AN: I know; I know. You don't have to tell me. But this idea stayed in my head all night last night so if I didn't write it down I was going to drive myself crazy. Besides, even if the idea is hardly original, I really wanted to take a shot at one of those "Naruto leaves and returns" stories. Heh. I have no idea on pairings yet or if there will be any.

Disclaimer: I own an empty stomach.

Child of the Earth


"Naruto. Get down here and put your shoes back on."

A blonde head poked out of the canopy above the path before disappearing momentarily. A few seconds later the body that was attached to the blonde head appeared on the dirt road, hopping on one foot in an attempt to put his geta back on. His guardian half-turned to see his student struggling before he rolled his eyes and returned to his writings.

"Ero-sennin…! Why do I have to wear shoes? You don't normally make me wear them!" Naruto whined as he finally secured his geta on his feet and began to catch up with his guardian. The man's left eyebrow twitched as he refrained from yelling.

"Because we're heading back to an important place. You have to be civil."

"But you're never civil!"

"…Shut up."

Naruto pouted and folded his arms across his chest, glaring at the road. He didn't like this one bit. Why go back to a place he didn't even remember? Wasn't he kicked out or something? Ero-sennin had said something about him having to leave the village for important reasons but he never really told why. Huffing, he put his hands behind his head and stared up at the sky, watching birds pass overhead. A smile stretched across his face as the wind picked up and ruffled his untamed hair.

Jiraiya paused to look at the boy, a small smile working on this his aging face. He knew the boy loved it out here but he needed to be reintegrated into society so he could live a normal life. Or at least try to. Shaking his head, he looked up to see the walls of Konohagakure ahead and put away his pen and paper. He needed some inspiration before continuing anyway.

Naruto sniffed the air, catching wind of something domesticated. Blinking, he looked back down and saw the gates of Konoha ahead. Blue eyes widened as he stared at the high walls in awe. This was his home? He was going to be a ninja… The boy shivered in delight before turning to his sensei. "Ano sa, ano sa! That's it, right?"

Jiraiya nodded, grunting, but patted the boy on his head.

Naruto smiled. Maybe this would be better than he thought.

Sandaime Hokage sat in his office smoking leisurely on his pipe. He had a feeling that today was going to be a special day, but he had no idea why. Pondering on this, he exhaled a slow puff of smoke, deep in thought. However, he was startled out of his contemplation when a poof sounded and a cloud of smoke appeared on his desk. He arched a brow as the smoke cleared and an orange frog sat on his paperwork.

"Yo, Pops." The frog greeted, waving. "I got a message for ya. Jiraiya says that he's returning with the boy today to enroll him as a proper ninja. He said something about not needing academy training or what'cha'ma'callit and he wants to place the boy into a team. He said you'd know what he was talking about." With a poof the toad was gone.

Sarutobi listened to the toad's message, taking it in with earnest. So, Jiraiya and the boy were returning. He most certainly hoped it was safe and he was ready to be put back into the village. He also hoped the village was ready for him. He paused. The genin were going to be meeting today. He needed to get the boy on a team as soon as possible. Standing up, he alerted his assistant that he would be gone for a short while and made his way to the academy.

Iruka sat down at his desk whiledesperately trying to figure out how to make this work. The students were supposed to be divided into teams of three. But there was one problem. There weretwenty-six students. That would leave one team of two. And that wouldn't work. He only had a few hours left until the kids arrived and he still hadn't figured everything out. Even the jounin instructors didn't know the students they were getting. He'd stressed three days over this and he could swear he was getting grey hair.


The chuunin teacher jumped, looking up at the man who spoke his name. Sandaime smiled down at him, removing his pipe from his lips. "Jumpy today?"

"Ah, Hokage-sama. Please forgive me. I'm just… tired." Iruka began, rubbing his temples.

Sandaime nodded. "I hate to do this to you, Iruka, but I need your help."

Immediately the younger man looked up, his curiosity perked. "What is it, Hokage-sama?"

"I have a student who will be showing up today and he needs to be placed on a three-man team like the new graduates. Is there any way possible that it can be done?"

Iruka's eyes lit up like lights on Christmas tree. "Hokage-sama, you just saved my day."

The guards at the gates of Konoha straightened up when two figures came into view. One was a large man, over six feet in height. His attire was strange in being that he wore red and white traditional robes over an olive uniform. A large scroll was strapped to his back and spiky white hair strutted out in every direction on his head. The most distinguishing feature was the two red lines going down his face.

The other was a short blond boy with whiskers on his cheeks and wide blue eyes. He wore a pair of olive-green pants with the legs rolled up to mid-calf. A matching loose jacket fluttered about the boy, the sleeves frayed at the ends from use and the front opened to give him more freedom. Underneath was a plain black t-shirt that revealed how small the boy was.

Both of them wore traditional geta sandals that quirked a brow or two. But the older of the two guards immediately straightened up. "Jiraiya-sama!"

Jiraiya looked up arching a brow; finally glad to get some recognition and respect. "Ero-sennin" was becoming one of his least favourite words in the world. That, and "restraining order".

"Welcome back, Jiraiya-sama. It's been a long time since you've been here." Jiraiya nodded, replying with a statement about business with the Hokage. With that both guards stood straight as the man entered into the village.Naruto was running around Jiraiya in circles, giddy with the idea of being in such a huge place and not moving out of it within a few days. And it was beautiful and surrounded with forests and wildlife! He loved it already.

"Ne! Ero-sennin! When do I start training again?" Naruto inquired, skidding to a stop to look up at his instructor.

Jiraiya mumbled something like "hyperactive brat" before sighing and giving Naruto a pointed look. "When you calm down and give me some respect."

Naruto pouted and turned around, only to be faced by an old man with a strange hat and robes on smoking a pipe. "Um, who are you?"

The man smiled down at the boy. "Uzumaki Naruto, I'm Saindaime Hokage."

The blue-eyed boy stared up at the man. "You're the Hokage! Wow!" Immediately he started an onslaught of questions that went a mile a minute. Sarutobi smiled as he watched the animated boy wave his hands with his questions as if they would make more sense that way.

Jiraiya grabbed the boy by the back of his jacket and gave him a good jerk. "Stop that."

The boy squirmed for a moment before settling down. Immediately he sauntered up to a bridge and began to watch the fish in the river below. Satisfied that Naruto would behave for a few minutes Jiraiya turned to Sandaime and began to speak.

"I take it you got my message?"

"Yes, I did. Do you really think he's ready to be back? What about the kyuubi?"

"Well, he's done quite well at mastering his own chakra. The kyuubi's remained relatively dormant. The only signs of himI've seenare Naruto's enhanced senses. The boy can see, smell, and hear anything that he wants. You won't believe how many times he's told me I stink even after I've had a shower."

The Hokage smiled, glancing at the boy for a moment before turning back. "I've arranged for a place for you two to stay while you're here. However, the team announcements are to be made quite shortly. Naruto will need to be present."

"We just make it back in time, huh?"

"Yes. But it's quite all right. Iruka managed to work everything out. Anyway, we should be heading down there right now so Naruto can be acquainted with the students."

Jiraiya hesitated. "There is one thing. Naruto's very used to nature and being out in the wilderness, away from crowds. I honestly don't know how he's going to do being around a lot of people daily. He can be rather naïve."

Sandaime took another puff of his pipe. "Then we'll just see. I believe he'll do fine. Unless you've corrupted the boy with your ways, Jiraiya."

The sannin rolled his eyes. "Hardly. The brat lectures me daily about my morals."

"Or lack there of."

"Very funny. But let's get this over with. I'm tired and I want a nap."

"I'm sure your nap will be taking place near the hot springs."

"Eheheh…" Jiraiya scratched the back of his head as he walked up to Naruto who was still being entertained by the fish. "Naruto. Are you ready to meet the fellow students?"

Immediately the boy's attention was drawn back up to the two older men. "Yeah!"

Iruka watched the students come in and sit down talking amongst themselves. He smiled and observed them having finished with his troublesome work from earlier. He hoped the Hokage would arrive soon with the new student. He wanted to go ahead and get this finished. He'd only informed the jounins of their teams an hour ago.

Sasuke sat on the end of a row with his hands clasped together, elbows braced on the desktop, and his normal cold expression on his face. He just wanted to start the training. Sakura was arguing with Ino over who had arrived first. Other students were chatting with each other. Everyone was there. All twenty-six graduates.

Just as Iruka was getting antsy a bright yellow-blond head poked into the room. "Ne! Is this it?"

The boy seemed to be talking to someone down the hall. Iruka craned his neck slightly before he saw the Hokage walk up with another man behind the blond boy. "This is it, Naruto."

Ah, Naruto. That must be the new boy.

Naruto's eyes widened with delight at seeing all the students in the room. They were all his age! He was rarely ever around anyone his age. A few heads had turned and were watching the unfamiliar boy who stood beside the Hokage and another man (who, for the record, was very, very weird-looking).

"Naruto." The boy looked up to Jiraiya before the man continued. "I've got a few things to finish with the Hokage so you stay here. Be good and, for the love of God, do not bring any 'pets' home."

Naruto pouted a bit but nodded nonetheless, waving as the two men left. "OK! Bye Ero-sennin! Stay away from the hot springs! Bye Hokage-jiichan!"

"Uzumaki Naruto?"

Naruto craned his neck to see who was asking but was unable to see so instead he turned around and stared at a man with a brown ponytail and a scar across his nose. "Yeeeees?"

"Ah. My name's Umino Iruka. Welcome to the academy. If you'll take a seat, we'll start announcing the teams."

The boy nodded enthusiastically. "OK!"

Sasuke's brow had risen at seeing the unfamiliar blond. He watched with mild interest as the boy's antics and casual addressing of the Hokage. And what was with that name; "Ero-sennin"? Perverted Hermit? He shook his head. The boy looked like an idiot. He watched as Iruka talked to the boy before waving a hand toward the classroom. The boy's eyes scanned the room before looking at Sasuke, or at least in his vicinity. His eyes widened slightly when he saw the boy run forward and jump into the air, landing on a desk and using them like stairs to get to his desired seat; one seat below him beside the window as he was.

That had caused the class to stop and regard the new boy. But he seemed obvious to them all, content with staring out the window with a smile.

"OK, students. Congratulations on passing the graduation exam! Now you will be divided into three man cells and assigned an instructor to teach you. Please keep your voices down as I announce the teams."

Sakura glanced at the blond after Iruka's little speech. The blond wasn't in their academy class. How did he graduate? Her attention snapped back to the front when she heard her name called.

"Team Seven: Uchiha Sasuke, Haruno Sakura, and Uzumaki Naruto."

After getting over her squeal-fest of finding out she was on Sasuke's team Sakura scanned the room. That boy had to be the last member of her team. She knew everyone else in the class. Using the fact that he and Sasuke were so close for a chance to get closer to Sasuke she moved to the seat beside Sasuke, pushing a lock of hair behind her ear and gave a bashful smile. "Hi, Sasuke-kun. I hope you don't mind if I sit here since we're teammates."

He regarded her with a "hn" while his eyes remained on the boy in front of him. The blond had now looked away from the window and was digesting Iruka-sensei's words. He looked around in an attempt to see if he could figure out who were his teammates. Sakura caught his attention by waving her hand. "You're with us."

He nodded vigorously, hopping onto the desk in right in front of them, squatting so that he was close to eye-level with the two.

"Hi! I'm Naruto!" He paused, regarding his two new teammates. He tilted his head to the side as neither replied; one shocked from him jumping on the desk and the other… well, it's Sasuke. What can we say? The boy seemed to ponder for a moment before adding, "You guys smell weird."

End Prologue.

AN: Well, there you have it folks. Naruto's first impression of his two teammates. I know this chapter seems choppy, rushed and unexplanitory on a lot of things but at the moment I could care less. I'm about to drop dead. Besides, most of you can use your knowledge of the manga/anime to deduce what you don't know. Anything else I'll probably clear up eventually.

Geta: these are the traditional platform sandals that Jiraiya wears. They're probably rather hard to walk in.

Thanks for reading. Comments are appreciated.