“You can feel it, can’t you?” the voice reverberated in the endless pale yellow.
It was strange but Naruto had somehow been expecting endless white. But white was unwelcoming and sterile and detached, whereas pale yellow was like dawn’s warm golden glow. It set him at ease, even though the person whom had spoken was not facing Naruto. Instead, his white clad back was and when he eventually took time to stop to read the kanji embroidered tirelessly into it, he realized the true identity of the man as the character for four stared back at him.
“You can feel your seal breaking. It won’t be long before it breaks completely and the Kyuubi destroys Konoha.” A flash of steely blue and then the man’s eyes closed again. He looked tired and burdened, as if the world had thrust its responsibility onto his already weakened shoulders again.
Did Naruto bother asking why the Yondaime was suddenly roaming the chambers of his subconscious as he pleased? When it came right down to it, he guessed he didn’t really care. His body and mind had never really been his to begin with and what was another strange inhabitant going to hurt?
Naruto asked, “What can I do to stop it from breaking?”
“Nothing,” the bitter word that slipped from the Yondaime’s mouth was not the one Naruto had been hoping for.
“What are you talking about? There has to be something, you made this seal, can’t I just reseal the Kyuubi again?” he pressed the former Hokage for answers.
Minato turned around, his coat flaring around him as he did so, and Naruto wondered if the man had been as impressive when he was still alive. He explained, “It’s impossible for you to reseal the Kyuubi into yourself. You would have to seal it into another person using your own life as payment and I don’t believe you would want to put anyone through the same pain I put you through.”
Naruto’s cerulean gaze flickered to the floor for a moment, thousands of memories washing over him like a tsunami and all of loneliness and hatred. He could never wish that pain upon anyone else, even if they willingly volunteered and at the same time he had to protect Konoha. But what else could he do…?
A darker idea presented itself to the demon container, “If I killed myself-”
“No.” His voice could cut through diamonds and his eyes were flash of blue steel that would have chilled a lesser man’s heart.
However, Naruto persisted, “What would happen though?”
A stony silence followed his words and Minato’s reluctant answer followed eventually, “The Kyuubi would die along with you. However, the chakra it had would be released in one massive explosion, big enough to wipe out Konoha.”
“If I was in a place where there was nobody around-” Naruto suggested but as the Yondaime’s eyes flashed dangerously and his stance tightened, he fell silent.
A large, warm hand rested on Naruto’s shoulder and cerulean met cerulean. There it was again, Naruto realized, that same look of unguarded and boundless parental love. Somehow he had been pulled into its mesmerizing spell and the emotion in the expression overwhelmed him, rendering him speechless.
“That is our absolute last resort. We still have time to come up with another plan that won’t involve your death,” he told him firmly.
Naruto averted his gaze from Minato’s suddenly too piercing one. He fixed his eyes on the flaming edge of a Hokage’s long white trench coat. He was having to remind himself every time he spoke with Minato that this man was the Yondaime Hokage and not another regular person. It was so easy to forget when they were together.
“Naruto,” he called his name.
His head snapped upwards to meet the warmer blue eyes of the former Hokage. There was no honorific at the end of Naruto’s name and he was speaking to Naruto as though he had known him his entire life. Most people would have been offended by such a lack of respect but for some twisted unexplainable reason Naruto found himself pleased.
“I need you to promise me you won’t kill yourself,” he said quietly.
The effect this man had on Naruto was monstrously changing. When had anyone so blatantly been concerned for Naruto, not just some ninja who needed medical assistance? Naruto felt his throat clench and his eyes burned unexpectedly. He began to blink rapidly and glanced upwards for a moment, trying to compose himself.
“Why do you care so much?” a question blurted from his chapped lips before he could help himself.
Surprise flitted across the smooth, soft features of the Yondaime’s face. The shaggy golden mane swayed slightly in a nonexistent wind and the colour of his irises deepened to an infinite, calming ocean blue. Even though they were nearly the same height, Minato made Naruto feel as though he were three heads shorter. He ruffled Naruto’s hair and smiled at him fondly.
“You’re my most precious person, Naruto.”
They were words Naruto had waited for his entire life. It suddenly became too hard to look at Minato and he wouldn’t have been able to see him anyways because his vision was so blurry. He fought to keep from blinking but the world bled away before he could answer Minato’s closing words.