by Random Writer 46
"You want me to do what, Hokage-sama?" Yamato Akira asked his liege, incredulously. He wasn't sure if he had heard right. The blonde man in front of him only clicked his tongue and tried not to sigh. He rolled his sky-blue eyes and tried to massage away the headache that he could feel was coming up.
"I think you heard me, Akira," said the Yondaime. It was the night before the battle. The Kyuubi was advancing on the Hidden Village of the Leaf, and soon it would be there. It was at this crucial time of battle that every single ninja, genin to jounin, teachers to ANBU, were prepared to lay down their lives to protect their village. But what the Yondaime had just said... It completely went against Akira's ideals! There was nop way a Hokage, the leader of their village, would be saying something like this, but he was.
"S-Sir, you're asking me to stay back while all my comrades and friends go out and risk their lives!" Akira said. "I can't just do that! They're depending on me to be there! How can I face them if I remain safe and arm behind our lines while they die fighting?"
"Listen to me, Akira," said the Yondaime. "You're the only one I can entrust with this task, and it requires you to be alive."
Akira's eyes turned sharply towards the bundle of blankets that the youngest Hokage ever held. It squirmed around a little bit, and a baby face poked out, obviously asleep. His tufts of blonde hair poked out, marking his heritage as being one of the greatest ever. Akira couldn't help but feel calm as he watched the baby roll around in his sleep.
"But, my lord, why me?" Akira asked. "There's plenty more people that you can entrust this task to. I'm neither your best soldier nor the best man to raise a child. I'm nothing special. How about Saotome Haruka? She's pretty good with children and she would really like a kid to look after, or maybe your apprentice, Kakashi-san. He can keep him safe!"
"You might think that's true, Akira." The Yondaime said. "But it's not. No... I'm asking you to leave Konoha tomorrow night." He gestured towards the bundle of blankets, "...He can't be surrounded by this village as he's growing up. Do you know what they'd do to somebody like him? A poor child, chosen from many to be the container of a demon who's power can't be measured in shinobi terms. There are those who would see him as a monster, and others that would see him as a potential weapon. Anybody that knows about his power and his status wouldn't even get close to him... No. What he needs is a peaceful existence, like any other child."
The Yondaime sighed again.
"I can't give him that, I'm afraid." The blonde Hokage said. "Either way, I'll be dead tomorrow night. I haven't even told Sarutobi about my plan yet... What I want is for nobody to know that the Kyuubi isn't dead. When I fall, right after the sealing, I want you to fake your death and take him somewhere to grow up."
He produced a few scrolls out of his robes and handed them to Akira, who looked at them, confused.
"These are scrolls containing my family techniques. When he reaches the age of seven I want you to start giving them to him on his birthdays. There are five scrolls in total, which will last until he's twelve, of enough age to take the Academy exam." The Yondaime said. "These scrolls will make sure that our family's Bloodline and fighting style will never be lost... Now, here's what you should do tomorrow night when I fall..."
Akira listened to him, reluctantly but understanding the sacrifice that the young man in front of him, four years his junior, was making for his village. The blonde ninja went on to explain what he expected of his son, and everything that he wanted Akira to teach him. His heritage could wait until he becomes chuunin, and the scrolls were to be said to come from a family friend. At the end of the explanation, Akira's head was swimming.
"...and that should be about it. Any questions?" The Yondaime asked.
"No, sir. But, maybe I should be writing this down... I might forget it later..."
"No need for that, I've already written it down in a scroll. Here it is." The blonde Hokage rummaged around in his robes for a few seconds before taking out a sky-blue scroll. The wax seal that closed it was made in the image of an Uzumaki spiral. "And once again, thank you. I know this must be asking quite a lot out of you, but please consider this a dying man's request."
Akira was touched.
"No worries, sir." The brown-haired chuunin said. "I swear on my mother's grave that I'll raise him up to be a shinobi worthy of your name! The Uzumaki name will live on, especially inside him!"
The Yondaime paused for a second, before bursting into a wide smile.
"Nothing less than I expected from you, Akira. Thanks."
But the night before the battle, something had gone wrong. The Kyuubi had attacked too early, scattering the ninjas that were assigned to defense. Many shinobi gave their lives in battle to prevent the demon from approaching Konoha, paying the ultimate sacrifice for their glorious leader, the Yondaime, to ride into battle an hour after news of the first attack. Nobody knew exactly why he had taken so long, except for himself and Yamato Akira.
Within a few short minutes, the Kyuubi hit the ground, collapsing into dust. It's form crumbled, and the shinobi wondered what exactly had just happened.
Akira ran through the forest, to where the battle between the Kyuubi and the Yondaime had just taken place. He bounded and rebounded off trees, every few seconds taking looks behind him to see if there was anybody tracking him. It was probably one of his only specialties, the ability to sense if there was anyone tracking him.
He soon arrived at the clearing where the Kyuubi had fell, and the Yondaime had given his life. There were several large footprints... proof of Gamabunta's arrival and the desctruction of Kyuubi. The trees nearby were torn to pieces... and in the center of it all, was a prone form lying face down with a bundle of blankets clutched in his hand.
Akira fought back his tears and sank down beside his best friend. It was true that the Yondaime was a genius in his own right, but he hadn't been acknowledged much in his childhood days. In fact, he had been widely regarded as a trouble-maker and a good-for-nothing... Akira had been his first friend, when he had skipped three years in the ninja academy.
But there was no time for this... He had to respect his friend's last wishes. He gently moved the arms of the dead hero off the baby that he knew to be sleeping inside the blankets, and picked it up. The child had been awake the entire time, Akira realized. He was staring at him with an expression of sadness and dried tears running down his face, and Akira knew that even the boy had sensed the passing of his father.
On his belly was a spiral seal... One of the Yondaime's own inventions.
Suddenly he heard voices in the woods, and swore quietly. There seemed to be a lot of them, and soon they would be here. If they found him and the baby, they would demand to know what he was doing here, and then he would have no choice but to reveal the truth, therefore going against the wishes of a dead man. That wasn't something he could just do.
His hand started flipping through seals...
Akira appeared out of the ground several kilometres away from the dead body of the Yondaime. He silently thanked his jounin sensei for teaching him that move, and sat down on the ground to catch his breath. He knew that there was no way anybody would be able to track him now... He had already left a body double behind in the battlefield, and anybody who found the Yondaime would be too caught up in grief to realize that there had been a jutsu cast nearby that had nothing to do with the battle between the Kyuubi and the Yondaime.
The crying of an infant turned his attention, and he lifted the blankets, revealing a baby face. Its eyes were red and puffy with crying, and its entire face spoke of a drowsiness. Probably an after-effect of the seal. Silently, the baby reached out of his blankets with his arms, and Akira panciked. What was the baby trying to do?
His fears were unfounded as the baby's clumsy little hands closed around the necklace that the Fourth had given to him on his last birthday. It was a silver chain with a cross on the end. Simple but stylish. There were protection jutsus that were said to be cast upon the chain, and it would defend the wielder against bad luck. His thoughts suddenly turned back to the Yondaime.
There could be no words to describe the grief that suddenly came upon him. A few hours ago he had been telling him what to do after his death, but there was nothing that could defend him against this. His eyes prickled, and then the tears began. He hugged the baby close to him... the legacy of the Yondaime, his son. He didn't know who the wife was, only that she had died in childbirth a few days ago. It seemed that their relation, the Fourth and his wife, had been in secret and even their marriage. Anyway, it didn't really matter any more.
Then, those pudgy baby hands of his little charge wrapped around his neck, and he opened his eyes in surprise. The baby... the Yondaime's son... was crying with him. It was a sign of his intelligence that he would understand what was going on when he was only around five days old, but it didn't reach Akira at the moment. He wrapped his arms around the little bundle of blankets as well, and let the tears flow free.
They stood there for hours, Akira thinking of the happy memories that he had shared with the ramen-obsessed zero-gone-hero, and the baby eventually dropped off into slumber. Pretty soon the baby was deep in dreamland, and Akira opened the sky-blue scroll that the Yondaime had given him with one hand.
The boy's name shall be Naruto.
And Akira smiled through his tears at his friend's idea of a joke.
A few weeks later Akira found himself in front a modest house in the country of Wave. The Yondaime had left behind a large amount of cash for him, and it was enough for him to settle down practically anywhere he wanted and keep both him and his charge alive for years without working. He wasn't sure if he should, actually. He really couldn't leave a baby alone in a household... especially not one as important as this one. Maybe once Naruto got older, but not right now.
He walked into the doorway, and put down the bag of supplies that he had bought from a merchant on the road. It was full of rations and food bits, though it was stuff that was more commonly suited to a ninja on a mission instead of actual food. He would need to buy some furniture and liven the place up a little bit, and some proper food as well.
He stared down into the bundle of blankets that took up a space in his arms, and smiled as he saw those blue eyes gaze into his own. There was no use crying for the Fourth now... He would be glad that his best friend had seen him as worthy to raise his legacy, and he would do him proud, make sure of that.
"Welcome to your new life... Uzumaki Naruto..."
The next few years passed by quickly. At age five, Akira started training Naruto in the ways of the shinobi. The boy had been hooked from the start when he saw his adopted father pull off a basic Katon jutsu. When Naruto had asked, in an awed childish voice, how he could do that, Akira just grinned and told him that it came with training.
A week later he had found the boy unconscious in the backyard of their house trying to beat a training dummy senseless.
He had never gone easy on the boy, though he wasn't strict as possible, per se. Every time the boy slacked off, which was almost never, he encouraged the boy. Soon, at the age of six, Naruto had the physical prowess of a genin. Akira himself had been amazed, though he chalked it off to the genes of his father. Afterwards, he felt that Naruto had enough training for the body and Taijutsu, and bought weights for him, telling him to change it up a notch every week.
Also at the age of six, Akira had begun to train his adopted son in the ways of stealth and deception. He had learnt from the Yondaime, who was best of the best when it came to deceptions and trickery, probably due to his younger days. One of the phrases that he kept closes to his heart was this: "An idiot is a master of faking. A genius is a master of revealing."
The phrase spoke for itself, and in the first lesson that he had with his son, he had already ingrained it deep within his mind. From then on Naruto took the words deep to heart, and began to wear bright colours almost constantly, though his favourite was, of course, orange. Within a year of his sixth birthday, even Akira, a chuunin-level shinobi, was starting to have trouble finding him whenever they played hide-and-seek in the forests behind their house. During this year, he had also started working with Naruto on his aim with ninja weapons, though he knew that the only way to get better with weapons was constant practice, and that's what Naruto did. Moving bullseyes became his specialty.
And at the age of seven, he gave the first of the scrolls that the Yondaime had given to him to the young ninja-to-be. Naruto studied it intently everyday, trying to learn the style written within. Although he had often asked Akira exactly where the scrolls came from, the chuunin never answered directly, always saying it came from a family friend. Naruto knew he was lying, as they lived a rather secluded life. Akira dedicated most of his time to teaching the boy, and Naruto spent most of his time training.
During that year, Akira had also started teaching Naruto the basics of chakra and ninjutsu. Naruto had taken to it like a fish to water, though he did have a bit of trouble with manipulation. He always pulled on too much constantly, though it really didn't matter much since his stamina was damn near limitless, as Akira had found. Pretty soon, right before his eighth birthday, he had mastered a few Katon jutsus, one Suiton jutsu, and one Dont jutsu for his elementals. He had also learnt Henge, Bunshin, and Kage Bunshin from his adoptive father.
Akira grinned as he remembered how he had learnt it from the Yondaime himself. The blonde Hokage had practically beat it into him. Akira knew he had always been a below-average ninja, though that didn't hamper the Fourth from never giving up on him. Every other day he called the chuunin to his tower, gave all his paperwork to the secretaries, and beat jutsu and training methods into his first friend. The Kage Bunshin was one of the techniques that he was lucky enough to learn this way.
On his eighth birthday, he gave Naruto the second scroll. He had seen the boy disappear for a few days, and had panicked at first. When Naruto came back from his week long training journey, he was given a talking to by Akira. When Naruto asked why he cared when he wasn't even his biological father, Akira had yelled at him for a few hours. At the end of it all, both Akira and Naruto cried, and they began to feel closer than even real family. After the emotional tearfest, Akira had forgotten to ask Naruto why he had disappeared anyway, and Naruto had forgotten to show off the new moves that he had learnt from the scrolls.
Needless to say, Akira was shocked next time they sparred when Naruto had pulled off one of his father's attacks out of what seemed like thin air.
After the scare, Akira started to teach the foxboy about the powers of Genjutsu. Though the legacy of the Fourth had complained at first, he soon took to studying the theories and memorizing the seals as late-night reading. Akira had already guessed, from the attitude of Yondaime towards Genjutsu, that Naruto would have difficulties, but the blonde had surprised him with his stubborn personality. Within six months Naruto had mastered a few simple Genjutsu, though that was still a great accomplishment. His favourite technique was probably the Kanashibari, and he often practiced it on Akira, who had developed an immunity to it after a particularly bad experience he had as a genin when he had been taken prisoner by enemy nins.
On Naruto's ninth birthday, Akira declared that he needed no further training from somebody who couldn't give him any proper advice, and bought him a load of jutsu scrolls, both Ninjutsu and Genjutsu but not Taijutsu. When Naruto had asked him about it, he just explained that he would understand why soon. And he did. It turned out that Yondaime's scroll that year focused on the Uzumaki clan's own style of Taijutsu, known simply as Hakkyokuseiken. And it was in this scroll that Naruto's heritage was explained. When Akira had explained about the Kyuubi and the deeds of his father, Naruto managed to find his dream.
The next day, a groggy Akira was woken by Naruto's battlecry.
"I WILL BECOME HOKAGE!"
Akira grinned, and went back to sleep, dreaming sweet dreams.
Shortly after Akira decided that Naruto had become old enough, and went to apply for a job. He managed to get a job working for a blacksmith. Pretty soon it went from a ay to make money to a hobby, and then a passion. Akira found it within himself a love for weapons, and decided to learn the ways of smithing, which would surely be helpful in the future.
And it was like this, year after year, until finally the time came to return to Konoha.
"Wow... so this is Konoha." Naruto said in awe as he stared. Akira only grinned as he saw Naruto's eyes widen. He was wearing a black shirt with baggy dark-brown pants and civilian sandals covered by a traveller's poncho, and there was a bit of stubble around his eternally unshaven chin. He was thirty-three, yet he looked not a day older than twenty-five. His young charge was wearing an unzipped thin orange vest, and orange shorts that reached down to his knees. Underneath the vest he wore a black shirt. He wore black fingerless gloves with a thin strip of steel that covered the back of the hand, and his ninja sandals were black.
"Yeah... The village of your birth. You scared?"
"C'mon, tousan. You know me better than that." Naruto said.
Akira grinned. "Yeah, I do."
Naruto looked around a few more seconds before turning to his adopted father.
"So, tousan, where do we go now?"
"Well... First thing's first. We've got to make you a Leaf-nin, right?" Akira said. "And to do that, we'd better meet with the Hokage then."
"The Hokage, huh..." Naruto rolled that around in his head. "So, who is it?"
"Dunno, since your dad passed... Well, it's got to be Sarutobi-sensei unless he's bit the dust. But then again he's a tough old coot, he's still got years left in him yet, the last time I saw him." Akira pondered. "Yeah, probably Sarutobi. Well, follow me then, and remember our cover story."
They took to the rooftops, heading straight towards the tower.
"Why do we need a cover story anyway?" Naruto asked. "Wouldn't it be better to just tell the truth that I'm the Yondaime's son?"
"Well, that's quite a story there. Saying anything like that would lead to them finding out about your 'tenant', you know." Akira explained. "I grew up in this village, and I know all about it. The guys here have memories like you wouldn't believe. Tons of them still haven't recovered from the Kyuubi's attack, you know. They'll probably start blaming you about it, and I can tell you that you don't want to be on the brunt of their attacks. They could make your life here miserable."
"Oh... That sucks."
"Well, aren't you thankful that your dad told me to grab you and get you to another country?"
"Yeah... Life would suck without you, tousan!"
"The Hokage will see you now."
Akira and Naruto stood up, brushing by the desk of the secretary before entering the Hokage's chambers. The first thing they saw was the desk of the Hokage, followed by the back of a chair. The chair swivelled around and, sitting before them, was the Sandaime. There was a pipe in his mouth, and a smile on his face.
"Please sit down."
The father-son pair sunk into the chairs that were set before them.
"Would you like some tea?" The Sandaime asked as he motioned to the tray in front of them.
"Thank you, Hokage-sama." Akira said, and took a cup. Naruto shook his head.
They sat there in comfortable silence for a few seconds, as both the Sandaime and Akira sipped their tea. Naruto just looked around the office, bored. Pretty soon he had taken a few paperclips off the Hokage's desk and was messing around with them.
"Well then, what are strangers like you here for to see an old man like me?" The Sandaime asked, the ever-present smile on his face. Akira smiled, though it was rather strained. To be here in front of his sensei and not be able to tell him that it was Akira himself. It was harder than he had thought.
"Me and my son are travelling shinobi, Hokage-sama." Akira offered. "Well, we've come today to request that we join Konoha."
Sarutobi surveyed them with a critical, though welcoming eye.
"Well, I would always welcome new shinobi who want to join us, but there are safety regulations, you know. First, we have to make sure that you are who you say you are," explained the Sandaime. "Can you please produce some identification?"
Naruto stared at his tousan, and Akira just calmly retrieved two papers from his pocket, and passed it over to the Hokage. Sarutobit looked through it for a second or two before tidying it up and putting it in a pile right beside the mound of paperwork that stood on his desk.
"That seems to be in order." The Sandaime said. "You are Yaiba Todoh then, and your son... Yaiba Naruto?"
"That's right, Hokage-sama." Naruto said.
Sarutobi surveyed both of them for a second or two.
"Funny, you look nothing like him, if I may." The Sandaime said. "Adoption, I presume?"
"Ah, yes, Hokage-sama." Akira said cheerfully.
"Alright then." The Sandaime looked down at Naruto. "It says you're twelve here, aren't you? Well, we need proof that you can work as a shinobi and a Leaf-nin. Would you mind attending the ninja academy for a day today? They're holding the graduation exam, and it would help me to find out where you stand according to other genin."
"That's what I'm here for, Hokage-sama." Naruto said with a laugh. Sandaime smiled.
"Alright then, that's good. I'll send somebody to help you find the place..."
"Alright, everybody! Calm down, calm down!" Iruka called to the classroom. Mizuki stood beside him, leaning against the wall. The assistant couldn't be bothered this time of day, when the kids were coming in. They were always as loud as hell, and only Iruka had the power and technique of a teacher to make them calm down.
The students settled into their seats, and started talking with one another. Mizuki watched with an amused expression as Iruka repeatedly told Ino and Sakura to stop fighting each other for the seat beside Sasuke.
"Seems pretty calm today." Mizuki said with a cheerful laugh as Iruka regarded him with a tired eye. "I mean, it usually takes some more yelling before they settle down."
"That's true..." Iruka said. "It's probably just the idea of graduation."
Mizuki grinned as he stared at the crowd in front of him.
"Well, aren't you glad that you won't have to teach them anymore?"
"Ugh, with my luck, half of them will fail the genin exam..."
Mizuki chuckled, and Iruka groaned.
The door to the classroom suddenly opened, and there stood a chuunin looking uncomfortable and a young blonde wearing-- orange? --standing side by side. The chuunin walked forwards without a word and passed a slip of paper into Iruka's hands, before taking to the doorway and leaving. The blonde boy walked forwards and stood beside the teacher's desk.
"Oh man, this is the first-day-of-class thing that dad keeps telling me about, isn't it?" Naruto thought to himself. "Well, hopefully I'll be able to make a good first impression! I just got here after all, and I don't really want anybody to hate me..."
Iruka looked at the new kid with an interested glance, and Naruto grinned nervously up at him. The chuunin sighed in relief. This one didn't seem like a lot of trouble, and he would only have to deal with him for two non-class days. That, he could live with. He called for the room's atention, which wasn't really hard with half the eyes in the class on the new kid.
"Alright, everybody! This is Yaiba Naruto, he'll be joining us for for the graduation exam. Naruto, find a seat. Any seat is fine."
Naruto did just that. He walked up the ledges, past the fight between Ino and Sakura, and sat down right beside Sasuke, who regarded him, trying to judge his power. He gave a grin and a two-fingered salute towards the black-haired boy, and Sasuke turned away. Sakura and Ino gaped at what he had just done, and the rest of the boys in the class sniggered while the girls gave the newcomer dreamy eyes.
As Iruka talked on, Naruto kept trying to make conversation with Sasuke. Sakura had sat down beside Naruto reluctantly, though she observed that he was kind of cute.
"...And that's how the test will go. Please come in when your name is called."
Students went into the sideroom one by one, some of them came out laughing happily, some of them came out dancing with jubilation, some of them came out with no expression on their faces, and some bawling their eyes out. Naruto grinned as Kiba and Akamaru 'yahoo'ed while being tossed out by Iruka, Mizuki's cheerful laugh in the backgroudn the whole time.
Naruto walked down the ledges, and into the room at the side. A grinning Mizuki held it out for him, and explained the test as they went along the dark corridor. Naruto found the assistant teacher quite friendly, and struck up a conversation with him, debating what kind of situations kunai were better than shurikens and vice versa. At the end of the corridor they arrived in a large room. It seemed to be an obstacle course of some kind. Iruka was there, waving at him to come join him.
Naruto looked at Mizuki, and the smiling teacher assistant nudged him forwards. Naruto took the hint, and ran down to join his temporary sensei. Iruka looked at him over the clipboard that he held in his hands, and gestured to the obstacle course.
"Alright then. Try to make your way through that. No Ninjutsu, but everything else is fine." He looked at the boy to see if he understood, but by the time he was done the foxboy had already entered the course.
Iruka watched, amazed, as the boy flipped through the storms of shuriken and the spike traps that opened up underneath. He watched, fascinated, as Naruto reached the exit, not even panting slightly. The orange-clad shinobi-to-be walked out of the obstacle course with a grin.
"Hey, sensei, how did I do?" He asked grinning.
Iruka looked at the stopwatch, and scribbled it down in his clipboard.
"Thirty-three seconds... Wow." Iruka said, amazed. "Alright then, you pass the obstacle course. The next step is aim with a ninja weapon."
He walked towards another part of the room, where several targets stood. He pointed towards them, and Naruto caught the cue. The blonde foxboy flipped out several kunai, and swung them towards the target. Each hit was a bullseye. Next he took out several shuriken, and launched them towards another target. It was quickly shredded through the center.
Iruka watched the whole thing, surprised again.
"Very well done, Naruto-kun!" Iruka said happily. "Alright, next there's..."
Naruto grinned happily as Iruka led him off to another part of the room. There was something nice about being surrounded by people after so long of staying alone house of their's back in the country of Wave.
Naruto made his way back to his seat as Mizuki-sensei called Sasuke's name, and they passed each other on their way to their seperate destinations. As the dark-haired avenger passed by the orange-clad foxboy, he suddenly felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned his head, and stared incredulously at Naruto. Most of the class was watching this by now.
"Hey, good luck!" Naruto said cheerfully, and took his hand off the last Uchiha's shoulder. He walked back to his seat as Sasuke stared at his back. He had never been approached by somebody just to be granted a casual remark like that. The dark-haired boy shook his head, and walked down the steps. As he descended he couldn't help but remember that flow of power that he felt when the boy had sat down beside him... Maybe there was something to this newcomer.
"Hmph... He's not like the rest of the people in this room. He acts like a ninja, not a student. Strange how he arrives only on the last day of class, and knows everything that we worked for years to learn. He's... powerful." Sasuke noted, and resolved to keep an eye on this guy.
Naruto made his way back up to his seat, and found Sakura talking with with a blonde girl that had taken it.
"Oh man, my seat's been stolen... What should I do, what should I do..."
Inwardly, he decided he didn't want to intrude, and walked further up, looking for an empty space until somebody yelled for him. He looked upwards, and was greeted with the visage of -- an eskimo? No, even though he did wear some kind of parka. Sitting beside him was a guy wearing shades and had a collar that reached up to his nose.
"Hey, over here!" He heard the eskimo guy shout, and happily complied. He pulled up a seat beside the two, and noticed that puppy that was lying down right beside the eskimo guy. "The name's Kiba!"
The puppy that had been lying down beside Kiba suddenly jumped on top of Naruto's lap, and started licking his face.
"Whoa, whoa! Good doggy, good doggy!" Naruto said, all the while enjoying the gently sensation.
"GOD, I HATE DOGS!"
Huh? Where had that come from?
By the time that Naruto had snapped back to reality, Kiba had the puppy on the table.
"Sorry bout' that, Akamaru's not usually that friendly to people that he doesn't know." Kiba said, but then he grinned. "But then that means you're probably a really good guy!"
Any further conversation was promptly cut off.