A/N: I apologize for the long wait; I couldn't keep the readers of my other fics waiting any longer. But Christmas break starts Tuesday, so hopefully I'll be able to update a little quicker in the next few weeks. I used the reply button to reply to all the signed reviews, but a few of the anonymous reviewers deserved recognition, so here are their replies:
Joker: That's a good idea. I'm almost sorry I didn't think of it. I don't think I'm gonna go back and put it in, but that doesn't change the fact that it's good.
M: Yeah, I didn't want to stray too far from the basic canon storyline. Yeah, the 'Neji-angst' is mostly stopped, although Neji's personality will remain pretty much the same. Don't worry; I will never lose interest in a fic. That's true; did I say something to the contrary? If I did, it was a typo. I'm not sure if I went back and did that or not, but I'll work on it from now on. If you saw a man trying to kidnap your daughter, would you worry about whether he lived or died? I wouldn't.
"Wow! That was awesome, Neji!" The five year-old's voice rang out.
Neji smirked at his brother's antics. "Eh, it's not that great. You'll be able to do the same soon enough, I'm sure."
The two had only recently started weapons training, and Naruto hadn't been able to hit his brother more than a few times, while he was covered in bruises from the impact of the blunt projectiles.
"Ok, it's your turn to dodge." Neji said, starting to collect the training tools.
"Heh, you won't even touch me this time this time; I'm gonna use my secret weapon!" Naruto exclaimed.
"Whatever you say, niisan." Neji smirked.
"Heh, take a look at those kids. So young, so naïve. They treat training like a game." A chuunin said to his friend.
"Let them have their fun. You know that's about as close to a game they'll get here in the Hyuuga family." The man told him.
The first man, who had been watching the pair practice, suddenly turned to his friend, "Hey, what do you know about the blonde boy?"
"Hmm? Not much, to tell the truth. He just showed up on Hizashi-san's doorstep about five years ago or so. Why do you ask?" The other man replied.
"Eh, no reason. Just curious." The first man shrugged.
"Ha! Told you I'd avoid all the weapons!" Naruto said excitedly as the last of the training weapons fell to the ground.
"Naruto…" Neji said slowly.
"Yeah Neji?" Naruto replied, looking at his brother.
"How did you do that? How did you stop the weapons without touching them?" Neji asked slowly.
"Oh, that? I just did what the elders have been teaching us. Push out chakra through all the points on your body. Although it is tiring, that's for sure." Naruto answered simply.
"Yes, I saw that much. But it shouldn't be possible for you to actually block a weapon with pure chakra." Neji pointed out.
"Yeah, I asked mom about that, and she said it was because of my gift. I don't know anything about it, I just do it." Naruto shrugged.
'It would take enormous amounts of chakra to do what he just did. I suppose he's right; it's thanks to his gift.' Neji thought. "That's awesome bro; I'm proud of you." Neji said.
"Yeah, soon I'll be able to beat you!" Naruto exclaimed.
"Heh, I wouldn't go that far yet." Neji smirked. 'When he blocked those weapons, I saw a red tint to his chakra; I'll have to ask mom about it later.'
Sarutobi had just finished his paperwork for the day. "Ah, I've earned a break. I'm going to walk around for a while." He told the anbu guards.
As he walked through the streets of Konoha, the older man nodded his head in contentment with the state of his village. The village had recovered quite nicely these past few years.. He would have kept going on with his walk, but a certain conversation caught his ear.
"I've never trusted the kid. First of all, he's the only person in the Hyuuga compound that isn't a Hyuuga. And if that weren't suspicious enough, he arrived around the time of the Kyuubi's attack. But I finally discovered something against him. I saw him practicing, and he used chakra to stop some kunai. Red chakra."
"So he's got a strange chakra color. I don't see why you're so excited." The other man said, doing his best to put up with his partner's behavior
"Don't you see?" The first man exclaimed, "The only time red chakra has ever been observed was during the Kyuubi attack!" Remember, Sarutobi-sama told us that the Yondaime had proved unable to destroy the demon, so he was forced to seal it inside of a baby boy. This kid is that very same boy. The Kyuubi must be biding his time until he can destroy Konoha once and for all. The boy needs to be taken care of immediately."
'Damn. I was foolish to believe that this could be kept a secret forever. I had really hoped that I wouldn't have to resort to this.' The Sandaime thought, making his way to the Hyuuga compound.
Nodding to the guards, he made his way to Naruto's soon to be former house. "Yamashita, the time has come. Somehow, one of the Hyuuga's has discovered Naruto's heritage. I have to take him to a safe place now; thank you for your help."
"I gave no help; I only took care of my son." Yamashita informed him.
Sarutobi smiled, "I wouldn't have you feel any other way. But we need to hurry…"
"Already on it." Yamashita wiped a tear from her eye; she was going to miss the little bugger. Things would certainly be less…interesting with him gone. "Naruto! There's someone here for you!" She called.
"Hmm?" Naruto walked into view, "Hey Old Man; what's up?"
"Well, Naruto, would you be interested in going on a little adventure?" The Hokage kneeled down to the blonde's level.
"An adventure? Really?" Naruto was jumping up and down in excitement. He had never been allowed outside of the compound before!
"There's just one thing: neither your mother nor anybody else you know will be coming with you." The Sandaime solemnly told the young boy.
Naruto's face fell, "I've never been away from Kaa-chan before…"
"I know, but this mission is very important to keep the village safe."
Naruto gaped at the older man, wide eyed, "A mission…just like a ninja…"
The Third chuckled, "That's right, exactly like a ninja. It's going to take a long time, but you will be able to see your friends and family sometimes."
"When do we go?" Naruto 'accepted' eagerly.
"Just as soon as you pack." Sarutobi smiled as he watched the boy rush off.
His face quickly became serious again, "You remember what to do, right?"
Yamashita nodded, "Of course. He contracted a rare form of pneumonia. He had to be rushed to a warm, dry climate immediately, or risk permanent disability or even death."
"Perfect. You realize I wouldn't do this if it weren't absolutely necessary."
"I know, but that doesn't make it any easier."
"I'm sorry to put you through this all over again." The older man put a hand on her shoulder.
Yamashita smiled, "Yes, but a temporary separation is far better than a permanent one. I'm just not sure how he will handle being away from home for the first time…"
"I'm sure he'll adapt wonderfully; it's in his blood. As an additional benefit in this upcoming arrangement, I would trust his new guardians with my life. They may not be very good ninjas by most standards, but no one finds them when they don't want to be found. You don't go to them; they come to you." Sarutobi assured the woman.
Naruto ran to his room and packed quickly. He really didn't have all that much besides his clothes, so it wasn't hard to fit everything into a small suitcase. 'I need to tell Neji-niisan and Hinata-chan about my adventure!' He thought excitedly. He ran out to the training area; Neji was always training to further his skills. Naruto had overheard some of the elders saying something about Neji being a prodigy. He wasn't sure what that meant, but he did know he had trouble keeping up with his brother during their training sessions. Naruto could hardly land a punch on Naji-niisan anymore; he was really good at that eye-thingy everyone else had. He found his brother throwing kunai at the practice targets. "Neji-niisan, guess what!" Naruto said animatedly.
"Can it wait till after my training session?" Neji asked, already knowing the answer.
"Nope, 'cause I might be gone by then." Naruto replied.
"Really?" Neji was interested; he couldn't recall a time when Naruto had been allowed out of the compound.
"Yep, I'm going on an adventure away from everybody. Old Man Hokage told me so."
"Do you know how long?" Neji pressed.
Naruto scrunched his face in thought for a minute, "A long time." He said, proud that he had remembered.
Neji nodded, "Good luck." He said, holding out his hand.
"Thanks, niisan." Naruto shook his brother's hand, and then he was off to find his next target.
"Hmm, I bet she's in the gardens…" Naruto muttered. "She always seems to be there…probably something to do with the butterflies."
"Hinata! Are you in there?" Naruto yelled when he reached the garden entrance.
A flock of butterflies scattered at the sudden noise. The young Hyuuga heir appeared in their wake. "Oh, hello, Naruto." She turned and greeted him shyly.
"Sorry about scaring away the butterflies." Naruto apologized.
"It's okay; they'll come back." Hinata replied.
"I don't know how you do it; they always fly off whenever I get close." Naruto shrugged.
"Maybe…maybe I can help you sometime?" Hinata suggested.
"That'd be awesome!" Naruto exclaimed before his face fell, "But I don't know when we'll be able to do it. I'm going away on a mission for a long time." He explained.
"That's okay; we can do it whenever you get back." Hinata said.
"Thanks Hinata, I'll hold you to that."
"Ok…Naruto?" Hinata questioned hesitantly, "Do you have time to come see my sister?"
"Sure, why not?" Naruto shrugged.
"I thought you might've had to go now-" Hinata poked her fingers together.
Naruto grabbed her hand, tugging at it, "Silly, you're not supposed to answer those questions. They're ret-or-ic-al." Naruto explained, sounding out the strange word, "Come on; let's go see your sister!" He insisted.
"Okay, she's this way." Hinata shyly led her excitable cousin to the small (by Hyuuga standards) room her mother was staying in until she fully recovered from the delivery.
"Kaa-chan, is it alright if we come in to see oneechan?" Hinata asked from the doorway.
"Of course, Hinata-chan. Just make sure to keep it down; I just got Hanabi-chan to go to sleep. Greetings, Naruto-kun, how are you today?" The young woman greeted the blonde child when he entered.
"I'm going on-!" Naruto started.
"Shh." Hinata's mother put her finger to her lips, pointing at the newborn.
"Oh, right," Naruto whispered, "I'm going on a mission."
"Really?" Hinata's mom whispered back, "What's it about?"
Naruto leaned in closer, "It's a secret." He told her, nodding his head to emphasize his point.
"Naruto!" The Thirds voice interrupted their conversation. "We need to get going now."
Naruto turned to the woman next to him, "Bye Aunt Shizuka. Bye Hanabi." He turned to the pale-eyed girl at his side, "Bye Hinata. Make sure you train to get strong while I'm on my mission. I want to see how much you've improved when I come back. You've got to be strong if you're going to lead the Clan when you grow up." Naruto whisper seriously. He tiptoed out of the room to go to the Sandaime. Come on Naruto, I have some-"
"Shh." Naruto put his finger to his lips, "The baby is sleeping" Naruto reproached the elderly man.
"Oh," Sarutobi whispered in response, "I guess we'd best be quiet then, eh?" The Hokage tiptoed down the hall next to the small boy.
Hiashi saw the pair walk past his office door, 'I don't even want to know.' He thought, shaking his head and getting back to his paperwork.
Naruto started; he couldn't believe he'd nearly forgotten! "I'll be right back." Naruto whispered to the Old Man before running off as fast as his legs could carry him. He stopped in front of a small memorial in the gardens. "I'm gonna make you proud, otou-san, you'll see. I'm gonna become the strongest ninja there ever was. Then no one will ever have to lose his father because of the threat of war. No one will risk war with the strongest village. And Neji-niisan won't have to have that cursed seal either. I'd like to see those dumb old elders try and stop me from removing it!" Naruto was getting quite worked up, but he quickly calmed down, "Goodbye, father…"
"Naruto, it'll be a lot quicker if I carry you." The Hokage said, glancing around, "Why don't you hop on my back."
"Okay!" Naruto agreed excitedly.
"Hang on tight; we're gonna be moving quickly and through a lot of trees." The Sandaime told the child.
Naruto nodded and tightened his grip around the man's neck.
"So, any idea what the Old Man wants?" A wiry teenager relaxed on a tree branch, snacking on one of the many edible fruits that could be found in the area.
"Not really; he just said that something had happened in the village that required our services." A girl appeared by his side.
"He's nearly here." The boy commented.
"Yep, should be here in about a minute and a half." The girl replied.
"I'm thinking more like two minutes. He's gettin' slower in his old age." The boy countered.
"We'll see." The girl smiled.
(1 minute and 37 seconds later)
"We're here; now if we wait for a few seconds…" Sarutobi let Naruto down from his perch on his back.
"Ha, I win." A feminine voice drifted into the clearing, its owner following shortly thereafter.
"You know I can't judge distances." The boy argued.
"But I still win." She teased.
"As usual." He conceded.
"Yay!" The girl laughed.
"Believe it or not, the pair you see before you are ninjas. Naruto, I'd like to introduce you to Kazuki," The boy waved, "and Moriko." The girl smiled kindly at the small child. "Kazuki, Moriko, this is Naruto." The small blonde stared at the pair in front of him.
"Are you really ninjas?" He asked excitedly.
"Of course, we are…the Hidden Harbor ninjas!" Kazuki said with a flair.
"Never heard of 'em." Naruto replied
"That just proves how well-hidden we are." Kazuki bragged.
Moriko just rolled her eyes at Kazuki's antics.
"So what's my mission?" Naruto asked, unable to wait any longer.
"Mission?" Kazuki and Moriko raised their brows at the Sandaime. "Please, do tell."
"Heh, this is it. You're going to stay with these two for a while, training the entire time, of course." Sarutobi explained.
"Will they help me get stronger?" Naruto asked.
"Whoa! Wait just one minute! We're going to be taking care of a little kid?" Kazuki was shocked, to say the least.
"Hey! You're not that big yourself!" Naruto countered.
"He has a point…" Moriko mused, doing her best to hide a smile.
"Hey! You're supposed to be on my side!" Kazuki exclaimed.
Moriko shrugged, "He does." She insisted.
"Just think of it as training for you as well." The Hokage interjected.
The teens blushed, "We're not thinking about anything like that right now!" They protested in unison.
"Whether you are or not does nothing to change the importance of this mission. I hate to have to ask this of you, but I can't think of anyone better suited for the job." The Sandaime said.
"Yeah, you're probably right about that part." Kazuki agreed.
"Humility…" Moriko warned.
"Sorry." Kazuki quickly apologized, "So, what do you think?" He asked.
"Do you have to ask?" Moriko responded.
"No, but you can never be too sure." Kazuki smiled, "We accept. Not like we really have any choice." He mumbled.
"I'm glad you understand. Well, Naruto, I'm going to leave you three to get to know each other; I need to get back to the village. You know, Hokage stuff." The Sandaime bowed, leaving the three in a puff of smoke.
"Showoff…" Kazuki muttered.
A/N: Hmm…I think that's good for this chapter. I think the next chapter will explain more about these newcomers. Feel free to ask any questions you might have.