Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
Warning: This fic will eventually contain shonen ai and possibly yaoi. There is a mention of possible rape but none occurs. SasuNaru NaruSasu Past SasuOC (barely mentioned) with a few OCs.
Summary: Alternate universe diverging when Naruto comes back to Konoha from training with Jiraiya. The final confrontation with Orochimaru and Sasuke resulted in the death of Orochimaru. Akatsuki and Itachi are still at large, and Sasuke is still a missing nin, trying to kill Itachi. All of the rookie nine are jounin, as well as Gai's team. Kyuubi has merged totally with Naruto and he has full control of Kyuubi's chakra.
---.---: break/ time lapse
oooOooo: Scene change
It was just a normal B level mission in the Lightning Country. Naruto took it because it was scheduled to take at least a month, and even though he finished it in one and a half weeks, the rest of the time was spent searching for Sasuke. Baa-chan knew what Naruto was doing; long missions were the only ones Naruto would accept since the "incident".
Orochimaru was dead and all of the other Konoha shinobi were scattered and confused. The only ones left were Naruto and Sasuke. It was almost exactly like 3 years ago: the two boys were facing each other on opposite sides of the waterfall. Sasuke was going to leave again and Naruto didn't want that to happen.
"Sasuke, fight me!"
"What! You coward! FIGHT ME!"
"I have to do something first. I'll be back. Wait for me, dobe."
Sasuke disappeared, and Naruto hadn't seen him since. He had been searching for Sasuke by a small village in the Wind Country and was currently perched on a roof quietly observing the village. Just when he was about to leave, a small group of men by an alleyway caught his eye.
"Did you think you could get away with stealing from us?" the largest of them said, "We're dangerous. Don't you recognize ninjas when you see them?"
Curious, Naruto moved so that he could get a closer look. He saw a three man team of unmarked chuunin. Cowering at their feet was a small street urchin. He couldn't have been older than 7 years old. It was difficult to tell how old the kid was because of his baggy clothing and dirty face.
"I think we're going to have to teach you a lesson eh guys?" the leader suggested with a leer on his face. Picking the kid up, he told him, "Maybe you can earn some food."
Naruto's face went dark with fury. He'd always had a soft spot in his heart for children. They were always so innocent, so trusting. He'd grown up rather quickly, but he really liked playing games and having fun with them and even though he complained about all the level D missions, Naruto secretly loved the babysitting ones.
"Hey hey, what's this all about?" Naruto called out lazily, "That kid's not worth your time. Why don't you just let him go?"
"Who the hell do you think you are?" the leader shot back, "We'll do what we want when we want. You don't want to mess with us."
"Maybe not, but I can't let you hurt that kid. Why don't you just run along right now? You got your food back, and I'm sure that he won't try to steal from you again, right kid?"
"Y...Yes," the urchin replied.
"I don't think we want to leave the brat alone," the chuunin said as he raised his hand, "He deserves a beating for what he did to us."
This caused the urchin to look up at the man with fear in his eyes. Naruto caught a glimpse of them and immediately thought of his first real mission with Team 7. The boy reminded him of Haku. Before the unmarked nin could land his blow, Naruto appeared in his way and blocked his strike. Anger flashed from the bully's eyes and he instinctively went for his kunai pouch, but before he could do anything Naruto grabbed his arm with his left hand, focused chakra to his right palm and hit the chuunin with a minor rasengan. The effect was much like the first time Naruto ever saw Jiraiya perform the technique and the chuunin went flying and spinning into the alley wall. After glancing at him to make sure he was unconscious, Naruto turned to the other nin.
"Pick your friend up and get out of my sight. You don't want to see me get angry."
Naruto's eyes flashed dangerously red and shifted into the pupils of the Kyuubi. The remaining two chuunin fearfully picked their leader up and ran off, leaving Naruto alone with their intended victim.
"You okay kid? Did they hurt you?"
"No. I… I'm fine."
"Do you want something to eat? I could sure go for some ramen right about now."
The young boy hesitated for a moment before answering.
'He just saved me from those nins, and I am hungry. But can I trust him? Father never trusted anyone. He's… gone now though.'
"I'm Uzumaki Naruto. What's your name kid?"
With that, Yahiko burst away. His speed was impressive, especially for someone who hadn't been trained as a shinobi. Naruto was caught off guard by Yahiko's flight. He thought the kid was going to accept his offer.
'I can see how he's never been caught. I guess he's never tried to steal from a ninja before. Regular villagers wouldn't be able to catch or detect him. I'd better keep an eye on him though. There's something special about this boy.'
Naruto followed him around the village until Yahiko stopped at a street near the edge of town. Yahiko entered a tiny tin and cardboard shack, but before going to sleep, he moved a few rags out of the way and lifted a hidden board from the dirt floor. Inside was a small wooden box. Yahiko looked around to make sure that no one was watching, reverently opened the box and took out a single kunai. Unlike the rest of the shack, the kunai was in perfect condition. Yahiko cradled it to his body and went to sleep.
Naruto had been standing guard on the shack for only a few hours when a sudden heavy mist descended on Yahiko's house. Instantly alert, Naruto activated his chakra and directed it to his senses quickly detecting five chakra sources.
'One of those scents smells familiar. It's a missing nin from the Hidden Mist village, so the shinobi Yahiko encountered earlier must all be missing nin. That means I don't have to hold back. I'll finish this quickly.'
Naruto tapped into his chakra and drew it into his Kyuubi armor. The mix of blue and red chakra surrounded him in the shape of the Nine-tails: a few of his "tails" were now blue, as well as the claws of his "paws". He wanted to divert attention away from Yahiko. The nins had just enough time to pause and wonder where the dangerous new chakra source was coming from before they died.
The chakra surge did not go unnoticed by Yahiko. He recognized the feeling from the times he witnessed his own father draw upon it to fight. He gripped his kunai fearfully and looked out for possible threats, but the only thing he was able to make out was a purplish blur and the death screams of four men. The blur stopped in front of him, and Yahiko couldn't bring himself to look at it.
As soon as the blur came to a stop in front of him, Yahiko noticed another third presence behind him. Before he could react, two hands shot out. One grabbed his hair and yanked him backwards. The second took his kunai, the most precious thing to him in the world, and held it to his throat.
"Take another step, and the kid's dead."
'I'm going to die,' Yahiko thought. 'Without getting stronger. Without revenge. He's going to walk away and leave me to die. He won't try to save me. No one cares about me; I'm just a useless street brat.'
Suddenly, the blur spoke.
"You touch that boy, and I will make sure you die slowly. Walk away now, and I guarantee that you can leave with your life."
"I don't think so." The nin responded, "I think that you're going to take three steps back, or he's going to be breathing out of his neck." The blur obeyed. "Now I think you're going to take those big nasty claws you have and rip out your own throat. When your body is cold and dead on the ground, I'll let this kid go."
'Now he'll run. He'll leave me like everyone else and this time I'll be dead.'
The new adrenaline in Yahiko's system gave his senses an extremely sharp focus and he was finally able to see through the haze of red and blue. It was his protector from earlier. After a few seconds he was able to remember his name: Naruto. He made eye contact with the strange man and thought he saw a flicker of emotion within Naruto's eyes.
'Is it regret? Pity? It wasn't anger. He is going to leave.'
Suddenly, Naruto's fist blurred and the alley wall was splashed by his throat's aortal spray. The momentary silence was broken by the Mist Nin's cruel laughter.
"My god, that idiot really did it. Heh. That's a shame isn't it? I think I'm going to have fun with you kid." He turned Yahiko around and pressed his body against the small boy. "After that, I'm going to bleed you like a stuck pig."
Yahiko didn't hear him. The boy was lost in his own thoughts.
'He was a nice guy. He actually cared a little about a worthless street kid. He was worth ten of me and he killed himself.'
A rough shake brought the boy to reality, and he looked up at his captor. There was a terrible glint in the man's eyes. Yahiko froze up, and a horrible terror took hold of his body. He didn't know what was going to happen next, but he knew that it would be horrendous.
Before anything could happen, the Mist Nin's head exploded and was replaced by a purple orb of rapidly spinning chakra. (2) The hand it was attached to belonged to Naruto.
"How are you alive?!!" Yahiko asked. "I thought that you…" Yahiko glanced at the corpse on the ground and his eyes widened when it disappeared in a puff of smoke.
"It was a shadow clone. I knew there was one more, so I approached you with a decoy. Are you alright kid?"
Yahiko responded by wrapping his arms tightly around Naruto. "I thought you were dead. That you had wasted your life protecting me. Are… are you an angel? Are you here to protect me?"
"Kid, I'm no angel. Kinda the opposite."
Yahiko locked eyes with Naruto once more, and Naruto's eyes went wide with the memories they evoked.
'They look so similar. They could be mine when I was a kid, or Neji's, Gaara's, Haku's… That façade hiding a scared little kid. He even looks a bit like Sasuke. It's hard to tell under all the dirt.'
A young blond boy looks up with hope in his eyes. Hope that maybe this grownup will be different. His eyes aren't as cold as everyone else's and he even looks friendly. There is something special in Iruka's eyes. When the young adult (teenager really) offers his hand, Naruto accepts it.
'Is this how Iruka felt? I can't just leave the kid here.'
"I'm going to leave this village. You wanna come?"
Yahiko nodded and went back into his shack. He picked up his kunai, cleaned it and put it back into his box. After coming out, he spoke again.
"OK kid. We're going to Konoha."
(1) A personal homage to Kenshin.
(2) The blue and red chakras move so rapidly that it appears as if they mix and are purple.
Next time: The journey to Konoha, the village's reaction to Naruto's new ward and a look at what Sasuke's up to.