Kuraokami

Heya all!

So, I had fully intended on releasing the next chapter for Shattered Pieces instead of this, but I ended up being unable to get it finished in time to post it today, so I'll offer this up instead. It's been some time since I had any ideas for a new Naruto story (that wasn't a rewrite) and actually gotten it written, but this idea really struck with me. I hope you enjoy!

Chapter I

The night was calm in Wave Country. Clouds hung in the sky; they were full enough that they might burst at any moment, but they seemed content to stay as the were for the moment. The moon, which would have been full, was hidden aside from the stray beam of light that was released every now and then by the gentle breeze pushing clouds this way or that. It was calm. To say that it was quiet couldn't be further from the truth, however.

The large city which encompassed the entirety of the island that made up Wave Country was alive with celebration and excitement. Just that day, the yoke of oppression had been cast off with some help of a few shinobi and the motivation of a certain child gathering the citizens into an impromptu militia. Gatou, the very man who had first forced that burden upon them, had been killed by a hired shinobi who he had intended on betraying. The rest of the man's hired thugs were either killed or chased away by the shinobi that the mayor had hired and the citizens themselves.

Separate from the very audible carousing that was happening in the city, a lone figure stood under a tree atop a hill. He was a teen, only thirteen at most, with spikes of sun-golden hair and a pair of blue eyes with heavy bags beneath them from lack of sleep. He wore an orange jumpsuit that was dulled by dust and covered in copious amounts of dirt and mud, not to mention blood. His smile was small and sad, though there was a hint of pride in it as he looked down at the two mounds that were all the evidence of his work from the day and night.

Atop the mounds rested a white mask with a swirl of red around it on one, and an overly large and flat slab of metal connected to a hilt that could technically be considered a sword. Kneeling before the mound with the mask, the boy softly touched it, stroking it with two fingers idly as he inhaled. "I wish we could've been friends a little longer, Haku." He began.

"I never really had any friends, you know. When you came and talked to me, I was so… happy. The only girl I really talked to was Sakura-chan, but then someone as pretty as you came out of nowhere. I was really surprised when you told me you were a guy though!" He picked up the mask, holding it gently in both of his hands. "Still, I think we could've been friends if we weren't enemies. Even when we fought, you didn't kill Satsuki or me, even though you could have.

"I'm… Sorry that I let the Fox out against you. I should have had better control. Maybe if I had more control, then I could have stopped you from taking that hit from Kakashi-sensei." The blonde sighed at this point, holding the mask to his chest at this point and hugging it close to his body - as if he was hugging the person he was talking to. "If only I had been stronger, or faster, then you wouldn't have had to die.

"I'm not mad at you though. You wanted to protect your precious person. I just hope that one day I can find someone precious to protect just like you had with Zabuza." Looking at the other mound, where Zabuza was buried, the boy laid a hand on the handle of the 'sword'. "I don't really get what you saw in Zabuza, but he really did think of himself as you father, he told me that. Maybe if you hadn't given me that final gift at the end, then perhaps you could've heard him."

As he said the last part, the boy, Uzumaki Naruto, looked down at his arm, which was bandaged. Releasing the Kubikiribouchou, he laid his now free hand over where he knew Haku had used the last of his strength to stab him.

Despite the obvious exhaustion in the blonde's eyes, he couldn't have been more focused. Standing, he looked down at the makeshift graves, where the Kubikiribouchou was shoved into the ground and where the mask marked his first friend's burial, he smiled again. "I'm going to do my best to make you proud, Haku." When he looked down at the ground where he had been kneeling and saw frost coating the grass, he tightened his hand into a fist. Mist exuded off of it as his chakra flowed. "I'll do my best to use this gift you gave me and become the best shinobi in the world! I'll find someone precious to protect so I can become truly strong, just like you. I swear it on my soul, so you better believe it." There was no answer, only the feeling of moisture as it began to rain, but that didn't stop Naruto from grinning from ear to ear. Nothing was going to stop him.

[Hi no Kuni - Konohagakue no Sato - Hokage Monument]

It was not but two days later that Naruto found himself back home in the Village Hidden in the Leaves. As he often did when he needed to think, or wanted to be alone, the boy found himself sitting atop the Hokage Monument. It was a testament to the great leaders the village had, starting from one of the co-founders of the Village, Senju Hashirama. Tobirama, his brother, took the reigns after that when the legendary Uchiha Madara and Hashirama fought to the death at a place now known as the Valley of the End. Next in line was Naruto's jiji, the Professor who had learned all of the ninjutsu the Lead had to offer, student of the Second Hokage and was heralded as a genius amongst the village, Sarutobi Hiruzen. Last in line, and the carved head which Naruto sat on, was the blonde's favorite of the leaders. Namikaze Minato was an orphan who became a war hero through his mastery over the Hirashin no Jutsu and his fabled signature technique, the Rasengan.

"I wish you could've seen this view, Haku. I think you would've liked to be a shinobi in the Leaf." In Naruto's hand, he held Haku's mask. In the end, he just couldn't leave Wave without taking something that would connect him to his friend. He did leave the Kubikiribouchou though. He didn't really know Zabuza and it would feel like stealing. Besides, that sword was heavy! He didn't understand how Zabuza could use it in one hand, it had to be at least two hundred pounds of steel!

As he stroked the mask with his thumb and looked out at the village from his favorite spot, he thought it began to feel different and looked down at it. Cursing inwardly, he forcefully pulled his chakra back in as he noticed a coating of frost over the mask. Placing it next to him, he clenched his fists in an effort to get it under control. How was Haku so precise with this ice? It always wanted to get out when he wasn't thinking about it!

"I have to learn control though, so I can make Haku proud." He reprimanded himself and focused until the mist stopped exuding from his hands. With a sigh, he smiled. "I need to get better chakra control if I'm ever going to be able to properly be as good as Haku." Standing up, he let his smile turn into a grin as he picked up the mask and placed it inside his jumpsuit's inner pocket. As he was turning, he noticed someone coming up the stairs to the Monument, and that grin widened, if that was even possible. "Hey, Iruka-sensei!"

"I thought I might find you up here, Naruto." The man who spoke was dressed in the common Chuunin uniform. A blue, long-sleeved top and pants with a green vest over that and a pair of sandals. His brown hair was pulled back in a tight pineapple-shaped ponytail, his eyes were a matching color and across his nose, about three inches to either side of the bridge, stretched a long and perfectly horizontal battle scar. "When I heard your team had come back and didn't find you at Ichiraku's, I thought you might be here." Umino Iruka approached his former student and looked out at the village in a way Naruto had been doing just a moment ago. "You only come up here when you're pulling a prank or something big happened that you want to figure out. Considering there's no paint anywhere, I think it's probably the second. Would you like to talk about it?" When Naruto didn't answer for a bit, the Chuunin Instructor motioned for him to sit back down.

Naruto did so, with Iruka taking the seat next to him. "I don't know what happened on the mission you went on, I didn't ask your sensei or your teammates, and I won't ask you for any details that you don't want to give me. If you need to get anything off your chest that you don't think your team can handle or you don't trust them with, I'm here though. I may no longer be in charge of your education, but I still think of even the graduates as my students." Naruto was quiet a moment more before he decided to tell Iruka.

"I made a friend while we were off in Wave." He started. Iruka smiled at that, glad that the blonde could do so, even after everything he'd been through. "His name was Haku, and he was a lot like me. People blamed him for something that happened he couldn't control. He was from Kirigakure and had the Hyouton." Iruka didn't say anything, but he very much hoped that this story wasn't going the way he thought it would. "He was an orphan too, though he knew both of his parents. After they died, he was taken in by a man named Zabuza and dedicated his life to protecting him. He told me that he wasn't truly strong until he had found someone precious to protect. Zabuza and Haku were working for a bad man though… a businessman named Gato who was oppressing Wave Country. I finally made a friend, someone who understood me and then… I had to fight them."

"Did you… did you have to kill Haku?" Iruka asked, all of his hope and prayers going towards the blonde in that moment. If someone like Naruto had had to do that, he didn't think he'd ever recover such a traumatic experience. When the boy shook his head, Iruka let go of a sigh and placed his hand on the boy's shoulder. Naruto took this as a sign to continue.

"When we fought on that bridge Tazuna was working so hard on… Kakashi took on Zabuza while Satsuki and I took on Haku. I didn't know it was Haku at the time, since he was wearing this mask." Naruto took it back out of his clothes and showed it to his sensei. Iruka recognized it as a Kiri Hunter-Nin mask. Inspecting it a moment, he noted a few seals on the inside and outside of its surface, but wasn't even close to skilled enough in the art to decipher them. Instead, he handed it back to the Uzumaki. "He took out Satsuki even after she awakened her Sharingan. I thought that she had died and I… I… I couldn't control it Iruka! You have to believe me, I couldn't control it! I felt… it take over. I got so angry and there was this new energy that wasn't chakra, and it burned when I used it, but I felt so strong."

Iruka had to put everything into keeping his eyes from widening and his fear from showing. Kakashi likely had told the Hokage, and if Naruto was still here, then there was nothing to worry about. Hokage-sama would've done something if there was any danger. "I hated it though." Naruto admitted. "It didn't feel like I was myself. I remember… I remember so much rage running through my head, but knowing that none of it was mine. It was someone else's, something else's. I thought Satsuki was dead, but Haku had just used senbon to put her into some sort of coma. So I attacked. I grabbed Haku and nearly killed him, but his mask fell off and I saw his face. All my rage disappeared in a moment… and I couldn't do it. Then he told me to do it, that I had won and needed to do it. I couldn't kill my friend though!

"I didn't have a chance to do anything though. Kakashi was about to use some ninjutsu on Zabuza. He had lightning wrapped around his hand and it sounded like a bunch of birds were chirping on the bridge. I wasn't focused, and he flew from my grasp. He took the hit for Zabuza... there was so much blood, Iruka. His skin was light, but now it was so pale and… it didn't look right. I stayed with him when it happened, and he… he wanted to give me something before he died."

"He wanted you to have the mask?" Iruka wondered. That was the obvious answer, after all. Naruto shook his head.

"I couldn't leave it. I needed something to keep me connected to my friend. Well… something else…" Allowing as little of his chakra as he could to channel through his fingertips, he placed his palm on the grass and Iruka watched in amazement as the lush, healthy and emerald ground turned a frosty white before being replaced with short spikes of ice that had previously been organic. "He stabbed me and then pushed as much of his blood and chakra into me as he could, until he died. He wanted someone to carry the Yuki legacy, but more importantly he wanted to still be useful even in death."

This time, Iruka couldn't control his emotions as he felt the patch of ice, ensuring it was real. "That… that shouldn't be possible, Naruto." Iruka breathed out before looking back at him. "There should have been some sort of rejection… or something wrong with it… or… have you told the Hokage about this?" Naruto shook his head, genuinely confused. Isn't that how bloodlines worked? Blood and chakra? Why wouldn't what Haku did work? "Naruto, I think we need to go see Hokage-sama and let him know about this."

"Did… did I do something wrong, Iruka-sensei?" Naruto asked worriedly.

"No, not at all Naruto. I think that this… this might be something really good, but we need to see what Hokage-sama thinks you should do." As Iruka stood up, Naruto joined him, following the schoolteacher to the Hokage Tower. Was what Haku did really that big a deal? Kakashi got a Sharingan somehow, so it shouldn't be that rare. Maybe Iruka was just making something out of nothing, like he always did with his pranks. Well, jiji would explain to Iruka-sensei that it wasn't weird and then things could go back to normal. Silly, Iruka-sensei! Naruto couldn't help but grin at the thought of jiji explaining to Iruka that he was being overly dramatic.

And that's it!

So, I wonder if anyone is interested in this sort of thing? Oh, and because I'm sure the title only makes sense to a small number of the readers, Kuraokami was the Shinto Dragon-God of ice, snow, blizzards, winter winds, etc., etc., etc.. I hope it makes more sense knowing that bit of context.

Anywho! Let me know what you thought through a review, via PM or just drop in to the Discord at Discord – dot – gg – slash – PWDD44v.

Orpheus out! Ja ne!