The live of a shinobi was filled with adventures, death, love and pain. There was everything that one could not fully experience by just living a normal life. Living normally was no fun.
The civilian life was the life of the weak. They had to depend on the strong to protect them. They were even ignorant to the troubles that shinobi had to face. They lived in their own small bubble.
The ignorant life of the righteous wasn't one for Naruto. Everything that came with being a shinobi was worth living. Naruto wouldn't replace it for living a joyous life of a civilian. He frowned on the idea of being an ignorant imbecile. Nothing was ever gained from being foolish to the true world and there was really no joy.
Naruto couldn't wait to get into this world. This current world of being a child was just holding him down, it was stalling his adventures from beginning.
If there was a universal remote that fast forwarded time, then Naruto would no doubt tap on it. Even if it was in the hand of god, he would try to get his hands on it just so he could move things faster and get to his teenage years.
Yes, the good and naive days of ones' life.
Ah, well, there was really nothing he could do about it, was there? He had pondered on the thought, but there was nothing that ever came out of it. It was just a fruitless search within his dark mind. He often found himself wondering within the sight of the Kyubi whilst searching every inch of his conscious for an answer that would make things go in the way he wanted them.
Of course, ending up before the Kyubi was unfortunate. Not because he hated the Bijuu, but because of the circumstances that led him to appear before it.
Wasn't it that he had reached the end of thoughts?
Naruto's eyes were glued to his reflection – he was sitting at the last row within a class in Konoha's shinobi academy. This was his usual pose every day when he came to this god damned place. it was nothing more than torture.
He had to listen to children whine about this and that. it was hell. Sometimes he just wished he could be trapped in the world of infinite Tsukuyomi just to escape this treacherous world.
It was treacherous because it wasn't anything like the Sandaime promised. The old man had promised him a world of joy, friends and the glory of being a child. But the moment he had come here, he had realized that this wasn't the promised land.
This was the playground parents dump their children so that they can do naughty things with the kids out of ear sight.
The Sandaime had lied to him. He had met a couple of people, but they were annoying, at least most of them. some of the conversations bouncing through the walls made him want to stick his pencil inside his ears just to avoid them. He could not even fall asleep in this damned place. All he could do was just to stare at the window and live within his world of imaginations.
It was always fun. There were no limits to what one could imagine. His imaginations were his-
A duster smacked the blond Uzumaki straight on the side of his head. Naruto blinked as the whole class erupted into laughter over his unfortunate incident.
For a moment, Naruto thought one of the students was playing a trick on him. He would have stood up and bullied that student for interrupting his beautiful flow of thoughts… but he found the murderous glare of Iruka…
He has been caught in this kind of situation before, hasn't he? If his memory served him right and he wasn't taking one from a page of his imaginations, last time he had smiled and asked the man if he was saying something.
Maybe he could go with that… wait, the man had glared and demanded that he answer the question. Had it not been for Shikamaru to whisper the question, he would have been forced to stay over for a am hour writing an essay or enduring one of Iruka's lectures with the dumb kids.
He could just ignore the class and dive into his thoughts, but at the end of the lesson, the cold-hearted man gave out a test about the subject he was teaching and anyone who failed was forced to return the following day for another lesson. With those terms, he had to listen.
How was he going to handle this one?
"Were you saying something… Iruka sensei?" Naruto asked.
"Yes; I asked you a question. Answer it or I will give everyone a day off tomorrow and make you come alone for a day of tests in all your subjects and you have to pass them all… if you don't, the whole class will pay for it." Iruka said with a glare, and in a dead serious tone.
Those lasts words made the class turn to Naruto give him harsh glares. Naruto didn't mind them, but he got the sense that they wanted him to get the 'question' wrong for them to get a day off. There was a warning though. If he dared failed the tests tomorrow, he would face their wrath.
Now what would they do to him? Scream? Threaten to beat him up? Perhaps just bully him? Naruto snorted loudly at the thought. none of the brats here could even lay a hand on him. He could best them. even if some of them brought their parents, he would even best them. of course, if they came to him one by one, not in a mob.
A mob was never a good thing.
In the orphanage, he had received several lethal beatings that had him crawling into a dark corner like a humbled kitten. Even on this day, he feared mob justice.
What to do?
What to do?
As he mentally asked himself those questions, Naruto was tapping his fingers on the desk.
In the end, he stood up. "Buh!" He exclaimed with a mildly frustrated sigh.
The blond slowly walked down the class room, heading towards to the exit. He suddenly stopped in front of the class room. "I don't have to take this crap. This is boring, not what the Sandaime promised."
When he finished speaking, the blond walked towards the door.
"Where do you think, you're going, Naruto?"
"Home." Naruto said with a wave of his hand. "I quit the academy. You can do my quitting letter for me. I think I'd write just one word if asked to motivate."
Iruka wasn't going to stop the blond, but he raised an eyebrow in curiosity when the Naruto said those words. "What would that word be?"
"Boring." Naruto said before strolling away.
In any case, watching Jiraiya getting beat up by angry women after he was caught peeping was much more interesting and amusing than being in here.
What was he going to lose by walking away? Absolutely nothing. He had already met all the requirements one would need in order to pass the academy, but the Sandaime Hokage would not let him leave.
He had requested that the Sandiame allow him to take the graduation exam, but the old man had refused to permit it. He first wanted to see if he could do it as he says, but Naruto had refused to display his skills before the man.
What was the point of throwing jutsus if there was no target to hit? It would be nothing but to brag to the old man.
Of all people, Naruto was afraid of showing the old man anything that would get his gears moving. The old man had a magic wand hidden in his robes. It was capable to producing things from thin air.
As he walked away, Naruto felt no regrets.
Iruka blinked. The blond just walked away from class. Was he serious? He would see tomorrow and the next day. It wasn't out of the picture for the Uzumaki to skip class. He had done it a couple of times in this three weeks he has been with them. The man shook his head and focused on his class.
"Iruka sensei, is that even allowed?" One student asked.
Iruka stared at his class; they were all waiting for his response. "Yes… but I don't think your parents would allow it."
'That lucky bastard doesn't have parents!' It was the thought of most students as they glared at the exit.
What was so lucky about not having parents? Shikamaru thought mildly – it was as if he could read the minds of his classmates.
Naruto wasn't lucky by any means. In the three weeks, he has been here, he has been repeatedly reminded that he has no parents. It wasn't easy being an orphan, but remarkably, Naruto didn't seem to care about it.
He has been indifferent about the whole thing. Shikamaru hadn't felt any another emotion hidden behind the mask of indifference he always wore when the subject came up.
Well, it was Naruto. Anything was to be expected from the blond.
A few Minutes Later
Naruto was strolling through the streets of the Hidden Leaf, hands inside his pockets. He was heading straight towards his house.
He could use with a nap and then plan on how he was going to live his life from now on, now that he has decided to leave the academy. He wasn't going to suddenly appear in that place tomorrow or in any other day. He was done with it for good.
He had to think of a way he would make his life a bit interesting now that he has decided to abandon that place. He would go bananas if he stayed at home all days for the next couple of years without anything interesting for him to do. He was already easily bored, living a boring life would suffocate him.
Naruto drifted off his thoughts when the whispers finally reached him.
'What is he doing in the streets? Didn't he join the academy?'
'Look at him, walking as if he owns the place…'
'Well at least he isn't in the academy and isn't influencing our children. I don't even know why the Sandaime allowed him into the academy. He should have just stayed locked up in the orphanage.'
Naruto wasn't a sadist but this was truly music into his ears. But on a certain level, he felt sorry for the ignorant fools who glared and looked down on his existence as if he was a rotten egg. They were a pathetic bunch of people who deserved nothing from him and certainly nothing of what the Yondaime Hokage gave to them.
If there was a choice, he wouldn't have permitted himself to be used a mere sacrifice for the ungrateful people like these who were staring at him. He would have just let them be destroyed. They were good for nothing anyway. Naruto didn't give a damn about them. But o course not everyone was this stupid.
If his hatred for this people was strong enough, Naruto would have been plotting for them to be trapped in the eternal genjutsu or horrible nights terrorized by the Kyubi. Yes, if he had the power, he would make sure that in every of their dreams, the Kyubi would appear at night in a large column of smoke just to take away everything they held dear.
A pity, he didn't have those strong feeling.
He was sure the Kyubi would enjoy such a reality. For the Bijuu, it would be payback to the humans who have abused it and its kind for many years.
It didn't take long for Naruto to get to his house. The house was the only thing left of his parents. He had claimed it after being told of the truth but has had to depend on the 'grant' from the Sandaime Hokage. He had no other source of income. For the Kyubi brat, there was no one willing to hire him for odd jobs. He had to work as a shinobi to earn a living.
Ah, it was difficult living parents. The children he left at the academy were going to be munching on the thumps of their mother's later on while he had to think of what he was going to eat. For some good meat, he had to hunt something at the forest of death. If nature wasn't polluted, one could never get hungry.
For Naruto, to survive, he has had to fight for everything. There were no gifts that fell from the sky. even if people gave you something, there was always a string attached to it.
To live, he has had to fight. With his hands, with his very life. It wasn't like the 'kings' of the forest were going to just allow him to take their food. They sometimes fought for it.
He had learned the Law of the wild because of it: only the fit and strong survive. If you were weak, you were going to be devoured.
Sometimes it was like that in the shinobi world. But Naruto had yet to be fully exposed to this world. He had yet to become a shinobi after all.
Naruto stopped by the entrance of the house, seeing an envelope. He expanded his senses without even looking around or his eyes closed for concertation. He was simply looking for anyone who had his attention focused on his form.
His senses were something that he was rather proud of. If he could boast about them with someone, he would do it. But he had no one, so he could only gloat in his cynical dreams.
At least there was no Anbu watching him. He could turn off and just ignore everything. Keeping his senses active would drive him paranoid when he was in this village, especially since there was always someone directing killing intent towards him.
Naruto didn't pick up the envelope; he sighed and turned away from the door – he was leaving the house and he had thought he would have the time sleep whilst thinking of what to do next whilst in his dreams. Well, when you were the Kyubi's Jinchuriki, you were always an object of other people's curiosity.
He had to play his part and amuse these people.
Naruto walked slowly towards a secluded place. He knew that he would find people waiting for him. They were troublesome people who wanted to use him for the Kyubi's power.
Yes, the cripple behind the mono robots - who would sweep him away in the underground - saw him as nothing more than a weapon that should be utilized for Konoha's safety and his own twisted reasons of course.
When Naruto returned to the busy streets, he hit an alley and went into the darkness.
Not long ago, it had been troublesome walking within the village with the blood red eyes of the Uchiha clan watching the village as part of their duties in military police force. Those cursed Sharingan users would have surely exploded in uproar if they'd found out about him.
It was a pity and a good thing that they were no more.
Naruto's thoughts didn't go any further than that because two hands slowly touched both his shoulders before he was pulled away.
He appeared in an underground place he knew as the Foundation's HQ. He was never been allowed to walk into this place. this was the third time he was coming here, and each time the man always made sure that he was blind sighted on the direction and location. Even with his superior senses, finding the place was rather difficult. Well, he didn't give it his all in trying to unearth it.
Some secrets had to remain secret.
Naruto's blue eyes met with Danzo's – with the war hawk staring down at his form with an expressionless mask. Naruto hated it when someone looked at him like that. He has at times entertained the idea of kicking the man on both his knees just to get him to bow down so that he could look down on the man for once. Honestly, Naruto hated Danzo for looking at him as if he was superior.
If it wasn't because he would get killed before he could even reach the man, Naruto would have already stabbed a blade straight into the man's chest.
One day he would do it though. He could not allow another human to look at him like that. It was even more so troublesome when the man believed that he was just a mere puppet that the man could use to achieve his means.
Naruto didn't like it all. But he allowed it to happen. It was better this way. the man could never control him so it was best to allow him to enjoy his fantasies.
"I just quit the academy, and you're already on my tail?" Naruto asked the war hawk, with a raised brow. "Are you always watching me, Danzo-sama?"
The words came out naturally, but Naruto felt as if it was a bitter pill. When he called the man so respectfully to be precise. The first time he had called the man 'simply' by Danzo he had been introduced to a humiliation lesson he would never forget.
He didn't hold grudges but the lackeys behind him had been marked as his targets for future death by stabbing in the heart when they beat him up to a pulp and then forced him to respectfully address their master.
The cold-hearted sadist before in front of him had watched with a gleeful look as he was being straightened up by those brutal bastards.
Danzo raised an eye brow. The motion was tiny, but Naruto's eyes could see it clearly. "You quit the academy…" the man wasn't making a question.
He was honestly not surprised that his Jinchuriki had quit the academy. As the Kyubi's container, Naruto wasn't being taught anything valuable. He had told the Sandaime Hokage this repeatedly, but the old man refused to listen to him. It wasn't just for Naruto only, but the current academy was diminishing the quality of shinobi in the village and it didn't sit well with Danzo.
The Sandaime could make excuses and say that there was no war, so the young ones had to be allowed to live normally, but before his eyes, Danzo saw battles at every turn. Shinobi never stopped fighting.
The thing called peace was an illusion that the Sandaime made up for himself to sooth himself and as his excuse to turn a blind eye of major threats to the village.
Despite all his thoughts, Danzo didn't say anything but just turned around and those behind him followed quickly.
Ah, it felt good being the boss: you didn't have to give out orders, your lackeys just followed your movements without question. Danzo enjoyed his supremacy too much though, but there was nothing even he could do about it. He just had to follow the man like the obedient tools behind him.
When did he lower his life to become a servant?
Madara would find something like this to be demeaning. But Naruto had come to understand something when it came to dealing with humans and for survival; it wasn't always those who held their heads high who always to see the next day. Sometimes those who had to crawl through the mud ground to get to somewhere.
Being a proud fool didn't lengthen one's life, it only shortened it.
Naruto wasn't a mere servant of the war hawk. No, he was Uzumaki Naruto, and independent young mind who would live his life to the fullest.
Danzo finally stopped by his beloved throne. He settled down before his lone eye narrowed down at the indifferent blond – who dared stare back at him. It was apparent that no matter what, he wasn't going to get the blond to kneel before him. Well, Uzumaki have always been stubborn people.
"You said you quit the academy… what do you plan on doing?" The war hawk asked, his tone displaying none of his intensions.
Naruto shrugged his right shoulder nonchalantly as he responded. "Who knows?"
That was the only response he was going to give the old man. He wasn't that much of a simpleton that he would give a crafty snake like this one an opening to bite him – a foolish mistake like that would cost him dearly.
"I am more than willing to take you on for special training. You have not shown any willingness to learn how to control the Kyubi's power. I believe that is foolishness. We do not need a Jinchuriki who cannot utilise the power sealed within him. The Sandaime may disagree, but if you're willing, it would kill all his arguments."
The old man would give a hard fight and it would raise the question as to how they managed to meet. He had been warned to stay away from Naruto, but he would have support if Naruto said he wanted to learn to control the Kyubi's power. The Sandaime could not stop it, and if that were to become the case, Danzo would manage to wrap his hands around the blond and use him for his uses.
As it stood, the blond wasn't willing to be train with him. He has refused training, saying he could do things on his own. He could change that though. He had already shown the blond the power of his 'students' who were of the same age as Naruto. It is to be said that the blond didn't show any signs of being impressed. Nevertheless, Danzo was positive that there had been an impression imparted in the mind of the Uzumaki.
He didn't even know how the blond could fight. Even the last time the blond was beat up by his loyal subordinates, the blond had not fought back. He hadn't even tried. If he had tried and had been overpowered, Danzo would have known, but he did not. He had smiled at the end of the beating and said… 'Well, that was brutal.'
He had said it with a smile.
It had caught him off-guard, but Danzo wasn't a master of the shadows for nothing: he had remained stone faced when the blond said those words.
"When it comes to my training, I will handle it myself. That doesn't mean that I will not ask for pointers. I don't want anyone to claim to have made me. My power will be my own, not owed to anyone." Naruto responded calmly.
It may be too late for that given that Madara made some changes to his body. There were major changes that would form the basis of his power. Even so, Naruto would not allow the man to say he had built him. The power he would gain would be from his hard work and determination. Not because the infamous Uchiha made some improvements on his body.
"Besides…" Naruto tilted his head to the side. "I'm not as helpless as you'd think I am. You have never seen me train, but that is fine. You don't need to know the things that are not of your concern…" as he said those words, Naruto felt the glares coming his way, but he ignored them. "In any case, I refuse your help."
Danzo would not force him to accept it. Not unless he was planning on using genjutsu to manipulate him. That was something he would have to watch out for. He knew from Obito that Danzo had Shisui's eye. It would be problematic if he found himself under the influence of the Sharingan.
Well, not problematic but the end of things for him.
"I see." Danzo showed no surprise that he had been turned down, again.
His patience would run out soon and he would take extreme measures to get what he wants. It would even be more fitting if he worked through that formula as it was only logical to have a weapon that did not think but could only do what it was instructed to do.
"Are you any good in fuinjsutu?"
Naruto raised an eyebrow. He sensed an ulterior motive behind the question. He didn't allow his thoughts to wonder too far off.
The Uzamaki smiled with embarrassment. "Surprisingly, the skills of the parents do not really pass down to their children. Both my parents were masters of the art but it appears that it is too complex for me to understand it."
Danzo frowned. It was small, almost tiny and it quickly disappeared as if he hadn't been there. "That means you cannot wield the Hiraishin…" He didn't hide his disappointment when he spoke. "If I had been given you back then, I would have still trained your mind to understand fuinjutsu. What you lack is a master of the art who can teach it to simpletons."
"Perhaps…" Naruto allowed the thought to drift.
"If you give it to me, I can make use of it."
Oh, so that was what the man was after. Certainly, the jutsu would make the man powerful enough to confront the Sandaime head on with his coupe plans. He wouldn't have anything to worry about. Naruto wasn't going to make that mistake of handing such a jutsu to a fanatic worshipper of the Hidden Leaf like Danzo. It would be a suicidal decision that would leave many dead.
Now, Naruto wasn't that cold hearted that he would sit back and watch many innocent people being slaughtered by the man. He didn't hate humans and liked to believe that he wasn't indifferent to the world around him. To him, this wasn't a dream that Obito made it to be, but a reality.
"Unfortunately, I do not have it in my possession. The Sandaime has it." Naruto said.
Danzo narrowed his eyes. "Your father was the user of the jutsu… how can you say it isn't in his property?"
"I never said it wasn't in his property; I said the Sandaime has it. I had it, but the old man took it away because he believed it was dangerous to live something like that with me. Besides, I cannot lay claim to it: the jutsu wasn't invented by the Yondaime, it was the Nidaime's jutsu. It is Konoha's secret jutsu…" Naruto responded with some seriousness in his tone.
It wouldn't be out of the picture for the Sandaime to do something like that. He had issues when it came to the young ones. He always had to protect them from something, always had to shield them and allow them to live normal lives without experiencing the harshness those born into war experience.
To Danzo, it was nothing more than nonsense.
A tool wasn't created to decorate the weapons store room; it was made to be used in the battlefield. If things were going his way, there would be many battles to fight. But with the Third in the driving seat, he was limited to the shadows. It was frustrating. Only if he could get his hands on either the Hiraishin or the Kyubi. the latter was right in front of him.
It would only take a snap of his fingers for him to get the blond to kneel before he can apply his magic.
What was stopping him from doing just that?
Later that Day
Naruto groaned as he slowly raised his head from his study desk. His eyes blinked slowly before he rubbed them. were they playing tricks on him? He was seeing nothing but darkness in the office. There had been light when he came back from seeing the corrupt Danzo. He couldn't have been so bored that a nap turned into a full-blown sleep with the snoring and bubbles through the nose, right?
The blond looked down on the desk; there was just a book talking about ninjutsu that he had been reading. Well, at least he hadn't dreamt drooling. So, it was still possible for him to return it to the library without that woman glaring murderously at him for destroying a precious book he could not afford even if he sold everything he wore.
Naruto closed the book and stretched his stiff neck muscles for a couple of seconds before pushing his chair backwards. He then stood up and walked towards the study's entrance. He tried switching on the light, but nothing happened. He must be out of gas.
Being poor was certainly a bitter experience. It was even more of a curse if you were powerless and an orphan. His father was the previous Hokage, and yet he had to live poor. The villagers the man had died to protect were living large whilst he barely afforded to live. He would have to go back to that rundown apartment the Sandaime had leased for him. He didn't have to worry about rent and the bills for water and electricity were being taken care of by the Sandaime.
Even so, Naruto felt bitter about sleeping in such a place. He was poor and without parents, his place of living didn't have to remind him of how much of a tragedy life was without parents. At least when he was in this house, he knew that he had parents and they had lived here. He was made here and this was everything that they owned.
In that crappy place, he felt as if he had been born from the hatred of the villagers towards the Kyubi. Nothing more than a Kyubi brat.
His stomach growled. Naruto sighed. 'Where am I going to get food now?'
Naruto wondered as he walked out of the study. The house was silent, almost deathly silent. He was just a lone brat living on his own without any parents or relatives. It was a damn shame. This was the gloomy nights of an orphan who didn't have any relatives that are alive. What a cursed existence he was living.
If Jiraiya wasn't a stingy person and he appeared a bit more regularly, he would swindle money from him. The Sandaime wouldn't even give him any more money than he was currently giving him. Now that he had quit the academy, the old man may be tempted to say that since he was no longer an academy student, there was no reason to keep giving him a 'grant'
The Third was kind, but if he thought it was the only way to get back to go back to the academy, he would pull that string.
'What a miserable existence you have…' Kurama's voice rang from the seal. 'I've told you a couple of times to just let me out and be done with it. I'm sure you want to squash those humans for enjoying life when you are suffering. It is because of them that your father decided to die and yet, they curse your existence.'
'You really enjoy playing the menacing giant demon, don't you?' Naruto asked calmly.
He wasn't going to fall for such a simple trick. He was more than that. Besides, it would be irrational to make such a choice. The conditions may be unfavourable, but logically thinking, there was a way out of it and he could end up enjoying life. He could do great things rather than just ending miserably and live with regrets in the afterlife.
Naruto wanted to live a full-life. He didn't want to die with regrets. It would be, therefore, illogical to give his life away when there was hope for a better tomorrow. He wasn't even completely miserable anyway.
"Why do you act as if you forget who I am?' Kurama asked calmly.
"You're known as the Nine-tailed demon fox, the vile beast that can level a mountain with a swing of its tails… You're known to be so frighteningly powerful that this village trembles in dread at the thought of your revival… Yes, you truly have a remarkable reputation and yet before my eyes, you're nothing more than a caged bird who can only harmlessly bark and toothlessly glare at me…"
Behind the bars, the Kyubi could do nothing. It was only his deep emotions that could weaken the seal, but on its own the Bijuu could not nothing to escape the jail the Yondaime had created for it. it was firmly held, unable to break through even with all its power. Ah, what a pitiful experience for the Bijuu.
But there was nothing neither could do.
'Of course, I don't say that just to infuriate you or just to demean you, my prisoner. Your jailor sees you as more than just a valuable mass form of chakra only to be used by those with blessed eyes. Of all the humans, you have met, who has spoken to you in the same manner as I have? Who has spoken to you objectively?
'It, nevertheless, doesn't changes the fact that I will one day use your power as any other human would want.' Naruto paused for a moment before responding to the Kyubi's earlier remark. "But you're indeed right… it is miserable here. This is something you cannot wish. Had it not been for the sacrifice, I'd probably be running around this house with a wide grin as my mother chases me around. Perhaps father would join in on dinner after a long day in the office and we'd have a good family moment.
'But there is nothing of that. My mind can only torture me with those dreams. I have loneliness in abundance and a cold darkness that just stares at me and walls that whisper violent inciting words into my ears. It's sad, but that is the reality of my life. I have hope of changing it, as you have hope of escaping from that seal. Tell me, Kyubi, who do you think will succeed first?'
The Bijuu didn't want to respond but it felt compelled to ask. 'Do you really think that the villagers will one day start treating you better?'
'My thoughts are irrelevant but logically speaking, they should have a better standing with me. Nevertheless, I can't allow myself to have that thought.' Naruto was quick to say.
The Bijuu inside of him went silent after those words, but Naruto didn't push for anything. He didn't want to continue with the subject. The Bijuu had started it, it could end it at its convenience.
Naruto's eyes scanned through the kitchen. He just stood there silently. He didn't torment himself with the thought of other kids getting fed by their parents. He had done that on his first nights inside this house. for now, he just had to think about what he was going to do with no guess.
Sighing loudly, Naruto turned away. He would have to either dig deep in his pockets, put on a henge to eat something nice or he could go to the Forest of Death. At least Anbu didn't really play around the forest at night so he didn't have to worry about them. the forest was largely left alone as people didn't really venture there on a regular basis.
Well, he could use some bit of training. Hunting for something now would be good for his survival instincts and training overall. Roasted meat was always delicious. Even though he was going to eat it alone.
Nodding his head, Naruto decided to head towards his room to get a change of clothes. He didn't want the clones he was wearing now to get torn by running around the forest with wild animals.
The Following Day
The Sandaime Hokage smiled as Iruka walked into his office. He wasn't expecting the man to be before him at this time of the day. The academy was still on and seeing how much the man loved his job, it was unthinkable to assume that he had left his duties. Perhaps there was something that had come up that forced him to be here.
"Iruka…" The Third smiled warmly, seeing the shinobi who had almost lost himself when his parents were killed during the Kyubi incident.
It wasn't to say that the man was over his emotions, there were still some that were lingering within him. The Third was experienced with these things, so he knew that the man wasn't even completely fair to Naruto. It had been a disappointing discovery though. He had thought that Iruka would be the one person who could understand Naruto. Well, Naruto didn't do much to stand out.
"Sandaime-sama." Iruka bowed respectfully.
"What can I do for you?" The old man asked quietly.
Iruka stared for a long minute as he thought of a way to say it. he wanted the right words in which he could express what he wanted to say without sounding indifferent. He had noticed that the Sandaime hadn't been happy with him when he had demanded to know the reason Naruto was put in his class and had even complained saying that he didn't want him. the old man had avoided speaking to him for about a week.
That was just about two weeks ago.
"Yesterday, Naruto said he was quitting the academy. I thought he was just kidding when he said it, that's why I didn't come to report it to you. But he didn't show up today, so I thought he may have been serious. That is why I came to tell you directly." Iruka said.
The Third lost his smile. Take his eyes off the blond and he quits the academy. Naruto hadn't even come to him yesterday. It wasn't like he came everyday or they had an appointment, he thought if something like that occurred, the blond who have felt compelled to come before to inform him that he had quit the academy.
He had overcome a lot of pressure from many corners in order to get him to the academy so that he could make friends, and yet, the blond decided to quit after just three weeks.
It was just ridiculous.
But Naruto wasn't stubborn that he couldn't see reason and would never change his mind. He was a bit simple but the 'wind flow' made it hard to tell whether he would be happy to change his mind if he convinced him to go back. the Third thought it would be unlikely though, but there was no harm in trying.
The Third looked back at Iruka and asked. "Did you try to stop him?" He asked curiously. If the man loved his students, he wouldn't just sit back and allow one of his students to drop classes, right? He would try by all means to get that student to see that 'light'.
Although Naruto's case was different, he would expect teachers to at least give an effort… Hiruzen shook his head. Who was he fooling? They were just going to be happy knowing that the blond was out of the picture. The villagers with kids in the academy would rejoice and even question what he had been thinking in placing the blond in the academy.
"No." Iruka's response came without hesitation. "I only came here to tell you that."
Hiruzen nodded. "Thanks for letting me know." He said, dismissing the Chunnin teacher.
What was he going to do now? How would he even get Naruto to behave? He knew that Naruto wanted to follow the path of a shinobi, but it wouldn't do him any good if he didn't go back to the academy. He didn't want the blond to join any other world where he would be exposed to the harsh reality of the shinobi world.
He wanted to at least allow him to grow naturally.
Naruto had grown already, but he was still a child. The current growth was expected of someone was living on his own, someone who has had to look over his shoulders from as far as he has known how to walk.
He needed to think of something that could work to convince the blond that returning to the academy was good. Naruto liked to reason though. He was a little more cynical and brutal about it, but he reasoned.
The promise of friends wouldn't sell any more. First, he needed to know the reason Naruto had quit. If it was a problem with the teachers, then he could solve it quickly.
If it was because of another reason, he would have to think.
Seeing that there was no other option that was presenting itself to him, the Sandaime did a hand sign. A second later, an Anbu appeared in the office. "Go find Uzumaki Naruto and bring him here. I don't care if he's butt naked. If he refuses, drag him here."
"Hai." The Anbu saluted before disappearing in a puff of smoke.
The Professor leaned back to his chair. He needed a smoke now, but he could not smoke when Naruto was going to come here. After the blond comes and they discuss what needed to be discussed, he would have to step out of the office and get some fresh air whilst painting his lungs black.
There was no one who could help him with the Naruto situation. Jiraiya couldn't do anything even if he was here. The Sannin would likely just propose to go with the blond for a little while to get him to experience the outside world. Perhaps that would be good, but the Sandaime didn't want Naruto to leave Konoha, not when there was a chance that he could love the outside.
Wasn't that just selfish of him?
Naruto arrived at the office a couple of minutes with the Anbu by him. The masked man nodded to the Sandaime before disappearing.
The blond eyed the old man for a couple of seconds before concluding that he now knew that he had quit the academy. The Third was almost pushy when it came to him as if they were truly family. They were not. Perhaps it was nothing more of a favour to Minato. The man had been his chosen successor and seeing his noble sacrifice being unknowingly scorned by the villagers must have moved him to act.
Well, at least he understood the feeling of having someone to care for him as family.
"Are you not going to sit down, Naruto-kun?" The Third asked calmly, pointing at the chair. Even though he was asking, he was really going to have the blond sit because they were going to have a long hard discussion about what was going to happen from today, henceforth.
Naruto looked at the chair in front of the Sandaime's desk before shrugging. He walked over and settled down. "When you stare at me like that, it makes me feel nervous…" Naruto said in an honest tone as he felt the stare of the Third trying to penetrate his soul.
He wasn't that experienced that he could keep a mask firmly on his face when faced by the scrutinizing stare of the Professor. It he allowed it to press him, it would strip him naked once his mask crumbles. Naruto always ensured that he didn't allow the old man to press any deep by shifting the topic. When he failed, the old man would get what he wants and that was always a pain.
The Third smiled upon hearing Naruto's words. "Well, your decision to leave the academy has left me with a lot of questions. None of which I can answer." He said. "Tell me, are you serious about leaving the academy, or will you decide to go back tomorrow?"
If he was going to do that, then he would have to do something. There were rules that had to be followed and he could not simply disregard them because he favoured the blond. He did favour Naruto, but unless it was a special situation that required his grace, rules had to be applied with a firm hand.
With a shake of his head, Naruto responded in a firm tone. "I wasn't planning on quitting yesterday morning, but I just thought, this isn't the fun you promised me. I was bored, and the education made me sleepy. it didn't help my case when the academy teachers blatantly show their hatred by trying to sabotage me at every turn."
It was frustrating really. It wasn't that he needed their help. Most of them were not 'real' shinobi by his standards, so they couldn't teach him anything except for the useless basics. Even so, to sabotage him because he was the Kyubi brat was just taking it too far.
However, even though he didn't like the action being directed towards him, a logical part of him could understand the reason: He was nothing more than the Kyubi brat. The academy was seen as a place that could make him smart, and make him power. Who would want the enemy to get smart and powerful? If they allowed that to happen, they would just be fuelling another incident.
It didn't make it right, but the thought process was logical and so, Naruto usually of it with indifference.
The Third frowned. He had thought something like that could happen, but hearing about it from Naruto displeased him. Iruka hadn't said anything about it. He would really have to act about this matter.
"So you have decided to quit." The Sandaime said in thought.
Naruto's reasons were too simple and could be easily brushed aside. Yet, the Sandaime couldn't find a way to get the blond to decide otherwise. It wasn't going to take anything complex for the blond to take action and given that the reasons were trivial things, it was unlikely that he was going to change his mind.
Naruto's boredom was an important factor in his decisions. Hiruzen understood that too well. Naruto was the kind who would do something because he thought it would be interesting or because it was fun. Nevertheless, that didn't mean he would do even the morally things just because it was fun… at least that was what the Third thought and what he liked to believe.
"What do you plan on doing from now?"
Naruto shook his head. "I don't know as yet… maybe you could offer something that will keep be occupied that I won't have time to think about my boredom… I don't want anything messy though, I want to read a few books at my pace. There are a lot of things I don't know. I realized that after embracing the academy life. It is a pity I grew tired of it too quickly though…" The blond said.
"How do you plan on becoming a shinobi?"
"You won't allow me to graduate… for now at least. But that isn't much of a problem, there is still too much for me to learn… then again, they do say experience is the best teacher…" Naruto said. "In any case, I'm not going back to the academy. The order never changes. I know when I must wake up, what is coming after lunch, and I must sit back and listen to a certain voice saying something every day. That process is too dull for me. One week of it is enough for me.
"I need to experience different things. I don't like doing the same thing over and over again… when an action becomes repetitive, it longer surprises you but just normality and that is boring."
The Third was now certain he wasn't going to talk the blond out of his plans. There was nothing he could give the blond. he felt the speech about making friends and the importance of the academy wasn't going to make any difference. Naruto wouldn't listen to him.
"I'll give it some thought and I will call you again with what you can do…" The Third said.
It would have to be something that wouldn't take the blond out of the village, somewhere Danzo would not be able to reach him and a place he could keep an eye on the blond without sending someone to spy on him from afar. He had discovered that sending something to spy over the blond from a distance away was futile, not because he could escape, but because he always knew when he was being watched.
Several days Later
"I thought you were not going to return to this place with Madara's death," Black Zetsu said as he walked up to Naruto – who was sitting on the throne Madara usually occupied.
Naruto stared at the black creature for a long moment before closing his eyes. "This place has some sentimental value… I thought I would be best if I breathed in the air around here. Besides that, I had other things to conclude."
It was not yet concluded, but with Zetsu here, he would be able to solve it. He had been waiting for the plant to show up so that he could get to business. It was possible that he knew that he has been sitting here for more than an hour without making in any movement. The black creature had some mysterious sensing prowess that Naruto resented with every inch of his being.
"Where were you? Running errands for Obito?" Naruto asked with only his right eye slightly opened. "In these days, you don't usually leave that child behind unless you are dealing with something…"
Black Zetsu shrugged, "There and there, but White Zetsu just wanted to go play somewhere whilst I work," he said.
Naruto nodded and stood up as he opened both his eyes. He took a walk towards black Zetsu. He stopped just on the right side of the plant like creature and spoke, "It has been interesting being in this place. I learned a lot from you, and for that, you have my thanks."
"There is no need for that," Black Zetsu said. "Even if you don't come to visit us, I will always keep an eye on you…"
Naruto smiled, "Just like my guardian, huh? I must thank Madara to have life blessed with 'people' like you who you know always have your back no matter what. I can sleep without any armour knowing that I have you by my side," the blond Uzumaki said as he placed his right hand on Zetsu's shoulder.
Lightning burst through his hand, electrifying Zetsu's entire body.
Naruto turned Zetsu to have the creature face him – the lightning had paralyzed its body only for a few seconds. He didn't waste any time before slamming the palm of his right hand on Zetsu's chest. Chakra rods burst out of Zetsu's back.
Zetsu looked shocked, not in a million years did he expect the blond to turn on him like this. For the years he has been active, this has been something he did not see coming. Not from this brat, the brat he had watched grow up under the guide of Uchiha Madara.
Why would the blond even do something like this? There was nothing to gain from doing this. Absolutely nothing. Yet, why was he doing it? This was going against the wishes of Madara and even though he had known that the blond would not follow the plan, he hadn't thought he would do something so treacherous after everything they have given him.
"What is the meaning of this, Naruto?" Black Zetsu demanded in a dark tone.
"I cannot have someone watching my every move like a hawk. It isn't just that only, but I cannot predict you nor do I even know what is in your head. I cannot control you and that bothers me massively…" Naruto responded calmly. "I don't have anything against you, but the fact that you seem to know everything and I can't tell what you thinking, makes me find your existence intolerable."
'No, no, no, no….' Zetsu wasn't going to end up like this.
He had planned for the revival of his mother for many generations, he wasn't going to allow some ignorant brat to ruin all the plans he had laid. He finally had the Rinnegan, which was the key to everything and now this brat was going to end him?! Naruto didn't even know anything except for what he was told.
The brat was only ending him because he felt his existence was intolerable.
Zetsu cursed Madara for bringing this brat into his presence. How could he not have not foreseen something like this? The blond didn't suspect his motives, so he was safe on that, but he was going to be ended. No, the brat wasn't killing him, he was only sealing him away. Naruto didn't have the power to kill him.
His reunion with his mother wasn't going to be stopped by a mere brat.
"This isn't the last you have seen of me, Naruto!" Zetsu stated. "We will meet again and when we do, we will extract Madara's pet…"
"I'll likely be dead if someone manages to remove this seal. So long as I am dead, I don't really care what happens after…" The blond said with a shrug of indifference as Zetsu's eyes closed.
He waited for a minute just to ensure that things were safe. Once he was sure, Naruto breathed a sigh of relief. He would have to thank Jiraiya for his work. The man had supplied him with the seal even not knowing what he wanted to seal. His own skills with Fuinjutsu were just mediocre… he had to rely on those with superior skills.
"I guess I should clean up the mess and wait for Obito…" Naruto said.
The masked fool walking around as Uchiha Madara was surely going to return soon. This was his 'house' after all and besides, Naruto needed someone to take him back to Konoha. With white Zetsu absent, he would have to travel all the way back to the Hidden Leaf. With so many snakes in the village, he could not trust his clone to hold on for too long when there was a chance that it could be exposed by one of the snakes.
Once he was done hiding black Zetsu, Naruto settled down on Madara's throne and closed his eyes.
Just one lone blood-red eye opened slightly as he sensed footsteps and mutterings down the dark passages. The owners of the house had returned and were marching towards this place. Naruto put on his indifferent mask as Obito and White Zetsu made their appearance.
"Naruto…" Obito started with a narrowed eye.
He was always suspicious around the blond. Ever since Madara 'left' the blond has had an uncaring and unpredictable streak since with him. He couldn't begin to guess what he was thinking and that made him a bit uneasy around him. He was never let in on what Madara had brought the blond for, but with how he was acting, it was hard to think that that Madara had brought him in the picture in the first place.
"Kakashi still visits your grave… you know? I pity the miserable man sometimes. He doesn't even know that his dear friend who gave him his Sharingan is still alive. Kakashi would have still been great, but the Sharingan is what brought the moniker 'Sharingan no Kakashi…" Naruto said calmly.
Perhaps it was brutal of him and a thought that one should not allow other people to know, but Naruto could not wait to see the look on Kakashi's face when he does get to see that his beloved friend – who he still mourns.
What would be the Jonin's reaction when he learns that Obito is leading a parade of trying to end this world with the resurrection of the Jubi and then trapping the world in a world of eternal dreams?
It was something that he wanted to see, but not because he wanted to see Kakashi suffer but because he thought the look would be interesting. The Jonin would try to talk Obito out of his madness, and what Naruto wanted to see above all, was Obito's reaction. Would Kakashi be able to get to him?
"What does that have to do with anything?"
"Don't you care?" Naruto asked.
"It doesn't matter if I care or not. This world will end and a new one will begin within the infinite Tsyukiyomi. This 'dream' doesn't matter."
"I think you care about him." Naruto said, ignoring Obito's passionate talk about the world of dreams. He had plenty to comment on the man's delusions about this world being fake the one he was trying to reach being the real one, but he chose not to get onto it. there would be a time for that – it wasn't today.
Obito wasn't going to entertain the blond, so he said nothing but that just gave the blond a platform to say something.
"If you didn't care about him, you would have taken your Sharingan long ago. Without it, you're operating with half of your power. You have no access to Susano'o and the others because of it. If you really didn't care, you would have taken it…" Naruto paused smiling. "But of course, I could be just making baseless conclusions on my wild imaginations. The thing being a child is that, there are no limits to what you can think. Even the things that are impossible are made possible.
"In any case, I have gotten rid of Black Zetsu. You don't need to know why, you just need to know that you won't be seeing him anymore." Naruto said carefully as he judged Obito's reaction. as usual, there was nothing. He couldn't see anything behind that mask.
Naruto blinked before bursting into laughter. After a few moments of laughing, he settled down and stared at Obito with a shake of his head. "Shinobi are truly treacherous." He said. "Should I tell you the reason, I was brought in this place? It wasn't to assist, but act as back-up."
Obito didn't sound surprised. "I wasn't aware of it, but since you have the same seal as I do, it isn't surprising."
At the thought of the seal on his heart, Naruto frowned. He couldn't get rid of it. If Madara is to be reborn, he was as good as dead. The man would be able to control his body in any way he liked Naruto couldn't stop it, except for dying, but he couldn't kill himself because the thing wouldn't allow him.
"Do you still plan on being back-up?" Obito asked.
Naruto stood up. "If you successfully manage to revive Madara, I will be the back-up. There is no way I can escape it. But in the meantime, I will try to have a blast…" he said walking over to Obito. "I don't know you. Don't appear before me. Mind your business and I will mind mine."
Obito shrugged. He didn't care what Naruto would have to do from now on. They would be enemies if the blond purposefully stood in the way. However, since Naruto hasn't met Nagato and didn't know anything about the Akatsuki it was safe to say that things would be fine.
The loss of Black Zetsu was irrelevant to the Akatsuki's purpose. The remaining Zetsu could still the job just fine. He didn't have to worry about the loss of his source of Intel. Admittedly, Obito was a little thankful to Naruto for his services. He had one less thing to worry about now.
He had the cards on both his hands, so he could as well laugh his way to his dreams now.
"That is fine by me." Obito said.
"I'm glad we got this out of the way without any troubles." Naruto said. "Either way, I would have still asked for you to take me back to Konoha."
Obito raised an eyebrow; he considered it for second before shaking his head.
He still didn't even know if the blond was aware that it was him who caused the Kyubi incident years ago. However, according to Madara, and Zetsu, the blond hadn't been told by anyone and since Minato didn't talk to anyone, his secret was safe, for now at least.
Without saying another word, Obito touched Naruto's shoulder and warped away from the hideout. a couple of seconds later, the swirling vortex appeared above the Hokage Monument. Obito didn't materialise, only Naruto's form appeared.
Naruto stood at the Monument for a couple of minutes before walking over to the edge of the Third's head. He could see everything within the village from where he stood. It air was fresh from here, but the place wasn't as fascinating as it was during the night.
looking up for a moment, Naruto jumped forward before flipping once for his head to face down as he began to fall towards the ground. He could control his pace since he had jumped purposefully. There was no fear of plummeting into the ground in an unforgiving way.
Naruto's senses flared before two masked shinobi from Ne flashed on both his sides, both positioned upside down as he was.
"Uzumaki Naruto; you will be coming with us."
Obviously, there are still questions marks around why Madara really went after Naruto. I'll leave that as it is for now at least.