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Lord Fourth Lives: A Naruto AU: Minato's Mistake: Orochimaru's Over-step and Uchiha Unrest

by EnviousWorm

EnviousWorm Unable to mourn for long, Minato assembles his council on the word of his sensei - the Sannin Jiraiya - who claims to have news about his friend and ally, Orochimaru.
"Orochimaru is doing what!?" Minato growled, banging his fist on his desk and rushing to his feet about as quick as he had even sat down.

For once, the Hokage's office was relatively light on paperwork -- but that seemed to bring bad news along with it. Around him stood the bearers of that news: Jiraiya hanging out the window, Hatake Kakashi at his right hand, and the Konoha Councilors - Shimura Danzo, Mitokado Homura and Utatane Koharu - half-circled around the desk.

"Orochimaru's requested a personal audience with the daimyo," Jiraiya explained, relaying the information he'd learned on a recent mission alongside Minato's jonin trainee, Kakashi, "He plans to file a form objection to your authority as Hokage and ask a new vote be taken on the position, in light of recent...events."

Konoha's Yellow Flash burned with a rage that none around him had quite seen before; and just earlier, he'd even been insecure as to his own right to the position when speaking with the Toad Sage.

"It is well within his right to do so," Danzo said, "Many people around the village find it...curious, that you were off fighting a single enemy nobody else lived to see, while Lord Third led the defense of the village in principle. Although, of course, you defeated the Kyubey in the end, some wonder if your judgement was clouded, in light of your situation."
"You use a lot of probing, careful words, Danzo," Minato shot back, "You've been supporting me of late, but I remember -- you were never my biggest fan."
"In fact," Jiraiya added, "Didn't you argue in favor of Orochimaru, over Minato for the position?"

The Elders of Konoha shared worried glances with each other. Jiraiya hadn't been there, he shouldn't have been privy to the information. To them, it must have been a failing of the loose-tongued, soft-bodied Hiruzen.

"As seemed right at the time," Danzo confirmed simply, "Lord Second trained and named Lord Third, it seemed only right Lord Fourth be one Lord Third trained himself. Minato was young -- his time would have come, later if it hadn't sooner. But the reality is, Lord Fourth is the Hokage, and Orochimaru's actions are likely just scratching the surface of his true intentions. It's unlikely the daimyo would truly remove a sitting Hokage from office -- especially one as famous as Konoha's Yellow Flash. "

Everyone in the room seemed to stew on Danzo's words for a moment. Then, Jiraiya broke a silence with a sigh.

"We're agreed on that, Danzo," Jiraiya said, motioning to the copy ninja, Kakashi, "While I was tracing Orochimaru to the daimyo, Hatake here was onto something else."
"It seems that there are several unidentified ninja in the area with possible ties both to Orochimaru, and recent attempts in Kirigakure to numerous failed attempts to abduct members of the Seven Swordsmen," Minato's old student said, "Although the attempts failed, we have reason to believe Kirigakure will put the pieces together and the blame will fall on us."
"A nudge back toward war, just as we're getting used to peace," Minato sighed, frustrated, "What's the point?"
"For his experiments," Kakashi shrugged, "Isn't that what it always is?"

Again, the Elders shared an uneasiness.

"Orochimaru's actions are for the village in their own way," Homura observed, "We left ourselves unprepared for war for too long, and though it wasn't another ninja villain that knocked down our walls -- it was something maybe worse."
"Having access to the knowledge of even one of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist could put Konoha ahead of its enemies," Koharu added, "What Orochimaru risks, Konoha stands to gain as well. In fact, some would say it's the action of a Kage."
"We've signed peace treaties with every major village, Elder Koharu," Minato warned, "If we keep thinking of them as enemies, and act in aggression, breaking the treaty -- Konoha will be the villain. And we're far more vulnerable than we're letting out into the world."

Shimura Danzo seemed to simmer with uneasiness at Minato's shared sentiment with Hiruzen, an openness toward working with the other villages that Danzo saw as the ultimate weakness when protecting Konoha.

"Lord Fourth," Danzo interjected, "I agree with you that this Orochimaru matter is quite a pressing issue, but for now you must move with caution. Having looked into your claims of fighting a man named Uchiha Madara, who controlled the Kyubey, I've confirmed suspicions I've had in the past several years. Though none seem to know of a man claiming the name Madara, there are many who claim the Uchiha clan themselves are upset with their position in the village, and their overall treatment as citizens of Konoha, especially since rumors have spread that their clan may have been the cause of the attack. Simply put -- the Uchiha threat is far more pressing to the safety of the village than that of Orochimaru, and his meeting with the daimyo."

Considering what Danzo laid out before him, the Fourth Hokage groaned, rubbing at his forehead as though he suffered from a massive headache. Jiraiya instinctively moved in from the window, placing a hand on Minato's shoulder.

"Minato, I think Danzo is underestimating the exterior threat we're up against with Orochimaru," Jiraiya said, "If he's targeting skilled shinobi in Kirigakure, he's likely doing it in other villages too."
"I agree, sensei," Kakashi added, "What if he were to start targeting jinchuriki?"
"If the Uchiha clan inches further toward revolt, Orochimaru will have a faction to give a face," Homura said, "They can turn to him with their problems, and he can give those problems power, legitimacy."
"At the village's strength, the Uchihas pose a significant, immediate threat," Koharu added, "Orochimaru alone -- we can handle. But if Orochimaru had an army of Sharingan users at his back? What chance would this village stand then?"
"Kirigakure can't declare war on us for breaking the treaty if we've torn ourselves apart from the inside." Danzo finished, crossing his arms as if to complete his point.

Namikaze Minato was stuck between a rock and a hard place; there weren't many decisions he could make that wouldn't result in some sort of problem. The Fourth Hokage felt like he was in a hole of his own making, and every choice was another inch or two further down toward the bottom of a very dark pit. Jiraiya squeezed Minato's shoulder tighter, bringing the younger man back to his sense.

"Jiraiya-sensei, I need you to head to Kirigakure, and keep an eye out for any of those shinobi we think work for Orochimaru. I'm sure he isn't done with whatever he's plotting there," Minato began to take charge of the room, issuing orders, "Kakashi, I want you tracking Orochimaru's movements in the village. If he does anything not officially sanctioned by this office, I need to know. Danzo, Homura, Koharu, I need the three of you to assess our current military strength and capability, and I want plans of action to resolve the Uchiha problem -- peaceful plans, with military contingencies, got it?"
"Of course, Lord Fourth." Homura and Koharu replied with a gracious bow, but shared a look that betrayed their intentions before the pair slipped out of the room.
"Are you sure, Minato?" Jiraiya asked, "I know you were saying you wanted me here-"
"You do your best work out of the village, sensei," Minato replied with more than a hint of hurt, "We'll make do here without you."
"Minato-"
"Lord Fourth gave his order," Danzo interjected, "Need that order me repeated?"
"No," Jiraiya growled, staring holes into the unemotional Danzo, "I got it."

Tension cut through the air for a short moment. The sannin shared a look with Kakashi, like he silently begged the young jonin to protect the Hokage from the likes of Danzo. Without saying any more goodbyes, the Toad Sage made his leave of the Hokage's office.

"Lord Danzo," Minato said, a sternness in his voice, "I want you on your best behavior."
"Of course, Lord Fourth." Danzo said, his voice an unreadable calm. Without a dismissal, he took his leave as well.

And then it was just Minato and his own student, who moved from Minato's right to in front of him, on the other side of his desk.

"I don't know why you trust this Danzo." Kakashi said.
"Danzo could be Hokage," Minato said, being evasive, "He advised Lord Third, and Lord Third respected his opinion, in spite of their disagreements."
"You can't trust him." Kakashi retorted.
"Danzo doesn't want or need to be trusted," Minato said, "You heard how the Elders spoke of Orochimaru. He's defending the village in his own way. Their way is an old one, for sure, but it's undoubtedly for the sake of Konoha. I think if Orochimaru posed a true threat, they would be wise enough to see it."
"Would they?" The student wondered, "Or would they try and see why he was right, even if he was wrong?"
"I don't know," Minato shook his head, "But I don't know much of anything, anymore. Maybe Orochimaru does act like a Hokage, in his own way -- where I've tried to make the Hokage role fit who I am. Lord Third nominated me to be the peace time Hokage, but peace and safety doesn't mean apathy and complacency. If the daimyo were to find me guilty, and remove me from office -- would he be wrong?"
"Now I'm the one who doesn't know," Kakashi admitted, "But the only ones I've heard say you failed during the attack are Danzo, and Homura and Koharu. So maybe nobody knows."

With that, the Fourth gave his old student leave to go, leaning back in his chair with a thunderous sigh.

The outside world had quieted down; Konoha returned to normal, somewhat. Whatever rain plagued the funeral procession disappeared, replaced with a peaceful blue sky and a calm sun. Minato closed his eyes, and tried to think about everything going on in the village.

But all he could think about was baby Naruto, and the only breath that baby boy had drawn while alive in the world. And then, he was cold -- there was a lot of cold. Even as the heat of day shone through his window, Minato shivered.