Chapter 8: Knowledge

Morning came before Naruto could fully appreciate the calm of the night. His mind had been preoccupied by the contents of the letter he had received. The words although few were heavy with their implications, if any of them were true. As the light cut through the darkness of his room he couldn't help but glance at the folded piece of paper resting on his nightstand. It wasn't a dream he told himself as he slowly sat up and brought his feet down on the decrepit wooden floor. He emptied his chest with a heavy sigh before retrieving the letter. Unfurling the paper he looked it over scrutinising every detail that wasn't dotted down in ink.

The paper itself was undoubtedly expensive, nothing he's ever been able to afford, in fact it reminded him a lot of the gold standard paper highly sought after by fuinjutsu practitioners. The borders of the paper were framed with red streaks with each corner possessing the Uzumaki spiral. It gave off a thick rich aroma that he couldn't quite pin-point, somewhere between perfume and wood.

Dear Naruto

The letter began with his name written delicately and with care.

I'm not one for letters, I find them difficult to write and don't know what to say. I will begin by introducing myself, my name is Akira and like you I am an Uzumaki, I write to you on the behest of our Lord. You may have many questions and we have the answers but I'm afraid I can't provide them just yet. The Uzumaki clan is alive and well, the process of rebuilding our nation nears its completion and once all is done we will await in anticipation to accept one of our own in open arms. There is much to discuss with you in particular, but until that time comes I encourage you to explore our temple within Konoha, I'm sure there is much to learn there. However, I must ask you to keep this letter between us and the status of the Uzumaki a secret. We still are not sure how other nations would react to this information. Until we meet in person.

Uzumaki Akira.

He wanted to think that it was an elaborate prank, but the more he read the letter and the more he thought about it, the more real it seemed. The writer, Akira, was correct about him having questions prior to receiving the letter but with the revelation of his clan being alive and on its way to rebuilding, he had even more questions.

"This has been...quite the year so far."

He sighed, and despite his weary expression, Naruto was ecstatic about the news. If this was indeed true then...he had family. He just had to wait, right? But for how long? And why was there interest in him? Was Ino right? He felt the blood drain from his face at the thought, but he quickly dissuaded himself from entertaining such a theory. All he could do was patiently wait...and the temple. His brows came together as he dwelled on the mention of the temple, he doesn't recall any Uzumaki temple in Konoha, he knew the village like the back of his hand and still nothing rang a bell in his head.

"Why are ANBU here? Naruto are we even allowed to be here?

"Well they've never stopped me before."

"...I guess I solved that mystery now." He chuckled to himself. All these years and his clan possessions have been right underneath his nose, "But I need to make sure first." His thoughts were cut short however as he heard a knock on his door.

Getting up from his bed he made his way to the entrance and after making sure that he was presentable he opened the door. His face immediately lit up with a smile as he saw Ino waiting for him, a sentiment she returned with her own beam.

"I didn't wake you up did I?" She asked, a hint of tenderness in her voice.

He shook his head, "Been up for a while actually, wanna come inside?"

"Not for long though, turns out there's a clan meeting that's going to take up most of the day." she said less than enthusiastic about the day's proceedings. She saw sympathy in Naruto's eyes as he led her into his apartment which was looking more livelier.

"I thought you guys had a meeting last time?" She heard him ask just to shut the door. She sighed and plopped down on the sofa. "Yeah, but that one was cut short because things weren't final." She watched him circle around for a bit before turning the kettle on. It was still surreal in some way to think that she'd be spending this kind of quality time with Naruto, a year ago she would have completely gagged at the thought. The passage of time was a funny thing in hindsight.

"This team thing really bothers them that much, huh?" He asked as he began making tea, taking caution to remember Ino's specific way of drinking hers. But Naruto couldn't help but also think it extended beyond just that. He could imagine that some had a problem because it was specifically him that took Choji's spot on the iconic team.

Ino groaned, "They'll get over it, but it's still a pain." She said as she adjusted her position on the seat. Her father told her not to worry about it, and she believed him, that didn't change how much of a nuisance it was. If only she could fast-forward time and get it all over and done with.

Naruto chuckled but hummed to her words in agreement. He was soon done with her cup of tea and carried it over, the Yamanaka heiress accepting it with awaiting hands. She inhaled the rich aroma of the brew before taking a few cautious sips so as to not sear her tongue. Naruto watched on with bated breath, but soon relaxed upon seeing her pleased expression.

"Thanks babe." She said, a coquettish smile accompanying her words.

Naruto sighed but reminded himself that it was no use bemoaning such behaviour from his friend, it would only fuel her even more. He instead joined her on the sofa and left her to do as she pleased, her legs quickly being thrown over his lap. For a good few minutes they sat in silence with only Ino's tea sips filling in the vacuum.

Naruto suddenly jolted, surprising Ino who nearly spilled what remained of her brew. She glared at her friend but that was quickly taken over by curiosity as she watched him stand up -careful to scoot her legs away- and disappear for a few moments. She peeked over the sofa-back whilst holding back the urge to question him. Soon enough Naruto returned with a folded paper in hand, rejoining her on the couch and surprisingly returning her legs to their original position on his lap.

"Read this." He held out the paper for her to grab and as she did, she was briefly astounded by the texture of the paper. Setting down her cup she then unfurled the paper and squinted as she was met with dark swirling ink splotches, she wasn't even sure whether they were moving or if that was just her mind and eyes playing tricks on her. Ino turned over to Naruto with a quizzical glance and raised brow, "I can't."

He blinked and took it back, and from what she could tell he was seeing something that she couldn't. She saw his eyes light up.

"Of course! Duh!" He palmed his brow in a moment of realisation, "It's encrypted." It explained why he just found it sitting in front of his door like that. Even if someone else had picked it up they wouldn't have been able to read it in the first place.


"Right, sorry." He turned to face her, "This is a letter from the Uzumaki clan."

She could not hide her surprise, "An old letter?" She asked, last she remembered they were said to be mostly gone, reduced to a few members.

He shook his head, "No, turns out my clan isn't as dead as the world would like to think. I was sceptical at first."

And so was Ino.

"But, something tells me this isn't some prank. Especially now that I know the letter is encrypted. They also mentioned a temple. I don't know about you but the only thing that comes to mind is a place with mysterious masks and the one place Uzumaki Naruto can freely visit despite there being ANBU all over the place."

"Wait," Ino blinked, "The spring? I guess that would explain it just being basically abandoned." Her eyes flickered towards the letter before settling on Naruto's face, "Naruto…"

"Should you be telling me this?" It felt like this was supposed to be a big secret, the kind of thing clans prefer keeping amongst their members.

He scoffed as he gently placed the letter on the coffee table, "And why shouldn't I?"

Her face scrunched up, "'Cause, y'know clan secrecy and whatnot. That kind of stuff is important."

"And you're my best friend and someone I trust, I don't like keeping things from you." He admitted solemnly. Everyday it ate away at him because he was too afraid to tell her about his status as a Jinchuriki, he feared how she would react, he was scared that their friendship would cease and that she would look upon him with disgust like the rest of the village. It would hurt, and he didn't want that to be a reality.

However, he knew that he would have to come clean eventually.

Ino on the other hand sat in silence as she dwelled on her thoughts. It never ceased to surprise her how much Naruto valued their friendship, it's not that she didn't feel the same way, it just felt undeserved.

'Huh, I guess this is what being humble feels like…'

She sighed, "What am I going to do with you, Naruto?"

He flashed her that stupid loveable smile of his.

"Fine! So what does the letter actually say?" She asked, giving in at last. He hummed as he picked it once more and quickly skimmed over its contents, "Well they're rebuilding, have been for quite some time. They're interested in meeting me but can only do so when they think they're ready. And that I should go to the temple if I wanted more answers."

A clan once thought dead, not actually being dead, was surprising, granted she did not know anything about her friend's clan in the first place. However, the sentiment remained the same. Still it made her wonder about their interest in Naruto, someone must have been keeping tabs on him for them to even know about his whereabouts and the timing of the revelation was strange, but she could not fully question it.

"You're going to check out the temple, aren't you?" That place still gave her the creeps and knowing it had some relation to Naruto's clan still did not aid in changing her opinion on it.

He nodded rather enthusiastically, "Yup! And I'm guessing our shifts have been moved around because of the meeting."

"Yeah, some other clan members will be working our usual time. So you're free to explore your clan's creepy clubhouse."

He snorted at her colourful words, "It's not that bad, you're just a scaredy cat."

"Rightfully so, Uzumaki!" She shot back, "I don't want to be cursed by your ancestors." She could already imagine the headlines if such things were to befall someone like her. Of course Naruto found her concerns funny, but she could catch the sincerity in his eyes as he spoke next.

"You know I wouldn't let something like that happen to you. I'd protect you with my life."

He said it so casually that she found it somewhat concerning that he would just be so open to throwing away his life for her sake- but she did not want to think about that. Sighing and just accepting that Naruto will do Naruto things, she relented.

"Fine, guess I'll find you there after the meeting?"

"Really? You'll join me?!" He asked, practically leaning into her with eager eyes. A flustered Ino could only numbly nod, her friend oblivious to their compromising position.

"You're the best Ino!" He declared as he punched the air with excitement. Meanwhile Ino could only mutter to herself, "Dumbass."

Having gone their separate ways with Ino back home and Naruto taking the path towards the shrine, the whiskered boy could not help but let his mind wander. What was the purpose of the temple? He could ask the Sandaime, but that would make the man suspicious and maybe make things annoying for his clan. As far as he knew the Uzumaki population in Konoha only consisted of three members- Mito, his mother, then him. He was aware of the alliance between the village and the clan, was the temple some sort of gift to his clan or vice-versa?

"Wish I could ask Akira about this." But unfortunately they didn't leave behind a return address, so he just had to wait, maybe the temple itself will have the answer.

A couple of minutes of walking and Naruto found himself standing before the dilapidated building.

'I should get some material and get this place fixed.' It was in need of urgent repairs and a makeover, especially now that he knew its significance.

"Well, here goes nothing." He ducked underneath the slanted entrance and covered his mouth and nose as he cleared away the dust and cobwebs in his way. As soon as he could see through the veil of floating particles he was met with the rack housing the many rows of nō-men. He could understand why Ino found the place unsettling, but he was not dissuaded, but he was confused. What was he supposed to be looking for? Other than the masks there was nothing else in the temple, just vacant walls and pillars.

He continued to look around, hoping to find some sort of scroll or writing that would point him in the right direction. After a few minutes of frustration he turned to using his Shingan to find any discrepancies between what his eyes were actually seeing and the temple's true design. Immediately his focus was drawn towards the masks themselves, each radiating an aura different from the other. There were twenty-six in total and of those twenty-six, one made him shudder as a dark atmosphere surrounded it.

"Okay, I'm going to ignore that one for now." He muttered as he walked towards the wall of masks.

He still did not know what to look for despite seeing the chakra exuded by the masks. Perhaps he was supposed to find the right one? But he was reluctant to try them on, Naruto was braver than most, but still he knew when to be cautious. He examined each mask, categorising them from most pleasant feeling to least. Most ended up sitting in the middle, and he was stumped.

"This is going to take a while." He sighed as he ran a hand through his unruly locks.

Clans had their benefits and often had it easier than your average citizen, but Shikamaru often wondered what life would have been like if he was born in a civilian family. He would not have to deal with troublesome meetings and that was already a plus for him, but he should be grateful for the life he had, that did not mean he had to like certain aspects of it. He grunted and shifted for the umpteenth time that day, his ass was feeling stiff and his legs almost felt numb from all the sitting and doing nothing.

"For once, I think I'd actually like taking a walk." He spoke up, leaning his head up against the wall and lazily staring at the featureless ceiling.

"I'm running out of snacks." Choji mentioned, a frown pulling on his lips as he checked his stock.

Surprisingly Ino didn't say much as she was lost in thought- this did not go unnoticed by Shikamaru who glanced over at his teammate. Of course there was only one thing on her mind.

"Thinking about your boyfriend?" He asked, and the reaction was immediate as she shot him a glare, well at least she was somewhat paying attention. She huffed and looked away, muttering something he could not pick up on. He'll never understand women.

"He's not my boyfriend, we're just really good friends." She finally spoke up.

"Still trying to wrap my head around your friendship, but I get it, Naruto's a strange guy." That was underselling it, not long ago he knew him as the deadlast with seemingly no future and now he's on the same team with him. Why did yellow haired people have to be such headaches?

Ino frowned as she folded her arms, "What's so strange about us being friends?"

The two boys did not respond, and Ino was left to roll her eyes. In truth they were all trying to ignore the yelling and raised voices coming from behind the door ahead of them. The meeting had been going on for a little over an hour and tempers were flaring with each passing moment with some vibrant vocabulary being passed around. All three just wanted to go home and put this behind them.

"Sooo," Ino spoke up once again, "What's it like being on a team with Sasuke?"

Choji exhaled, "Stressful. I don't hate the guy, but he's a dick." The Akimichi said bluntly, something unlike him.

Shikamaru winced, "That bad huh?"

"We try to work with him, but he just ignores us. Sakura at least is trying, but Sasuke…man." Just thinking about it wanted to rile him up. He kept thinking back to their test and how it took them almost failing just to get the last Uchiha to cooperate.

"Jeez, glad I got over that guy." She couldn't imagine being on a team with someone that self-absorbed, no matter how cute she thought they were, "And sorry about the whole team thing, I hope you don't hold it against Naruto…"

He shook his head, "Nah it's cool, he actually spoke with me about that." He said something that surprised the other two.

"He did? When did that happen?" She asked.

He hummed as he thought back to the day of the team assignments.


Today was just not his day, not only did he miss breakfast, he also learned that he would not be paired with his best friend. It was unexpected, since he was a kid he'd always known that he would be on the same team as Ino and Shikamaru, that was always the case when it came to their collective clans and yet here he was stuck with two people he did not know enough about to even consider them acquaintances. It didn't help that they were left to wait for their sensei for almost four hours, the man taking his sweet time fetching them and revealing that they still had one more test before they could actually be considered official Genin of the village."I wonder how dad's going to react." The defeated pre-teen could only sigh and think about soothing his worries with something to eat.

"Oh, hey Choji!" He heard a familiar voice and as he looked up he caught sight of Naruto approaching from his right. The blond was carrying a bag of what looked like snacks.

It did hurt slightly to see him, knowing that the same boy would be taking his spot beside Shikamaru and Ino, but he could not hold it against him.

"I was actually hoping I'd bump into you." He said with a sheepish grin, raising Choji's curiosity."Is there something you wanted to talk about?"

The older boy nodded, "Yeah, it's about the team thing," He scratched the back of his head, "I don't know what game the oldman's playing with these team placements. I know you guys are supposed to be one team and I took your place, just wanted to say sorry about that." It was awkward but he could tell Naruto was sincere about it. None of them had a say on team placements, at the end of the day it was the Hokage's decision.

"It's fine, a shinobi's supposed to adapt, right?" He said, trying to uplift the mood.

Naruto nodded, "But this is a temporary thing, we make Chunin and you guys can be a team."

That was true, teams weren't as strict beyond the rank of Genin so what Naruto was proposing was the most likely route for them. But still, it didn't sit well with him that Naruto counted himself out, he still was his friend and he knew that Ino and him were pretty close, it would feel strange not having him be part of the team.

"All four of us will be a team." He said, and he saw Naruto's eyes light up, "But we'll need to come up with a better name than Ino-Shika-Cho-Naru. It's kind of a mouthful." Naruto chuckled, that was something he was still trying to figure out for the current team, but team 10 would have to do."Right! But we still have time to come up with one. By the way, if Sasuke gives you any trouble, just let me know."

As tempting as it was to have Naruto at his beck and call regarding Sasuke, he had to learn how to deal with the guy himself. He was stuck with him after all for the time being so he needed to figure out something on his own and not rely on others.

"It's cool. At least I have Sakura to talk to." Which was an odd statement, but she was open to conversations."I guess. But I want you to know that you've got this Choji," Naruto beamed at him, "You're a great guy and a strong person. I believe you'll make it work."

He could not help but smile, "Thanks man, that means a lot."

"And here, just bought a bunch of stuff for something, you can have these if I remember they are your favourite." Naruto said as he fished out a bag of potato chips that further uplifted the boy's mood."Really?!" He asked, barely capable of holding his excitement."Yeah, don't tell Ino though, she uh doesn't really like it when I spend my pay on stuff like this."

He nodded, not entirely paying attention as he was fixated on the green and silver packaging, succulent beef illustrated alongside sliced potatoes. The package was still sealed shut but he could already smell the beefy aroma, leaving his mouth to water in anticipation. Naruto realising that his friend had already ditched reality sighed, patting his peer on his shoulder and bidding him farewell. Choji bellowed a sound of gratitude, but was otherwise cheerful from the experience.

End of Flashback

"He bought junk food?!"

"That's all you got from that?" Shikamaru asked, which earned him a displeased glare from the girl. Shaking his head, he reflected back on Choji's short tale, pleased that the two boys managed to talk things out and tread some ground. He did not know the exact statistics of the average chunin promotion, but he had to wager that it would at least take them two years before they could achieve such a rank; it could be less, however Shikamaru wanted to be cautiously optimistic and leave some room for disappointment.

"Either way, like he said, we can be a team eventually. I don't mind waiting." Choji would say as he savoured what remained of his snack supply. Sasuke was a hassle, but manageable, and Sakura was trying to improve- what could possibly go wrong in between the present and the future?

They collectively agreed, slumping in their seats as they heard the yelling amplify once more.

Sometimes the simplest things could be made complex by a case of misunderstanding and confusion. It was easy to attribute convolution based on assumption, and that's where Naruto went wrong. Instead of thinking of the simplest solution, he went around chasing wisdom while far outrunning it- the answer was that easy...too bad it took him multiple hours. Although bearing a smile, there was a look of defeat in his eyes and he was glad that Ino wasn't around to mock him. He stared at the mask that he had retrieved from the rack and examined it with a hint of ire, the hollow eyeholes staring back at him as if questioning his intelligence.

The cypress mask possessed an expression that reminded him of some of the aristocrats he would see visiting the oldman, except they didn't have a blatant Uzumaki crest centred between the brows. When using his Shingan to examine it, he could feel a rush of familiarity that was quickly overwhelmed by a yearning desire. It was an intense feeling, but he could stomach it after holding the mask for a few minutes, he just had to put it on now, right?

Taking a few deep breaths and easing his nerves, he brought the mask to his face, his vision meeting darkness with peeps of light coming in from the sides and the eyeholes. He felt the cool feel of the wood press against his skin and the mask quickly secured itself on his head.

"Wait, maybe I should have used a clo-"

His words died short as his head suddenly snapped back and his body went stiff. That prior feeling quickly washed over his entire body and a cerise aura engulfed his form like flames upon tinder. He did not let out a sound, other than a grunt as he felt something stir within him, he tried to fight for control but could only steer his eyes towards his hands as they came together as if he strung like a puppet. His fingers flowed through the motions of hand seals in an order he was unfamiliar with, a string of forty or so seals before concluding with the Inu seal. However, it wasn't entirely over as he felt his body crouch and his hands slam into the floor, an array of ink spreading out from the centre and climbing along the walls and pillars. The entire interior was soon swallowed by a bright light which quickly dissipated revealing an opening just below the wall of masks.

The possession came to an end and the mask fell from his face, the blond quick to catch it before it could hit the ground. His body felt strange for a moment, but the feeling subsided and he felt normal afterwards. Naruto didn't know what happened, and he wasn't entirely sure he wanted to. He just wanted to move on from that experience.

"I guess, down I go?" He peered down the dimly lit opening and saw a flight of stairs leading into a tunnel. He took a careful first step to test the integrity of the structure, before jogging down and facing the passage. It was bare and served its purpose, leading him to a circular chamber with holes dug into the walls, each hole containing a bundle of scrolls. There wasn't much to the chamber other than the tapestry hanging parallel from the mouth of the tunnel and a basic desk with stationery. It looked like it was someone's study from the arrangement.

He walked around examining the chamber until he found himself standing by the desk. It clearly wasn't used in quite some time. He found a scroll that seemed to be purposefully placed there. Picking it up he unrolled it and read through it.

To whom it may concern

I believe you to be an Uzumaki, or a very bold individual. Here you stand before my study and personal collection of my clan's history and techniques. Treat it with respect and you may indulge in the knowledge it provides.

Uzumaki Mito

To say he was surprised was a bit of an understatement. No wonder Mito remained relatively unknown, she most likely spent all her time here. Well that answered a few things.

"Thank you Mito." He muttered as he returned the scroll and spun on his heels, surveying the chamber once more. Where did he even start?

"Naruto! Are you in there?!" He swiveled to face the tunnel as he heard Ino's voice bounce from above.

"Yeah!" He responded, walking towards the entrance to meet her halfway. She was visibly anxious, no doubt wary of the barely visible tunnel and mysterious room at the end, but seeing Naruto was enough to ease her slightly. As she met with him, she was quick to grab his arm.

"Creepy masks, creepy tunnels, creepy rooms. I'm sensing a pattern here."

He looked down at the mask he had previously worn, now attached to his pouch, he did not need to tell her what he had to do to even access this. Clearing his throat and chuckling he gently ushered her to the chamber and watched her scope the room with a look of suspicion.

"Relax, it belonged to Mito." He said, "Her personal study and library I guess. I haven't read anything except for the scroll on the desk. I'm not sure how to even start tackling this." He admitted. He could create some clones and have them go through the scrolls and then muster up some cohesion between the memories, or do it the traditional way and go through them one-by-one.

"So she was a big nerd, huh?" There were too many scrolls to count and knowing that Naruto's clan were enthusiastic about fuinjutsu she imagined that there were even more scrolls sealed inside other scrolls. Even though she was intrigued by it she wasn't thrilled about reading any of it, so she'd get the abridged version from her trusty friend.

"I guess you can put it that way." Though he wasn't sure if Mito herself would have appreciated the term used to describe her.

"This is a lot of stuff to go through, Naruto." She turned to face him, not liking the expression he donned as he stared back at her, "No, no way!" She declined his non-verbal proposal.

"C'mon, Ino! Friends help each other right?" He whined, but Ino did not budge as she huffed and crossed her arms.

"Yeah, but with reasonable things! Just use your clones."

"But that's boring, it's more fun reading with someone as smart as you."

"Kissing up to me won't help you!"

The two continued to bicker as the chamber experienced its first bit of life in decades.

Eventually the two came to an agreement, much to Ino's chagrin. Naruto would use his clones for the majority of the work, while they would go through anything they found interesting and in turn he would help teach her said things. However, that would have to wait.

"I'll leave some clones for the night and make some progress, but I think it's getting late." He said as he created ten clones, each tasked with covering a section of scrolls. He will dispel them just before bed.

"Better you than me." She whispered.

"I never asked, how did the meeting go?" He asked as they walked down the tunnel and up the stairs.

"Went as expected. A lot of yelling, some insults here and there, but nothing." It was a waste of time even though neither of them knew what exactly transpired between the adults. Her father told her the outcome was as promised, and that they did not have to worry about it. Which made her question why they were needed there in the first place.

"Do you think we'll be like that when we're adults?"

"What? Boring and angry at the smallest thing? Please, we're far too cool for that." She said with a proud huff. Taking her word, Naruto returned the mask and the opening sealed up once more. Ino sent him an asking look which he waved away.

"Trust me, you don't want to know."

Taking her friend's words at face value, she decided that she in-fact did not want to know. Shrugging she led the way out of the building and nearly gasped upon seeing what little remind of the sun's presence. She didn't even remember what time it was when the meeting concluded, let alone what it was when she joined Naruto. It was a good call on his end to leave.

"Let's get you home."

"I can make it home by myself." She pouted and Naruto grinned.

"Well, then I guess I can just stay and let you-"

"No! You are taking me home." She declared as she claimed his arm once more and began to drag him, albeit with difficulty as Naruto stood rooted to the spot. He laughed at her attempts, finding her pursed lips and puffed cheeks adorable. He flicked his wrist and grabbed onto her forearm and before she could counter him, she found herself pulled back towards his body and his arm wrapping around her shoulders.

"Fine, let's get you home." Ino didn't say anything, her face several shades of red at the proximity and boldness.

However, in truth Naruto had just noticed she was about to fall and pulled her back to save her from an embarrassing and possibly painful tumble.

Their journey back to the Yamanaka household was a quiet one, leaving Naruto to wonder if he said something wrong.

"So, here we are," He said as Ino stood before him.

"Yeah, so see you tomorrow?" She asked, knowing the obvious answer.

"Of course, we have lots of reading to do." He heard her groan as she was reminded of their agreement.

"You're making me want to just stay in bed." She slumped, but quickly perked as Naruto engaged their customary hug which she returned after getting over her initial surprise, still wondering why the scene prior was still stuck in her mind. It was dumb to be stuck on one thing that was so insignificant, especially when their hug proved they were used to physical contact.

"You smell like an old mouldy temple." She said as she tried to distract herself.

"To be fair." She rolled her eyes, playfully pushing him away.

"Whatever, just go home and take a shower."

He saluted her, "Yes ma'am, shower at the behest of her lady, Yamanaka Ino."

"Sassy much. Beat it dork…and goodnight." She smiled as she watched him wave and nod, taking off in a jog.

Reaching his apartment took no time, this time there were no letters or toads waiting for him. Ino was acting weird on the way back but he did not think much of it.

He just needed to eat and freshen up before heading to bed. He wasn't sure how much information and memories he was going to have to sift through once he dispelled his clones, he just hoped it wouldn't give him a headache. But at least he had something to work with regarding his clan, he just wondered what kind of information Mito would provide and if he was good enough to learn anything at all. By the time he gets the chance to meet his clan he wants to feel accepted, what better than to learn a couple of clan tricks?

End of Chapter 8

A/N: Well lookie who's back! Yes , it only took like a year to finally update but trust me, I was a bit frustrated with this chapter and have made many many many many drafts, in total about 60k words worth of drafts. It was the roadblock that burned me out and kept me from updating, so I just sat down and brute forced my way during this work trip.

The chapter itself is filler, a way to ease me back into updating, but I promise the next chapter will have team training and their first C-rank mission (not the wave arc rejoice). This was just Naruto learning some stuff, and a bit of Ino/Naru interaction. It's also short which I've made the decision to make the average chapter be at least 5k words with more important chapters being more, just as means to have more chapters more frequently, at this rate I can at least give you 2 chapters a month.

Now to discuss some things that were in the chapter. The Uzumaki clan, they're alive! Or are they? Is Akira telling the truth and who are they? The Uzumaki temple is altered from its canon counterpart, has a bit more to it such as possessing Mito's study and the masks all having something a bit unique to them, what do they do you may ask? Well just wait and see. Funny thing to mention the first draft of this chapter had them meeting Anko and Ibiki, but I didn't get it to work the way I wanted it to, so yeah.

I'm tempted to have somewhere to post the drafts that I never use so people can read through them, along with some art and concept I've done for the fic. I just don't have the time to flesh out such things because of work and commissions, but I'm sure I'll think of something and finally come to a satisfying conclusion. Maybe a pay-treeeeeeee-on, but not charging for chapters or anything unfair like that.

I'll post the next chapter soon, and work on updating the other fics as well. It's good to be back and thank you for your continued support!

Yours truly, Kiwi!