Chapter updated 2010. I don't own Naruto.
Brothers of the Sand
Chapter 1 Secrets
A single clawed paw ripped the earth creating a deep crevice in an attempt to keep balance. Screams echoed through the woods as several shinobi shouted their last breaths of pain before another strike of lightening landed on them. Kyuubi, the nine-tailed fox-demon, growled forcing several teams of ninja to fall under the pressure of killing lust.
"Ignore it, move your asses!" One of the elite ninja titled jounin led several surviving shinobi through the forest to move closer to one of the forty-foot paws of the demon.
"Aim for the ankle joint!" Every ninja performed their strongest technique for the lone purpose of slowing the monster down. The growl hundreds of feet above them turned to a snarl and torrents of water appeared from behind the jounin team. The still living members of the advanced tactical unit forced themselves to stand. Far in the distance they heard someone shout. "The Fourth Hokage has arrived!" Immediately the sound for retreat was heard by an echoing horn.
Several teams cheered and immediately moved towards the fall back point. The forest exploded in clouds of dense spiritual energy behind the retreating mass of troops. A giant red frog stood in front of the fox. On top of the leader of the Frog Clan, a blonde man in a white jacket held his hands together in a hand signal for bird. "Almost there Gama-bunta!" The red frog grunted in response. "There! I collected enough chakra. Summoning technique: Army of the Toad Sage" Several clouds of dense chakra surrounded the Demon Fox. The clouds cleared with a frog each brandishing a weapon. Every frog was as large as Gama-bunta but none were the same size of the fox they surrounded.
The Hokage relaxed his hands. "Pin the kyuubi." There was a battle roar from the seven frogs. Each charged the fox. Several used their weapons to pin the demons' tails while others focused on his legs and neck. Minato looked at his hands before they clasped together in a prayer. "Gama-bunta lend me your chakra. I have no more." Gamabunta closed his eyes and focused his spiritual energy into Minato.
The Hokage let the world drop away from him. Black space surrounded him. The mask of the death god who took souls to the after life stood in front of him. His mask was white permanently etched into a snarling mouth and furrowed eyes. You beg for death human?
"I beg for my death so the lives of my people may be spared. I beg you to seal away the power of the Kyuubi in exchange for my life."
The white tattered robes of the death god moved around Minato. The lives taken must be balanced with the lives given into your world. A new life must be brought into your world. Now... Name the child…"
Minato paused for a moment. "A child must hold the Kyuubi's power?"
The village leader knew every family who would have a child. He would bless them after they were born for their new lives. The Hokage's heart clenched at the idea of anyone's child holding such a burden. Finally he thought of his own son that would not be born for another few weeks. "Naruto, my son Naruto!"
Feel the soul of the Kyuubi, Hokage of the Leaf Village. Force it to your will.
Minato felt the world surround him again. Quietly to himself he muttered. "I hope everyone can forgive me." Gama-bunta felt Minato tap his head. The Toad leader quickly jumped onto the back of the Kyuubi. The frog pulled out a knife stabbing the fox before Minato dove into the gaping wound.
Mold the kyuubi into the shape you want. Minato smiled thinking of his wife and unborn son. Moments later, the village leader was no more. The body of the fox faded into red light.
In the village a woman named Kushina felt her abdomen. She cried in pain before screaming out to her husband's pupil. "Kakashi, the baby's coming!" The silver-haired teen quickly shouted to near by civilians to help move her inside the nearest building. An hour later Kakashi was holding a baby. Kakashi's scared eye examined the baby. Outside cheers were heard for the defeat of the demon that had come close to attacking their village.
"Kushina did not survive the birth?" An old man walked into the room. He looked over to the figure covered in a bed sheet.
"The baby was born a month early. It is a miracle that it is still alive. But this concerns me Sarutobi-sama."
"You don't need to call me master, Kakashi I am no longer Hokage. What is it?" Sarutobi looked at the tattoo like spiral on the belly of the new born. "It is a seal of some kind. It likely forced the birth." Sarutobi placed a gentle hand over the baby and channeled a small amount of chakra into the boy. Red energy pressed back out lashing at the old man's hand. "I see… You were right to send someone for me. This was not a natural birth. It is a side effect of what ever Minato did to the fox. The chakra that pushed me away is the demon's energy."
Kakashi looked at the markings on the baby again. "It is a seal. The baby is a self sacrifice container."
The joy the country side felt of the apparent death of the demon passed quickly at the discovery of both Hokage and his wife's death. Many of the witnesses to Kushina's death and the birth of her child took the baby to be an ill omen. When it was discovered the child held within him the demon that killed so many people, grief turned to anger at the demon and fear of the boy. Sarutobi took the mantle of village leader once again. As Hokage, he placed an order punishable by death. No one will tell the true circumstances of Naruto Uzumaki's birth. No one will harm the child. No one will speak of the Kyuubi or his relation to the new born.
The resentment of the new laws built as the boy grew. While the common folk of the village could not disobey the laws, they could still make the child's life difficult.
And his life was difficult.
The Hokage was assaulted by protests and threats that the villagers who owned businesses. They would rather leave than live in a village that would allow such an abomination to live among them. By the time Naruto was one year old, A council of commerce representatives was formed into a Konoha commerce union. With their combined power to agree to leave and cripple Konoha's lively hood, they demanded that the boy should be removed from the village.
Sarutobi created a compromise. The boy would receive minimal help from the Konoha military, and in exchange the commerce union would stay, and leave the boy alone. Unfortunately Sarutobi set a precedent for the commerce's council to make decisions they would never before be allowed to make.
Six years passed and Naruto had grown into a determined child. It had been a year since he had lived with out the aid of an over seer but to a child, a year is a life time. The blonde head bounced from the teacher to the clock. He fidgeted with his goggles around his neck. It was almost four in the afternoon and school was almost out. The bell rang and he cheered with the rest of the class. He did not see the little girl three rows behind him looking at him run out the door. Her face flushed at loosing another chance to speak with him. He ran around a group of kids who would normally try and bully him. Today was supposed to be a festival day and Naruto wanted to see what was the big deal.
He ran tugging at his orange shirt since it was itchy when it got hot. Naruto left the school yard and cleared around the corner and slowed to a stop. Several adults were in his path. Each one dropped the smile from their child and placed their children behind them protectively. Naruto felt the warning roll off the adults before they turned the other way.
Naruto moved through town to look at the festival that had started that morning. The park was too full of people that Naruto knew did not like him so it was avoided in favor of the free food samples being handed out in the galley. He did not know what it was that he felt a lot more welcoming to this place. Many of the adults smiled at him and treated him like a good boy when he politely asked for something to try. Other children moved around him when they asked for a sample as well. Naruto felt he had a pleasant time when the sun set. He had found a few rows of stands that sold clothes and trinkets and they all talked to him about their trade.
Uzumaki realized through one conversation with a jewel crafter that everyone he talked to were not from Konoha. The boy looked around and noticed that several of the villagers who were shopping would see the boy and avoid the store he was in. Naruto felt it was time to go home.
A pot of boiling water sat on the stove and a pan of cooking oil was sizzling three small slices of pork. Naruto felt despite the revelation that it was nicer outside his town he liked his home. He had the nice old man that gave him his goggles and put him into the ninja school, the ramen stand owner and his daughter, and the attention of his class when he prank the teachers. When he did something, they all looked at him. It was nice to be noticed.
Naruto talked quietly to himself inventing a story of the noodle bowl that will eat its slave pork. After a roar and cry he put in the pork into the pot of boiling noodles. He added three mixes of powder donated by the nice man at the ramen shop that makes him a free bowl of ramen if he helped clean some pots.
He hopped off the tall stool in front of the stove and climbed onto another one to get his plate and cup. Several hops between the stool in front of the stove and the dinning room table that he found abandoned in a garbage bin finished his story with dinner ready to be eaten. "Itadakimasu!"
Naruto had one mouth full of noodles in his mouth when he heard something explode in the kitchen. "The stove!" Naruto saw that while he turned off the stove, he cloths must have pulled on the knob when he jumped off the stool when he was about to eat. The knob was on the floor and the gas was blowing at full blast in a jet of fire.
Naruto looked around realizing there was no way that was the cause of the explosion he heard. The child quickly grabbed a pot from the lowest shelf on the floor and started filling it with water. Another explosion rumbled in the kitchen and Naruto saw the doors high above the stove break apart with a can of cleaner slamming against the opposite walls.
With great effort carried the pot full of water to the stove splashing half of the contents on the counter top before he finally dumped the water on to the stove extinguishing the flame but still the gas was still being released into the room. Naruto dug around for the knob to the stove and quickly mashed it against the metal stub that the knob belonged to. Finally he put it on correctly and turned off the gas. Naruto sighed and slid to the wet ground. A great disaster was avoided.
Naruto cleaned up the water and opened the windows and the front door to his apartment to air out his home. When he was done he finally sat down and ate his cold meal. "That was a lot of excitement for one night." He cheered to himself. Half way through the meal, he heard the start of the fireworks for the festival. He moved his sleeping mat to the open window with his blankets and huddled there watching the fire works in the sky and quietly fell asleep.
Late in the evening the hiss of a gas leak was muffled by the closed doors and water that has seeped into the cracks within the walls. An hour passed where the kitchen slowly built an enormous amount of fuel. Finally it bled out of the kitchen through the gaps in the doors and caught the draft out the outside air. The disaster that occurred in the next moment started with a candle Naruto lit, that rested on the window sill in a glass vase to protect it from the wind.
Naruto woke up with no ability to hear what was going on around him. He just knows a large bang woke him up. He was blinded by the heat and smoke billowed out of the windows in stood in front of. He screamed a soundless scream before trying to find the bucket he had still full of water.
Below the building, people walking home noticed the light. Several thought to call for help before they remembered who lived in that apartment. Many chose to watch, content to see the building burn with the screams still sounding from in the apartment. Some appeared to be smiling, some looked relieved. No one wanted to help the child.
Deep within the boy two red eyes opened. The eyes felt the heat from beyond the boys' body. He closed his eyes and sneered. The child would live, someone was watching over him.
Inside the house, the fire was closing around the little boy before a man appeared next to Naruto. He moved his chakra filled arm to the side and the fire swept into nonexistence. He looked at the boy ensuring the fire did not harm him too badly. Naruto was breathing but faintly. The adult picked him up and walked to the window and jumped to the ground.
There was a group of adults who looked at the apartment window where they saw fire. The adults looked at the blonde boy who was unconscious. A few of the adults gave a guilty flinch at seeing the boy. "Clear out before I report you are obstructing a potential crime scene." The crowd of onlookers could only stare at the cold grey eyes behind the ANBU mask. The adults turned away.
ANBU stood outside the apartment and observed burned remains of the main room. The floor was too weak to support their weight and would collapse if more weight was placed on it. The old man sighed at the sight. Naruto lay resting on a stretcher with two ANBU that had their masks off. They were both healers.
"He is so young."
"He is. I am sure he will be alright." The medic ninja nodded at the ANBU soldier that rescued Naruto.
The ANBU leader nodded and turned away to talk to his men.
- o -
Naruto opened his eyes and found himself inside a large office. He lay on a plush couch. He coughed a little still tasting the smoke in his lungs. He sat up and stretched. "I am glad you are looking well."
The boy looked up and saw an old man standing next to him. He wore a simple white robe and had no hat or even headband showing he was a ninja. "How are you feeling Naruto?"
The child shook his head still disorientated, "What happened?"
The Sandaime sat in front of the boy who was still seated on the couch. "The kitchen stove in your apartment was very old. The gas line in the stove had bulged. The line seemed to have melted some how creating a large pocket of gas just near the mouth of the line.
Naruto guiltily told his story of the fire the night before. "I am sorry old man. I didn't mean to blow up the nice home you gave me."
The Sandaime Hokage gently rubbed the child's back. "Well this leads to a slight problem as to where I am going to place you."
Naruto thought for a second before he remembered his time at the festival. "Can I go somewhere out of Konoha until my apartment is fixed?"
"Is there something wrong Naruto?"
Naruto thought about what he remembered feeling like at the festival. "I met people I never saw at the festival. They were all nice. I felt special… Normal. I want to feel that again." Naruto lowered his head.
"There is something else Naruto… What is it?" Naruto mumbled a few words, but the Hokage was able to understand their meaning. "You saw the people do nothing to help you." Naruto nodded as his eyes began to tear.
"You have lived through a very trying experience. I am sorry I have failed you Naruto." Naruto began to sob and hugged his old man. The boy's small body trembled in the Hokage's mans arms. The old man looked at the boy and placed a warm hand on Naruto's shoulder. After a few seconds Naruto's body stopped shaking. Naruto lowered his legs and looked at the old man. The Hokage rubbed his eyes. It pained him so to see this child suffer. The blonde haired boy looked at him confusion written on his face. The Hokage looked at the boy and handed him some tea. The boy took it and sipped slowly. The tea allowed him to do something while the Hokage started. "I suppose now is as good of a time to explain some things of this village. It started with the demon fox Kyuubi who attacked our village six years ago…"
The old man explained to the boy the reason why he was hated, ignored and the old mans' own disappointment in his village. Naruto sobbed out the years of leering, jokes and loneliness he had held and latched onto the old man. He understood now why he was hated. The old man had talked to him long and hard for the whole day of what he is and is not, what the village thinks he was and was not, and what Naruto will become and will never be.
It was night fall when Naruto fell asleep. He was too exhausted to eat much, and went straight to sleep. The Sandaime glanced down at the sleeping boy and sighed. The council was already demanding a meeting for the damages and the punishment on the boy for the apartment building. The Hokage gritted his teeth.
"Hokage-sama" A jounin appeared behind the Kage. He was kneeling deeply and had one hand on the floor in submission to his superior.
The old man turned to the Nin and motioned for the man to stand. "Stand, what news do you have from the Sand Village?"
"The Kazekage read your letter and immediately replied. His reaction was that of confusion and concern Hokage-sama." He bowed his head and handed the village leader the scroll.
I understand your need to protect the village child. If you feel that you can part with him for several years, we of the Suna village will be willing to over see the child's safety. Be warned, I would not lie to my people over the identity of the child. He may have a harder time here. If the boy, Uzumaki Naruto is willing, he may request to return to your village at any time. I would be happy to have the boy claim asylum in the Suna Village.
The Third looked at the rest of the message. The letter was more wordy messages of cooperation between the two nations. He nodded at the rest of the letter, slightly thankful that the Kazekage would be willing to look after the boy. The old man was positive the boy needed something different in his life. If he could give the boy protection and still have Naruto receive a fresh start, he was willing to try.
"Speak of this mission to no one. You are dismissed." The Jounin saluted and disappeared.
The first thing Naruto felt was his stomach grumbling. His face was scrunched and he slowly opened his eyes. He saw something colorful in front of him and smiled that it was orange. He sat up and looked around. He was no longer in the office like last time. He had slept on a real bed. It was getting dark outside, and Naruto wondered if he slept for a whole day. It would be the first time the hyper boy would have slept past noon. He moved his neck and it popped, at which point he said "Owwwww…" Naruto looked at the clothes and smiled widely.
Naruto admired the new orange shirt and the black pants. he loved the pants as much as the shirt. The seam had a thin orange strip run along its length. He ran to the bathroom and bathed not thinking that he was intruding on anyone since the bathroom connected only to the room he had slept in. He slipped on the new clothes and smiled widely. He felt a weight lifted off his shoulders and a new one placed on. He was the prison for the demon fox Kyuubi that had attacked the village on the day he was born. The Fourth Hokage sacrificed his life to seal the demon away for ever, and he happened to be the object that the fox was sealed into.
The boy laughed at the idea that he was a hero to the old man. He didn't do anything and he knew he was not great. But the old man appreciated him in a way no one has before. Naruto thought the loosing of his safe place worth while to have gained the respect of the Hokage of the village.
He ran out of the bath room and out of the bed room and through the mansion. It was larger than the apartment complex that he had lived in and all the rooms were connected to hall ways instead of out door passages. He giggled when he slid on the shiny wooden floor and hit a wall. He rubbed his head and laughed again when he found railing that went down two floors and proceeded to slide down it.
Naruto was having the time of his life, and he did it thinking that life will get better now that he has an old man as a friend.
At the same time on the other side of the village a small girl sat on an abandoned door step. She had been crying none stop for the past few days. The boy she admired had disappeared. She learned later that his apartment was caught on fire and people tried to kill him. What scared her most were the cold stares she received when asking about the boy named Naruto. She finally couldn't stand it when she gathered the courage to ask her father. He snapped at her to not worry about things that did not concern her and to concentrate on her training. She was lagging behind her cousin.
Hinata was forced to ignore her feelings until the end of practice. But as soon as it was over she fled the Hyuuga compound. She couldn't stand the cold look her father gave her. Hinata finally lost hope in finding out what had happened to the boy she had always watched in class. The class clown.
"Who is there?" asked a harsh voice. Hinata gasped and looked up to see a scowling black haired boy staring down at here. "This is the Uchiha Clan's home, you shouldn't be here."
Hinata looked at him and started to cry again. Uchiha Sasuke looked at the girl in confusion. He stood their waiting for the girl to walk away. When Hinata finally slowed her crying she glared at the boy. "You are just like them too aren't you! You don't even care he is gone." She stood up and started to hit the slightly taller boy. She was crying again and Sasuke softened his gaze at her. He knew what it was like to cry like that. He spoke when she slowed down and just concentrated on crying.
"What are you talking about?"
Hinata just shook her head. "Naruto! He is in our class you never noticed he has been gone the past few days?" Sasuke looked at her in between disgust and shock.
"He probably just dropped out, or at least skipped class."
Hinata shook her head again. She did not want to think about it but said, "His home was burned three days ago! I don't even know if he is alive!" Sasuke let his arms drop to his sides and looked at her in shock.
"That can't… someone would have said something…"
"NO! I tried to ask! All I get are people who hate him. I can't find anyone who cares!" Hinata was just huddled on the ground. She sniffed loudly. Sasuke sighed. He had no idea why he would want to help this girl, but he remembered his own family who had died over a year ago. He ignored the righteous anger and concentrated on the pain of his classmate.
Sasuke replayed what she just said and was confused. Why would anyone hate the prankster enough to try and kill him. Did they kill him? "Let's go see the Hokage." Sasuke said confidently.
"Now?" The Hyuuga sniffed.
"Come on, I don't think he would have left his office yet, we can catch him if we hurry." Sasuke grabbed the girls hand and began to run dragging her until she was able to keep up. Hinata looked at the boy and smiled her thanks. They would find out what happened to Naruto now.
The two children made their way across town moving as fast as they could. The most direct route was through the shopping arcade which was unfortunately busy this time of evening. Hinata tucked her head down ignoring questions being asked towards them when they ran by. When they finally made it through the main street, it was getting late and adults looked at the two curiously. Hinata and Sasuke slowed and panted when they could see the entrance to the Hokage Tower. Sasuke nodded to Hinata and they both walked to the entrance. A single ANBU stood at the door and his mask lowered slightly to the two children. The man made them both shiver. Hinata looked at Sasuke helplessly.
Sasuke gave silent sigh. "Excuse me?" The ANBU wore a mask of a bird. Behind the mask the ANBU looked at the two suspiciously. "We wanted to know if we could see the Sandaime Hokage."
The ANBU raised his eyebrows, surprised that children would want to see the Hokage at this hour. He looked at the darkening sky. No one would try and seek the Hokage at this hour. "I am sorry he has already left for the night."
Both children looked down at this. They then turned each other and back up to the man. "Can you tell us anything about Naruto? He has been gone for a few days."
The man smiled at the two kids. The kids just earned his respect. "I am sorry but I do not have any information I can give you about any child."
Sasuke raised his eyebrow but nodded and dragged Hinata away. The girl was ready to ask another question. She was scared of the masked man at first but had been slowly building the courage to ask him something. She squeaked when the Uchiha grabbed her elbow and pulled her away. Sasuke looked over his shoulder. "Thank you for your time, we will come back tomorrow."
Hinata was still huffing indignantly when Sasuke let her go. When she turned to yell at him he placed a finger over her lips. She ignored the tingling sensation from the touch. The Hyuuga heiress rarely had physical contact others, the most would be the hits from her father or cousin during practice.
"The ANBU guy gave us a few clues Hinata-san." Hinata slowly nodded for him to continue, she lost all of the anger she had and Sasuke lowered his finger that had silenced her. "He said he does not 'have information he can give any child'. He knows what's going on but he can't tell us. If it isn't information that is days old, that means Naruto should be alive. We are just not allowed to see him. Another big one is that if the Hokage was gone, why is he still guarding the door? There must be some meeting or something that he turned us away for."
Hinata nodded feeling better by the minute. "I can try again tomorrow then. I will go right after scho- No, I can't. Father wants me to train as soon as I get home." Hinata felt like crying again.
"I can do it, but it would be better if we do it during the day."
Hinata gasped, "Yo-you mean skip class?" Her voice was filled with fear and her hands covered her mouth. "I don't know if I can do that. My father would surely…"
Sasuke looked at her. "Do you want to know what happened to the brat or not?" Hinata looked at the ground and nodded. She looked back at him. Her eyes and mouth firmed into determination.
"It can't be that bad if Naruto and those other boys skip out all the time."
Sasuke actually laughed at the expression, it did not look natural on her. "That's better. Let's meet up after the third class right before lunch. No one will miss us then." Sasuke shivered as he said it. Some where two girls sneezed.
Hinata nodded. "Thank you for helping me, I don't know what I would do if I…" Hinata choked back another sob and wiped away the non-existent tear.
"We will find out what happened. Get going, if you are as worried about your father as I think you are. It's late."
Hinata eep'ed and ran home waving back to him. Sasuke looked at the girl and let the corners of his mouth turn upwards. He sighed. It felt good to do something other than wallow about his brother. He turned towards the main streets. He had some questions he needed answered about the attack on Naruto. The sobs of the Hyuuga girl on his porch were still fresh in his mind.
It was with little effort and questions that he found himself in front of a burned complex. The place was cornered off from others to enter. Sasuke looked at the area and saw this street was more of a dirt alley. The only apartment that had an entrance at all was the one with the scorch marks. Sasuke looked over his shoulder to where he came from. Like any Uchiha, Sasuke considered himself a genius among geniuses. Even if he had grown into adulthood with the clan alive and well, he would not see how his view would be seen as arrogance all. He shook his head at the people of the village. They really wanted to appease the Uchiha. He had wondered at their condescending tone about Naruto. The village seemed to open up to him who hated it, and close to Naruto who wanted it. Sasuke turned from the villagers who were blocks away and back to the complex.
The real damage was the single apartment. Sasuke jumped over the fenced off entrance and over the steps to the second level. The door was locked. He looked at how close the buildings were and took a step back before breathing to keep his nerves steady. He ran and jumped off the stairs and planted his feet in a dead run on the side of the nearest building. He kept running while trying to keep his arms balancing himself. When he thought he was close enough to the next building he jumped again and smiled when the hole from the fire was within jumping distance. He ran several more steps against the second building's wall and flew inside the burnt apartment. His feet slipped when he made contact with the floor and he fell in an unceremonious thump.
Sasuke sighed while not bothering to get up immediately. He was not as agile as he wanted to be but was surprised that he was able to get himself inside with out scaling up walls. He sat up and dusted himself off. At the first step the floor creaked. HE looked at the floor witheringly. He stepped towards the center and felt the floor buckle slightly. When nothing appeared ready to collapse, he proceeded to move around the apart, albeit slowly and carefully. The Uchiha looked around the living room and saw several pots on the ground. One had water in it still. He knelt and touched the soot on the ground, it was still sludge like. "The idiot knew there was a fire, he tried to put it out…"
Sasuke entered the kitchen and saw that most of it was covered in smoky residue. The brat could have easily left. Sasuke thought about it a second and shook his head. The door opened to a passage that went back down to the front where what ever started the fire.
"He couldn't leave. Not by the front door at least." Sasuke looked through the house and saw that it was very clean. The only trash he found that was not in the trashcan was the instant ramen cups next to the bed mat in the next room. He saw no other doors or windows. "This is a really small apartment." Sasuke said to himself. He never lived in something this small before and wondered how anyone would be able to and not feel scared of such closed spaces. He looked at the bed room and snorted at the orange clothes. When he made a full circle around the apartment Sasuke nodded to himself. "He must have been on his own longer than I have." Sasuke had not had much contact with the other boy, but knew that he was loud and a prankster. Sasuke smiled slightly. Naruto was probably as lonely as he was.
He went back to the front room where the fire started. He touched the wall and the window sills that were still in tact. He followed the black marks and noticed that the explosion started from the kitchen, but the fire started from the burns near where a window was supposed to be. "That fire didn't come from a jutsu. So at least it wasn't a ninja who tried to start the fire." Sasuke concentrated hard on the scene to find something he was missing. His eyes felt as if they refocused and he looked around the room again carefully. He saw broken glass that did not come from a window and looked at it. It was a rounded lip of glass. "A bottle?" He sniffed the glass it smelled like simple wax. "A candle."
He looked at the window and down to the ground outside. "There was a group watching. But I seen a lot of people who watch things burn after everyone got out." Sasuke finally rubbed his eyes, they were hurting him. When he looked around again, Sasuke sighed. He wouldn't find anything else for now. He walked to the front door opened it and locked it on his way out.
Before he left, Sasuke looked at the ground. The place had not been disturbed since the fire and there was no rain. Sasuke could easily see the imprints on the ground. There were dozen pairs of shoe imprints. Sasuke suddenly remembered where he stood inside the house. He walked to where the people crowded. His eyes stung while he looked for some idea of how everything happened. None of the imprints looked like they belonged to a ninja. And they were older. They had cleaner markings where soot had less time to settle on them.
Sasuke felt he just found something important before he realized, the only way these prints could have been made was during the fire. Soot would not fall on these prints until after they were made. "They all stood around to watch…." The horror in the boys' voice shook him more than the revelation did. The villagers came to watch Naruto burn. He took a step back and stumbled. His mind was numb.
"Who is there?" A man from the building behind him opened his second floor window and down to the boy. "Who are you and what are you doing?"
Sasuke had not felt so much rage until the day after his brother killed his clan. When that truth finally settled on him, he swore he would kill his brother. This rage was just as potent. Was the village worth the effort to protect if they would so readily kill their own children? Sasuke stood up and looked at the man in the window. "My name is Uchiha Sasuke." The man looked at the boy and cringed. The boys red eyes were very unsettling.
"Sorry Uchiha-san, I just did not want another disturbance like the one that Naruto boy caused when he started that fire." The man ducted into his window again and closed the blinds.
Sasuke felt the rage die in him. He looked at the window the man retreated into. Sasuke had a look of complete disgust and sadness.
Sasuke began to turn home. At the steps to the gate Sasuke looked at the collapsed portion of the apartment. With a final nod of what he needed to do in the morning, Sasuke walked away to his compound. He would find his answers tomorrow.
Naruto woke up in time for breakfast the next day. He bathed put on his cloths form last night and happily saw the old man at the bottom of the stairs waiting for him. "Hey old man!" Naruto said happily.
The Third Hokage smiled. "I am glad to see you so high in spirits. Come, during breakfast we have many things to discuss." The boy nodded happily. They two entered the large banquet hall and both sat at a corner of the smaller tables. Breakfast turned out to be beef ramen. The boy did not need any prompting and started eating immediately. The Hokage took off his hat and set it on the floor next to him. He too finally started eating. After a moment a servant entered with another bowl of ramen for the boy.
"The Ayame of Ichiraku woke up early this morning to make this for you."
Narutos' smile widened and said around a swallow, "I am going to have to thank her when I visit next time." He was through his second bowl when another servant delivered another bowl looking at the child in disbelief.
The Sandaime laughed. "I wanted to talk to you about your request Naruto." The boy slowed down and set the bowl down and wiped his face. He looked sad preparing for the worst.
The Hokage placed a warm hand on the boys shoulder. "A fellow village has agreed to over see your protection until you are ready to become a genin and properly protect yourself. When that time comes, you will be able to return. You are able to come back at any time. Remember that if you find it is not what you wanted. You do have people here waiting for you."
Naruto nodded slowly. When he looked up again he smiled. "Maybe I can make friends in this other village."
The Third smiled and nodded.
The next morning Sasuke gently passed Hinata a crumpled ball of paper while they walked past each other to their first class. Hinata sat in the corner away from the others. She had always been afraid the other children would not like her, and they always got angry when she tried to talk. She just got to nervous and would stutter. She was grateful for her nervousness for the first time in her life. There were only two other students in front of her and no one sitting next to her. She unrolled the paper and looked back and Sasuke and saw two girls who were noisy. Both sighed dreamily at Sasuke. She looked at Sasuke and couldn't help but giggle at the look of annoyance in his face. She looked back down to the letter and reread it.
Meet fifty meters south of the east gate. There is a tree that is on the outside fence of the school grounds. I'll meet you in the tree. I need to get rid of a few pests at lunch.
Hinata smiled again when the two girls started pick at each other and disturbing class. Sasuke looked at her through the corner of his eye. They both smiled slightly. The blonde girl and the pink haired girl both swooned, thinking the smile was for them. The class stopped again when they got out of hand. Hinata couldn't help but giggle again.
When the lunch bell rang, several students got out their lunches and ate there. She saw Sasuke run out the door with the two girls chasing after him. She smiled slightly at the display. She stood up silently and made for the door before anyone asked questions. Hinata never left her seat during lunch.
She walked out to the door and outside where other students were eating and chatting. She stopped near a tree that was close to where the gate was. She closed her eyes and concentrated. Byakugan She looked around to make sure no one was looking and jumped strait up and used the trees to get over the gate and ran to the tree where she would meet Sasuke. She jumped inside and squatted. She sighed when she realized she was really ditching class. She leaned against the trunk where it met the branch she sat on and waited for Sasuke.
Sasuke immediately fled for the door when the bell rang. As soon as he was out of the room he heard, "Sasuke-kun wait!" He broke into a run and headed for the stairs.
"Ino-pig! I saw him first!" Sasuke didn't need to hear the two to know they were in pursuit. He sprinted up the stairs and entered one of the classrooms which were thankfully empty. Three hand seals later a bushin was outside the door and ran around the corner as the girls made it to the second floor. "SASUKE-KUN!" Both girls cried in unison. They both broke into a run and the Uchiha breathed out relieved to have the nuisances gone. He looked at the window and smirked. He was on the south side of the school and they forest came right up to the school. He opened the window and jumped to the nearest tree. He gripped it solidly and hopped up to a higher branch. He saw the girls call his name again and he saw them run around on the third floor thinking he went to the other stair case.
"Idiots." Sasuke turned and moved from tree to tree until he found himself sharing a tree with the quiet Hyuuga. "Yo!"
"You look too nervous for your own good. Take a deep breath and let's get going. We got thirty minutes to get to Hokage Tower before the teachers notice we are gone."
"Un" Hinata nodded.
They both jumped down from the tree and sprinted towards the Tower.
"I will write old man. I promise." Naruto stood in front of the Hokage with several people Naruto had come to know over his time in Konoha. Next to the Hokage were Ayame and her father, Ichira, the owner of his favorite Ramen shop. They both smiled at him.
"Were there anyone else you wished to say good bye to Naruto?" The Sandaime asked.
Naruto looked up with half closed eyes. He thought about it for a moment before he shook his head. "No one I know real well." Sandaime nodded and two ANBU escorts helped with the child's luggage. They headed out of the office to load the wagon and see Uzumaki Naruto off to the Sand Village.
Hinata and Sasuke made it to the Tower and saw two ANBU standing over a wagon. They both stopped not sure if they would be taken back to the school with out so much as an explanation. Hinata looked at Sasuke and huffed. She grabbed him by the hand and they both marched towards the ANBU.
The ANBU themselves looked at the two kids and chuckled slightly. "Do I even want to know why two children are out of school at this time of day."
"Suzume said there were two children who wanted to know about Naruto last night."
"They have good timing." Neither one looked away from the children as they stood in front of them. "How may we help you, children of Hyuuga and Uchiha?"
Both students paused. Neither one of them were too thrilled to being identified so easily. But Hinata spoke up. "We wanted to speak with the Sandaime about Naruto." She breathed out and then added. "Please." As soon as she said it out loud she felt her shoulders slouch and her head tucked down slightly back to her normal timid self.
Both ANBU looked at each other. They worked well enough to know they were both silently laughing through their masks. "The Sandaime is in a meeting now. He should actually be coming down these steps in a few minutes. Why don't you wait here? I don't think you would get into too much trouble out here as in there." He had his thumb pointed inside the Hokage Tower. Both students nodded and moved to the side and stood waiting to speak with the Hokage.
Sasuke felt himself get nervous before he shook it off. He had a lot of questions to ask the Hokage, and if he wanted answers he needed to at least be confident or the Hokage might not take him seriously. And there was always the possibility that the Hokage didn't like Naruto. More horrid thoughts ran through his head while he waited.
Hinata shifted from one foot to the other. Her face was bright red. She had never spoken so rudely to anyone before. She antagonized how she forgot etiquette and tacked on that late please. She would already be in trouble for skipping class, if her father found out how rude she was to anyone… And this guy was an ANBU! The protectors of the village!
Both children looked up when they heard the doors open. Hinata ran through all the words she would say and lost them as soon as she saw who was walking with the old man. "Naruto!" The girl was so happy to see him she ran and gave him hug.
Hinata looked at him, gasped and let go. Her face was bright red and Sasuke humphed at the two.
"Eh? What's this?" Naruto looked at the two kids.
Hinata's face was still bright red and she moved her fingers together nervously. "W-we were worried about you when we found out about your home caught fire."
Naruto opened his eyes fully. He was completely surprised anyone in school would even care he was gone. He looked at the two and the smile he had on his face refused to budge. "Heh, sorry I worried you Hinata-chan. Sasuke right?"
Sasuke nodded. "I was curious more than worried." He looked at the boy and they both saw that the lie was more for Hinata. He smirked. "I was more worried about the girl."
Both boys grinned. Hinata simply stayed red and looked back and forth between the two boys unsure how to respond. She was saved when the Sandaime placed a reassuring hand on her shoulder.
"This is a pleasant surprise. You have caught him just as he was ready to depart."
"You're leaving!" asked Hinata. She looked at Naruto before she promptly realized she shouted the last part. "Sorry I-"
Naruto smiled widely for her. "Nothing to it. The old man and I decided it would be good for me to leave the village and visit other villages until I am ready to take the genin exam." He looked at Sasuke and the Uchiha's calculating eyes looked back.
"But that is still a few years…" Hinata protested.
"Not that long. I'll be back before you know it."
Sasuke looked to the old man and wondered what the Hokage was playing at. He looked at Naruto and nudged his head for Naruto to speak privately. Naruto nodded and moved to speak quietly with Sasuke. Hinata, being afraid to let Naruto go, followed. Sasuke looked at the girl to go away. She merely clenched her fist and stood next to Naruto.
Sasuke smirked at her and nodded before saying. "What is going on Naruto? I saw the sight where you lived." Naruto sucked in a breath of air. "I could tell what happened. Why are you leaving? If it was just because you have no home, I am not accepting it. Everyone I met has a problem with you. Why?"
Naruto looked at the ground. He was so happy moments before when he found two people his age that cared about him to look for the Hokage. Now they wanted to know information that might turn them against him. He looked at the two of them and said before he thought. "I just found out myself. And I can't tell you. It's a village secret. But think about your question and my birthday. Don't believe everything you read in history." He looked to Hinata who nodded sadly and her eyes showed signs of tearing up. Naruto then looked to Sasuke. "You saw my home and probably know what happened. You have all the clues you need to find out the secret. Just think why people would not want to help me…" Naruto stopped and felt the pain in his chest. He looked at the two and felt his heart wrench. "When you find out, send me a letter. If you want to be my friends after that or hate me, I want to find out face to face."
Naruto turned to the Hokage and nodded to him before getting into the wagon. Hinata and Sasuke looked stunned for a moment before they turned back to the strange boy with a village secret. Hinata saw the driver get in and ran to Naruto. She got one step into the wagon and gave him a hug. "We'll see you when you are ready to become a genin."
Naruto smiled back. He let his arms go around her uncomfortably. He never hugged a girl before. Naruto whispered into her ear. "Sooner if you two figure it out Hinata-chan."
Hinata jumped off before stepping next to Sasuke. Sasuke and Hinata watched the wagon pull away with Naruto waving back to the two of them enthusiastically. Sasuke thought of something, "Hey baka! Where are you going?" They would not be able to send a letter if they didn't know where he was going to live.
Naruto smiled and shouted out. "The Hidden Village of the Sand!"
Hinata waved and smiled back to the boy she cared about and grinned to the one next to her. The two would figure out Naruto's secret.
The Kazekage looked at his village and breathed in the dry heated air. His home of the sands and dunes was a gorgeous and prosperous place. Soon he would have another demon in his village's midst's. If this boy was as powerful as he thought, then he could either shape his own son through example or train the Kyuubi child to kill his son Gaara.
Isolation of the Kyuubi demon would be easy enough. The villagers were informed of the boys impending arrival and already they were weary of any of their children dieing to the foreigners hands. Better Gaara's than some monster demon fox that had lived for thousands of years.
The Kazekage looked at the scroll he held in his hand. His son killed another villager. The Kage smiled. The boy had already developed a penchant for killing anyone who is in his way. If the Kage was skillful enough he would be able to kill both his son and the Kyuubi or have them both under his control by the time the two children were Shinobi.
- - -End Chapter 1 Secrets- - -
A/N: Well this was a spur of the moment idea that kind of took off on its own. It's actually a rejected Harry Potter plot I had, but I don't see much of that plot in here anymore so oh well.
This was edited with a real opening instead of the generic opening I wrote for it when I initially released the chapter. Each chapter is more episodic with a beginning middle and end for each chapter.
April 7, 2010