The Perfect Jutsu


The Shadow Clone Jutsu had always been incomplete. It was meant to be the most unstoppable technique, but it had never been perfected. At least, that was until Naruto Uzumaki accidentally did something that should have been impossible... Strong, unique Kekkei Genkai Naruto.

Rated M for violence, mature themes and future lemons.

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.

Chapter 1:

The Secret History of the Shadow Clones

Years ago…

Tobirama Senju was not an emotional man. He was stoic, pragmatic and composed even in the worst situations. He had fought battles against immense odds without a hint of fear or hesitation, and he had walked over the bodies of his comrades to victory. His attitude was, in many ways, the pinnacle of what a ninja's should be.

That said, he couldn't help but feel just a hint of sadness as his quill darted over the parchment, illustrating complex seals with a smooth and steady hand.

"Another failure…" he muttered under his breath, staring down at his Scroll of Seals. This jutsu had been so promising as well.

"Cheer up, brother!" His brother, Hashirama Senju, shouted loudly, walking into the tent. "Today is a good day! Don't be so gloomy!"

Tobirama scowled. For all they were nearly inseparable, there were times that Tobirama became more than a bit annoyed at his elder sibling. Hashirama was everything that Tobirama wasn't; loud, brash, emotional and reckless. Although he would never admit it, it still stung slightly that Hashirama was also one of the most powerful ninja to ever walk the earth.

"You're in a good mood," Tobirama muttered, slightly bitterly, not looking up from his scroll. "Whose wife did you do this time?"

Hashirama just laughed, dropping down onto a chair in the tent. "Oh, you are in a bad mood!" He chuckled. The First Hokage was absolutely shameless about his frequent… extra-matrimonial activities. "Nothing so crude! I just spoke with the builders and guess what? I've finally commissioned that monument!"

Tobirama turned to stare in disbelief. "Are you serious?" He muttered, wondering if his brother could really be so vain. "You mean you're actually going built a fifty foot monstrosity of your own face overlooking the entire town?"

"It'll be good!"

"It's pure narcissism!" Tobarima objected. "We've been working for years to establish Konohagakure as a military force, and you want a giant statue of yourself!"

Hashirama pouted. "Don't be like that! You could get your own face up their too, someday!"

Tobarima scoffed, turning his attention back to his scroll. "I'd rather die than let that happen…" he muttered under his breath.

The Hokage just grinned. Annoying his little brother was such fun. "So, what's got you in a bad mood, then?" He asked curiously. "Another problem with that jutsu?"

"Another failure," Tobarima muttered despondently. "The clone jutsu I was working on is a failure."

The Hokage looked at his brother curiously. For all Hashirama was the God of Shinobi; a ninja of such power that he could make the world tremble, Tobarima was a prodigy. Hashirama's Kekkei Genkai meant that he very rarely had to work for anything, but Tobarima studied the art of chakra, seals and jutsu like a science. Tobarima was the inventor of a thousand different jutsus, and he knew more about the workings of chakra than any man alive.

Curiously, Hashirama inspected the seals written on Tobarima's scroll. The bits that he could understand were impressive. "'Shadow Clone Jutsu'…" He read slowly, frowning as he inspected the seals. "Oh, that looks good. You and I have very different definitions of failure, brother."

"This is nothing," Tobarima shrugged. "Useful enough, sure, but not what I was intending. It'll have to go in the scroll with all the other failures."

"Hmph, even if you're not happy with them, some of those jutsus are really dangerous," Hashirama commented. The Scroll of Seals was huge, but Tobarima was only halfway through filling it up. "I mean, Eight Trigrams Sealing? Impure World Reincarnation? That stuff is dangerous. I'm going to have to lock it up if you invent anymore forbidden jutsu."

Tobarima nodded distractedly, staring at the intricate markings and seals of the Shadow Clone Jutsu. Even in its incomplete form, it was a jutsu that could change the world, but that didn't stop it from being a failure. For a moment there, Tobarima had really thought that he had finally achieved his ultimate jutsu.

"No…" He muttered quietly, closing up the seal quietly. "The Shadow Clone Jutsu is still only half-complete."

"Then what's the other half?"

Tobarima smiled softly. "That's the problem," he admitted. "I don't know."


Naruto could feel his body trembling. He had never felt like this before. His mind was a storm of emotions and doubts, even as he hid behind the tree, clutching the Scroll of Seals tighter than ever before.

Everything had gone so wrong so quickly. All he wanted to do was graduate, but now Naruto had been framed for treason, hunted by the village, and his teacher was trying to kill him while his other teacher would die trying to protect him.

And I'm the Demon Fox… He thought with quiet dread. The Nine-Tails

Behind him, Iruka faced off with Mizuki, the traitor. Iruka was bleeding heavily and on the ground, while Mizuka stood over him with a large shuriken. The only thing that stopped Naruto from breaking down completely was the sound of Iruka's voice, quiet and firm even as he faced death.

"…I've acknowledged him as…" Iruka muttered quietly, with words so heartfelt that they hit Naruto down to the bone. "…one of my excellent students!"

The statement hung in the air. For so long, all Naruto ever wanted was to be acknowledged. The quiet declaration was enough to cause his body to freeze. "He may not be the hardest worker," Iruka continued, with a small, gentle smile. "And he is clumsy and no one accepts him. He already knows what it is to feel pain inside your heart. He isn't the Demon Fox. He is a member of the Hidden Leaf village."

There were tears falling down Naruto's cheeks. His body felt numb. "He is Naruto Uzumaki!"

Naruto had never imagined that such a simple statement could take his breath away. Slowly, he stopped trembling, and his hands clenched into fists.

Mizuki just grunted, staring at Iruka angrily. "Well… whatever…" he said dismissively, spinning the shuriken nimbly around his fingers. "I said I would take care of you later, but I changed my mind!"

His body tightened as he prepared for the killing strike. Mizuki smirked while Iruka just watched, too injured to move. "Hurry up and die!" He roared, spinning his arm in a furious arc.

Time seemed to stop. Mizuki's screaming face. Iruka's gentle smile. All Naruto knew was that he couldn't let Iruka die. He could never let Iruka die.

Naruto's limbs moved by themselves. By the time his mind managed to catch up, he was already jumping through the air, slamming his knee into Mizuki's face. That moment when his leg collided with bone was the most exhilarating, terrifying and glorious of his life.

Iruka's eyes widened in shock. Mizuki went flying to the ground. The shuriken scattered to the floor and Naruto was glaring furiously as he faced off against the traitor to his village.

"You shouldn't have done that!" Mizuki roared, recovering quickly.

The academy students eyes were cold. "Don't touch Iruka-sensei!" He muttered with quiet dread. "I'll kill you!"

"You idiot! Why did you come out?!" Iruka screamed in panic. Iruka cared for him. Iruka cared for him. The thought was enough to make Naruto stronger than ever. "Run away!"

Mizuki was laughing. Naruto's blood was boiling. He could barely see through all the rage. "I'll kill you in one shot!"

"Try it trash!" Naruto growled, dropping into a fighting stance as he formed the hand seal. It was now or never. "I'll return the pain a thousand times over!"

"Come on, Demon Fox!" Mizuki roared, charging towards him.

Naruto took a deep breath, focused every ounce of chakra he had and screamed at the top of his lungs. "Multiple Shadow Clone Jutsu!"

The air pulsed with immense power. It was so much chakra that every sensor-type in the village shuddered. Naruto felt the power drain from him, so concentrated that the air distorted with the power. Mizuki stared at him with shock while the strain nearly took Naruto to his knees.

And then, with a terrifying silence, absolutely nothing happened.

Naruto was panting, glancing around at the empty forest in shock. "No…" He muttered with dread. "It was meant to work…"

After a moment's pause, Mizuki started to laugh again. A cold snide laugh that sent tremors down Naruto's spine. Naruto could barely breathe with the terror that filled his body.

"What a fool!" Mizuki mocked, glaring down at Naruto snidely. "As if someone like you could ever perform the Shadow Clone Jutsu."

Naruto's arms were shaking. He had practised so hard to be able to master that one technique. It didn't work. Iruka stared at his apprentice with shock, feeling the emotion pouring out of the boy. "Naruto…" Iruka muttered breathlessly.

"Do you see, Iruka?" Mizuki taunted cruelly, drawing another shuriken. "He's nothing more than failure. Dead last. This… demon…" Mizuki spat the word. "… will never be a ninja!"

"Shut up…" Naruto whimpered quietly, hands trembling.

Mizuki just smirked. "He's pathetic."

Naruto glared at him with unrestrained ferorcity. "I said, shut up!" He screamed furiously. Suddenly, the boy's face contorted into an animalistic snarl. "You will never insult me again!"

More power, Naruto thought desperately as he raised the hand seals again. I need more power

He was exhausted, but he pulled out more chakra than he had ever known before. The air started to glow intense blue. "Shadow Clone Jutsu!" He roared, even as he felt his chakra dissipated into nothing. Naruto's fists tightened as he redoubled his efforts.

"Shadow Clone Jutsu!" Naruto bellowed, feeling the exertion tear his muscles apart. The air was sparking and crackling with power, but it didn't take any shape.

Mizuki was laughing. The teacher was clutching at his stomach in laughter at Naruto's useless efforts. Naruto's fists clenched so tight his fingers drew blood.

"SHADOW CLONE JUTSU!" Naruto bellowed, and the burst of chakra was enough to crack the ground and set the trees alight.

Iruka could only stare at his student in shock. He had felt so much raw chakra before. It was unrestrained and wild, but so intense that it was causing his body to tremble. He had never imagined that his student could have this much power. "Naruto…!" He muttered in awe.

"SHADOW CLONE JUTSU!" Naruto screamed once more, and that blue chakra started to turn red. Iruka could only stare breathlessly.

But it was useless, Iruka realised slowly. Naruto was outputting enough power to make a thousand, ten thousand shadow clones, but his control was absolutely terrible. He was just pumping chakra into the atmosphere, rather than giving any shape. He would never perform the jutsu like that. He needed more than just brute strength.

Naruto is going to kill himself, Iruka thought in shock. If he keeps on burning through chakra like this, he's going to die. There was a reason why the shadow clone jutsu was a forbidden technique…

Suddenly, the memory of that moment in the classroom flickered in front of Iruka's eyes, where Naruto tried so desperately to perform a simple clone technique. Iruka had failed him for his efforts. Did he really care so much about becoming a ninja?

"… Naruto…" Iruka muttered, his eyes swelling with tears.

The boy was sagging now, struggling to stand even as his eyes burned with furious determination. Naruto gathered every last residue of chakra, every scrap of willpower, every residue of strength that he had left and he screeched so loud that birds erupted out of the trees from miles away.


Just for a second, Naruto's chakra turned pitch black.

And then, suddenly, there was silence. Naruto blinked repeatedly, before collapsing to his knees. As he turned, he saw another figure hit the ground next to him. Naruto was staring at an exact duplicate of himself; messy blond hair, whiskers on his cheek, bright orange jumpsuit. The single clone was pale, sickly and weak.

All of that effort… Naruto thought as his vision blurred, and I only managed to make one clone

"Wow, will you look at that? You actually did it." Mizuki stood over him as he looked between Naruto and his clone, both of them lying weakly on the ground. Even despite his fading consciousness, Naruto could hear Mizuki's sarcastic voice crystal clear.

"You must be so proud," Mizuki mocked coldly, spinning his shuriken around his fingers.

That was the last thing Naruto remembered before Mizuki threw his shuriken straight downwards. With a sickening crunch, the metal edge crushed through Naruto's skull and he fell limply to the ground.

No. This can't be happening.

Iruka's eyes were seeing everything, but his brain refused to accept it. Everything just shut down as his eyes widened in horror. It was impossible. It didn't happen. This was a nightmare.

But as much as he tried to deny it, Iruka was looking straight at the limp body of Naruto, lying on the ground with a shuriken embedded through his skull. Iruka tried to scream, he tried to wail, he tried fight, but suddenly the chunin was twelve years old again, watching his parents die.

Somehow, it hurt even worse this time around.

Mizuki was grinning. He was grinning even as he stepped over Naruto's motionless body. "Your turn, sensei," he said viciously, drawing a kunai from his pouch.

Iruka felt his hands tremble. His breathing was forced. All he could do was stare at Mizuki, just as all of that grief, rage and pain exploding inside of him.

"You bastard!" Iruka roared furiously, charging madly at Mizuki. There was no composure left, no restraint. He didn't even attack as a ninja, there was no skill or training involved, but instead Iruka just charged blindly at Mizuki, desperate to drag him to the ground. Mizuki sidestepped with ease, scoffing dismissively as he punched Iruka to the ground. Iruka was so injured that he went down easily.

"Just die already!" Mizuki snapped, bringing the kunai down into Iruka's chest. Between his injuries, his exhaustion and his grief, Iruka couldn't even find the strength to flinch.

I'm so sorry, Naruto

And then, in an instant, there was an orange blur between them, catching Mizuki off-guard as a fist slammed into his face. Iruka's eyes widened in shock.

"Iruka-sensei!" Naruto shouted. His voice sounded strained and weak. "Are you alright?"

"Naruto?" Iruka murmured dumbly, staring at the boy standing in front of him. No, Iruka realised, this wasn't Naruto – this is the clone Naruto managed to create. A solid Shadow Clone. But that meant…

In an instant, Iruka turned to gasp at the motionless body of the real Naruto. Naruto was completely still, with the shuriken in his head, and bleeding so heavily that his hair was stained red, but the realisation hit Iruka like a truck. If the clone hadn't disappeared, then the real Naruto must still be alive!

Iruka's head spun. Naruto needed medical attention quickly. Mizuki was in the way. Iruka had only one chance to save his student.

"Bastard!" Mizuki screamed, clutching at his bloody nose. Iruka was far too injured to win in a fair fight, but ninjas don't fight fair.

With a scream of desperation, Iruka launched himself at Mizuki. The traitor responded quickly by throwing his kunai into Iruka's stomach, but the chunin took the blow and kept on going. Mizuki never even had time to scream shout just as Iruka ripped the blade out of his own stomach and used it to slash Mizuki's throat open.

Blood splattered everywhere. Iruka screamed in primal rage, stabbing Mizuki repeatedly just to make sure he was dead. Iruka was losing too much blood, but the adrenaline pushed him forward. I need to move, Iruka thought desperately, letting the traitor's body drop as he turned towards Naruto.

The Naruto-clone looked between Iruka, Mizuki's body and the wounded Naruto. "What's going on?" He asked nervously, voice trembling. "What's happening?"

Iruka could hardly even see straight, but the sight of that shuriken embedded into the back of Naruto's skull made his whole body tremble. Naruto's heart was beating, but it was very faint. The shuriken was in so deep that he dared not pull it out.

A head injury, and a bad one at that. It was enough to make Iruka's blood run cold. Head injuries were a field medic's worst nightmare. Naruto needed proper medical attention right now.

"Come on," Iruka gasped, gingerly lifting Naruto off the ground, while cradling his head carefully. The chunin was so weak he was struggling to stand, but he couldn't afford to collapse yet. "…Hold on, Naruto…" He begged quietly, before erupting through the forest at a breakneck sprint.

Iruka's heart pounded like a drum as he ran, leaping between branches until he saw the fence surrounding the village. He left a trail of blood with every step. The Naruto-clone ran next to him, struggling to keep up but asking a stream of insistent questions. Iruka never bothered to answer them, but he needed to hear Naruto's voice. So long as that clone hadn't dissipated, then Naruto stood a chance.

He actually managed to produce a Shadow Clone, Iruka thought in a near-delirious haze. That was a B-rank technique, at least, yet Naruto created a Shadow Clone as an academy student. A fairly solid Shadow Clone, as well, judging by the clone's apparent intelligence. In any normal circumstances, Iruka would have been so proud of his student.

Please let me have the chance to graduate him, Iruka begged desperately. Naruto deserves to graduate.

The village zoomed in view. Iruka debated going to the hospital, but the Hokage Tower was closer. He couldn't be sure that the doctors in the hospital wouldn't just let the 'Demon Fox' die, anyways. Around him, the ninjas that had been searching for Naruto yelled at Iruka as he ran passed, but Iruka didn't have the time to stop. He was heading straight for the Hokage. The Third was the only one who could save Naruto now.

"Iruka!" A voice yelled to his right as a man materialised next to him, easily keeping pace with the chunin. Iruka turned to see a jonin with messy white hair, his face mostly hidden under a black mask. The jounin glared at Iruka and the Naruto-clone with a single, attentive eye, before focusing on the bloody Naruto cradled in Iruka's arms. "What happened?"

Iruka was gasping for air so badly that he could hardly talk. Still, he just kept running, even despite the growing blood loss. "…Mizuki… Naruto… Injured…"Iruka panted, his strength fading but his legs were relentless. "…Hokage…"

Quietly, the silver-haired jounin seemed to put the situation together. "Right," he muttered coolly, before disappearing into a blur with the Body-Flicker Technique.

Ten seconds later, as Iruka reached the Hokage Tower, that jounin had already alerted the Anbu, and was there holding the gates open. Iruka never even had time to be surprised at the man's insane speed.

"Hurry up," the jounin said urgently, but with no trace of panic. "The Hokage is waiting."

The Third Hokage, Hiruzen, met them on the stairs, flanked by two Anbu, staring at Naruto's limp body with cold determination. The kindly old man was gone. Iruka almost collapsed from exhaustion as he sprinted up the stairs, but the jounin was there to snatch Naruto's body out of his arms and hold him out for Hiruzen.

There was just a hint of distress flickering across Hiruzen's stern, wrinkled face as he noticed the shuriken embedded deep into Naruto head. "What happened?" He demanded, while checking the boy's pulse and breathing.

"… Mizuki… traitor…" Iruka gasped, struggling to stay conscious. He was already leaving a puddle of blood on the floor.

The Hokage grunted, his attention focused solely on Naruto. "I see," he said simply, clenching his fists. "My office. Now."

The two Anbu took Naruto and carried him with careful haste. Hiruzen followed with surprising speed, already shouting orders for medical supplies. Iruka tried to follow, but his legs refused to go any further. The sliver-haired jounin was there to catch him.

"Naruto…" Iruka gasped weakly.

The jounin's partially visible face was completely impassive. "Bandage yourself up first," he said coolly, before walking away. "The Hokage will take it from here."

"Kakashi!" Hiruzen ordered loudly. "Secure the perimeter! Not a word about this to anyone!"

The silver-haired jounin, Kakashi, nodded. "Yes sir," he said quietly, just as he disappeared in a burst of speed.

Iruka could only watch weakly as the Hokage lay Naruto on his desk and quickly got to work. The Anbu were sent off for bandages, disinfectants and hot water, while Hiruzen quickly used basic medical ninjutsu. His hand glowed green as it hovered around Naruto's skull, assessing the damage expertly. The Hokage was not a medical-nin, but as 'The Professor' he was adept at just about every form of jutsu. Still, his wrinkled face seemed to age several years as he inspected Naruto.

"How is he?" Iruka asked desperately, clutching at his wounds as he staggered through the door.

"Not good," Hiruzen admitted. "There is swelling in his brain and I fear his whole body is shutting down. I must remove the shuriken and reduce the pressure. I need a scalpel and anaesthetic now!"

Quickly, another two Anbu, who Iruka hadn't even realised were present, saluted and disappeared in a flash. Iruka was trembling as he rushed to Naruto's side, holding his hand tightly while Hiruzen twisted Naruto onto his chest.

Suddenly, the Naruto-clone smashed through the door. The atmosphere was frantic, and the clone looked wide-eyed and crazed. "Will someone please tell me what's going on here?" He shouted, staring between at the original version of himself on the table and the Hokage. "Old man, what's happening?"

Hiruzen frowned at the sudden intrusion. "What is this?" He demanded, glaring at the doppelganger.

"Shadow clone," Iruka said simply.

"Hmm…" The Hokage nodded, still looking curiously at the clone. "Then that is a good sign. It means the original body is still providing chakra. There is a chance."

Kakashi reappeared quickly, pushing through the Naruto-clone without a second glance. "Area secured, sir," he said smoothly. The expensive Hokage desk was smeared with blood. All of the paperwork had been shoved to the floor.

"Good," Hiruzen said distractedly, gathering chakra into his hand with expert control. "Let's not cause a panic. Kakashi, you monitor Naruto's breathing and pulse, warn me if it fails."

"Yes sir,"Kakashi agreed, crouching by Naruto's side, next to Iruka. His eye lingered slightly on the seal on Naruto's chest, circling around his bellybutton. "If this boy dies, what happens to the Nine-Tails?"

"Naruto is more than just the Nine-Tails!" Iruka snapped, every nerve on edge.

"Enough! Focus!" Hiruzen ordered firmly, not looking up from his patient as he, very carefully, levered the shuriken out of Naruto's skull. "We will not let him die!"

The Naruto-clone watched in speechless horror as the three men crowded around his other limp body. Blood and brain fluid leaked everywhere, despite the Third's best attempts to seal the wound.

"Bandages!" He ordered, injecting a needle into Naruto's body.

"Here," Kakashi offered quickly. All laziness was gone; the jounin was completely focused on the task at hand. It was a good thing that ninjas generally weren't squeamish. There was a second when Iruka realised he was staring at Naruto's exposed brain, leaking fluids everywhere. Iruka had to go sit down when his hands started shaking too much.

The Naruto-clone just watched in horrific fascination as the Hokage fought to save his life.

"His breathing is faint," Kakashi warned.

"Curse it, there's too much swelling," the Hokage muttered, holding out a hand. "Scalpel."




"Oh god…" The Naruto-clone choked, looking ready to barf. Iruka was too focused to pay it much attention, but alarm bells started ringing in the back of his mind. Could Shadow Clones actually puke?

"Too much damage!" The Hokage exclaimed furiously, the chakra flowing from his hands. His muscles were tensed. "I can't…"

"Should I get more medic-nins?" Kakashi asked urgently.

"Not even Tsunade could help with this…" He groaned with a stream of curses as his chakra tried to knit flesh and bone back together. Brain tissue was infamously hard to heal.

"His pulse is failing!" Kakashi shouted loudly. "He's not breathing."

"Dammit!" Hiruzen cursed, visibly strained. "Turn him over, perform CPR!"

"Naruto!" Iruka screamed, stumbling to his feet.

Hiruzen just glared furiously, forming hand seals in rapid succession. Quickly, he generated lightning chakra on his palms and pressed it to Naruto's chest. The boy's body shuddered.

"Nothing," Kakashi warned.

"Adrenaline," he ordered, biting his lip as he gathered lightning again. "I need adrenaline now."

Kakashi produced a syringe and jabbed it into Naruto's sternum. Hiruzen abandoned the lightning, and instead used chakra to try and massage his heart. The minutes dragged on in a frantic, tense silence. Iruka couldn't even breathe with the tension. Hiruzen was sweating madly.

Naruto never moved.

After what felt like a lifetime, Kakashi slowly stopped monitoring his pulse and stood up. Hiruzen never stopped attempting the medical jutsu. Kakashi's voice was so quiet. "Sir…" He whispered gently.

"No!" Hiruzen snapped, his composure visibly cracking. "Not yet!"

Iruka's face was deathly pale. "…No…" He muttered in pure horror.

Another two minutes ticked by in silence. Iruka collapsed to his knees. Hiruzen's hands were trembling, struggling to maintain the chakra.

"No!" He shouted in frustration, panting heavily as his control failed him. The Hokage looked older than ever at that moment.

Slowly, Kakashi took Hiruzen's hands and pulled them away from Naruto. "He's dead, sir."

The room turned deathly quiet. Nobody dared to even breathe. For a few seconds, everything was still.

They were all smart men, but they were also very emotional and very focused on their task, and sometimes even smart men took a long time to realise obvious things. Even when that obvious thing was quite literally standing right in front of them.

The Naruto-clone looked between each of them hesitantly. "Huh…" Naruto announced in a tense, quivering voice. "…That was so weird…"

Everyone froze. They turned to stare at the Naruto standing in the office, and then at the other Naruto lying dead on the desk. Their bottom jaws hit the floor.

"Can you please tell me what's going on here, old man?" Naruto pleaded nervously, as Hiruzen pulled him into the adjoining room. The normally calm Hokage was visibly shaken. The twelve year old boy couldn't understand what was happening, and he was nearly bouncing around in apprehension. The questions were killing him. "What was that back there? What's up with this Shadow Clone Jutsu? What happened to Mizuki? Just what is that weird guy hiding under his mask–"

"Naruto," Hiruzen said in a firm voice that made Naruto stop talking. The Hokage wasn't strict very often, but when he was everyone knew to listen to him. Still, Hiruzen's voice sounded just a bit… off. "Please calm down. I wish to examine you for a moment. Then I will answer your questions."

Naruto gulped. "Alright," he said nervously.

Hiruzen bent down and used medical-jutsu to examine Naruto's body. His skin tingled as the Hokage's glowing hands swept over his body. Hiruzen frowned. Naruto did his best to stay still, but it wasn't easy.

"What is your favourite food?" Hiruzen demanded after a pause.

Naruto frowned. "What?"

"Answer the question." The Hokage's voice left no room for argument.

"Ramen, of course," Naruto said with a frown. "Ramen is awesome."

Hiruzen kept his face calm, but Naruto could see the lines around his eyes tighten. The Hokage then formed the hand seals to dispel genjutsu, examining Naruto critically. Nothing changed.

"What mark did you score on the last Academy exam?" Hiruzen asked eventually.

Naruto's shoulders sagged. "I failed…" he muttered miserably. "Seven percent…"

The Hokage hesitated for a moment. Then, he knelt down next to Naruto and stared at him critically in the eyes, as he took Naruto's hand. "Tell me something," Hiruzen asked finally. "Does this hurt?"

As quick as flash, Hiruzen fingers flashed out with a tiny blade of chakra, sharp enough to cut through Naruto's skin. Naruto flinched, clutching at his hand, but Hiruzen's grip was firm. "Ouch!" Naruto exclaimed. "Of course that hurts!"

Nimbly, the Third Hokage caught and examined a drop of blood trickling out the tiny cut. "Shadow Clones don't bleed…" he muttered, so quietly Naruto could barely hear him.

"Old man, you're freaking me out now…" Naruto muttered nervously. "Seriously, what's going on?"

Hiruzen paused, struggling with some internal dilemma. "Naruto…" he said quietly. "Please wait here. I promise I will be back shortly to answer all of your questions."

With that, the Hokage returned to his office. He paused to order an Anbu to retrieve the Scroll of Seals from the woods, and then he spent most of the next hour critically examining the forbidden scroll in great detail.

It was nearly dusk by the time Hiruzen was finally able to talk to anybody. He had ordered several jounins to keep a very close eye on Naruto, while he spent most of the time researching everything his mentor, the Second Hokage, Tobirama Senju, left behind.

Roughly two hours ago, he had reached a conclusion, but he kept on researching because he really didn't like the conclusion he reached.

Now, though, he had to act, and he summoned both Kakashi and Iruka into his office for a private meeting. Hiruzen was pacing across his office as he waited.

Iruka had been bandaged up and treated, but he was still fidgeting with nerves. He had watched the Anbu take Naruto's corpse out of the office. There were still bloodstains on the carpet. The chunin was a wreck of nerves and doubts.

"What is happening here?" Iruka demanded as soon as he walked through the door. "What happened to Naruto?"

"I'm fairly curious about that myself," Kakashi chimed in. The jounin was already sitting, but his single visible eye was alert. "Shadow Clones should disappear when the original is knocked unconscious. How did that one survive when the original was dead?"

Hiruzen didn't respond straight away. "Please, Iruka," he said in the softest voice possible. It had been a long day for all of them. "Sit down. We need to talk."

Grudgingly, Iruka dropped to the chair in front of the Hokage's desk. Hiruzen sighed, and then took his seat. The old man hesitated.

"Tell me something…" The Hokage said slowly. "Have you ever heard of the concept of the perfect jutsu?"

Iruka frowned. Kakashi's eye narrowed. "Yes," the jounin said carefully. "My mentor talked about it once."

Iruka nodded. "Yes, Minato would know," he mused. "The Flying Thunder God Technique has long been cited as a candidate for title of the 'perfect jutsu'. However, the actual term was coined by the Second Hokage, Tobirama Senju, who spent a great deal of time trying to develop the elusive perfect jutsu."

Hiruzen paused to light his pipe, taking a deep breath. "Tobirama believed that he could develop a jutsu so flawless; one with no disadvantage, with no equal, and then he could use this jutsu to bring peace to the world. If there was ever a technique that powerful, then one man could effectively render every other jutsu completely obsolete," the Hokage explained carefully. "And Tobirama came fairly close, as well. Of all the hundreds of jutsus that Tobirama created, there are two that potentially deserve the title of the 'perfect jutsu': the infamous Impure World Reincarnation, and the Shadow Clone Technique."

Kakashi frowned. "What?" He muttered. "But lots of people know how to use the Shadow Clone Technique. I can use it. It's a fairly useful, sure, but it's definitely not unbeatable."

"Yes," Hiruzen agreed. "That was because, in Tobirama's eyes, the Shadow Clone Jutsu that he invented was always just a pale imitation of what he wanted to create. You are completely correct; the Shadow Clone Technique has many disadvantages."

He leaned forward is chair, stroking his beard softly. "Shadow Clones are chakra constructs of the original. They may be able to siphon the original's strength, but that is all they can do. They can mimic the original's personality and skills, but they have none of their own. Each shadow generally has very limited intelligence, and they aren't actually alive," Hiruzen explained. "Shadow Clones are simply projections of the original at a certain point in time. They are essentially empty shadows of the user, hence the technique's name.

"But, originally, Tobirama wanted to create something more. He wanted the ultimate clone technique," Hiruzen said with a distant look in his eyes. "Tobirama failed, but now it seems that, somehow, Naruto Uzumaki has succeeded where the Second Hokage could not."

Iruka looked confused. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"It means that the Naruto downstairs is not a Shadow Clone," Hiruzen with a sigh. "He is an exact, living, breathing, flesh and blood, clone of Naruto Uzumaki. In other words, Naruto has just discovered the true perfect jutsu."

Author Notes:

Well, this is my first Naruto fanfic. I've been wanting to write one for ages, but this is the only one that I've actually been comfortable with uploading. There are a lot of God-Mode Naruto stories on this site, so I figured that I wanted to do my own version. I wanted a story with a good justification for Naruto becoming really strong. More details about Naruto's new power will be coming next chapter.

Current release schedule is undecided, though the next chapter should hopefully be coming fairly soon.

As for pairings? Yes. There most definitely will be... :)

Reviews and comments are always much appreciated!