Beyond Life and Death
He had just died. He had just died to save his village, and hopefully prevent Armageddon in the future. He had sacrificed his very soul to do it, and any chance he had of a happy afterlife with his loving wife. He should be trapped within the Shinigami now, locked in eternal combat with all others who were there.
Minato Namikaze wasn’t sure what was happening, but staring at a horse sized version of the Nine Tailed Demon Fox as the both of them stood in a grey and lifeless void was not what he had expected.
The Fox suddenly moved, walking slowly towards Minato. The blonde, for some reason or another that he couldn’t fathom, didn’t try to retreat. The Kyuubi came to a stop three feet from him and sat down on its haunches.
“When the Shinigami grabbed the both of us with his dead arms, he bound our souls together briefly. I have used that connection to forcefully bring us both into the deepest recesses of your mind, where time has no meaning and will not pass so long as we remain” The fox bowed his head slightly. “…The end of the Shinobi world is nigh, and with its passing a new world will be born. All that remains to be seen is whether or not this will be a better world…or a worse world”
Minato opened his mouth to speak, but the Kyuubi beat him to it.
“Do not speak. Just listen. Even here I am straining to keep the connection. I haven’t the time to answer questions” The fox cleared his throat. “You have done me a great service in freeing me from the masked man’s control. In return I have bargained with the Shinigami. He will not keep your soul and allow you to pass into the afterlife with your wife. Furthermore, I realize you sealed me within your own son, a sacrifice that even I know was not easy to make. I also know you did this with the power of the Shinigami to aid you. Bound as I am in such a seal, the masked man will not be able to control me, and if he could there would be nothing he could do with me. Again, I thank you, and grant you another boon. Pass into the next life, Yondaime Hokage, with the knowledge that your son will be protected by me” He bowed again.
Minato opened his mouth and closed it. Finally he settled on something to get passed his mouth. “…What…What did you pay the Shinigami for my freedom?”
The Kyuubi looked at him curiously, surprised Minato realized. “Why does it matter to you? You will not suffer and your son will be watched over”
Minato frowned just a bit. “Yes…but what about you? Did you take my punishment in my place?”
The great fox was surprised, Minato could see it plainly now. “You…care about such things? I thought you all believed I was a demon? Wouldn’t you rejoice at my suffering?”
Minato shook his head. “Demons do not return favors. I…” He sighed. “Thank you Kyuubi” He bowed his head.
The horse sized fox was silent for a moment. Then, Minato watched as bright red glow came over the fox and concealing his form. He could see just well enough to realize the fox’s form was shifting. When the light faded, Minato found himself staring at a human with long red hair, vermillion eyes, and clothed in the standard Shinobi gear. The human reached a hand forward in a familiar gesture.
“My name is Kurama, the Kyuubi no Yoko” He said slowly, his face steadily blank.
Minato grinned and clasped the man’s hand with his own, giving it a firm shake. “And I am Minato Namikaze, the Yondaime Hokage”
The Kyuubi smiled at him and released the Hokage’s hand. “Do not worry for me Minato. I will indeed take your place, but I am an immortal, if not a God. The Shinigami cannot hold me for long without upsetting the balance of the world. I will eventually be released to the afterlife, where I will spend some time to regain my strength, then be reincarnated to the mortal coil” He took a few steps back, and Minato saw his body start fading away. Looking down, he saw his own was doing the same. “I…look forward to seeing you again, but it may be a while. I’m not entirely sure how my presence inside of your son will affect his body. I’ve never been sealed within a newborn before. He may very well live to see a very long life” He paused here, seeming to consider something as his waist began to vanish. “Tell your wife…tell Kushina that I wish her well. We often did not get along, but she at least considered me my own person and always asked permission before using my power”
Minato nodded, his chest beginning to fade. “Thank you Kurama…for everything. I will welcome you with open arms when we see each other again…though Kushina may try to strangle you if anything she’s told me about your arguments are true” He sniggered slightly.
The Kyuubi chuckled, his arms gone. “I get the feeling…she will mean well” He tilted his head to the Yondaime. “Goodbye Minato”
And they were gone.
In the aftermath of one of the greatest calamities to strike the Leaf, a new friendship had been forged through an act of kindness. In the distant future, Kurama and Minato would be reborn together as brothers bound by blood and legendary loyalty.
Naruto would go on to live a very active and eventful life, saving the world a total of three times before he would succumb to the passage of time at the age of 578, having raised a total of three families.
One hundred and fifty years later, Naruto’s great-granddaughter would give birth to a set of twins, one with red hair and vermillion eyes, and one with spiky blonde hair and blue eyes. They would grow up to one day to a lead a revolution against a corrupt government. They would remain together until the day they both died, their hearts giving out at exactly the same moment, a sign of the strength of their bond, a tie forged nearly a millennia ago that not even death could sever.
And the world moved on.