Broken Branches

BY : Cha's Aegis
Category: Naruto AU/AR > Het - Male/Female
Dragon prints: 4142
Disclaimer: Don't own anything in the Naruto universe. Some dude in Japan does. Make no money on my stories either.

A/N: In case this is your first visit to one of my stories, I like to gender bend Naruto into a girl. I also don't follow canon that closely and tweak it to suit my needs. So, there may be spoilers.

This story was inspired by another called 'The Day and Life of a Suicidal Girl' by KuroSora312 at It was her idea of Minato rescuing Naruto from her kidnappers after years of separation that stuck in my head and just wouldn't leave me alone. I believe in giving credit where credit is due and thank her because if it weren't for her story, I would never have written this one.

I also dedicate this story to all my readers and reviewers (Excluding the revenge flamers, of course.) who have made my stories successful.

In particular, I wish to acknowledge four readers/reviewers in particular. RayneXHatake and Mischievous Puck for shamelessly feeding this plot bunny like always. I must also acknowledge Tallz Is De Langste Ster and Sneakscape for their wonderful reviews on my other stories. I've utilized their suggestions into writing this one and feel this fic has risen in quality in comparison to what I've posted so far.

I still have a long ways to go as a writer and I plan on reworking my other fics using their suggestions on them as well. For now, I start fresh with this one and hope the quality has improved.

Thank you, everyone, for reading!

Update 9/28/2017:

I've gone back and rewritten a lot of my previously posted content in order to move forward with new chapters. I hadn't realized I neglected longer than even So there are some minor changes to this story at least. I promise to try doing better from here on out.

Ceaseless clouds of choking dust ebb and flow, crashing against sharp edges and craggy surfaces, swirling for new avenues of escape. New surges littered with sharp, pulverized bits of rock and debris frequently add to the mix, strengthening it with renewed vigor with every violent shudder of the earthen floor. The polluted air pulsates and vibrates in sync with the distant, otherworldly roars far too terrifyingly close for comfort.

Hell must have erupted on earth.

At any other time, that fleeting thought would amuse Minato. Unfortunately, this isn’t any other time.

Vivid blue eyes narrow in intense concentration, ignoring the stinging dust. Steady hands meticulously, yet urgently draw the complicated seal onto the abdomen of the squirming newborn. Crouched low over the wicker basket situated on the floor in front of him, Minato works patiently despite the dim light and claustrophobic confines of the cave they’re sheltered in. Sweat rolls down his neck, soaking his collar and the back of his neck. Viciously he suppresses all emotion as he briefly glances up to the infant’s face.

The child’s downy red hair is stiff, plastered to the soft skull by the sticky remnants of birth. Tiny fists clench in fear near the squalling mouth. Tear tracks cut sharp paths across chubby cheeks; standing in stark contrast to the red, dust coated skin.

His eyes flick over to a pallet lying a scant yard or two away. His red haired love, Kushina, partially props herself on one elbow. Ignoring the danger surrounding them, she weakly attempts to soothe and comfort their baby with her voice. Briefly, Minato wryly thinks that Naruto will certainly know her own name by the time she is able to walk.

Tearing his gaze back to the complicated seal, Minato doesn’t have time to dwell on his thoughts. He doesn’t need to waste the effort.

He already knows.

He is condemning Naruto to life as a jinchuriki without either of her parents. His own life, no, his soul will be the fee to summon the Shinigami to seal the Kyuubi currently raging destruction on Konoha onto Naruto’s belly. Minato doesn’t kid himself about Kushina. She is in very bad shape from Uchiha Madara ripping the demon from her own seal after giving birth. He doubts medical help will arrive in time. The only ones who knew she would be giving birth tonight and, more importantly, where, are dead. No one is left to summon help.

Stonewalls crack and crumble ominously around them. Tiny coughs, choking though wailing cries mix with Kushina’s hacking cough caused by the renewed surge of dust as the ground reverberates underneath them.

Grimly smiling, Minato straightens up with the last stroke. Reaching out, he briefly caresses a small, chubby cheek. Turning back to Kushina, their gazes lock. Both understand. It is time. He resists moving Naruto’s basket closer to give Kushina a few more minutes with their daughter. Minato insisted during their short, fierce argument earlier that Naruto has to remain isolated in her basket during the sealing. Kushina’s own chakra, even as depleted as it is, could possibly interfere, causing the jutsu to fail. The fiery redhead grudgingly acquiesced, promising retaliation when they meet again in the afterlife.

Minato’s smile softens as he moves over to crouch beside his wife. Without hesitation, he swoops in, claiming her mouth in an intense kiss. No words are needed. Reluctantly they part and, without further delay, Minato disappears from the cave.

‘Yes indeed, Hell has been unleashed,’ Minato thought bitterly as the fierce winds howl around, drowning out the deafening roars of the Kyuubi.

From his perch atop the racing boss toad, Gamabunta, Minato takes in the devastation wreaked by the raging beast. The land will certainly never be the same. He is also well aware who is responsible for this disaster. However, the knowledge brings little comfort. He won’t have the opportunity to seek justice.

Within moments, Gamabunta maneuvers into position. Acrid scents of smoldering trees and flesh penetrate the dirt smell filling Minato’s nose. With a deep breath and no hesitation, his hands blur through a complicated set of seals.

There is no time to wonder if the jutsu worked.

The world immediately fades to inky blackness. No light penetrates and silence reigns. The sound of Minato’s heavy breathing are swallowed by nothingness. Glancing down, he sees how he stands out in the void, as a sole light in the dark. However, his body illuminates nothing. Raising his eyes, he isn’t surprised to see the eerie apparition of the Shinigami seep into existence. He manages to keep outwardly calm in the intimidating presence of the death god, but his traitorous heart betrays him with its frenetic pace.

Minato watches in morbid fascination as the hovering apparition raises his hand toward the empty void. He is stunned when a shocked Madara coalesces into existence in front of the death god. There is no opportunity for words as translucent “hands” emerge from the Shinigami’s stomach. Stretching out through a seemingly frozen Madara, the hands penetrate his torso before abruptly disappearing into the void.

Moments later, the hands withdraw, steadily tugging a violently undulating, thick, red tendril. Minato recognizes the feel of the foul chakra emanating off the tendril as the Kyubbi’s. Madara’s expression morphs into abject horror. Realization penetrating his mind, as he comprehends exactly what is happening.

The hands retreat completely into the Shinigami, drawing in the silvery essence of the Uchiha’s soul along with the Kyuubi’s chakra. The two tendrils disappear into the Shinigami’s stomach as Madara’s limp corpse fades into nothingness. Snapping his attention back onto the Shinigami, a thinner red tendril reemerges, slithering back into the void, directed by the death god’s hand.

Once the tendril disappears, the Shinigami fades and Minato’s entire awareness quickly merges with the darkness.

The rhythmic pounding of drums penetrates Minato’s senses. It takes a few moments to correct that assessment. He’s not hearing a steady drumming; he’s feeling a steady throbbing of a punishing headache. His skull feels like it’s being cracked open with some sort of heavy, blunt object. Hesitantly, he opens his eyes.

Minato isn’t certain of anything as he blankly stares up at the hazy, night sky. He isn’t certain there was a chakra demon rampaging near Konoha or he had, in fact, summoned the Shinigami to seal the beast into his own daughter. His understanding was that as the summoner, his soul would be locked in an eternal battle with the Kyuubi in the Shinigami’s stomach.

He wasn’t expecting to see stars peeking between thick clouds of wafting smoke. He doubts the Shinigami would worry over aesthetics while an eternal battle rages in his stomach.

Lifting his head slightly, Minato winces as a new wave of pain crashes through his skull. Examining his surroundings, all he sees is grass. His ears pick up distant shouts while acrid scents assault his nose. Easing into a sitting position, wonder and amazement dispel any remaining confusion when he realizes he’s still alive.

Quickly climbing to his feet, Minato gains his bearings before taking off to find Kushina and Naruto, desperate to determine if they survived as well. Racing across fields, a vague thought occurs to him. He’s still the Hokage, he should check on the village first. The thought is violently shoved away as his focus narrows down to two people who are far more important than the village at the moment.

Minato slows when the cave comes into view. He comes to an abrupt halt when two of his shinobi block his path. He recognizes them instantly, but can’t recall either’s name. The two jounins stare in shock at their disheveled, filthy leader. Until that moment, no one was certain Minato survived whatever jutsu he performed to save them from the Kyuubi.

“Why are you stopping me?” Minato demands, raising a finger to point at the cave. “I need to get to that cave!”

The female jounin recovers first. “Minato-sama, if you’re referring to Kushina-san and her baby, they have been taken by the medics for treatment.”

Minato blinks at the woman as relief floods his senses. The medics wouldn’t have been the ones to remove Naruto and Kushina from the cave if they died. Recovering, he asks, “Where were they taken?”

The male jounin points off to his right. “Triage tents were set up. They’re about six kilometers that way.”

Nodding his thanks, Minato takes off. Apprehension knots his stomach. Yes, Kushina and Naruto are alive, but in what condition?

The tent looms into view quickly. Minato slows down to a brisk jog as he approaches. Able-bodied shinobi pause in their tasks to gape, realizing their Hokage is still alive! Not giving anyone a chance to question him, Minato ducks into the tent. Ignoring the chaos, he grabs the first medic he sees, regardless if they’re busy or not.

“Where is Uzumaki Kushina?”

Raising a shaky hand, the intimidated medic points to another tent visible between the support posts. “She is being examined right now.”

Without waiting for further explanation, Minato releases the woman and heads for the tent. Blatantly abusing his position, he barges in and badgers the medics into letting him see Kushina. One recovers his wits enough to show him the way.

All anxiety vanishes when he spots Kushina lying on a pallet in a far corner while a medic struggles to examine her. She is wholly uncooperative, insisting on keeping a close eye on the medic examining Naruto on the pallet next to hers and refusing to answer any questions regarding her own condition. She barks out questions, demanding answers regarding Naruto. Relieved joy lights up her exhausted, worried face when she sees Minato.

The world narrows down to the two of them as he rushes forward to fiercely embrace his wife. The moans and cries of dying or injured patients and the shouted commands of medics fade into silence as the couple revel in their reunion.

Reality comes crashing back in when a medic bursts their solitary bubble. He gently taps Minato’s shoulder until he reluctantly turns to the interloper. Attempting to pull medic rank, he gently but firmly insists Minato wait outside as they continue the exams.

Leveling a freezing glare, Minato succinctly states, “I will remain.”

He watches in smug satisfaction the internal debate play across the medic’s face. Finally the man shakes his head, determining that arguing isn’t worth the effort and turns back to his patients.

‘Well, at least something positive came from this night,’ Sarutobi Hiruzen muses silently after dismissing the chunin reporting in.

As the office door clicks shut behind the departing chunin, he turns his scrutinizing gaze out the windows. He can’t hear the chaos within the darkened confines of the silent Hokage’s office. He doesn’t need to. The images of random fires throughout the village lighting up the hazy night sky paint a complete enough picture.

Silently, he mulls over the news that Minato is alive and sadistically intimidating the medics in the triage tents. It’s joyous news indeed. He knew what Minato planned on doing. Both understood the younger man would not survive. Questions without immediate answers sprout in Hiruzen’s head. However, he certainly would not settle them here in his former office.

Grinning in the darkness, the aged Hokage decides to visit the medic tents. Recovery and relief efforts are well underway, so there is no need for him to remain. Outwardly, he reasons to his questioning assistants that he must check the status of the situation. Privately, he wishes to enjoy the show provided by his successor to ease some of the night’s tragedy.

The diversion is certainly needed as he wends his way toward the medic tents. He assesses the disaster inflicted onto the village with his own eyes.

Navigating proves difficult at times as the way is often blocked with rubble from partially collapsed buildings or gaping fissures in the street. Shinobi are everywhere, searching for trapped survivors or rushing by to complete urgent tasks.

One thing Hiruzen is absolutely certain of is that regardless of his successor being alive, his precious retirement is over.

Upon arriving at the triage tents, Hiruzen indulges a couple of the head medics by listening to their status reports. He is pleased to hear that most of the injured are expected to survive. The news does little to offset the rising number of confirmed dead so far.

Carefully weaving his way through the tents, he quickly finds the younger man. A serene smile graces the older man’s lips as he silently observes the scene before him. The dirt-covered blond sits on the pallet behind his wife, allowing her to lean against him. He watches as Kushina carefully cradles and fusses over the bundle in her arms. The couple looks up and smiles as Hiruzen approaches.

“I hear congratulations are in order,” Hiruzen states, stepping closer, amusement coloring his tone.

“Kushina did most of the work. I just contributed some of the materials,” Minato quips, his smile widening as he glances down over Kushina’s shoulder.

“I meant for succeeding in defeating the Kyuubi,” Hiruzen quips wryly, causing Minato’s face to flush vividly. “But congratulations are in order for your child’s successful birth as well.”

Kushina laughs after glancing up at Minato’s face. Grinning back sheepishly, he gently eases out from behind her and helps her lay down. Once she’s comfortable with Naruto secure in her arms, he leans in to kiss her tenderly, quietly promising to check on them later. Nodding, Kushina watches as he follows a still grinning Hiruzen back to the Hokage tower.

Minutes later the two, exhausted Hokage enter the secure confines of Minato’s office. They tacitly agree not to discuss anything until the door is safely shut behind them and the security seals are active.

Hiruzen gratefully accepts Minato’s offer of tea. Once they are both settled, the retired Hokage asks about Kushina and Naruto’s conditions.

The blond runs a tired hand through filthy hair. “The medic said Kushina is in critical condition. Her chakra is depleted down to almost nothing and her network is completely trashed. They say she’s in bad shape, but her chances of surviving are good. They just don’t know if her network will recover, though.”

“She may need a skilled medic like Tsunade,” Hiruzen nods thoughtfully. “Unfortunately, she has not kept in touch as she’s supposed to. Her whereabouts are currently unknown. You may need to send Jiraiya to track her down.”

“Sensei is gonna love you for that one,” Minato smirks, causing the older man to chuckle.

“Probably, but it’s the least he can do for causing the chaos at the bathhouse the last time he returned to the village.”

Both men chuckle at the memory.

“I’ll send a toad to him with his new orders.”

“And Naruto?” Hiruzen asks, shrewdly eyeing the younger man over his teacup.

Staring into his cup for a long moment, Minato takes a sip before setting it down and leaning back in his chair. “From what I was told, it was because of Naruto’s screams as the Kyuubi was sealed in her that led our nins to discovering the cave. The medic explained that had Kushina been found later, she wouldn’t have made it.”

The blond pauses to sigh heavily, guilt weighing heavily on his entire demeanor.

“Physically, Naruto is perfectly fine. The medic was curious about the seal on her stomach, but I ordered him not to speculate on it further or mention it to anyone else. It’s enough that I know about it. Based on the symptoms described by the medic, it seems the sealing traumatized Naruto. She isn’t responding to stimulus like a normal newborn. She’s flinching at every touch and noise. Kushina said Naruto hasn’t cried since the sealing was complete and, by the time you arrived, hasn’t been able to get her to nurse.”

Lost in thought, Hiruzen fingers the empty teacup sitting on the desk in front of him.

“A newborn is not going to easily accept the chaos involved in sealing such powerful chakra,” he muses thoughtfully. “However, children are resilient. Given time, she will recover.” Minato nods in agreement, prompting the older man to arch a brow. “Are you ready to talk about what happened and explain how it is you still walk among us?”

Sighing again, Minato lifts his cup to finish off his tea. “I am. You’ll be even more surprised to hear Uchiha Madara was still walking among us as well.”

Sarutobi Hiruzen is a very smart man. One doesn’t earn the title of Professor without the ability to back it up. However, he found it difficult to wrap his mind around the idea that Madara could still be alive after all these years. The implications are astounding, raising even more questions.

Minato watches Hiruzen process the news before nodding in understanding. “He is the reason why everyone who went with us outside the village so Kushina could give birth are dead.”

Hiruzen’s surprised gaze snaps to Minato. Tamping down the resurging grief at the reminder of his wife’s untimely death, Hiruzen’s eyes narrow as he silently waits for the younger man to explain.

“Madara attacked minutes after Kushina gave birth,” Minato begins reluctantly. “He killed everyone else and kidnapped her after I freed Naruto as his hostage. Once I hid Naruto somewhere safe, I caught up with the bastard. He already ripped the Kyuubi out of Kushina. I attacked and we immediately began grappling. I barely managed to wrestle him away from her. For such an old guy, he was a tough fight,” Minato quips facetiously, prompting a small grin from Hiruzen before continuing.

“It was difficult, but I got out a kunai. Crafty old bastard knocked it out of my hand. I was low on kunai and dug around my weapons pouch while struggling to fend him off. My hand caught onto the small medic kit Rin gave me during the war. Of all the things to grab, my fingers found a small blood ampoule.” Minato shrugs indifferently. “I didn’t have time to even register what it was. All that mattered it was sharp and pointy. It was enough of a distraction. I jabbed it into his neck, giving me the upper hand.”

Minato’s voice softens as his tone grows chilling.

“I wanted to coat my hands with Madara’s blood, but he had what he came for and decided to retreat. I don’t even remember sliding the filled ampoule into my pocket. I was too busy taking Kushina to where I hid Naruto. We argued over our options before she agreed to let me seal the demon into Naruto.”

“Why did you think that was the best option, Minato?” Hiruzen asks, confusion coloring his tone. “You know what life is like for a jinchuriki and if you and Kushina both lost your lives, Naruto would’ve had to endure that alone.”

“I can explain my reasons in more detail later,” Minato promises, guilt accenting the weariness etched into his dirt smudged features. “Doing so now will only unnecessarily lengthen my story of what happened tonight.”

Drawing out his pipe from his robes, Hiruzen lights it before nodding at Minato to continue.

“Now, remember when we received intelligence on Suna sealing Shukaku into a new container?” At Hiruzen’s nod, Minato continues. “We didn’t have a lot of details, like the identity of the jinchuriki, but we did learn the demon was sealed in a newborn child using it’s mother as the sacrifice. That memory crossed my mind and got me thinking when I dug in my pocket for a brush and found the ampoule. It was a long shot, but I figured I’d try taking Madara with me,” the blond shrugs. “So I used the bastard’s blood to draw the seal. When I was ready, I summoned Gamabunta and we went to face the Kyuubi. I performed the hand signs and everything became a fathomless void around me.”

Minato’s voice becomes quieter as his gaze drops to his desktop.

“The Shinigami appeared before me and I knew that was it. What I didn’t expect was for Madara to appear between us.” Aged brows arch in surprise, prompting Minato to nod in confirmation before continuing. “The Shinigami took Madara’s soul as payment for the sealing. My guess is that even though I did the signs, the fact it was Madara’s blood on the seal means his soul had to be taken to complete the contract.”

Both Hokage sit in silence as Hiruzen absorbs the implications and Minato loses himself in thought.

“We will have to do some research,” Hiruzen finally ventures, breaking the silence. “But I heard such a thing is possible. As you know, to perform a summon a certain set of hand signs must be used and the blood of the summoner is required. That is a strict guideline that must be met when a shinobi is dealing with the creatures they hold a contract with. You wouldn’t be able to summon the toads if you tried using someone else’s blood who does not hold a contract with them.”

Minato acknowledges he understands with a nod.

“However, since you do not hold such a contract with the Shinigami, as sealing the Kyuubi was only intended to be a one time event, then that condition may not be as strict,” Hiruzen continues with a puff of his pipe. “The blood of the one whose soul is payment to Shinigami must be used, but it does not have to belong to the one performing the seals. I’d venture to guess that might be what Suna did with the Shukaku. I doubt the mother was in any condition to do it herself after just giving birth.”

“That it makes sense,” Minato nods again before smirking. “I just accidentally stumbled across that theory on the fly.” Hiruzen returns the younger man’s smirk as he becomes serious and continues. “However, I’m still surprised I could still see the Shinigami. I’m thinking that as the medium facilitating sealing of the Kyuubi, I must’ve been required to act as a sort of witness to the transaction.”

Hiruzen nods, adding, “We probably won’t find much, but some of the old sealing archives should have information confirming your theories to a certain degree.”

Stifling a yawn, Minato swivels his chair to gaze out at the ruined village. Behind him, Hiruzen sighs wearily.

“It is going to take awhile for the village to recover from Madara’s machinations,” the aged Hokage muses quietly.

Nodding, the blond swivels back around to face his predecessor. “I hate to ask this,” he begins regretfully, “but I need you to temporarily become an active Hokage again to help me with the clean up. I also need your help investigating this attack.” His gaze matches the steely tone of his voice. “I doubt Madara was acting alone.”

Hiruzen arches a brow. “Are you suggesting the Uchiha clan participated based on their relation to the man?”

“Not just on their kinship,” Minato growls. “We’ve both had our suspicions of the clan and their loyalty to Konoha for sometime now. Is it really inconceivable that they may have aided Madara somehow?”

“No,” Hiruzen admits reluctantly. “It is quite possible. So far the entire scenario is too well executed for Madara not to have help. We may no longer have to worry about Madara, but the clan remains a viable threat if they are involved somehow.” Sighing heavily, he takes another puff on his pipe. “I will end my retirement to help in anyway I can, Minato.”

Minato’s entire demeanor changes as a bright smile lights up his face. “Thank you, Hokage-sama!”

Chuckling at the younger man, Hiruzen waves it off before both solemnly gaze back out the windows, watching the drifting smoke mute the first rays of the rising sun.

A/N: An ampoule is a sealed glass capsule containing a measured quantity of medicine. They're used in emergency situations where there isn't enough time to measure out a correct dose. The context I'm using them here is similar to when Kakashi snagged a sample of Kakuzu's blood in Shippuden. The ampoule is empty in case a ninja died in the field from unknown poisons, their blood sample could be analyzed for possible antidotes.


6 kilometers is about 3.7 miles.

I should've addressed this when the review was made, so my apologies to RogueMudblood who asked:

"I do have one question though: while Hiruzen is standing with his aids, you state:

He knew what Minato planned on doing. Both understood the younger man would not survive.

But later on, in Minato's office,

"Why did you think that was the best option, Minato?" Hiruzen asks, confusion coloring his tone. "You know what life is like for a jinchuriki and if you and Kushina both lost your lives, Naruto would've had to endure that alone."

Is there another action that Hiruzen is referring to besides binding the demon that would or should have killed Minato?"

There wasn't another action Hiruzen was referring to. I didn't want to unnecessarily repeat what we all know from canon, Minato sealing the Kyuubi in Naruto equaled his death, hence Hiruzen already knowing what Minato planned on doing and that he wouldn't survive. Then when he's asking Minato why he thought the sealing was the best option, it still tied into the idea that the 4th wasn't going to survive the sealing as far as they knew. In other words, the 4th intended to go ahead with the sealing knowing he'd die and Naruto would be alone.

I hope this clarifies for anyone else who may have been a bit thrown by this. My apologies for the confusion and the delay in responding. Thanks for reading!

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