink of an eye, his eyes trained on the Kyūbi's form. Oddly enough, he noted, the creature was not budging an inch from its position. It almost even seemed… docile despite the faint, panicked cries of the villagers ninjas were attacking it, but it merely swiped away the offenses with its paws, notedly not the tiny bodies charging at it.
Also… it seemed to be looking for something. Or even confused about something.
Minato kept his ground, studying the Kyūbi. It didn't seem like it was about to attack the village, and Minato didn't want to rush at it headfirst without knowing what it was going to do. Strange, it should even be radiating killing intent by now. It was supposed to be in its nature to be ferocious and merciless.
So this is the monster that was caged within Kushina, Minato thought. The effect of being a jinchūriki gave Kushina a tremendous amount of chakra, an increment to her own special reserves, thus making her a force to be reckoned with. She always complained to him lightly about the Kyūbi being a 'snotty fuzzball', as quoted from her own mouth.
Minato was snapped out of his thoughts when the Kyūbi finally made a move.
His fingers tensed, alert on making hand seals when necessary.
"You," it growled at something below it. "Why are we here?"
Minato frowned, puzzled. Who—
Meanwhile, on his side, Obito frowned, his mind spinning. What is going on? My Sharingan should be controlling the Nine Tails… yet it's not doing its job of wreaking havoc upon Konoha! But I summoned it here!
Wait… Obito remembered something. When I came to my senses, it was already in Konoha… But I don't remember sending it there…
The Kyūbi let out a growl — or perhaps it was a choked snicker. "I don't know what exactly is happening here, but it looks like I'll have to take this opportunity." Then its voice turned low and guttural. "You cannot tell me what to do, worthless human. If you think that I am going to be a puppet with you holding the strings… then you have no idea who you are dealing with!"
Minato didn't waste any more time. It looked like the Kyūbi and the masked man were not in amicable terms with each other; all that was left was the latter to take care of. He could worry about the Kyūbi later. Through the one-sided conversation, it seemed that masked man was attempting to destroy Konoha through using one of the powerful tailed beasts, this he discovered when he secretly transported himself near their location. Any attempt on his beloved village was not going to be granted any mercy.
Obito jolted, caught in a rare moment of surprise. But this is impossible! he thought to himself. The Kyūbi can not possibly be unleashed out here in the outside world without it being extracted from its container! And I should be controlling it by now!
The Kyūbi's eyes… they do not even reflect the Sharingan!
"Have your plans failed?" the voice of the Fourth Hokage drifted into his ears. His tone, Obito decided, sounded deadly.
Obito did not want to have to kill his former teacher by his hand. However, this was going to have to be an exception.
Minato narrowed his eyes as he deflected a kunai strike to his left, seemingly observing him and his attack pattern.
Still fast, Obito mused in his mind almost unconsciously.
Yet on the most important times, you…
Obito lowered his arms and pulled out a long, thin, black chain. He did the shackles on his wrist and levelled his gaze.
Then he charged at Minato.
Minato narrowed his eyes and ran towards him as well, special kunai in hand. The masked man had speed, he could admit.
Minato wasted no time in piercing him. However, to his surprise, his kunai went through Obito as if he were nothing but an intangible presence.
And then he was also surprised when his own body passed through as well.
Before he could realize it, the long chain which was dangling along behind Obito caught and held him in place. Minato struggled for only a brief moment before he disappeared in a flash.
He reappeared once more behind Obito, where his special kunai was conveniently placed nearby, and attempted another strike, this time at the back of his head.
However, the attack again slid through like he was battling a ghost. When his arm went fully outside the body, Obito took that moment to try to grab Minato's wrist. However, Minato, already somewhat expecting this, flipped out of the way.
His flesh... My physical attacks have no effect on him, but he makes himself materialize to attack me. Namely, I can only aim for him when we both strike blows! Minato realized.
But his risk lies during the moment of attack, he further analyzed. And considering the crucial opportunity for him to rush at the Kyūbi and succeed in controlling it this time, he doesn't relish a long battle, either.
Obito rushed at him once more, the chains dangling dangerously as he appeared in a flash before Minato, aiming on trapping him with his long weapon. Minato avoided it by striking Obito in the face, causing the latter to make the attack slip through his body as well as allowing his own offense to be rendered useless.
Minato, sensing that this was going nowhere if he kept too long testing out the opponent, used his Hiraishin to flash away.
Obito stared at his former teacher who reappeared in the location of a nearby kunai. Minato locked gazes with him, his mind whirring with speculations.
So he uses the Teleportation Jutsu as well... Minato thought to himself. Is that how he took Kushina and moved away quickly?
A shinobi who outmaneuvered the ANBU assigned under Sandaime-sama's direct control, who slipped through a top-secret barrier, and who knew that the Ky ūbi's Seal would weaken during childbirth.
Furthermore, it would seem that he undid the Kyūbi's Seal, tried to tame it but failed... unlike Uchiha Madara. However...he managed to go inside the barrier set up by the Hidden Leaf without getting caught. The only shinobi capable of doing this... Minato shook his head. Now was not the time. The pieces didn't fit together slightly. What Kushina told him, what the Kyūbi's mysterious intentions were... It was a weight on his mind that he would analyze after figuring out who this masked man was.
"At this point, it doesn't matter who you are," Minato said steely, his gaze hard. "But why are you targeting the Hidden Leaf?"
Obito's eyes narrowed, but then a miniscule smirk played at his lips. Do not fret, Minato-sensei.
All will be fixed... when Project Tsuki no Me succeeds.
"I could say I did it on a whim, or that I planned it," Obito mused, "or that it's war, or that it's for peace."
The Kyūbi will have to wait. This failure will not sit well with Madara.
I apologize, Minato-sensei. You will have to die.
But no worries. You will be there in my Infinite Tsukuyomi. With Rin... and maybe even Kakashi.
Minato tensed, gripping his three-pronged kunai as he assessed a strategy. Whatever the case, he's no ordinary man! It seems that he can control the Kyūbi, never mind the slip up, and his Teleportation Jutsu appears to very well surpass both Nidaime-sama's and mine. And he has some dangerous ideology. He held the kunai in front of his face, watching as the masked man readied himself for either an offense or a defense. I must deal with him now or he might be able to succeed in controlling the Kyūbi this time if he defeats me. Whatever the Kyūbi is planning, I will have to entrust the village to Sandaime-sama. As for me, I must take this guy down right here!
"Even though I have failed, the Kyūbi is now free," exclaimed Obito. "You people have no chance. It may seem harmless for now, but it is the epitome of hatred. You people have no hope left!" He then charged at Minato the same time the latter did.
The one who attacks an instant quicker than the other, Minato mused, will win this match!
Minato immediately threw his kunai precisely at a point on the masked man's head, watching with a meticulous eye as it seemed to go right through like a gust of wind. The man's arm was outstretched as it reached for Minato's cloak, intent on grabbing it and making his victory. However, before the kunai barely slipped through the flesh, Minato instantly conjured a Rasengan in his hand, aiming it at the man.
Obito did not flinch. He was going to triumph. His hand was more than a millisecond faster than the famed lightning-quick Yondaime Hokage.
I win, Obito relished in his mind, his fingers already in the process of grabbing the white fabric.
But then, in less than a blink of an eye, Minato disappeared, narrowly escaping his grasp. Obito's eyes widened behind his mask as he felt Minato's form above his back, the Rasengan's whirlwind sound resonating in the surroundings. Minato grabbed his kunai while in the air, then swooped the jutsu onto Obito's back, causing the latter's body to crash to the ground from the impact.
Damn! Obito cursed. He flew to that kunai from earlier!
"That was my Hiraishin, Level 2," Minato said, his voice marginally austere.
And bits and cracks of earth flew around along with the explosion.
The Rasengan dissipated, and Minato left a permanent marking on Obito's back before the latter swooped upwards, away from the smoke and debris and landing on a tall rock, clutching his left arm.
He panted, feeling the prosthetic arm of Hashirama melting along with the dripping blood.
The smoke cleared, revealing Minato as he stood straight, his robe flapping from behind.
"You got me," Obito acknowledged. "This is what is meant by 'elusive'. I should never have let down my guard."
However, in the middle of his last sentence, Minato was already in front of him, stabbing him cleanly in the gut. Obito jolted in surprise, staring at Minato.
Hiraishin no jutsu! he realized, seeing Minato's cold, deadly eyes. So that's it... He marked my body somewhere!
"Are you going to kill me?" Obito tested. Not that Minato could, however, even though the latter did not know that he was actually his former student. Obito still had enough tricks in his sleeve to not let himself get captured.
Minato's eyes narrowed.
• • •
"What... It doesn't seem like it's attacking," Sarutobi Hiruzen realized, standing on the roof of the Hokage Tower with his ANBU at his sides.
"What is your order, Sandaime-sama?" one ANBU asked, kneeling in front of his superior and ready for anything.
Hiruzen held a hand up, startling his men. "Don't do anything yet. Tell the others to stop their attacks."
"But... the Kyūbi..."
"Is not attacking," Hiruzen said firmly. "And if we keep on attacking it while it is merely sitting there, with no killing intent, there is no guarantee he will stay like that after a while."
The ANBU vanished in a swirl of leaves. Hiruzen watched the Kyūbi like a hawk, noting the way it seemed to radiate some sort of confusion from its form. The villagers were still emitting panicked cries from below, but there was not much of a stampede. Instead, there was wariness in the shinobi, ready to stand guard when the beast felt like it to attack. It still had not said anything, but Hiruzen couldn't be so sure.
A female ANBU stepped up. "Sandaime-sama, if I may," she said. "This is our chance to seal the Kyūbi. If we don't use this opportunity, it might be too late."
"I know," Hiruzen said. "However, we will need the Yondaime here. Someone send for him at once, and aid him if necessary."
Minato... he thought. Where are you?
• • •
"I must hand it to you, Yondaime," said Obito as he flashed away from Minato. "You have managed to wound me and are lucky enough that my control over the Kyūbi did not succeed. However," he added, slowly vanishing into space by the use of his eye, "the Kyūbi will be mine eventually. I am going to rule the world... and there are so many ways to go about doing that."
Minato watched as the masked man made his retreat, his eyes steely. That tone... he realized. He's not joking around.
Gritting his teeth, Minato transported himself to the battlefield. Hiruzen, who had just been there, stared at him.
"Did the Kyūbi do anything?" Minato demanded.
"No," Hiruzen said, sounding a little bewildered himself.
How can that be? Minato thought, his confusion mixing along with his apprehension at the masked man's earlier words. World upheaval... Perhaps it is just like what Jiraiya-sensei said?
"I will be right back," Minato called out to Hiruzen, who looked startled. "Hold it off for me if it ever attacks!"
Hiruzen's shout disappeared into the air as Minato himself also vanished. The Third Hokage pinched his eyebrows together and observed the Kyūbi, whom he realized was watching them with a strange look in its eyes.
Funny, it was almost as if...
In no time, Minato was back, this time holding both Kushina and Naruto in his arms.
"Minato, you —" Hiruzen said.
"So my eyes have not deceived me after all," the Kyūbi's booming voice resounded in the surroundings, causing all to look at him. "It is you, Kushina, and you as well, Yondaime."
Minato narrowed his eyes, taking a step in front of Kushina protectively. "So you speak now," he said warily. "What are your intentions? Do you intend to harm Konoha?"
The Kyūbi shook its head, a faraway look on its face. The ANBU tensed at the sudden movement, but Hiruzen signalled to not attack. It was too risky to make an offense without a proper strategy right now.
It was imperative that they drive the Kyūbi away from the village, to be on the safe side. However, this was Minato and Kushina's call. Hiruzen simply watched by the sidelines, his senses alert and ready to jump at the slightest hint of killing intent.
"I do not wish to harm Konoha. A foolish man tried to control me, but he failed. I have no interest in destruction, but I have a proposal that would, in a way, become a compromise for all of us."
Minato still had his guard up. "How do we know you are not tricking us?"
The Kyūbi made a sound akin to a scoff. "If I were planning to trick you humans, I would have impaled you all with a single swipe of my claw. Now, all of you must follow me."
"Follow you?" gritted out Kushina.
The Kyūbi glanced at her. "Yes. It would not do to be this near to the village, am I right?"
Minato narrowed his eyes.
Kushina grasped his arm, lending his strength in order to stand up. Hours of labour had weakened her somewhat, but the Uzumaki spirit was still alive and kicking. She would not let herself be useless at this confusing, critical time.
"Let's do what he says," she told him. "There might be a chance that he is telling the truth."
"However, there is also a chance that he might be lying," Minato reasoned. "You yourself told me on some occasions that he spouts out hate inside you. Why would he absolve that same hate just because he is now here in the outside world?"
Kushina looked at him. "There is something in the air. Something different," she said, her voice becoming steadier and steadier by the minute. "This may prove beneficial to all of us. The Kyūbi may be an evil being who was sealed inside me, but I can tell if his hate is being suppressed. You can feel it, too, can't you?"
Minato said nothing, looking deep in thought.
"And he is not suppressing it," Kushina continued on, even sounding a bit incredulous herself. "It is as if... all of it is gone. I cannot explain it, either, but he might give us the answers if we do as he says."
Minato was silent for a moment before eventually nodding. "All right," he conceded, carrying his wife and son once more. "Kyūbi, lead the way."
"Minato!" Kushina's face was slightly red. "I can walk by myself!"
"Minato?" Hiruzen inquired, looking lost.
"Sandaime-sama," Minato said. "We shall follow the Kyūbi for the moment. I will need you all in case he... is actually deceiving us."
Kurama walked towards the outskirts of the village, his mind still muddled in thought. I am apparently back in the past. This is undoubtedly the event wherein Uchiha Obito extracted me out of Kushina and made me wreak havoc on Konoha. His eyes glanced sharply at Naruto's parents, the former himself a mere baby in Minato's arms. And this is also the event wherein I had killed the Yondaime and his wife... by my hand.
I wonder... if it would be all right to change this.
Naruto's grinning face sprang up inside his mind. Then a memory, this time when Naruto was fighting in the Fourth Great Ninja War, alongside his father. Kurama had practically felt the excitement and longing in the boy coalescing, almost to the point wherein it suffocated him. But Naruto simply pushed it to the side, refusing to acknowledge it at the moment since he was busy fighting for the lives of his friends.
He remembered Naruto forcing his chakra out of him, being helped by Kushina in the process. Kurama had felt the sadness, the longing, and the happiness inside the boy after their encounter. It almost made him feel guilty... for being the one who took away his parents from him.
But won't it change everything? Kurama wondered, sneaking another glance at Minato and Kushina. Kushina was complaining about something to Minato, who managed to crack a smile and tease her which made her go pink in the cheeks. Baby Naruto, on the other hand, stayed sleeping in both of their arms, looking content.
...or maybe it'll be worth it, after all.
"You will seal me," Kurama announced after they arrived a little far away from Konoha, "inside Naruto."
Minato and Kushina's eyes widened.
Hiruzen looked startled, as did all his ANBU. "What are you saying?" he demanded. "You are offering to seal yourself inside an infant?"
Kushina pushed away from Minato and took a step towards the Kyūbi, wobbling slightly. "You... want to be inside a cage again?" she said incredulously. "Do you really think we would believe you? You're going to try to kill my son, aren't you?"
Kurama sighed. It did not help that in the past, when he was inside Kushina, he spouted words of rage at her whenever he could, even going so far as to sneer at her whenever she tried to talk to him. He hadn't wanted to interact with her, and she thought of him as an entity that needed to be locked away. Needless to say, they did not go along that well.
"No, I am not going to kill your son," Kurama said as patiently as he could. "I am not going to destroy your village." Then an idea came at him, something a little Naruto-like because of its recklessness, but it was better than nothing in order to convince them. "Rather, I will not, unless you seal me inside that child."
Minato's stance turned guarded. "Are you... threatening us right now?"
"I wouldn't call it a threat," Kurama mused. "Rather, more like a bargain."
"A bargain?" Kushina echoed in disbelief. "Do you even understand what you're saying, dattebane?! You're telling us that we should seal you inside my son! And besides, sealing the entirety of you is too immense for Naruto!"
"I believe," Kurama said, the tone of his voice changing into something different that made Kushina stop in her tracks, "that your son can control my power. I have no intention of hurting him nor do I have any intention of harming anyone here in the vicinity as well as the village." Kurama looked at them. "All I ask is to sleep inside your son, and he will learn to control my power when the time is right."
Kushina looked flabbergasted. "You... H—Hey!" she cried out. "You weren't this nice and polite to me when you were inside me! What is this, some sort of blatant favouritism?! Or, wait..." Kushina's eyes narrowed. "Are you some sort of pedophile?! Wait, but you're an animal, so you must be a zoophile!"
Kurama spluttered. "What? No! Ugh, disgusting woman," he muttered. "What the hell is going on in that crazy head of yours? And a zoophile is the one who is—is sexually attracted to animals! Also, need I remind you, I am not an animal! Inside me is chakra itself!" He was babbling too much, he knew, but he was doing this for Naruto, and he would be damned if he didn't even try to defend what dignity he had left.
Kushina stared at him for a moment, before her posture slowly turned slack. "All right, say I trust you this time," she drawled. "However, it is not possible to seal the entirety of you in Naruto's body. Unless..."
"I will transfer half of my chakra into the two of you as a barter," he gestured towards Minato and Kushina's shocked faces. "Is that suited to your satisfaction?"
"Into Kushina and me?" Minato inquired. "How is that possible?"
Kurama held out his hands, not at a threatening manner, with his palms facing Minato and Kushina's chests. "If you will allow me," he said gruffly.
Minato glanced at Kushina, the latter doing the same to him. Then Minato looked at Hiruzen, who nodded and signalled for his men to move closer in case of an attack.
"All right," Minato conceded. "I will trust you."
"That makes it easier," said Kurama as he clenched his hands into fists, holding it out towards the two of them.
Minato stared at it for a moment in confusion, then nodded as he realized something, his fist touching the Kyūbi's. Kushina did the same.
Then they felt it. An immense, powerful chakra flowing into their bodies. It was not a painful feeling, but it was not exactly completely comfortable, either. It was as if their insides were temporarily exposed and everything composing them were allowing the energy to pass through, enveloping them whole and causing their bodies to go numb.
When it was over, Minato and Kushina collapsed to the ground, both breathing a bit heavily. It had been a foreign feeling to them, and especially considering their fatigue from the critical events occurring today, it was only this that made the threads keeping them whole break apart momentarily.
Hiruzen and two ANBU rushed over to them, helping them up. Kurama waited as they composed themselves.
"I do believe," Minato spoke quietly, "that my son can do it."
Kushina faced him, her eyes wide. "Minato..."
"Originally, I was planning to seal him inside Naruto, too," Minato confessed. "After I sealed half of the Kyūbi inside me using the Reaper Death Seal."
Kushina looked indignant. "I would've offered to seal him back inside me using all of my strength," she cried. "You don't need to sacrifice yourself!"
"But your body wouldn't handle it, and there are a few other reasons why it wouldn't work out eventually," Minato reasoned. "I'm sorry, Kushina."
Kushina looked away, tears finally leaking out of her eyes.
Kurama watched the two of them until Minato finally stood up, looking at him straight in the eyes.
"As per your wish, Kyūbi," Minato said. "I will seal you inside Naruto." He turned his head towards his wife. "I will need your help, Kushina."
Kushina wiped away the tears from her face and stood up as well. When she faced them, her eyes were now glinting with determination.
I'm itching to ask him how he got outside my body, but... I guess that'll have to wait for now.
"All right. I will watch over Naruto," she promised. "And I will make sure that he succeeds in his life, and his dreams. I will not let this become a burden to him."
"Neither will I," Minato agreed, smiling. "We will both protect him, with our lives."
Kurama's stare was almost wistful, his lips almost curving into a semblance of a melancholic smile.
I guess this is my way of thanking you, kid…
"Before you seal me, however… There is one more favour I would like to ask of you…"
end of premise
• • •
"Uh… Did the Kyūbi just walk away from the village?" Yamanaka Inoichi echoed the thoughts that were surely in his teammates' heads. "…just like that?"
Shikaku rubbed the back of his head in confusion. "…Seems so."
Chōza was already eating a pack of chips, munching on them with ease. "It didn't look like it was gonna cause trouble, anyway," he reasoned. "At least no one died."
Shikaku sighed. "I guess you're right."
There was a beat of silence before Inoichi spoke once more.
"So… we should probably go back to the evacuation center and return all those people to their homes."
Another beat of silence, this time it was lazy.
Shikaku laid his head on the roof they were sitting on. "…I'm a little tired. Give me five minutes."
"Let me just finish another bag of chips," said Chōza between bites.
Inoichi groaned. "You two are totally hopeless."