Chapter 3: Team Ten
A/N: Alright guys, so I normally don't respond directly to reviews, but I just wanted to clear some things up before we continue. A lot of people complained about the water walking thing, which I wanted to address. I was surprised that people didn't believe Naruto could walk on water, but nobody questioned him doing Edo Tensei to summon Tobirama's spirit. The former being common among genin and the latter being an S-class forbidden jutsu. Seems a bit strange to me, but whatever I guess. That was a surprising nitpick, but I suppose it could be considered a minor error on my part. I apologize if that bothered anyone, but honestly, I didn't even think it was an issue. I mean Kakashi graduated the academy when he was 5. Rin and Obito graduated at 9. Itachi graduated at 7 and had his Sharingan at 8. All of the Sannin graduated at 6. It's not out of the realms of possibility that they all knew how to water walk when they were Genin and well before 10. Naruto was in the Academy since he was like 6 or 7, I think. In canon, he could already do basic ninja things like rooftop jumping and other stuff when he was a young academy student. While he was certainly no genius in canon, he is much more intelligent in this story. With all that said, I don't feel like it's that much of a stretch. Sorry if that's an issue for some people, but it is what it is. This is an AU fanfiction and not canon, so give me a pass on this one guys.
Another thing I wanted to mention was the harem requests and the Hinata thing. I tend to hate most canon pairings in anime, and I find them boring to read or write about unless one of the characters is way different than they are in canon. While I do like her, I'm not really a big NaruHina fan personally. I'll probably get lynched for saying this, but I never felt like she and Naruto had much chemistry. I find their relationship almost as shallow and forced as SasuSaku. In my opinion, Naruto's got more chemistry with half of his filler or movie girlfriends. When I started this fic, I didn't intend for Hinata to be in the harem…at least not as a primary contender or a main girl. I still haven't decided on that yet, but If she is, then it will be a minor thing compared to the "main" girls. That or Hinata is going to be OOC which probably deters the NaruHina fans anyway. Either way, I'm going to toughen her up in this story and make her a competent kunoichi unlike canon Hinata, so don't be surprised.
Also, as far as my harems go in the stories I write, they typically take a backseat to the main plot of the story and the action. Anyone who's read my Bleach fic, "White" knows exactly what I'm talking about here. I've heard the requests so far, and you'll be happy to know I've considered some of them. Unfortunately, I can't please everyone, and I don't intend to. I will honestly be content if even two thirds of you guys like it. Naruto fans are extremely divisive and hard to please…which is one of the main reasons I put off writing a Naruto fic for so long. I hope that my future decisions don't sour anyone to the story, but if so then oh well. This is my hobby, not my job. Accept it for what it is or move on if you can't. I'll do the best I can regardless.
Hokage Tower, Jonin Meeting
Several dozen jonin were having their daily meeting this morning near the Hokage Tower. Namely among them were all of the Jonin that were newly assigned a genin team.
"How many genin graduates did we get this year?" one of the men asked curiously.
"30 in the newest class and about 54 returning ones," another jonin answered.
One of them seemed surprised, "30? That's more than the last few years."
"Yeah, well I doubt we'll see more than half of them pass to become full-fledged genin," a female jonin shook her head.
"I wouldn't be so sure…this year has some promising graduates. The last Uchiha boy is one of the new graduates, and half a dozen graduates from clans are in that class too," the first man noted.
"I also heard the demon brat is in the new class…I can't believe they let him become a ninja," a dissatisfied jonin huffed.
"You're talking about that child, right? The fox boy?" someone else added.
The first man nodded, "Yeah, I feel bad for whoever has to be that kid's sensei. They'll have to worry about him killing his teammates or something."
"I doubt he'll actually pass the teamwork test, so what does it matter?" the woman scoffed.
Another woman joined in the conversation a moment later, "I think he graduated second overall behind the Uchiha boy."
"You're joking, right Kurenai?" the first man said with a disbelieving laugh.
"No, I heard from one of the chunin who instructed their class that he was actually pretty skilled," the dark-haired woman responded calmly.
"For real? He beat out all of the clan member kids in that class?" another person interrupted.
Kurenai nodded, "Yeah, he beat Inuzuka, Akimichi, Nara, Yamanaka, Hyuuga, and Aburame. The only person he didn't beat was Uchiha."
A certain jonin there with blonde hair crossed his arms disbelievingly, "I refuse to believe that kid beat my daughter. She was ranked second for years behind Sasuke Uchiha and was neck and neck with the Aburame boy. I can't believe they put that fox kid on my daughter's team too. What were they thinking?"
"My son speaks pretty highly of him, Inoichi. I don't think it's as bad as you're imagining," Shikaku shook his head.
Inoichi turned his gaze towards his former teammate, "Your boy doesn't know any better…"
"My boy is a genius…even if he is lazy. Shikamaru is not one to misread people," Shikaku sighed.
Inoichi shook his head, "People…not demons."
"He's just a kid, Inoichi," Shikaku sighed.
"For now…" the blonde man said with a low growl.
Shikaku glanced over at Choza Akimichi, "What's your son think of the boy, Choza?"
"Chouji said he's quiet and antisocial. Seems kind of odd to me since I distinctly recall that kid pulling pranks for a few years. From what my son has said, the boy never initiates conversations," Choza answered.
Someone interrupted their conversation with disgust, "No doubt the demon is starting to affect him…is it really a good idea to ignore something like that?! A vast change in his psyche could mean the demon is gaining control."
Inoichi grimaced as he immediately turned his gaze towards the silent Asuma at the edge of the crowd, "Asuma…as my friend I implore you to keep my daughter safe in case the fox brat tries anything. If anything happens to her, I'll kill him!"
Asuma sighed heavily, "Sure, Inoichi…but I don't really think that's going to be necessary. Naruto Uzumaki is kept under watch by Sandaime-sama and Anbu regularly. Besides, he doesn't seem like a bad kid to me."
"For my daughter's sake, I hope not," Inoichi shook his head.
"Wait, you're the demon kid's jonin sensei?" another person gasped.
Asuma nodded, "Yes."
"Sucks for you then…I don't envy you Asuma-senpai," the man laughed.
Kurenai glanced over at Asuma's carefree face. She frowned when she saw a bit of disappointment in his eyes, 'He looks troubled by all of this. Does it bother him to be Uzumaki's sensei?'
"Sandaime-sama entrusted me to keep an eye on the boy and to show him the same treatment I would any other genin. I have every intention to treat him with the fairness he deserves. Besides, the kid has every reason to be antisocial considering that most people hate him," Asuma replied calmly.
"That monster doesn't deserve fairness…you're too nice, Asuma-san," a woman shook her head.
"That fox brat shouldn't be a ninja! What is the Hokage thinking? If they want to weaponize the fox, then they should keep him away from the regular ninja. Let Danzo-sama have him," A man growled.
In the corner of the meeting, a certain grey-haired man with a mask looked up casually. He sighed heavily catching everyone's attention, "You guys realize he's a jinchuuriki and not the Kyuubi right?"
"That doesn't excuse anything, Kakashi! That boy could transform into that monster when we least expect it!" Inoichi hissed.
The masked man simply shrugged, "If you say so…"
"Don't forget the Hokage's law, you two! We can't talk openly about this in public," another jonin spoke up.
"Like that's stopped anyone so far…" Asuma sighed.
"Who else is on that team with your daughter, Inoichi-san?" Kurenai changed the subject.
The tension slightly derailed as the man responded, "I believe it's a Hyuuga girl."
"A Hyuuga? Well that's promising at least. Shame they couldn't put all of our kids together," Choza chuckled.
"That would have been ideal…at least I know I can trust your sons around my precious daughter," Inoichi groaned.
"You coddle that girl too much, Inoichi. Sometimes change is a good thing. Maybe she'll become stronger from this," Shikaku replied.
Asuma shook his head, "Your daughter is in good hands with me, Inoichi…so relax."
"She better be…" he said slowly.
"Who got the Uchiha boy?" someone else asked after a brief silence.
Kurenai immediately answered, "I believe Kakashi did…though it's hardly surprising."
"Lucky you. I'd love to have a prodigy genin. None of my kids look all that impressive," the first man from earlier spoke up.
The copy-nin yawned, "Yeah, I'm sure he'll be okay."
"Well, I should probably go now," Asuma spoke up as he made his way towards the training grounds.
"Let us know how it goes, Asuma-senpai! I'm actually curious if that fox kid is any good," someone announced.
Asuma waved, "I'll let you know."
Team Ten Training Grounds
After a brief bit of searching, Naruto quickly found the location of Team Ten's training ground. He calmly walked towards his destination without much urgency. He was currently not in a hurry to get there as he did not sense Asuma anywhere nearby.
As he passed through a brief clearing of trees, he finally came upon the destination. It looked somewhat isolated but was closer to the urban areas than he preferred. Nevertheless, he thought it was neatly tucked away and that it looked appropriate to train in.
'Hmm, this place wouldn't be so bad if it was a secret. Maybe I'm just too used to the Senju Grove, but I don't really like it being so close to everything in the village,' Naruto thought as he examined the area.
He immediately stopped and looked up when he sensed a familiar individual nearby. Sitting up in a tree branch was none other than Ino. Her eyes went wide when Naruto spotted her. He let his gaze briefly linger before looking forward again to continue his survey of the training grounds.
'It looks like there are two primary points of entry between all of these trees. That rock formation covers the east side, but someone could come over that I suppose. It would be pretty easy to set traps around this place. Lots of good cover too for ambushes,' the boy continued.
"Hey, you just going to ignore me now?" Ino's voice interrupted his thoughts.
He turned around and saw the girl leaning against a tree now with crossed arms. The jinchuuriki gave her a brief nod of acknowledgement, "Oh hey, Ino."
"I'm shocked to see you're here early…" she said shaking her head.
"Why's that?" he asked.
"You always walked into class right when it started, or you were late. I can't believe you're here fifteen minutes early," she noted.
The boy shrugged, "Well believe it, because I actually don't want to go back to that damn academy for another year. If we weren't at peace, they would have allowed early graduations and I would have been out of there sooner."
"You hated it that bad huh? Why exactly? I thought the academy was actually pretty fun," she responded.
"That's exactly why I hated it. We're training to become ninjas…we don't have time for fun when there's so much to learn. The academy teaches a lot of useful things…some of which could mean the difference between life and death on the battlefield," Naruto explained.
"Jeez…way to go all doom and gloom on me. It's okay to live a little…besides, we're at peace, and why should we take the beginning of our shinobi careers so seriously anyways?" Ino replied with a disapproving look on her face.
"Peace is never lasting…and it breeds ignorance and laziness. We should always be vigilant as shinobi. Otherwise, what is the point of being shinobi at all?" Naruto countered.
Ino scoffed at him, "Dude, chill out with that. You're not in Anbu yet. Just because we had fun doesn't mean that we took it less seriously. My dad's a jonin, so I know all about what it takes to be a shinobi."
"I'm not implying you were wrong for doing it…but someone like me can't afford to. I want to become Hokage one day and that takes personal sacrifice," Naruto replied.
Ino rolled her eyes, "Seriously, like what the hell happened to you? When we first started the academy, you were always goofing off and laughing. Did something trigger a change? Did Sasuke-kun hit you too hard on the head one day?"
"Why do you care?" he wondered.
"Because we're teammates…and because it's weird! You ran off the other day before I got an answer. Care to explain?" she asked.
"What's there to explain?" he shrugged.
Ino huffed in annoyance, "Oh I don't know, maybe why you're a sensory ninja and you never told anyone? Maybe how you know wind ninjutsu and medical ninjutsu without any reasonable explanation!? Maybe why you take everything so damn seriously now?"
"I learned that stuff from a clan member of mine…" Naruto framed the truth in a vague way.
"A clan member? I thought you said you were the last member of your clan?" Ino cocked her head in confusion.
"I'm the last living member In Konoha…" Naruto followed up.
"This is amusing…you're technically telling the truth," Kyuubi laughed.
Ino seemed interested now as she walked closer, "Wait, so someone from outside the village taught you?"
"No, he was from here," Naruto replied.
"So where is he now then? Why did this guy leave?" Ino prodded.
"He's dead…" Naruto said grimly with a heavy tone.
"Oh…sorry I didn't realize," Ino trailed off with a bit of shame.
The jinchuuriki didn't bother responding as he stared off for a moment, 'This conversation with her brings up a good point that I hadn't fully considered. How am I going to explain any of this to grandpa Hokage if he finds out? It's only a matter of time before Asuma-sensei realizes that I know elemental ninjutsu.'
"Didn't Nidaime tell you not to let the Hokage know about you using the scroll? I guess it's probably a good idea to come up with a decent cover story. How are you going to explain this to him?" Kurama asked.
'I probably don't have to tell him anything at all. The old man has got nothing on me, and I can avoid his Anbu spies or that scrying orb thing he does anyways. I'm technically not lying to Ino about a clan member training me, and grandpa Hokage has no way to really find out. So long as I keep myself limited to basic jutsus, then it shouldn't be too suspicious,' Naruto shrugged.
"They're bound to be extremely suspicious if you refuse to give an answer," Kurama sighed.
'Let them be suspicious…I can outmaneuver them, and they have no way of learning my secrets unless I tell them. If the old man starts asking questions, I'll just tell him that every shinobi has their secrets. What's he going to do, force it out of me?' Naruto replied.
The fox seemed uncertain, "Well that's probably fine so long as you keep your wood release and flying raijin abilities to yourself. Though even that shadow clone jutsu was in the forbidden scroll. I'd be careful using shadow clones in front of anyone."
'Good point, Kurama…I'll definitely keep that in mind,' Naruto replied.
"So, you really miss this guy then huh? Is that why you're always so focused and antisocial now?" Ino interrupted Naruto's thoughts with a question.
Naruto looked at her with a bit of emotion seeping from his eyes, "Yeah, I do miss him. He was like a father to me…especially since I never knew mine."
"So what happened to your parents exactly?" Ino wondered.
"They died," he answered bluntly as he began to walk away.
"Yeah…but how?" Ino followed.
Naruto stopped as he glanced back at her again, "Defending the village."
Ino looked away briefly, "Sorry for being so rude, but I was genuinely curious about it. I don't mean to be insensitive."
"It's fine…you didn't know," Naruto replied with a calmer and lighter tone to alleviate the mood.
"Wait, I just thought of something…so where do you live and how do you afford anything if you're an orphan? How did you pay to go to the academy?" Ino asked.
"I have an apartment, and I get a monthly welfare allowance from the village. Can you please stop with this interrogation? I think I've talked enough about myself now." Naruto sighed.
"Okay, I'll let it go…but seriously that's stuff I never knew. I guess that explains why you're so quiet all the time," Ino noted.
A long and awkward silence passed as Naruto walked further away and sat down against a tree. He reflexively spun his kunai around as he stared blankly at it, 'Tobirama-sensei…what am I going to do without him? I used to look forward to seeing him every day after school…what the hell do I have to look forward to now?'
"You really thought of him as a father?" Kyuubi spoke up confused.
'Sort of…maybe more like a badass uncle. Either way, he always had an answer for all of my problems. The world seemed so orderly and logical with him around. Everything just made sense when he was here. All of my goals and dreams weren't just baseless wishes anymore…they were mapped out and achievable. No matter how hard his training was, I pushed myself because I wanted to make him proud of me. I don't know what having a father is like, but that's how I always imagined it when I was younger. It's only been one day, and I'm already losing focus. He would berate me for this lapse in discipline if he saw me right now.' Naruto thought with disappointment.
"Hey, so Naruto…" Ino broke the silence again as she walked up next to him and leaned against his tree.
He looked up at her curiously, "What is it?"
She looked a bit uncomfortable as she spoke up slowly, "I know you're probably sick of answering questions, but there's something serious I wanted to talk to you about. My dad acted really weird when I told him I was on a team with you. He told me to avoid you as much as possible…"
"Did he? That's strange…" Naruto shook his head.
"What's the deal with that? How does my father know who you are? When I asked him, he just told me that you were trouble. What did you do?" she said with a confused look.
Naruto shook his head, "Well, I used to pull pranks all the time and I was pretty bad about damaging public property. Maybe he's still mad about it."
Ino crossed her arms again, "My dad's not that uptight…he can take a joke. Are you sure there's nothing I should know about?"
"If it was relevant enough, I'm sure he would have told you something himself. I really couldn't say," Naruto feigned ignorance.
"I almost forgot these brats have families. I'm kind of surprised he didn't just tell her what you are," Kurama sighed.
'I remember overhearing some people gossip about it a while back. They said it was a law not to talk about my situation. That's why all the adults know, but nobody my age does,' Naruto pointed out.
"Oh that's right…wasn't that the day you went to buy paint for your armor?" the fox clarified.
'Yep, that's the one. Speaking of which, I want to paint my armor and readjust it later today. That would be a good project since I don't have any scheduled training,' Naruto replied.
"I saw you bought a whole bunch of different paint colors. What color did you decide on?" Kurama asked.
'Well I thought about blue, so I could look more like Tobirama-sensei, but blue's not really my color. The green looks good, but it's too iconic. I'm not ready to announce to the world that I'm part Senju. Red's too much like Shodaime-sama. I thought about yellow or orange to be honest,' Naruto shrugged.
"Paint it orange…don't you like that color anyways? It just so happens to be my fur's color as well. I think it would be appropriately unique…especially for my jinchuuriki," Kurama noted.
'Like a lighter orange? Hmm…that might work. Maybe I'll paint the red Uzumaki Clan symbol on it too,' Naruto thought approvingly.
"Well orange and black look good together, and it just so happens to be my favorite color…plus then you'll actually match me," the fox said suggestively.
'I didn't think you cared for such things, but orange it is. I think that'll look good,' the boy agreed.
"Did you hear what I said? Naruto, you there?!" Ino waved her hand in front of his face.
He looked up sharply, "Huh?"
"Jeez, were you even listening to me?! I said Hinata just showed up," Ino exclaimed.
Naruto glanced over and saw his shy Hyuuga teammate walking over. She had in fact just arrived and was nervously approaching her new team.
"Good morning, Hinata," Ino waved as the dark-haired girl finally reached them.
She poked her fingers together as she looked down, "G-good morning Ino-chan, N-Naruto-kun."
"Hey, Hinata, I have a question for you…" Ino spoke up after a brief silence causing Hinata to redden slightly.
"Y-yes?" Hinata responded.
She looked over at Naruto and then the Hyuuga girl again, "Did your family say anything when you told them about your team?"
"N-not really. My father didn't c-care all that much," she replied somewhat sadly.
Ino sighed heavily, "Guess it's just my dad then…he freaked out when I told him Naruto was on my team."
"W-what? Why?" Hinata spoke up with curiosity.
"Beats me…Naruto has no idea either," Ino shrugged.
"W-well a lot of adults u-used to tell children to avoid Naruto-kun," Hinata noted.
Ino looked confused, "They did?"
"Y-yeah…don't tell me you've never noticed, Ino-chan," Hinata responded.
"Why would my dad have a problem with Naruto though? I'm amazed he even knows the guy considering how Naruto is never seen in public as far as I'm aware," Ino scoffed.
Naruto tuned his teammates out as they got into a brief conversation about Ino's father being upset.
"I'm surprised the Hyuuga girl was that perceptive as a young child," Kurama scoffed.
'Being on this team is probably going to be an issue at some point. I seriously hope Ino's dad doesn't tell her I'm a jinchuuriki anytime soon…at least not until I'm a chunin and I can get another position. Things will be really awkward when they find out…' Naruto thought solemnly.
"I'll be honest, Naruto…I still hate this village and the annoying humans in it. I'm humoring your goal to become Hokage because I like you and because you're my friend. Make no mistake…I don't feel any loyalty to this place. Whenever you're gone, I have no intention of ever coming back here…otherwise I'd be too tempted to annihilate Konoha. These people make me sick," the fox said somewhat aggressively.
'I understand, Kurama…and I don't blame you. If it wasn't for Tobirama-sensei, I'd have given up on ever trying to become anything in this village. I feel honor bound to my clans to continue their legacy, but I'm getting really tired of being a pariah. I can count the number of people that actually like me on one hand. Old man Sandaime, Iruka-sensei, Tobirama-sensei, you, and…I guess that's it,' Naruto replied.
"I'm surprised your academy sensei actually likes you …I think it's because he believes you're a victim like he was. If he knew that you and I were friends, things would probably be a different story. I think he just feels sorry for you," Kurama said pessimistically.
Naruto frowned, 'Yeah, that's unfortunately true most likely. Still, I'd rather have your friendship than his. If none of these people can accept me for being a jinchuuriki, then so be it. You and I will just tag team the world and I'll prove that I'm better than every one of them.'
"Even after these last few years, I still find it strange that you would choose friendship with me over a human that's willing to accept you. You're the complete opposite of your self-righteous and whiny mother," Kurama noted.
'I know you don't like her, but please don't bad mouth my mom. I forgave you a long time ago for what happened to them, but I still don't want to hear that,' Naruto said disapprovingly.
"I'm not sorry for saying it…Kushina was my least favorite jinchuuriki host and she's not much different than these villagers that detest you," Kurama countered.
The blonde seemed confused, 'How so?'
"It's difficult to explain. You've had it the worst out of all my jinchuuriki. Kushina had it the best…nobody even knew she was a jinchuuriki except a select few. Yet in spite of this, she suppressed my power completely and saw me as a monster…just like the rest of them. She had a self-pitying attitude about it and kept it a secret out of shame. You on the other hand have been willing to embrace it wholly. You don't pretend like you're not a jinchuuriki," Kurama explained.
'I suppose I can see where you're coming from. It's hard to like someone who rejects you. So you and my mom never talked much then?' Naruto wondered.
"Obviously not…forget I said anything. I suppose it's wrong of me to sully the memories of your parents. I can tell you one thing for certain though…they did love you." Kurama said with sigh diffusing the tension.
'Well that's something at least. Let's just not talk about this anymore. I didn't know them, so who am I to say you're wrong. Besides my mother, what was your other jinchuuriki like?' Naruto changed the subject.
"I don't think I ever talked much about Mito's life, did I? It was slightly better than yours…but only because she had a family. I think you should be aware of the realities of being a jinchuuriki even under the best of circumstances. Mito was an adult when I was sealed into her. Nobody knew at first except a few of her clan members and Hashirama Senju. I watched how her own clan members started treating her differently when they found out…this was even before I had any kind of reputation for slaughtering Konoha or Uzushio nin. While they weren't openly hostile, they subjected Mito to an even worse fate…fear, isolation, and disingenuous comradery. People rarely came near by choice except her own children and Hashirama himself. Just think about that for a moment. Even before I became the demon fox and was a monster to your village, people still treated her like she wasn't human. I don't want to discourage you for trying to prove to the world that jinchuurikis aren't evil, but I think it's something you should be aware of. So long as anyone knows you're a jinchuuriki, then you'll always be a pariah to the population at large. Kushina knew this, and that's why she kept me hidden away and why Mito kept herself hidden away." Kurama explained with a heavy tone.
'I hope you're wrong, Kurama…otherwise what was the point of all this?' Naruto said distantly.
The jinchuuriki tuned back into reality when he heard Ino complaining, "I still can't believe we have to do ANOTHER test even though we already graduated."
Naruto stood up and looked between his two teammates briefly, "So I've been thinking about what this test is about…"
"Really? And what have you come up with then?" Ino wondered.
The jinchuuriki paused for a moment as he looked at Ino intensely, "I think it's some sort of psychological test to see how we'll handle being a genin team. I'm not sure what the objective is, but it's probably best that we work together to accomplish it."
"So like teamwork then? Is that what you think this is about?" Ino clarified.
Naruto shrugged, "Maybe…but I can't think of any other reason they'd have to test us the day after we joined our teams."
"Hmm, that's a good point I suppose," Ino nodded.
"I've seen this nonsense before with Kushina…it's a teamwork test. You were actually right about that," Kurama interjected.
'You could have told me that sooner…' Naruto sighed mentally.
"It didn't seem very relevant, and you were focused on other things," the fox replied.
"N-Naruto-kun, I-" Hinata never got to finish her remark as Ino interrupted.
The blonde girl sighed dramatically, "Ughh, it's already 8 A.M…where's Asuma-sensei? Do you sense him yet, Naruto?"
He looked around for a moment before kneeling to the ground and touching it. This was a sensory technique that was inherent to Tobirama, but the Nidaime had taught Naruto a lesser version of it. Sending his chakra through the ground, Naruto traced all life signs in the immediate vicinity. So far, its max range was only about a kilometer at the most, and dense terrain made things more difficult.
Nevertheless, Naruto did detect a distinct chakra nature closing in on the training grounds at a somewhat urgent pace. Upon opening his eyes, Naruto saw Ino staring at him intensely.
"Well?" She demanded with impatience.
"He's close. About half a kilometer out from the east side. By my estimate, he'll be here in two minutes or so if he runs," Naruto answered.
A bit of envy filled her eyes as Ino huffed in disapproval, "My dad's a jonin and a sensory ninja too. He's never just touched the ground and knew where someone was. That's the kind of ability I'd expect someone in Anbu to have."
"Yeah…well maybe I'll end up there at some point. I'm probably better suited for that type of work anyway," Naruto shrugged.
"N-Naruto-kun…" Hinata spoke up again.
He turned his gaze towards the shy Hyuuga, "What is it, Hinata?"
"W-where did you learn a-all of this s-stuff?" she stuttered nervously.
"Oh, he told me about that before you arrived, Hinata…apparently some clan member of his taught Naruto," Ino answered for him.
"A clan member? But I've never seen Naruto-kun with-" Hinata immediately stopped mid-sentence as realized what she was saying.
"Well considering he knew you were around when you followed him, I highly doubt you would have," Ino surmised logically.
Hinata stared at Naruto for a brief moment, 'I wonder if he has a bloodline? Maybe this sensory ability of his is the Uzumaki bloodline?'
Just then another thought crossed Hinata's mind as she looked between Ino and Naruto, 'How long were they both here alone? Maybe I should have come earlier. Naruto-kun seems more willing to talk to Ino-chan than me.'
"What else did you two t-talk about?" Hinata asked Ino specifically.
Naruto was quick to notice that she stuttered less when not speaking to him. He gave it some thought as he watched Hinata's expression, 'She's way too skittish around me. Do you think it's out of fear or is she simply shy?'
"Who knows. I have a hard time understanding mortals…especially the female ones. It doesn't look like fear, but she's clearly nervous around you," Kurama noted.
'Do you think she knows I'm a jinchuuriki? That's a good possibility for why she acts like that.' Naruto wondered.
"The other explanation is she's attracted to you, but I wouldn't put any weight behind that theory. Humans are fickle…especially these young female ones. You never know if it's genuine or deceptive," Kurama shook his head.
'You think she might like me?' Naruto asked shocked.
"Possibly, but even if she does, I doubt it's for any noteworthy reason. This girl doesn't even know you. How could you trust her intentions? If it's true, then she's probably like those other girls in your class that admired the Uchiha brat for some shallow reason. The only difference being she would see you as appealing instead of him."
'I'm not going to try opening that door any time soon. She's a clan heir, so that's out of the question…plus I have no idea if it's even true or not. Even if it is, it won't end well when she finds out what I am,' Naruto thought dismissively.
"That's likely for the best," the fox agreed.
"You're way too skittish, Hinata…you need to relax and stop freaking out around me," Naruto spoke up catching the shy Hyuuga girl's attention.
She seemed a bit surprised by Naruto's remark as she looked down shamefully, "I-I'm sorry, Naruto-kun…"
"Why are you so nervous around me, anyways?" Naruto asked her bluntly.
"I…" Hinata couldn't answer as she avoided eye contact.
"Whatever it is, you need to put it aside for now. Our team doesn't need distractions like that. I have a hard time getting along with shy people, so I'd appreciate it if you were more direct with me from now on. I promise I'm not going to get offended or angry. I need to know that I can count on you in battle," Naruto spoke sternly to the girl.
She seemed a bit shaken by his words but surprisingly receptive as she forced herself to maintain eye contact now.
Ino looked appalled by his comment. The blonde girl immediately voiced her opinion, "Hey, that's kind of mean, Naruto…that's just how she is. You shouldn't be a jerk just because she's shy."
"That's fine, but I was just being honest with her. I can't read her mind, so unless she's more open, we'll never be good teammates." he said distantly.
The blonde girl looked at the jinchuuriki's face closely, 'Does he have any idea that Hinata has a crush on him? It sure doesn't look like it. He has terrible social etiquette…though I suppose that's not surprising for an orphan. Jeez…who knew he was such a tool?'
Before the situation could become more awkward, Asuma finally arrived to greet his new team. He waved at them as he came closer, "Hey, good to see you all here this morning Team Ten."
"Good morning Asuma-sensei," Ino acknowledged him first.
"Hey sensei," Naruto waved.
"Good to see you, Sensei…" Hinata managed to say aloud. She seemed less audible than before but wasn't stuttering now.
Asuma quickly noticed an unusual tension between the three genin as he surveyed them, 'Did something happen? Well, this might not be a passing team after all if they can't resolve it.'
"You're late, Asuma-sensei," Ino immediately announced with her arms folded.
He nodded, "Yeah, sorry about that guys. We had a Jonin meeting earlier that lasted a little longer than usual. How are you all getting along so far?"
"Fine for now…but Naruto really needs to pull the stick out of his butt and lighten up," Ino said disapprovingly.
"I find it strange that she would think so considering how much she fawns over the Uchiha boy when he acts serious," Kyuubi scoffed.
'Who cares…I just want to get this crap over with, so I can go do something productive today,' Naruto thought with mental exhaustion.
Asuma looked at her confused before turning towards Naruto, "What's the problem exactly?"
"Nothing serious, sensei…I'm just a little bit on edge today," Naruto replied.
"Understandable…but there's no need to stress over this test that much. It's not going to be that bad," he said reassuringly.
"S-Sensei…what is our test?" Hinata asked the man with uncharacteristic boldness.
"Alright guys, so here's the deal. In order to become full-fledged genin, you're all going to have to pass this test I've prepared for you. If anyone fails, they're going to be sent back to the academy for another year," Asuma explained casually.
The three genin perked up with curiosity as Asuna held up two bells in his hand, "I have two bells here, and there's three of you. In order to become a full-fledged genin, you need to retrieve one of these bells."
"But…if there's only two bells, does that mean someone won't pass?" Ino asked uncertainly.
"That's exactly what it means. We stress the importance of teamwork to achieve goals, but sometimes there has to be sacrifices too. This is a way to test how you'll handle that," Asuma replied as he clipped the bells onto his waist.
"So one o-of us h-has to be the sacrifice?" Hinata gulped fearfully. There was no doubt that she assumed it would be her.
"How is this test fair at all? I mean if we're supposed to be a team, then leaving someone behind doesn't seem like a good thing to do…" Ino noted.
Asuma shrugged, "That's something you're going to have to figure out then."
'This test makes no sense…passing two and failing one? Did my mom ever do anything like this, Kurama?' Naruto asked.
The fox sighed, "Not really…she had some other lame test she had to do. Her sensei was mostly testing their teamwork I believe. Though that was back in the last shinobi war where they really couldn't afford to fail any potential genin that could be used on the battlefield. Honestly, I don't know…just wing it."
A moment later Asuma got into a fighting stance. Ino looked shocked, Hinata nervous, and Naruto dead serious.
"Don't hold back against me…I'm a jonin and I doubt any of you could hurt me anyways," Asuma said calmly with a smile.
"That's not a bet he should take against you…" the fox laughed.
'I'm surprised he would say that knowing that I'm a jinchuuriki. Granted I don't know how much I could really do against him without high level ninjutsu or my secret abilities,' Naruto noted.
"The test begins now," Asuma announced. Upon hearing his words, Naruto and his teammates immediately retreated to cover a good distance away.
Both girls followed him and were looking at Naruto for some type of guidance. A brief silence passed before Ino spoke up, "This is ridiculous…why's there only two bells?"
"T-this definitely explains why so many genin graduates came back to the academy last year…" Hinata said grimly.
"Come to think of it, I do recall seeing a lot of remedial genin in our upper class…how come I never noticed this before?!" Ino trailed off as she clenched a fist.
"W-what do we do then, Naruto-kun?" Hinata immediately asked Naruto for the answer.
He looked between her and Ino for a moment and shook his head, "I don't think it really matters if there's only two bells. This situation is meant to simulate the importance of retrieving a battlefield objective it seems. I think if we get both bells and work as a team, then we'll pass."
"Yeah…two of us will pass," Ino said grimly.
"Let's just focus on getting the bells first, alright?" he affirmed.
"Okay, so what's the plan then?" Ino asked.
"We have to use our strengths against him. Hinata, you're probably the best at taijutsu, so you should go draw him into melee range and keep him distracted. Use your gentle fist and your Byakugan if you can. Ino, you and I need to work on setting up an ambush," Naruto explained.
She tilted her head curiously, "Right…so what did you have in mind?"
"Your clan can use the mind transfer jutsu right?" Naruto asked her.
Ino looked a bit surprised by Naruto's insight, but nodded slowly, "Yeah…how did you know that?"
"I do my research…it doesn't matter. I'm going to put him in a position to where you can get him with that jutsu. It'll immobilize Asuma-sensei and allow us to get the bells. Whenever you do it, Hinata should fall back and cover your body while I grab the bells. Afterwards, we'll retreat and hopefully from there, we'll win."
The blonde looked uncertain, "Mind transfer is kind of dangerous…besides I've never actually done it on actual ninja before."
"Asuma-sensei probably knows about your clan's ability and will be able to dodge it if he knows it's coming. Only do it when I have him distracted and still," he continued.
"What's the signal exactly? What am I looking for?" Ino wondered.
"You'll know it when you see it…trust me," Naruto replied reassuringly.
Ino nodded, "If you say so…I don't like this plan."
"C'mon let's go!" Naruto said seriously as the three genin leapt from cover and back into Asuma's path.
The jonin looked between the three of them calmly as he maintained his stance, "Sometime today guys…"
A moment later, Naruto charged in first. He threw a variety of shuriken and kunai to alter Asuma's anticipated defense before charging in to stab him.
The man easily caught Naruto's wrist and held the blade back before swiftly kicking the genin away. A second later he ducked from a powerful kick courtesy of Hinata. The Hyuuga girl had her Byakugan activated and was fighting with more intensity than either Naruto or Ino expected.
Asuma kept the majority of his focus on avoiding Hinata's gentle fist strikes, but never gained an immediate edge over the girl as Naruto and Ino swept in for cheap shots and a few bell grab attempts.
This went on for about a minute until Asuma started getting more serious. He swiftly kicked Hinata back causing the girl to go skidding over the ground after a backflip.
He spoke approvingly, "You're a pretty aggressive fighter for such a meek girl, Hinata Hyuuga. I suppose that's to be expected of a Hyuuga."
Naruto took this moment to sweep in and nearly swiped Asuma with a kunai. The jonin reacted quickly by drawing his chakra blade trench knives and parrying the kunai with one of them.
He was physically stronger than Naruto which made the clash short-lived. Thinking fast, Naruto ducked from a swing and drew a second kunai. Asuma responded by readying his other trench knife. The two then had a swift and impressive battle of blades as they furiously jabbed, cleaved, and spun around one another.
Naruto eventually got the upper hand, but upon stabbing the man, he disappeared into a log substitution.
Quickly surveying the ground, Naruto charged towards Hinata and nearly blindsided the jonin who had literally just come out of cover next to her. Asuma looked surprised by Naruto's reaction time and spoke approvingly, "You're pretty fast, Naruto Uzumaki. Good reflexes."
Hinata flanked the jonin and charged in for supporting attacks as Naruto got into another knife fight with Asuma. Seeing he was, disadvantaged, Asuma delivered a powerful kick into Naruto knocking him back into a nearby tree.
He then turned towards Hinata to deal with her. As he moved in, Ino threw a hail of kunai his direction allowing Hinata a quick moment of respite to distance herself.
Naruto did not allow for a moment's pause as he immediately took the offensive again to refocus Asuma's attention on him. He quickly put a kunai in his mouth for an extra blade and fought with increased speed against Asuma.
The jonin looked a bit surprised by the genin's gradually increasing speed, 'He's moving faster than before…he doesn't even look tired at all. Was he just warming up to test me? I wonder if the Kyuubi affects his stamina? The Hyuuga girl looks out of breath, but he hasn't stopped moving once.'
Asuma was also a bit surprised by Naruto's skill with kunai fencing. Even though Asuma was physically stronger, and their speeds were similar, the Jonin was disadvantaged against Naruto using three blades. Deciding to take the boy a bit more seriously now, he channeled wind chakra over his trench knifes causing them to glow a light blue.
He immediately cut two of Naruto's kunai in half with his newly sharpened blades which forced the blonde to fall back momentarily.
Asuma watched Naruto's face carefully as the blonde threw the broken kunai to the ground, 'He doesn't seem as concerned with my wind chakra as I'd expect a new genin to be. He has a battle calmness I wouldn't expect for a boy his age.'
A moment later, Naruto drew two more kunai. The blonde spun them around stylishly for a brief moment before clasping the blades hard. As he did so, wind chakra began to pour from his three kunai and coated the blades.
'He can use wind chakra?! Didn't he just graduate from the academy?!' Asuma thought disbelievingly as Naruto charged in for another blade fight. Asuma found the blonde's speed remarkable as Naruto practically danced around him from all sides.
His distraction for focusing solely on Naruto cost him as Hinata managed to land a hit against him from behind. Asuma swiftly spun around and kicked the girl back before backflipping away from Naruto. The blonde briefly looked over to see Ino at mid-range, 'She looks like she's in place. Now for the signal.'
Naruto threw two of his kunai towards Asuma which the man expectedly deflected. Naruto then moved in and formed hand seals with the last kunai in his mouth. He spoke through gritted teeth, "Kaze Shunshin no Jutsu (Wind Instantaneous Body Skill)"
In a gust of wind he practically appeared right next to Asuma catching the jonin off guard for a moment. He also performed wind retrieval with one handed seals bringing his two kunai back to each hand. Asuma immediately crossed his blades to parry Naruto's surprise attack allowing the genin to keep the man still.
In their brief lock, Hinata cheap shot the Jonin's arm distracting him even further. 'Damn, these kids are tougher than regular genin…especially him. Was that a wind body flicker?' Asuma thought as Naruto pushed as hard as he could.
'Where's the third one? Oh wait!' Asuma immediately realized what he was being set up for and rolled to the side as Ino released her mind transfer jutsu.
Instead of it hitting Asuma, the mind transfer hit Naruto. Ino's body fell over as she briefly entered Naruto's mind.
Instead of taking over his body however, it caused her to have a brief vision of Naruto's memory. She saw it through his eyes as a young Naruto walked down the street. Many villagers were avoiding him like the plague as he came up to a mask shop. She could see the look of disgust in their eyes. The memory played out in several brief flashes as she saw a shop owner toss a fox mask at Naruto yelling at the boy that he could keep it.
This brief vision into Naruto's memories was cut short as her vision went completely black. Dark and ominous power quickly flooded her sensations as she heard hundreds of voices all at once. Nothing in particular stood out to her other than someone shouting the word 'demon'. A moment later, red chakra appeared in the darkness followed by a fearsome voice, "Get out!"
Ino was immediately forced out of Naruto's mind by this voice. Upon returning to her body, Ino looked around horrified for a moment until she realized she was herself again. She briefly glanced at Naruto who looked a bit unhappy, but otherwise fine. Hinata had wide, fearful eyes and Asuma was concerned.
"You almost had me with that set up you three…not bad," Asuma spoke up causing the genin to regain their resolve.
Ino briefly stared at Naruto confused, 'What the hell was that dark voice in his mind? Was it him? I wonder why the mind transfer didn't work. Was that his past I saw?'
"We got the bells, Asuma-sensei," Naruto spoke up causing the man to eye him confused.
True enough, Asuma noticed they were both gone. He could barely believe it as he saw Hinata holding both of them much to his surprise.
'When did they grab them? I never saw him or felt him do it…was it before that missed mind transfer? That might explain why someone with his speed didn't dodge it. The Hyuuga girl ran in when I was distracted and grabbed them from Naruto when he was immobilized, I guess. I wonder if Inoichi's daughter is okay…there's no telling what that mind transfer might have done hitting a jinchuuriki like Naruto,' Asuma contemplated.
Hinata walked over and handed Naruto a bell, "H-here, Naruto-kun."
Naruto smiled at her, "Good work improvising during that distraction. It didn't go exactly as planned, but overall we got them."
"T-thanks, Naruto-kun," Hinata replied sheepishly with a blush.
'Hyuuga's more useful than I thought she'd be…I'm shocked.' Naruto noted mentally.
"I can't believe that dumb blonde girl hit you with her mind transfer. I forced her out immediately, but there's no telling what she might have seen," Kurama spoke up concerned.
'I guess I'll ask her about it later…she doesn't seem to be freaking out, so maybe it wasn't much,' Naruto replied.
"Good point." the fox nodded.
"Alright, well since you two got the bells, your teammate is being sent back to the academy. Good efforts all around though…" Asuma said sternly.
Ino looked dejected and filled with shame, "I'm the sacrifice huh?"
Asuma sighed as he watched the genin, 'Here's the real test…I wonder what they'll do?'
Hinata looked away sadly as Ino hung her head in shame. The Hyuuga girl spoke up emotionally, "I'm sorry, Ino-chan…"
"Here...take my bell, Ino," Naruto spoke up causing Ino and Hinata's eyes to widen.
Asuma looked at Naruto seriously, "You sure you want to do that? You'll have to go back to the academy for another year."
"Yeah, I'm sure," Naruto replied stoically as he handed the bell to Ino.
"What are you doing?" Kurama asked.
'I'm resetting so that I can get another team. What's another year in the academy anyways? I'm already stronger than most people in this village. Besides, I don't think I want to be on this team anyways. Both of them are from clans and are too high profile for my liking,' Naruto responded.
"Ughhh…fuck that academy." Kurama groaned in disapproval.
Ino looked at Naruto disbelievingly, "But why?! Didn't you say you hated the academy? You're just going to sacrifice yourself for me?!"
"You both have clans and families to appease…I don't. What's another year of training anyway?" Naruto shrugged calmly.
"N-Naruto-kun, if y-you're going back…I-I will too!" Hinata stuttered as bravely as she could.
Ino looked surprised by her teammates giving up their bells. She sighed heavily as she dropped the one in her hand, "I just can't accept this bell while you two go back to the academy. I guess I'm going back too. Hopefully, my dad understands…"
"Alright, well all that's left to tell you guys now is that you all pass," Asuma interrupted the somewhat grim mood with a smile.
"Wait, what?! We do?! But…the bells?" Ino looked confused as she could barely word a sentence.
"The bells weren't the purpose of this test. No matter if you got the bells or not, the test is meant to determine how you would handle one of your teammates being a sacrifice. It shows comradery and loyalty to your team by all of you choosing to do the same thing. As shinobi, we must always value our objective as a priority, but we must never forsake our own teammates just for an objective. The only time this is acceptable is when there is no other choice…though you shouldn't have to worry about that until you're all chunin," Asuma elaborated.
'Well that's a convenient turn of events…I guess I'm stuck with these two after all,' Naruto sighed mentally.
"I don't think I could have handled another year of that place…" Kurama said with relief.
"So what would have happened if we didn't get the bells?" Naruto asked.
Asuma shook his head, "If you didn't, I would still fail the person who gave the weakest effort and you would be in the same position. I must say though…you're the only genin team in recent history that's ever actually gotten a bell that I know of. The Hokage told me that the Sannin also did as well when he trained them as children."
"So what now, sensei?" Naruto asked somewhat anxiously.
"Tomorrow we'll be starting our first missions as a team. Take the rest of the day off and celebrate…you've all earned it. Meet me here tomorrow, same time," Asuma said proudly.
Naruto glanced over at his two teammates, "Good job you two…I'll see you tomorrow,"
Without another word, the blonde boy was the first person to leave. Asuma glanced over at Ino and Hinata curiously, "Is something wrong?"
"Hey, Asuma-sensei…have you ever heard of the Uzumaki Clan before?" Ino asked curiously.
He glanced at the girl perplexed, "Why do you ask?"
"Naruto is apparently the last Uzumaki…at least that's what he told me," Ino replied.
Asuma crossed his arms, "Hmm…yes I have. They're an old clan from the Whirlpool village. They had good relations with the Senju Clan though. They were Konoha's closest allies during its founding."
"Do they have a bloodline?" Ino wondered.
The jonin shrugged, "None that I'm aware of…the Uzumaki Clan was wiped out a long time ago I believe. They were pretty renown for fuinjutsu and healing though. I also heard they had large chakra reserves."
Hinata perked up curiously, 'Healing? Maybe that's why Naruto knows medical ninjutsu...'
"Interesting…what wiped them out?" Ino asked.
"I believe Kiri and Kumo both did during a past war. I actually don't know that much about them beyond that, sadly," Asuma replied.
"So Naruto is the last member of that clan just like Sasuke-kun is the last member of his?" Ino clarified.
Asuma shrugged, "It would seem so."
"Did you know his parents at all?" Ino wondered.
The Jonin looked at her briefly, "Sadly, no…"
"Do you know why my dad doesn't like Naruto? He warned me about going near him…" Ino trailed off uncertainly.
Seeing where the conversation was starting to go, Asuma shook his head, "I couldn't say, Ino, but your father might have misjudged him. Naruto was willing to go back to the academy for you to pass. He might be a bit strange, but the kid's definitely not one to let his team down. You're actually pretty lucky to be on a team with him. I'm kind of amazed he can use wind release too. He'll be a good shinobi."
'He looks a lot like Yondaime-sama…I guess it's no surprise his son is skilled too,' Asuma thought briefly as he began to walk off.
"You two take care now…I have some business I need to attend to," Asuma waved before disappearing.
With only Hinata and Ino left, the blonde girl glanced at the shy Hyuuga and spoke, "So…do you have a crush on Naruto?"
"Eh?!" Hinata gasped in complete shame as Ino stared at her.
The blonde girl shook her head and laughed, "I thought so…it's kind of cute actually. Although, I don't really understand the appeal in a weirdo like Naruto. Sasuke-kun is much better."
Hinata did not reply as she looked down.
"Look, I don't care if you want to go all lovey dovey with him, but I really don't want to be the third wheel on this team…so can you not do that stuff when I'm around please?" Ino sighed.
"S-sure, Ino-chan…b-but I-I don't think Naruto-kun likes me like that anyway," she said sadly in response.
Ino sighed, "I think you're better off without him then. That guy is really weird and kind of a jerk."
"I'll see you tomorrow, Ino-chan," Hinata managed to say without any nervousness as she left gloomily.
The blonde girl then decided to finally go home herself. The whole trip back, all she could do was think about the test, and the unusual events that occurred during it.
'Naruto is a mystery…he just knows all of this ninjutsu, he's from a dead clan, my dad hates him for no reason, and nobody knows anything about his family or life…what was that memory of his though? A mask shop that threw a fox mask at him…how strange.' Ino thought as she went home.
"He can use wind ninjutsu? That is surprising…I don't recall anyone training Naruto how to do something like that. Nobody in the village is very skilled at Wind ninjutsu except for you, me, and Danzo. It's uncommon in Konoha," the third hokage said shaking his head with disbelief.
"Believe me, I was shocked when I saw it…I have no idea how he could have possibly learned it," Asuma shook his head.
"Naruto spends a lot of time reading and researching…he could have possibly learned it on his own. The only other explanation is someone else taught him, but that's hard to believe considering the few viable tutors," Hiruzen noted as he put his pipe in his mouth.
"Do you suspect Danzo-sama?" Asuma asked curiously.
Hiruzen sighed, "I highly doubt it…but it is worth asking him. I am willing to believe Naruto learned this on his own, but I don't want to dismiss the possibility that Danzo is trying to preemptively weaponize the boy as one of his agents."
Asuma shrugged, "Yeah, well considering Naruto's dad, I suppose it's not impossible that he's smart enough to teach himself…the Yondaime was a true genius."
"Minato Namikaze was a prodigy…a once in a generation shinobi. You think Naruto is similar to his father?" Hiruzen asked his son.
The bearded jonin shrugged, "I don't know for sure, but he's clearly better than anyone thought he was. I am willing to bet he's the best genin by a longshot. He didn't once get tired while fighting me, and nothing fazed his battle calmness. The kid's going to be a good shinobi at the rate he's going."
"I see…well it's good to know that Naruto took my advice to heart three years ago," the Sandaime said with a smile.
"What advice?" Asuma wondered.
"Nothing…keep an eye on him and let me know how his progression goes," the Hokage replied.
Asuma paused as he walked to the exit, but briefly stopped as he spoke up again, "Naruto seems to know about the Uzumaki Clan to some extent…I think you should talk to him about that the next time you see him, father. I'm bringing them in for their first mission tomorrow. Maybe you should ask him then…"
"I will keep that in mind…" the Hokage nodded before Asuma left.
After Asuma was gone, Hiruzen took a seat at his desk and pulled out a familiar orb. He looked through it and caught sight of Naruto. Currently, the boy was sitting on the Hokage monument heads and staring over the village.
The Sandaime sighed, 'I knew this day come eventually…Naruto must have found out about his clan. It's only a matter of time before he asks me about his parents again. Is it right to tell him or should I keep it a secret until he's come of age?'
Naruto, The Next Day
Naruto awoke the next day in his apartment and quickly got dressed before heading back to Team Ten's training grounds. He had spent the remainder of yesterday training by himself in the Senju Grove and painting his armor. The new genin wanted to wear it desperately, but knew it was best to save for another time.
'I stayed up late painting that armor…I'm so tired,' Naruto yawned as he hurried to Team Ten's training grounds.
"It was worth it though. That armor turned out nicely. When are you going to start wearing it, anyways?" Kurama asked.
'Maybe for our first real mission…there's really not a point to wearing armor for the stupid D rank missions you've told me about. What exactly do they entail again?' Naruto wondered.
"D-Rank missions are ridiculous chores from what I recall. I can't even imagine the stupid things you'll probably have to do. I recall one of them involved grocery shopping for the elderly. Another was picking weeds out of a garden. Stupid nonsense like that..." Kurama groaned in annoyance.
Naruto pushed his thoughts aside as he arrived at Team Ten's training ground. He had a face of lackluster enthusiasm but regained his bearing as he saw Ino and Hinata both already waiting there.
Ino shook her head as she looked at a pocket watch, "7:59…jeez, could you have cut it any closer? You got here early yesterday."
"Yeah sorry I slept in." Naruto said casually.
"I'm guessing our sensei will be late too," Ino sighed as she looked at the pocket watch again.
As if summoned by her words, the jonin came behind Naruto a few seconds later, "Oh hey guys, good to see you're all here on time."
"Some of us have been here for half an hour…" Ino muttered disapprovingly.
Hinata awkwardly twiddled her fingers and wasn't sure what to say. She chose to remain silent as Asuma came up and put his hand on Naruto's shoulder from behind.
The blonde seemed a bit alarmed by the physical contact, but quickly relaxed as his sensei addressed the group, "I signed you guys all up for a bunch of D-Rank missions."
"Sweet! I can't wait to start doing real missions like a real shinobi," Ino perked up with excitement.
Asuma smiled, "Yep, these are some vital missions that are imperative for building teamwork and maintaining a good village presence."
'Ughhh…I can already tell this is going to be something stupid,' Naruto groaned mentally.
"So what is our first mission going to be, Asuma-sensei?!" Ino asked excitedly.
"It's tradition that every new genin team receives their first mission directly from the Hokage himself. This helps him to identify new prospective shinobi and for the genin to properly meet the village leader. When the Senju Clan used to run the village, they always believed it was imperative for the lowest ranking and highest ranking ninjas in the village to have proper interaction. This prevented a lot of misunderstandings so that the Hokage can see his troops as people, and the troops can see the Hokage and other leaders as people. Empathy and trust are vital parts of the chain of command…and the faith we place in those above us is what has held this village together for so long," Asuma lectured.
'Tobirama-sensei always used to say that…he said never tell anyone to do something you wouldn't be willing to do yourself. Nobody will be willing to die for you or the village unless they know you're willing to die for them. The Hokage should always set the example, and nobody under him should ever have a reason to question his leadership,' Naruto thought with approval.
"Well let's go get this mission then!" Ino chirped with enthusiasm.
"I h-hope it isn't too dangerous," Hinata added a bit softly.
Naruto rolled his eyes, "Let's get this going then…"
Hokage Tower, Team Ten
As the three genin stood across from the Sandaime Hokage, they all stared at the man with different reactions. Ino and Hinata looked a bit intimidated, with the former slightly awestruck. Naruto had a look of indifference and addressed the Hokage casually, "Hey gramps, so what's our first mission?"
"I am glad to see you graduated from the Shinobi Academy Naruto. Asuma tells me that you are quite gifted and Iruka remarked on your vast improvement over the years. I'm proud of your progress," the Hokage said approvingly.
The blonde nodded with a slight smile, "Thanks, gramps…I've got a long way to go to become Hokage, but at least I'm one step closer, yeah?"
"Indeed you are, Naruto. Now who are these other two teammates of yours?" the Hokage asked as he looked at Ino and Hinata.
Both seemed a bit impressed that Naruto personally knew the Hokage. Ino seemed particularly shocked by it, 'How does Naruto know the Hokage? Seriously like what the hell is with him?! I thought Asuma-sensei was exaggerating when he said the Hokage knew Naruto.'
"Nice to meet you Hokage-sama. I'm H-Hinata Hyuuga," the dark-haired girl bowed respectfully.
"Ah yes, you are Hiashi's daughter if I recall correctly. Nice to meet you," Hiruzen replied.
"I'm Ino Yamanaka…Hokage-sama," Ino bowed.
The Sandaime nodded, "Yes, Inoichi's daughter correct? Well it is good to see such fine young shinobi such as yourselves growing up and taking the role of shinobi. As ninjas of the Hidden Leaf village, you are responsible for protecting the village and its citizens. Since you're all still young and untrained, you are only authorized to take D rank missions for the first few months. I happen to have one right here that will be perfect for your new team…"
"Really? What is it?" Ino asked eagerly.
"A certain infamous cat has escaped her owner once again, and it's up to you three to recover it. Here's the mission paperwork…good luck," Hiruzen said with a concealed smile.
'Do the adults think this is funny? Is this what they call hazing?' Naruto wondered.
"Rescuing cats out of trees…are they serious?!" Kurama scoffed.
"We have to get a cat?!" Naruto spoke up disbelievingly.
Asuma sighed, "Not just any cat…this one is a pain. We should go talk to the owner. We'll be at this the rest of the day."
Hinata and Ino looked a bit perplexed by the idea of catching a runaway cat, but held their outbursts as the three genin followed Asuma out. Before they could all leave, Hiruzen coughed briefly, "Naruto, could you stay for a minute. I want to talk to you alone for a minute."
Ino's eyes shot back at him as Naruto remained. Hinata looked curiously, but neither girl got any insight into what was happening as Asuma closed the door leaving Naruto alone with the Hokage.
The blonde girl looked at her sensei annoyed, "What the hell is that all about?"
"I couldn't say, but it's not my place to question the Hokage," Asuma feigned ignorance.
'Okay…now things are just getting ridiculous. Why does Naruto already know the Hokage and what could they possibly have to talk about?!' Ino wondered.
Meanwhile, in the Hokage's office, Naruto stared at the Sandaime seriously, "What do you want to talk about gramps?"
"I figured this conversation was coming…" Kurama sighed.
"It's come to my attention that you're skilled with wind ninjutsu…according to Asuma. Is that correct, Naruto?" the man asked.
"Yes, it is…" Naruto replied bluntly.
"How did you learn it? Did someone teach you? You're not in trouble, Naruto…but I just wanted to know. Wind Style is very rare in Konoha," the man continued.
The boy crossed his arms, "Really? Well you know something I wanted to know about? My parents…and why you refuse to tell me about them. Why don't we talk about that instead."
"Your parents both died the night the Kyuubi attacked, Naruto," Hiruzen explained.
"Yeah, and what ever happened to that fox anyway?" Naruto asked despite already knowing the answer.
The Sandaime sighed, 'Forgive me, Naruto, but I swore to your parents that I would keep you safe. You can't know yet…'
"The Yondaime sacrificed himself to defeat it…" the Hokage answered vaguely.
Naruto glared at him somewhat angrily as he lifted his shirt up and pointed at the seal on his stomach, "Then what the hell is this seal doing on my body?!"
The Hokage's eyes widened surprised, "Naruto do you-"
"Know about the Kyuubi? Of course I do…how long were you going to wait to tell me?!" Naruto demanded.
The Sandaime looked at the boy shamefully, "I'm sorry, Naruto, but I didn't feel it was right to tell you about the Kyuubi. You were only a child."
"As if that mattered to the villagers. They think I'm some kind of monster…you haven't done anything to stop them either." Naruto shook his head.
"How did you find out anyways?" the Hokage asked curiously.
"Someone told me…does it really matter? You don't get answers from me until I get answer from you!" Naruto said angrily.
The Hokage stared at the boy sadly, "The Yondaime sacrificed himself by sealing the fox into a newborn baby. You were that child, Naruto. You are a jinchuuriki."
'He still refuses to mention my parents' names and identities…why?' Naruto thought with annoyance.
"Somehow I'm not surprised…" Kurama growled.
"What do you know of the Uzumaki Clan, Naruto?" Hiruzen asked after a brief silence.
"Not much other than the fact that they're from the Whirlpool village and they're all dead now. Maybe you should tell me about them…" the boy practically spat.
"They are renowned for Fuinjutsu and for having strong chakra pools. They also have exceptionally durable bodies…the reason you were chosen to be a jinchuuriki is because only an Uzumaki has a body capable of containing a bijuu as powerful as the nine tails," Hiruzen told half of the truth.
Naruto looked at the Hokage curiously, "How was the Uzumaki Clan wiped out?"
"They were attacked during the last war by Kumo and Kiri and Uzushio was destroyed. The survivors all spread across the shinobi world," Hiruzen replied.
'I didn't know that…' Naruto thought curiously.
"I did…I believe Kushina moved here before the incident happened. Those other villages didn't dare attack it while Mito was alive. Ironic that they do it after I leave Uzushio..."
"What does it mean for me to be a jinchuuriki, gramps? Am I just a weapon for the village? Some demon outcast?" Naruto asked the man uncertainly with a bit of sadness.
The Hokage shook his head, "No, Naruto…it was the Yondaime's wish that you would be seen as a hero by the village. It saddens me greatly that they do not. I passed a law that forbade anyone to speak of it, but the older generations all know. Fortunately, the younger shinobi do not. Show your heart to them, Naruto, and trust that they will accept you when and if they ever find out."
'How can I trust anyone, when even YOU won't tell me the whole damn truth?! How is it helping me by not telling me about my parents?! Gramps is really pissing me off right now.' Naruto thought furiously.
On the outside, he maintained his composure as he bowed briefly, "I should get to my team…"
"Good work on learning wind ninjutsu, Naruto. You may yet be Hokage one day," Hiruzen tried to offer encouragement as Naruto leapt out the nearby window.
"Well on the bright side now, at least he won't be asking you many questions anymore," Kurama spoke up.
'I thought about mentioning my parents to him, but then he'd really know something was up. It's not unfathomable that I would know about you from some random villager,' Naruto thought distantly.
"I wonder how long it'll take before he finally mentions them to you? Does he intend on waiting until you're a jonin?" Kurama scoffed.
'Who knows...' Naruto shrugged.
Later, Konoha suburbs
"Naruto chase the cat this way, and I'll intercept it! Hinata cover the right side!" Ino shouted as the three genin chased a stubborn cat around an urban Konoha suburb. Mostly civilians lived in this part of the village, and some even watched with interest as the young shinobi hunted down the cat.
Naruto dove for the cat, but it narrowly avoided him and charged between Hinata and Ino. Both girls stumbled as they each attempted to grab it, but unfortunately, the cat got away.
'We've been searching for this cat for three hours and chasing it for one! Why can't I catch it!?' Naruto thought frustrated as he bolted past Ino and Hinata after the nimble feline.
It swiftly climbed a wall and onto a rooftop, which Naruto immediately followed. He finally managed to catch the cat as he dove onto the creature and held it still. The stubborn animal flailed around and meowed annoyingly as it tried to claw him.
The claw marks immediately healed, so Naruto didn't pay them any mind. The animal finally calmed down as Naruto scooped it up and jumped down to his teammates. Both looked relieved that he managed to catch the elusive pet.
"Finally…that was freaking stupid!" Ino huffed in disapproval.
Naruto sighed in agreement, "Let's just get this damn cat back to its owner…"
"These D-Rank missions suck! I mean what's the idea here?! Making genin do this is ridiculous!" Ino continued ranting.
"Well, considering how annoying this cat was to catch, I doubt a civilian could catch it," Naruto noted.
Hinata frowned, "That poor cat probably d-doesn't like its owner."
Naruto sighed as he placed his hand on the cat's stomach, 'I doubt this is the last time I'll be coming after this annoying animal. Let's just discreetly put a seal on it so I can catch it instantly next time.'
"You're marking that cat for Flying Raijin?" Kurama laughed.
'Might as well…I'm not chasing this damn thing all the way across the village again,' Naruto thought strongly.
The rest of the mission was spent in relative silence as the three genin returned the poor cat to its horrific owner. Upon turning in their mission to the tower and leaving, Naruto automatically began to make his departure.
He didn't go far from the tower door before Asuma spoke up, "Hey, Naruto, you want lunch? It's my treat."
He looked at his sensei a bit perplexed but nodded in agreement, "Sure…"
Shortly thereafter, the blonde boy was at a ramen stand of all places. Iruka had taken him here a couple times before, and Naruto found the food enjoyable whenever he came around.
As he sat down at the ramen stand, the owner and his daughter warmly greeted him, "Welcome back, Naruto-kun. Do you want the Miso ramen again?"
'I'm surprised how nice these ramen stand people are to me…they always call me by my name when I come here with Iruka-sensei.' Naruto thought as he nodded
"I'll have the same thing, oh and I'm paying too," Asuma announced to the Ichiraku workers as he took a seat next to the boy.
Asuma noticed Naruto's distant, melancholy face and spoke up, "What's got you down kid? You made it to genin, you should be proud."
"Asuma-sensei…how do you feel about being my sensei?" Naruto asked the man as he glanced over him.
The bearded jonin smiled, "Personally, I'm actually glad I'm your sensei. You're skilled in wind ninjutsu like me. I'm actually ideally suited to teach you. Plus, you seem like a good kid, and my father likes you a lot."
'There's no way he doesn't know I'm a jinchuuriki…why's he being so nice?' Naruto wondered.
"I know you're not very talkative or social, but feel free to talk to me if you need anything. I'm your sensei now, and I take that role seriously. I'm here to look out for you," he continued.
"Thanks, Asuma-sensei," Naruto replied with a genuine smile.
"You're exceptionally skilled, Naruto, but you shouldn't ignore your teammates outside of missions. They've both expressed concern about you. I think it's probably a good idea for you to reach out and become friends with them," Asuma suggested.
"I can try, but I don't have anything in common with them. Plus, they're both girls," Naruto said blankly.
Asuma chuckled, "What's wrong with that? Lots of guys would love to be in your position with two clan Kunoichi and a cool sensei on their team."
"I'll make an effort to reach out to them, but don't expect much," Naruto sighed.
'He's practically dismissed the idea of having a bond with anyone…I should really try to break him of that. It's a wonder he's not gone crazy from loneliness and rejection yet. The kid has some serious willpower to endure the hatred he receives,' Asuma thought concerned.
"I know you've had a rough childhood as an orphan, Naruto, but you'll always be alone unless you're willing to reach out to others. Sometimes they'll hurt you, but sometimes they won't. You have to take the good with the bad…walling yourself away like this won't get you anything at all. Just think about that okay?" Asuma said as he stood up.
"I will Asuma-sensei," the boy nodded.
"Good, I'm going to go do some chores, but I'll see you tomorrow. Give someone a chance, Naruto…that's a personal mission from me to you."
'He does have a point…how am I ever going to get people to like me if I act like Sasuke all the time?' Naruto thought with a bit of self-awareness.
"You're more like that Uchiha brat than anyone else your age," Kurama noted.
'Maybe I should reach out to Sasuke…if anyone would understand being an orphan, he sure would,' Naruto pondered.
"Wait…are you serious? You want to go befriend that Uchiha kid? You're joking right?" the fox said disbelievingly.
'I wouldn't mind seeing how strong he actually is…' Naruto followed up.
Alright, there's chapter 3 for you guys. I didn't expect to update this fic so soon, but I figured why not put some momentum behind it while I'm in a Naruto mood. So anyways, let's have brief recap on the events of this 14 thousand word chapter.
Lots of the Jonin are notably upset about Naruto being a ninja…no surprises there, but Ino's dad seems especially vocal about his disapproval. How will things pan out later? Will Inoichi change his mind about Naruto, will Ino uncover the truth? Hinata is still kind of a background character, but she's slowly but surely toughening up a bit. The obvious and upcoming Land of Waves stuff will no doubt change her further.
Naruto and Kurama talked a lot this chapter. I kind of wanted to illustrate their mindsets a bit more with all the dialogue here. Just because Kurama accepts Naruto as a friend, doesn't mean he likes Konoha or is good. He practically told Naruto that he hated Kushina, so things aren't all rainbows and sunshine there. Also, with Tobirama gone now, Kurama is Naruto's biggest influencer.
Some people will probably get mad about Hiruzen not telling Naruto anything...or Naruto actually revealing his knowledge of the Kyuubi. The reason I wrote that is because Naruto already told Iruka years ago, and he wanted to call the Hokage out for his bullshit. There's a bit of tension between the two of them now that Naruto realizes the Hokage isn't going to tell him anything. More stuff will definitely come of that later...including Danzo and the like.
Asuma is pretty much the new optimistic guiding light for Naruto now. He gave the boy some good advice and is trying to make him friendlier so he doesn't turn into an antisocial sociopath. Some people probably think this fic is turning into a dark Naruto fic...it's not. It's more of a grey Naruto fic. He's had a different life and progression here, and so he's far less optimistic with Kurama and Tobirama's realist attitudes having shaped his young mind.
Next chapter, Naruto will be going to see Sasuke. What will come of their interaction? You'll have to wait and see. Anyways, thanks for reading, and hopefully most of you enjoyed it. Stay tuned for next chapter and feel free to PM me if you have questions/etc.