A/N: I don't own Naruto at all. I own the love between Naruto and Kurenai.
The Greatest Hero
Chapter 1: The Genin, Uzumaki Naruto
Naruto focused the flows of chakra into his feet as he stood on the flowing river and his hands were in the position of the Tiger Seal, concentrating, eyes closed.
The twelve-year old stood still, beads of sweat flowing down his face as he tried his hardest to maintain his charka flow and balance. It was his brother's, Kakashi's, method to maintain power and balance on water. His eyes suddenly flickered open.
Naruto continued to do a couple of hand seals and completed the technique.
'Suiton: Suiryuudan No Jutsu!' Naruto said as he summoned a water-made dragon.
The gigantic serpent-like creature leaped out of the water and roared as it thrashed and lashed everywhere, spraing some of the water it was made of upon Naruto.
The dragon suddenly dissipated, splashing the water in the air upon the river's.
'So I see you've been progressing very nicely, Naruto.' a man said.
It was Kakashi, his eyes on the latest volume of "Make-Out Paradise" in his hands.
'But still not as good as you, Kakashi-niichan.' Naruto said, grimacing.
'It's still okay for your level.' Kakashi said, smiling at his adopted brother, 'You're not even a genin yet, Naruto, and you've already mastered all the techniques that I've taught you. You have a little trouble with your charka control due to the fox inside of you, but other than that, I think that you can easily be at the level of chuunin.'
Naruto grinned at his older brother and untied his waist-long blonde hair. Kakashi had let Naruto's hair grow ever since he adopted him as a brother at the age of one.
He had thought of it as a magnet for women of all ages.
'So are going to have lunch with Kurenai-chan again today, Kakashi-niichan?'
Kakashi grinned under his black mask. He knew that his brother had a crush on his workmate since they met at the Jounin Exams a year ago.
'After you get back from the academy, Naruto. Wait a minute…'
Naruto's eyes widened and looked at his the clock on a green building.
'I'M LATE!' Naruto exclaimed, grabbing his black jacket and putting it on.
'He's just like me. Well… maybe not the panicking part…'
Oh man, Iruka-sensei's going to burn me and then eat me and then kill me!
Naruto could be seen as a lightning-blue blur going right through the woods and past men, women and children toward the Ninja Academy. He stopped instantly as outside the academy doors, praying that his favourite teacher wouldn't kill him.
'Henge No Jutsu.' Naruto said softly, transforming himself into a grown-up chuunin and walking into the academy and towards his classroom, where Iruka was teaching.
He knocked on the door three times, and Iruka came out with a book in hand.
'Yes, what can I do for you, sir?' Iruka asked, oblivious that this was Naruto.
'Um, sorry for bothering you, Iruka-sensei, but there is a man waiting for you outside your office. He wants to talk to you about the Genin Exams.' Naruto said.
'All right. I'll be there in a moment. Could you please watch my class for me?'
Naruto gave a nod as he entered the classroom and Iruka left.
As soon as Iruka was outside the door and down the hallway, Naruto grinned.
His classmates looked confused at the sight of a new chuunin coming in.
'And that, class, is how you trick your instructor.' Naruto said to his friends.
Naruto changed back into his usual blue-clad self, earning disbelieving gasps and wide-eyed stares from most of his classmates. Naruto walked to his seat.
He sat in between Shikamaru and Kiba and his dog, Akamaru, who both turned to him, trying to find out how he had just done that. Naruto's grin grew wider.
'What a way to escape Iruka-sensei's wrath, Naruto.' Kiba said to his friend.
Kiba was one of Naruto's closest friends, aside from Chouji, Shino and Shikamaru, who was his best friend in the academy. The five of them, and Akamaru, had been friends since they were six-years old, and showed no sign of letting it wane.
'You got that Uchiha all riled up at the back there, Naruto.' Shikamaru stated.
Naruto turned around and saw the raven-haired boy sending a look his way.
Sasuke was Naruto's rival since the both of them were the best in the class.
Well, Naruto was better by a long shot, but by academy standards, they both were as good; knowing techniques that were supposed to be known and mastering them.
Excluding Naruto's secret knowledge in Doton and Suiton, Sasuke was quite good.
Iruka came in, his face one of someone who had just been tricked. He had been.
'I am going to get that guy, whoever he is.' Iruka said under his breath.
Naruto smiled at his friends, and Iruka began to ponder if Naruto had been responsible for the trick. But Naruto wasn't known to ask for help with his jokes.
Iruka just shrugged it off and went on to teach with his class more boring things.
Naruto sat down with Kakashi at Ichiraku Ramen, waiting for Kurenai.
'So what did Iruka-san say about you being late, Naruto?' Kakashi asked.
'I avoided his scolding. Pulled a Henge on him.' Naruto said, grinning.
'Ah, what a nice method of avoiding a scolding.' Kakashi complimented.
Naruto gave his big brother a grin and went on to order a bowl of ramen.
'Hey guys, sorry I'm late.' Kurenai had come, in her normal attire.
'For once I'm earlier than someone.' Kakashi teased his compratriot.
Naruto blushed when he saw Kurenai and turned away from her.
Kurenai took a seat next to Naruto and noticed his light blush. She giggled.
'What ramen, lady?' the shop owner asked Kurenai, preparing another batch.
'Miso, please.' Kurenai said and then turned to the blushing Naruto, 'So, Naruto…'
Naruto turned to his crush, mustering a not-so-nervous smile to hide his emotions.
'I heard that you pulled off a pretty good Henge to escape Iruka's wrath, Naru-kun.'
She loved to see the effects of saying him by his beloved nickname. Like him going crimson and turning an even darker shade every second. It was one of her hobbies.
'I-It was nothing, Kurenai-chan. I'm going to be the future Hokage after all.'
Kurenai smiled at his naïveté and went on to eat the ramen that the shop owner had set before her. She was careful not to slurp, as girls don't slurp their food.
'Well, I got a mission, see you two later.' Kakashi said and disappeared in a poof.
Naruto frowned. His big brother was supposed to pay the bill this time.
I guess I'll have to pay this time, Naruto silently thought.
Naruto looked to his crush that was sitting to his right side, slowly eating her food.
'They burn your lips the first few times, but you'll get used to it.' Naruto said.
'Thank you for the tip, Naru-kun.' Kurenai said good-heartedly, smiling slightly.
Naruto was about to blush again, but managed to muster a fox grin for her.
Naruto was silently thankful that Kakashi had left; now he ahd time to be alone with Kurenai and there would be no interruptions or talks between him and her.
Yes, he had to pay for their meal, but as the saying goes; there is no free lunch.
'So Kurenai-chan, would you a few tips on Genjutsu while we're here?'
'No, I can't give you any tips on Genjutsu, Naruto.' Kurenai said.
'But you're a Genjutsu specialist. You're suppose to know these things.'
'That indeed I am, Naru-kun.' Naruto went a shade of dark red, making her giggle, 'But you are still an academy student and you can't possibly understand what I say.'
'I've mastered every Ninjutsu that Kakashi taught me except the Chidori.'
'But Kakashi only knows one Genjutsu, Naru-kun. So you can't say anymore.'
Naruto cursed his luck before going on to devour his thirteenth bowl of ramen.
'Tomorrow is the Genin Exam, Kurenai-san.' Naruto stated silently to her.
'You worried about the results, huh, Naruto? Don't worry, you'll do fine.
'It's not that; it's just that is it alright for me to skip and go ahead to chuunin?'
'No, you can't do that. Even Kakashi had to work his way up the ranks.'
'Yeah, I guess…' Naruto looked a little disappointed and positively adorable.
Whenever Naruto was pouting or had a stubborn face on, he would look cute.
'Here's something to console you.' Kurenai lowered her head to his cheek.
'Eh?' Naruto threw a confused look in her direction, 'What a-'
Kurenai placed her lips on Naruto's right cheek. Naruto turned red again.
'Enough to console you until tomorrow?' Kurenai teased the blonde.
'It's alright. But I'd be happy if you put that on the other side too.'
'Don't push your luck, Uzumaki-san.' Kurenai said, frowning playfully at him.
Naruto shrugged and turned to the front and the boss put the check before him.
'Heh. Expected.' Naruto said simply as he pulled out his wallet.
Early next morning, Naruto woke up with his orange pyjamas on.
Today was the day that he would pass the Genin Exam with flying colours.
He smiled to himself as he went into the shower, singing an unfamiliar tune.
After twenty minutes in the shower, Naruto came out, the white towel that Kurenai had given him, with the cherry blossom patterns on it wrapped around his waist.
He put on his black ensemble today, the one that Kakashi gave him a week ago.
Naruto took out an apple and sank his teeth into it before taking a pack of instant ramen and leaping out his window. Naruto would love doing this stunt in the morning. It was his wake up call to the world. Naruto kicked the side wall and jumped onto the roof of a nearby and shorter building, landing acrobatically on his toes.
Naruto decided to take the shortcut through the woods to the Academy.
He ran as fast as he could, not wanting the instructor to tell him off for being late.
He arrived in front of the academy and his friends were already there, with Kiba playing around with Akamaru, Shikamaru sitting with his good friend Chouji under a tree and Shino sitting on the other side of the tree doing nothing in particular.
'Are we early for the exams?' Naruto asked his friend, Kiba.
'Oh, hey, Naruto.' Kiba said, tossing his dog friend into the air and making him land on his hooded head, 'We're early alright. Iruka-sensei is still looking for the papers.'
'Did he try looking for them under the student monthly evaluation papers?'
Kiba raised and eyebrow at his friend, who just snickered in return.
'Don't tell me you…' Kiba began, his jaw dropping to the ground.
'Snuck in yesterday to look for my confiscated yoyo. Instead, found them.'
'But that's cheating! You can't look into the exam papers and read the questions!'
'I didn't read them, Kiba. I just sneaked in to get my yoyo. But I didn't find it.'
Kiba could sense that Naruto wasn't lying, so he let the thought go.
Suddenly, the school bell rang, signalling the would-be genins to go inside.
Shikamaru and Naruto walked side by side, talking to each other about the exam.
'Wait, Naruto.' Iruka called out to Naruto before he entered the classroom.
Naruto raised an eyebrow; what would Iruka-sensei want with him? Unless he had somehow found out that Naruto was the one that sneaked into his office.
'You'll be taking a different exam, Naruto.' Iruka said to his favourite student.
'Eh?' Naruto quirked an eyebrow at his teacher, who merely snickered.
'I'm giving you a personal exam to see if you're fit to be a genin.'
Naruto listened to his instructor intently, not wanting to hear the wrong things.
'You will answer three questions that I will give you on a sheet of paper in my office now. I will explain the rules for your examination in there'
Iruka walked toward his office with Naruto in tow behind him.
When Naruto entered Iruka's office, he saw that there were a range of accessories that were actually ninja gear set on Iruka's desk and a pile of rocks and a diamond.
There was also a small desk and a chair with a pencil and eraser on it.
'You are not to exit this room when the exam is taking place.' Iruka stated.
'Why am I taking a different exam from the other students?' Naruto asked.
'Because Sandaime Hokage and Kakashi-san wanted you to take an exam that they and I myself prepared for you. It should prove a challenge. Take a seat, Naruto.'
Naruto sat at the table, nervous about this exam and wondering what the questios would be like. He hoped that they weren't too hard for his level.
'Here, Naruto. You have one hour before I collect the paper and progress to the second stage of the examination. You begin… now. No cheating.'
Naruto read the question and his eyes widened. It simply didn't make sense.
'Question one: What is the code of a shinobi and what is the purpose of this code?'
'That's my question, Naruto. Make sure you answer it well, okay?' Iruka smiled.
Naruto decided to skip the question and move on to the second one.
'Question two: Why does a shinobi fight?' Naruto read on, not knowing what to write, he was truly clueless on how he would answer this question, so he went on to the third question; 'Question three: What does it mean to be Hokage?'
Naruto smiled at the last question, it was as if it was yesterday that he was asked that by the "Old Pervert" Sarutobi, also known as Sandaime Hokage.
To be Hokage means to sacrifice your life to protect the village, to love the ones you hate and care for every soul that resides there. To put it simple, to be Hokage is to be one with the village. Hence the term "Kage" as everything casts a shadow.
Naruto smiled to himself as he remembered when he had said that to the old man.
Sandaime had smiled at him warmly and gave him his Hokage's hat.
He had said that he couldn't accept it, but the old man said he had twenty more back in his office. He could spare Naruto one. The blonde boy accepted it heartily.
Naruto wrote what he had said down on the paper, leaving him with two more questions left, he studied the second one first, before going on.
Naruto remembered that he was shouting to his brother Kakashi one day when he was laughing about his ambition. Naruto set him straight that day.
'I will protect the people that I care about, nii-san! Including you and Kurenai-chan! And then I will be Hokage and protect the village!'
To protect the people he cares about, Naruto repeated in his mind.
'Naruto, you only have two questions left. Do your best.' Iruka said, checking up on him, 'If you answer all of these correctly, I'll treat you to four bowls of ramen.'
That made Naruto all the more determined to pass.
Naruto looked at the second question for a good twenty minutes, not realising that half the time had already passed by. He didn't panic, though.
Naruto remembered Kakashi tell him the answer to the second question.
A shinobi fights for the good of a mission and to protect the ones they love.
Naruto put that answer down on the paper, smiling to himself before looking to the first question, the only question left on the paper. Naruto scanned it thoroughly.
'What is the code of a shinobi?' Naruto asked himself, scratching him temple.
Naruto pondered the question, with a certain scarred chuunin at his student's attempt to solve it. The blonde youth concentrated on the question for a while.
'Naruto, if you can't answer the first question, you might as well quit.'
Naruto snapped himself open and looked at his teacher. He glared.
But he didn't answer Iruka or retort his instructor, he just kept silent.
'The code of a shinobi is to follow the mission to the end and remain true to his village, but what is the purpose of the code?' Naruto questioned himself.
We have nukenins out there, Naruto. That is what we want to avoid. Only as a village and under the code of a ninja can we be strong. That is why we have the Shinobi Code to fulfil our mission and remain true to our village and comrades.
Naruto's eyes snapped open again, remembering those words from Kakashi and hurriedly scribbling them down. Satisfied, he turned it in to Iruka.
Iruka's eyes widened at the answers that Naruto had given him.
Just like Hokage-sama said, he is one in a million, Iruka thought.
Iruka looked to his blonde student, who was staring at his feet.
'You pass the first stage of the exam, Naruto.' Iruka said out of pride and relief.
Naruto shook his fist at himself, happy and content with his result.
'On to the second stage of the exam, follow me please, Naruto.' Iruka continued.
Naruto followed Iruka out of the room and building and to the nearby woods.
'Fight me, Naruto. If you can hit me ten times before I hit you ten times, you will pass the exam. If not, you fail and have to repeat the academy.' Iruka said.
'What!' Naruto exclaimed, staring at his scarred instructor with wide eyes, 'But Iruka-sensei, you're a chuunin! I'm only an academy student. You're a shinobi!'
'Don't worry about that, Naruto. I heard from Kakashi that you're as good as him even without the Sharingan. So you can at least face me in one-on-one.'
Naruto cursed under his breath. It was true that he was almost as good as Kakashi, but Kakashi had never used his Chidori in a spar against him.
'Alright, Naruto!' Iruka got into a normal fighting stance, ready for an attack.
'Katon: Goukakyuu no Jutsu!' Naruto shouted as breathed out a ball of fire.
'What in the world!' Iruka stared at Naruto's technique and barely dodged it to the left, singing some of his chuunin uniform and turned to Naruto, 'Naruto, what are you doing with that Ninjutsu! You could have killed me!'
'Eh? No Ninjutsu allowed?' Naruto asked his instructor, who didn't answer.
'Use as much as you want, but you a hit only counts if you make a direct hit to me and I didn't manage to block it. Ninjutsu damage doesn't count.'
From a window in the classroom that showed the outside, Kiba saw what was going on. He knew that Naruto was skilled, but certainly not that skilled.
'My turn, Naruto. Katon: Housenka no Jutsu!' Iruka called out, making a few hand seals and unleashing a barrage of fireballs at his student.
Naruto dodged the barrage of flames, only to be met by a swift kick from Iruka.
Upon hitting Naruto, he turned into a log, making Iruka's eyes widen.
'Behind you, sensei!' Naruto called out, kicking Iruka's back, making Iruka fall.
The teacher simply couldn't keep up with Naruto's techniques.
Iruka only knew two Katon; the Housenka no Jutsu and Karyuu Endan, which he avoided use at all times, except when he was full on chakra and desperate.
'Here I come, Iruka-sensei!' Naruto registered another kick to Iruka.
'Gotcha!' Iruka caught Naruto's leg and swung him to a tree.
'Kawarimi no Jutsu!' Naruto turned into a log and reappeared behind Iruka.
What! He's fast at doing hand seals, almost as fast as…
'Take this, Iruka-sensei!' Naruto registered an elbow to Iruka's stomach, making him double over in pain, before Naruto sent him into the air with another kick.
'Katon: Housenka no Jutsu!' Iruka shouted, releasing another barrage of flames.
'Suiton: Suikodan no Jutsu!' Naruto exclaimed, performing extremely fast handseals and made water from a decorative fountain outside the academy cancel out the attack, leaving Iruka vulnerable in the air to an attack.
Naruto punched Iruka hard in his chest before he landed and Iruka responded with a counter kick to Naruto's shoulder. But Naruto turned into a log again.
Naruto appeared above his chuunin instructor and delivered a blow to Iruka's head.
Naruto, you're as good as a jounin with your skills! Iruka thought.
'NARUTO, STOP!' Iruka said, clutching his ribs in pain and holding up a hand.
'Eh?' Naruto looked at his confused instructor, who was grimacing.
'Close your eyes.' Iruka said to his student, who raised an eyebrow, 'Just do it.'
Naruto did as he was told, but not letting his guard down.
He felt something was being tied around his head.
'You can open them now.' Iruka said, smiling at a confused Naruto.
Naruto saw that Iruka's forehead was bare, and felt his own forehead with his hand.
'Iruka-sensei…' Naruto looked to his teacher, his mouth a grin.
'Uzumaki Naruto, I declare you a shinobi of Konoha!' Iruka said proudly.
Naruto's eyes turned into tears as he tackled his already in pain teacher.