Nine-Tailed Serpent, Chapter One: A Demon's Tool – A Lucky Coincidence
Disclaimer: Naruto ain't mine, not making any money here, you know the deal.
The sun was starting to set over the port town, bathing the rundown concrete streets in a reddish hue. The dwindling sunlight did not touch the darkened corner where a rugged-looking youth leaned against a dirt-stained brick wall with his eyes closed. He seemed to be napping or perhaps absorbed in some internal thought. He was much taller than he should have been but was also a rather lanky kid with spiked blonde hair. The young man was dressed in worn-down blue denim pants with a sleeveless black cotton shirt and old leather boots with his exposed arms showing considerable lean muscle, but nothing close to the extent that would rate him as being well-built. His wired but still strong build came about due to several years' grueling training as well as something less natural. The adolescent's most obvious attributes were the three thin whisker marks that adorned either cheek. A sibilant voice that he alone could hear brought the lad crashing back into the waking world.
"Time to wake up, gaki. Our weekly paycheck just arrived."
Uzumaki Naruto's blue eyes snapped open upon hearing his nine-tailed tenant. Konohagakure no Sato's resident pariah yawned and glanced over towards the near street corner and watched as a small young man in an expensive leather trench coat handed a large parcel to some obvious addict and then received a bag bulging with ryo notes in exchange. An opium dealer, and a rather successful one it seemed. A dealer didn't come to handle such a large drug shipment without the proper connections. The blonde guessed that the man had to be aligned with some cartel or syndicate. Naruto wouldn't even consider rolling such a person in most cases but decided that he might as well end his career on a high note. As it happened, he would be taking the Genin Exam on the morrow and then these profitable little excursions into the bigger cities would be over. The Third Hokage might have been willing to turn his blind eye to the young demon child's violent indulgences while he was still an Academy Student, but it would be a whole other matter once he was given his hitai-ate and made an actual Konoha shinobi. Naruto would rather have continued on as he was, but he had given his word to the Sandaime. Naruto wasn't honorable in most respects, but his word once given could be taken to be the gospel.
Naruto waited until the scumbag turned in his direction and ran through some hand seals, ensnaring the walking corpse in a basic suggestive genjutsu. His senses were ensnared into believing that his next delivery led him straight into the area where the demon container was hiding in the shadows and waiting. Naruto crept back deeper into the alleyway, drawing his target into the provebial web. A typical Academy Student and most Genin would not have been able to use such an advanced illusion. Both the skill and chakra levels required were too high. But Naruto had Kyuubi no Kitsune sealed within him. With the greater demon's power to draw upon, chakra was not an issue. And with his advanced training and combat experience, neither was skill.
The entranced drug dealer at last stumbled deep into the gutter and the blonde made his move. He snuck up behind the man and shoot tackled him onto the pavement, a hand covering his mouth so that he wouldn't be able to scream out. The demon vessel reached towards the kunai lodged in his boot on sheer instinct, but then decided against slitting the dealer's throat upon noticing their similar sizes and the expensive clothing the other wore. That really was a nice coat, and it would be a shame to soil it with the maggot's blood. He instead placed his unoccupued hand on the man's cranium and twisted, snapping his neck with a single motion. A textbook kill, clean and without wasted time or exertion. Naruto stole a look inside the cash sack and smiled. There had to be a hundred thousand ryo inside, perhaps more. There was no need be bothered about retribution where the dealer's organization was concerned either. Naruto wouldn't be coming back to this trash heap again and no yakuza would ever dare attempt to send men into a shinobi village. The ANBU and others would slice them to pieces in less than an instant. There hadn't been any witnesses regardless. Naruto had no remorse about what he had done. This man was a criminal and a scumbag, and no-one worth a damn would miss him.
"Nice work. This'll keep us going for a good long time."
"Compliments humbly accepted, baka fox."
Naruto had started leaving Konoha on weekends to obtain expense ryo two months prior to being enrolled in the Genin Academy at seven, coinciding not through mere coincidence alone with his proper introduction to the his inner demon, who had made his presence known when the child had been mired in depression. Naruto could still remember that evening. He was sitting on a swing alone, crying about how the other kids wouldn't have a thing to do with him and thinking that he would do anything to have someone want him around. And then the demon's voice sounded in his mind, a dangerous growl that would have been terrifying to a child not as desperate to have company as Naruto. He had not needed another person again since that morning.
The kitsune had given companionship and guidance to the lonesome human child. Naruto had to swear to take the demon's direction in all matters and promise to help the ninetails in seeking some method to break the Fourth Hokage's seal and obtain his liberation in return. He had in essence become the demon's tool in obtaining his protection and guidance. But all shinobi were tools to someone, so he wasn't bothered so much. These days the two almost treated one another as equals, but the blonde would admit that the demon held the true power in the arrangement. He was the creature's host but needed its strength and direction in order to grow within his harsh environment. Naruto's tenant had insisted that the small stipend the Hokage gave him was too inadequate. Naruto knew that the Kyuubi took pleasure in the bloodshed that the pair caused while hunting and could not have cared less about the cash. But the youkai did make a point. Konoha's crooked merchants had long charged Naruto ludicrous markups and sold him third-rate products. And all the while said people sneered down at him and taunted that a thing like him should be thanking them to be permitted to patronize their second-rate establishments at all. Their looks and comments stung, not that the child had ever let it past his idiotic smiling mask. He had never understood why the villagers hated him until the demon had come to enlighten him about the seal on his stomach.
Now the Konoha villagers but served to push Naruto's hatred with their cold glares and harsh words. He had abandoned the smiling mask ages ago, replacing it with a vile scowl that always seemed to be with him inside that accursed place. He hated the village and those living in it. Leaving was not an option. The Sandaime would send his Hunter-nin to retrieve or perhaps outright kill him, and even with the demon's assistance Naruto was not strong or skilled enough to stand against a single elite-level shinobi, so much less an entire squad. Konoha would never allow its demon child to walk into another Hidden Village's clutches. Naruto was stuck in a village that hated him and once he returned late that evening he wouldn't be allowed to leave again unless on a mission. The meager leave he had then was given with the Hokage's allowance and supervision. Sandaime tended to order ANBU teams to shadow Naruto and track his movements whenever the demon container departed the village on weekends. He supposed that the old man would rather he took his pent-up anger out on nameless thugs and criminals as opposed to sharpening his teeth upon Konoha's civilians.
"Not bad, little punk. Too bad you're gonna die over it now."
Naruto looked up towards the urban enclave's entrance. Several thugs were streaming into the area, all wearing identical sneering expressions. He could have smacked his head. He should have known that a yakuza dealer would have had protection. None appeared to have proper combat training, and so the demon vessel was not the least bit intimidated. A dozen mindless grunts were no match against a single trained shinobi, so this was no challenge. He didn't much care to kill those that didn't have something to take regardless, but neither was he in the mood to mind. Perhaps it would be better to waste them and keep their mouths shut. He supposed he'd at least be a good sport and give them a chance to back down. He turned his attention back to the ryo.
"Get lost, bakayaro. I'm counting cash here, and I don't want to be disturbed."
The lead thug tutted and sneered again.
"Nuh uh...I don't think so. You don't fuck with the Mitani Organization and live to tell about it. Our honor demands your blood."
Naruto felt the Kyuubi growl inside his mind. The demon was smashing against his bars.
"I'm bored. Time to let me out. I won't get another chance to hunt for ages."
Naruto made his decision in an instant but stalled a moment as the thugs sized him up. The Kyuubi hadn't sensed the usual Konoha stalkers since morning. Naruto took care never to tap into his demonic powers while the Hokage's men were around. The blonde didn't bother to hide all his abilities but also did not need the Sandaime knowing that he could communicate with his tenant or grant the ninetails control over their shared skin.
"…Fine, but make it quick and make sure you don't mess up my brand new leather coat."
Naruto sank down to a knee and closed his eyes. The lead vagabond stepped next to him, sneering as he brandished a sharp but otherwise nondescript katana. Naruto sensed his partner's vicious smile as the crimson demonic chakra began pouring outward. Fingers elongated into sharpened claws and teeth became bestial canines. The kitsune grinned again as he assumed command over his host.
"Insolent mortals…you ought to have run while you still had the chance."
The yakuza gaped and made to retreat but the ancient monster's killing intent stopped them cold. There could be no escape. Red slitted eyes widened in bloodlust as the slaughter commenced. Minutes later the blue-eyed Uzumaki Naruto walked back out into the open, now dressed in the opium dealer's expensive trench coat and matching pants. The new cut leather smell mixed with the acrid stench that the demon's bleeding rampage had created. The young shinobi also wore black designer sunglasses, a surprise acquisition that the now disemboweled criminal leader had donated alongside his katana. Naruto was no bushido artist and never intended to use the blade, but thought that he might be able to sell it at a decent price. Blood dripped down Naruto's hands and smeared the coat's sleeves both inside and out. Said sleeves would now have to be removed. The demon container shrugged slung his ill-gotten gains over his shoulder and sprinted towards his home village.
Due to their respective preoccupations neither human nor demon had noticed the two robed characters that had observed the entire bloodbath perched atop a building within eyesight. The taller gave a laconic grin that bared his pointed teeth in approval while his partner looked on with an impassive expression.
Around lunchtime the next morning, a cleaned and rested Naruto moved down the usual route connecting his dilapidated apartment and the Genin Academy. During his earlier years he'd never been able to purchase much more than cheap ramen to eat due to his meager allowance and crooked shopkeepers, but now, with his additional resources and the privelige to shop outside Konoha he could sit down to more balanced meals. He shuddered to even think about what he might look like had he never gotten any proper nutrients in his diet. His growth no doubt would have been stunted, or perhaps he would have looked like a normal brat rather than the genetic monster that he was now. Naruto's decision to allow the Kyuubi to tamper with his growth and chakra more than outright needed had addled his hormonal balance and caused him to grow at an unnatural rate. Due to this, he could almost be called a boy trapped inside a man's body. But that assessment wasn't accurate either, as he had killed a man in cold blood at seven, and had been more or less independent longer than he could remember. So he was not a child in mind or spirit either. Uzumaki Naruto was an adult, no matter what the village records said.
"Damned demon…wish he would go ahead and die, and leave us all alone."
Naruto narrowed his gaze as he stopped and stared at the audacious old woman. People such as this ignorant old prune angered him to the point that he had to make great pains to curb his killer instinct. The Kyuubi's constant prodding him to let loose and kill didn't help matters. The jinchuuriki was already quite irritated about being required to take this ridiculous exam to end up saddled on some second rate Genin team. He lacked the patience to keep on walking and let the comment roll over him on this particular morning. Instead he grinned in the same savage manner he'd seen so many times on the demon and met the villager's cold glare.
"Come on over here and repeat that, onna."
The woman spat on the ground next Naruto and glared, dribbling on his boots.
"Don't you dare intimidate me, monster. You should've been put to the sword at birth."
Naruto's led lashed out and kicked the old bitch's walking stick down the street. She stumbled and tumbled, spilling her week's groceries all over the pavement. The demon vessel smirked and glanced at the spit puddle on his new shoes. An eye for an eye, he thought as he summoned his own saliva and released a snot-tinged stream onto the poor creature's head.
"You'll be supper next time, grandma. Keep that in mind."
His mood slightly improved, Naruto started back towards the academy building, humming a little tune as the Kyuubi laughed at the woman's plight inside his head. He arrived late as usual, never much caring to be punctual to the useless lessons that Iruka-sensei heaped upon the likewise useless children. He had mastered everything that the entire practical curriculum had to teach a long time ago. For that reason he was now prone to skipping classes in order to learn and train at his own pace. He only attended on occasion as per the Hokage's demands. Missing class also served Naruto's purposes by not seeing him placed as the highest ranked rookie. Attendance and classwork completion contributed to the class ranking system and he would rather be pissed on than accept being placed on a Genin squad with the year's dead-last. Let the Uchiha brat get stuck as the lead babysitter. Naruto didn't need all the pointless attention anyway. The ones who mattered already knew that he was the best.
He entered the classroom with a sour expression as he donned his new shades. The other students were either sweating over the upcoming test or making useless conversation with one another. Such blatant emotional outbursts were not at all suited to prospective shinobi. He walked over to the rear corner and plopped down into an unoccupied seat. The jinchuuriki propped his legs up onto the next desk down, rudely occupying the spot where Aburame Shino was preparing to sit down. Naruto lazily raised his shades to expose his eyes and stared at the bug user with a cocked brow as though daring the introverted kid to do something about it. Shino only shook his head and stalked away to find another seat. Naruto smirked and covered his eyes again, and leaning back to stare at the ceiling.
"Well, well, well…look who chooses to grace us nobodies with his exalted presence."
Naruto made no reaction as Inuzuka Kiba slouched down into the seat adjacent to his. The demon vessel had no true comrades other than the fox but the brash and outspoken Kiba stood as his closest facsimile to a buddy. The animal trainer acknowledged the taller blonde's immense strength and skill and seemed to accept him as their academy class's alpha male. Pack mentality at its finest. The Inuzuka scion somehow seemed to comprehend Naruto's true power level where the other students could not. Pure animal instinct, Naruto surmised. Shino might have the same recognition due to his sensory bugs, but one could never really tell anything with that kid. Kiba never sneered at or cowered near or outright blatantly ignored Naruto like so many others did at any rate, and so the superior shinobi tolerated his presence and deigned to engage in impolite conversation with the Inuzuka on occasion.
"Morning, mutt. I'd 'druther not, but the Hokage won't even let me skip the exit exam."
"Well, here's hoping we get put on the same team or something. Nice threads."
"Thank you. And that would be better than…some possibilities, I suppose."
Naruto slowly inclined his head to sneer at the organic angst machine located up near the teachers. Uchiha Sasuke sat looking bored and irritated with his eyes closed while almost every girl in the class surrounded his position and quarreled over his attention, Haruno Sakura and Yamanaka Ino being the loudest among them. Naruto had at one time empathized with the would-be avenger. Both were orphans and essentially alone. That had ended soon enough. The Uchiha was a spoiled brat who acted the tragic little victim. He had never had to work at all, as his clan's inherited wealth had sustained him with ease. Everybody in the village both loved and admired him and virtually every girl in their age group crushed on him. Sasuke had at least had parents and all the rest at one time. Naruto had dealt with so much more and had survived and prospered through sheer grit and mindless determination. He wasn't in the least envious but neither did he reserve any sympathy or respect to spare on the crybaby wastrel. Sasuke would one day challenge his invincible Missing-nin brother and lose in a grand and humiliating manner. Thus would end that clan, and good riddance.
"It sucks, man. Girls always obsess over those tragic hero types. He ain't got a damn thing that I don't."
"Maybe they know you'll hump and spray all over their legs."
"Fuck you, Naruto."
Naruto gave no response other than a snort, knowing that the Inuzuka hadn't been insulted. For his part, the blonde had no interest whatsoever in dating the immature little brats in their class. The whole lot was all too weak and most had no understanding about or respect towards what it meant to be a shinobi, electing to waste valuable training time mooning over the Uchiha and similar silent headcases rather than striving to advance their unremarkable skills. Each prospective kunoichi in the room helped to validate the regrettable maxim in Konoha about said girls being lesser shinobi than their male counterparts. Naruto didn't believe in said bias, to be sure. The jinchuuriki knew that there were skilled kunoichi equal to even the best male shinobi in Konoha. One needed to do no more than look at Densetsu no Kamo Tsunade to understand that, even though she no longer resided in the village. Naruto couldn't blame her either, as he too would leave Konoha in a heartbeat provided he could do so without being pursued.
"Attention, class. The Genin Exam will start in a moment. You will come here when called and demonstrate the jutsu asked."
Naruto and Kiba ceased blathering at one another and paid attention to the exam. The demon container was curious to see whether or not somebody would manage to not pass the usually elementary test. Hyuuga Hinata was called first and managed to perform the required technique despite her nervousness. A single basic one seal jutsu, the Bunshin. That was all the pathetic school required to pass a Genin candidate. Naruto shook his head in disgust. This was so retarded and such an insult to his intelligence that he was at that point contemplating rising and walking out. He had been able to do the Bunshin no Jutsu in one shot, at a mere seven years old and with but two months' basic training under his belt at the time. Hinata seemed pleased at least. Naruto guessed that it had might have been the only thing she had ever done right in her whole miserable existence. He despised weakness and this timid little mouse had it in spades. A lamentable disgrace to a most potent bloodline. He noticed Kiba's leer trailing the girl as she walked with a meek stride over to start a line along the room's distant wall.
"Stop drooling, Kiba. It's disgusting."
Yamanaka Ino and Sasuke were called up in turn, and then Nara Shikamaru and Sakura. Naruto cracked his knuckles with a bored look when the Uchiha smirked and created twelve clones where nothing more than the standard three had been required. Sasuke's little fan club turned about as one to glare, but most blanched in terror and hurried to turn back around upon glimpsing their target. Naruto seemed to possess the unique skill to make most students cower in his presence, due in large part to his having almost crippled an older student when the gaki had taunted him about being an orphan a while back. The Hokage had been furious about that incident and had been made to pull several strings to even be able to keep Naruto enrolled at the school. Sakura glanced at Sasuke and blushed upon being handed her hitai-ate.
"Next examinee...Uzumaki Naruto."
Naruto rose upright with a certain laziness in his movements. The blonde wasn't one to showboat in most cases, but he wasn't even going to pretend that he was taking this ridiculous rubber stamp test like a real exam. The demon carrier ignored Kiba's well wishes and removed his glasses upon reaching the examiner's desk across the room. Iruka-sensei proceeded to give Naruto his instructions.
"Please perform the Bunshin no Jutsu, Naruto."
Naruto nodded and glanced at the sullen Sasuke with a sneer. Sine he sole Uchiha Massacre survivor had exceeded the requirement 4 times over, the blonde thought that it might be humorous to use the same multiplication in trumping the angst-ridden brat. And with a single slow hand seal…
"Bunshin no Jutsu."
Three times four times four meant no less then 48 trench-wearing blonde clones crowding the small classroom. Naruto kept the textbook genjutsu active a while longer than needed to show his superior chakra reserves and then allowed it to dissipate. Both Iruka and the other examiner, a Chuunin instructor named Mizuki whom Naruto had liked even less than his scarred teacher, were both outright impressed and several students were stunned. As though it were an accomplishment or something. Most skilled shinobi could produce several hundred or even more than a thousand clones.
"Good work, Uzumaki-kun. You pass the examination."
Naruto shrugged at Mizuki's comment and took his hitai-ate with the same sour expression that he had worn upon beginning the test. He stalked over the graduate line and leaned against the wall while putting his shades back on. Sasuke looked more than a little pissed at having been upstaged but was still regarding Naruto with an appraising expression. Perhaps the punk now regarded him as a rival. The demon vessel could have laughed, and almost did. Perhaps in a millennium or ten. Uzumaki Naruto considered Uchiha Sasuke to be a minor irritation at the absolute most, someone he was most content to ignore. Kiba then took his place in the graduate line looking more pleased than the worthless exam merited about having passed. At least the mutt was better than the pink-headed nincompoop located to his other side.
"Well, congratulations to us. That test was too stupid, though."
Naruto nodded and started watching the clock, hoping he could leave soon. Shino and Akimichi Chouji also passed the exam and moved into the line. The blonde jinchuuriki stared at the distant wall as the Genin Exam finally came to an end. He watched as the Yamanaka girl bound over and to and invited Sasuke to a little gathering at her place only to be outright ignored as the Uchiha departed alone. Naruto mirrored not long behind despite Kiba's protests. The blonde knew that he wasn't going to be welcome at the little event and had no desire to attend. Yamanaka might have invited him to be polite but he knew perfectly well that he wasn't wanted. Naruto decided to slip into the woods to exercise and practice his ninjutsu in solitude until suppertime. Had he not altered his direction so at that moment he might have noticed one Touji Mizuki approaching a sad classmate who had somehow botched the Genin Exam.
Several hours later a somewhat disheveled Naruto stood in a clearing. The bushes and trees in the area were scorched in places due to his jutsu training. The demon vessel had run through the basic elemental techniques that mostly comprised his limited arsenal. He had no actual instructor to teach him jutsu and the sparse scrolls in the public collection didn't contain much past the bare essentials. Shinobi techniques were considered to be prized secrets and were thus not made available to the masses in written instruction. The Sandaime had several advanced scrolls in his possession as well as most clans, but Naruto was obviously not permitted to peruse them at his leisure. At least that roadblock might be removed with his being assigned to a Genin cell, one minor upswing to something the blonde was not wild about being stuck doing. Assuming that his instructor would condescend to teach much to Konoha's hated demon. Naruto stopped making the seals on the weak raiton technique he was about to use upon hearing someone running in his direction. The ninetails noticed it as well.
"Somebody's coming this way."
Naruto snorted in his head.
"I know that already, baka fox. Give me a little credit."
The Bijuu snarled in response.
"Watch your mouth, you insolent brat. He's not alone. At least two other shinobi are close behind."
Naruto hid behind a tree and watched as the person approached. The arrival was someone that he recognized as a hopeless gaki who had been in his old class. He was panting as he ran and holding some ornate looking scroll. He was some civilian kid and not connected to a clan, and so could not have laid hands upon such a treasure at home. The weakling had to have stolen it somehow, though Naruto knew not when or where. No matter, butwhatever was contained in that scroll was much too valuable to be wasted on this worthless punk. Naruto laid a quick chakra string trap that tripped the kid up as he passed and then scrambled out to steal the scroll. The gaki had never seen it coming and Naruto had long since disappeared into the trees with his prize when his victim regained his bearings. The kid's pursuers caught him up as he struggled back upright, sure to be disappointed upon seeing that he no longer had the stolen item.
Naruto hid the huge scroll under his trench coat and tucked it under his arm upon leaving the woods and strolled back towards his apartment at a leisurely pace. He couldn't help but notice several Chuunin milling about the village streets and buildings like headless chickens. Whatever was in that little scroll, the Hokage's seeing as village shinobi had been dispatched to retrieve it, the old man was desperate to have it back. All the more reason to hold onto it. The blonde would return it...when he felt like it. Once barricaded in his apartment, Naruto locked his door and opened his misappropriated treasure onto the kitchen table. His cold expression shined with rare genuine interest as he saw what he had gotten his hands on. The blonde could see several restricted-class techniques at one quick glance.
'Like a kid in a candy store...looks like I've really nailed the jackpot this time.'
Naruto's tenant was just as excited. Whatever intel that Konoha might possess regarding the Yondaime's accursed seal that kept the Kyuubi trapped inside Naruto would no doubt be contained within this restricted lore.
"Finally, a lead towards my freedom. Let's see what's in there, and quickly."
Naruto mock pouted inside his head.
"Just don't bother pretending that you're not in some great hurry to leave me. I'm rather offended, Kyuubi."
"Shut up and read the scroll, insolent brat."
Naruto smirked in his mind and made sure the kitsune could sense it.
"But you know you love me still, Kyu-kun."
The demon snarled and made a commotion, smashing into his prison and giving the blonde a migraine.
"This is quickly beginning to try my patience, mortal."
The usual banter aside, Naruto knew the Kyuubi was getting mad when he started insulting his vessel's mortal condition. He supposed it was rather stupid to tease the trapped demon when his singular goal was at stake, given the beast's irritable temper under even the most ideal circumstances. Once the ninetails was loose, then Naruto would be liberated as well, their pact being complete and him no longer bound to do the demon's ever-changing bidding. The blonde wasn't so sure that he wanted to be alone again, though. He didn't mind being a tool as long as he had the Bijuu around. When the seal was broken and the demon loosed Naruto would be alone once again. The prospect wasn't a welcome one, but he wouldn't let that little sticking point stop him.
"Stop your bitching, fox. I'm getting to work now. Quit making so much fucking noise."
Naruto looked over at the initial item on the scroll. Kage Bunshin no Jutsu. Shadow clones that could actually fight rather than serve as harmless distractions. An interesting technique with the potential to be valuable as well, but not one all too suited to the blonde's combat methods. Naruto tended to utilize a grappling attack as opposed to the textbook martial arts that traditional shinobi liked. Ground and pound, throw them down and beat them to a pulp using a mounted position, grab them in close range and beat them down with knees and elbows. All in all, street combat at its best. The unorthodox method turned Naruto's size and reach to his advantage, but despite that his taijutsu was his most glaring shortcoming. Naruto liked most to use his overwhelming chakra levels and blitz his enemies with elemental ninjutsu, and would not battle hand-to-hand unless made to. The demon container's game plan wasn't one that a massive clone rush meshed with, but the Kage Bunshin skill might still be worth knowing in a pinch. Naruto memorized the seals with a little practice and moved on.
Meanwhile, the Sandaime Hokage sat in his office thinking. The gullible academy student who had stolen the village's kinjutsu scroll had been initially caught by the treasonous chuunin instructor Touji Mizuki, who had berated the lad over losing it and subsequently assaulted and crippled him. The poor child would survive but his shinobi aspirations were over. Mizuki had placed genjutsu around Sarutobi's quarters to trick the guards, and the Hokage had been out attending to other business when the boy had snuck in. Umino Iruka had witnessed the altercation between Mizuki and the student and had then attacked and incapacitated his traitorous colleague. Mizuki was now being treated to Morino Ibiki's well-known hospitality.
The scroll still hadn't been recovered, but the Sandaime knew that it was still within the village limits. One Chuunin had reported seeing Uzumaki Naruto outside and walking around during the search. One quick glimpse into Sarutobi's crystal ball revealed the demon vessel poring over the scroll inside his apartment. Naruto had been skilled enough to obtain it without being caught and so the Hokage decided to allow him to keep it in his possession a while and learn what techniques he could. Sarutobi wasn't all that concerned about the scroll so long as he knew where it was. And apparently the rumors concerning a hostile organization interested in the tailed demons were true. The ANBU squadron that the Sandaime had sent to observe Naruto during his recent outing had been slain by some other shinobi. A regrettable loss but validating this new threat had been made their deaths worthwhile. The Missing-nin that comprised this group would no doubt make a direct move against Naruto at some point, and the boy would then need the skills that the restricted scroll could teach him. Uzumaki could be trusted not to abuse the kinjutsu. He was a good lad at heart despite his best attempts to convince the entire world otherwise. His snide tongue and surly attitude were but the emotional armaments that he had constructed to help protect his mind against the Konoha villagers' slings and arrows. Underneath lie a brilliant and dedicated young shinobi who would someday prove a true asset to the village, provided said village allowed him the chance.
The Hokage had concluded the usual meeting with the graduating class's academy instructor and the Jounin elites selected to handle the new Genin teams moments earlier. Iruka had been cut and bruised due to his battle with Mizuki but his wounds had not been serious. There were twenty-six graduates this time around, meaning that one team would be shorthanded a member, at least until the current Chuunin Exam candidates had been sorted through. Hatake Kakashi had immediately volunteered to mentor the Uchiha survivor. The Copy-Nin was the natural choice given that he possessed the Sharingan, but Sarutobi was concerned that he would be biased towards young Sasuke and neglect his other two students. Under better circumstances Sandaime would have liked to have given Naruto over to Kakashi's instruction also. The silver haired shinobi was a living technique database and could have taught the ambitious container much. Uchiha Sasuke's presence all but guaranteed that the much more talented Naruto would have gained very little attention on Team Seven, however. Once Sarutobi had told his gathered subordinates about Naruto's true skill levels Asuma had shook his head and grumbled that the lad was another Uchiha Itachi in the making. He asked whose clan would be slaughtered since Naruto had none. Yuuhi Kurenai had glared at Sarutobi's wayward son's bias, causing the aged Hokage to smile inside. Naruto would not be placed onto Team Ten either. Umino Iruka hadn't had a single clue as to the genius student he had kept and mostly ignored in his class. The poor Chuunin had been humiliated.
Sarutobi's personal inclination was to place the blonde on Team Eight alongside the Inuzuka kid. Naruto was a complete loner outside the classroom, but Iruka's reports indicated that the demon carrier was at least cordial with young Kiba within the academy. Kurenai might be the ideal among the three Jounin to instruct Naruto as well. She was patient enough to deal with his difficult personality and the Hokage believed that as a genjutsu specialist she understood the human psyche well enough to eventually break through his well-worn, tough emotional shell and reach out to him. She was also talented enough to gain the boy's respect. Several S-ranked Konoha betrayers including Orochimaru and Itachi served as glaring reminders about what could happen when a true prodigy was allowed to rot in his own resentment and superiority. Kakashi had come dangerously close to traveling down that road in addition before being taken under Yondaime's wing and set straight. Sarutobi would not allow history to repeat with Uzumaki Naruto. He could not bear to see the Fourth's legacy driven away by anger and bitterness.
Thinking about Orochimaru caused the Hokage to sigh wistfully and light his pipe. He had alienated his once prized student by selecting Namikaze Minato to be his successor but had been unable to summon the resolve to strike his old apprentice down when he had discovered Orochimaru's vile experiments and thus seen the man's true colors. Naruto was developing in a manner eerily similar to the Snake Sannin in various respects. Both had the same insatiable drive to learn and memorize jutsus. Never had Sarutobi seen a young shinobi as single-minded in his devotion to his training as Naruto. He rewarded the lad's dedication on occasion through permitting him to learn advanced jutsus from the Hokage's personal scroll collection when he asked permission. He never neglected to return what he borrowed and Sandaime was confident that Naruto would soon do the same with the kinjutsu scroll currently in his possession. Perhaps Sarutobi was somehow trying to make right his past mistakes he had made with Orochimaru in doing everything in his power to help Naruto now. He could not admit it in words, but the demon container occupied a special place in the old man's heart. He saw the boy as what the prodigal son Orochimaru might have been with stricter guidance. Thereupon he did all that he could to counterbalance the villagers' abusive practices. He knew all about the local storekeepers cheating Naruto and would have simply increased his living stipend but the lad had declined and stated that he had no desire to become a dependent.
He assuaged the child's rage by allowing him to leave the village and sharpen his practical skills by preying on petty street criminals in surrounding locales, with the proper supervision naturally. Many observers would see this as an insane practice and encouraging violent behavior but Sarutobi knew better. Killing was intricately connected with the shinobi way. Naruto was destined to be great and thus becoming acquainted with the unpleasant art now was not necessarily a negative thing. And the practice prevented him turning his anger against the villagers that did the most to provoke it. Sarutobi would stop them hurting the boy altogether had he the power, but even the venerable Hokage could only do so much. He couldn't openly favor Naruto lest the council decide to have the old man recalled and subsequently replaced with some new Hokage who would outright persecute the demon vessel and order him either executed or cast out. Sarutobi could only assist him surreptitiously and make certain he incurred no direct physical harm. People were ignorant and hated what they could not understand.
However, the Orochimaru introspection had also opened up a new possibility in the Hokage's mind. Mitarashi Anko had suffered the most due to the Snake Sannin's betrayal. She understood what Naruto had been through better than any other shinobi in Konoha. Her jutsu knowledge was on part with most regular Jounin due to her having once been Orochimaru's personal assistant, though she did not possess the rank. She had quite impolitely declined to take on any students in the past, but perhaps she would make an exception and train the prodigy Naruto. That term was tossed about so much in Konoha that it exasperated the Sandaime. Seemingly whatever advanced bloodline scion ever managed to graduate atop their academy class was lauded as a genius. Hyuuga Neji and Uchiha Sasuke were but the two most recent examples. Both were talented young shinobi but neither truly anything spectacular. Naruto was, and nobody had ever once acknowledged it.
At any rate, giving Naruto over to Mitarashi Anko would be the ideal solution. Naruto would be stifled on any possible Genin team. His skills were on a whole other plane relative to the other rookies. Saddling him with low ranked missions and basic chakra control training would accomplish nothing other than irritating Naruto and engendering resentment. The boy would decide that he was being intentionally held back in order to benefit the other genin. An individualized instructor on the other hand might allow him to develop at his own rapid pace rather than making him slow down so that his teammates could keep up. The idea broke with established tradition, but exceptions could be made in exceptional cases. Both Naruto and Anko were lonely people who pushed back against the society that snubbed them. Perhaps they could find in one another the companionship that neither had located in anybody else. Anko had never come to trust people again after being used and cast aside like an thing by Orochimaru, and Naruto had never even been extended an opportunity to trust somebody at all. Perhaps pairing the two could salvage both tortured souls. The only potential problem was that isolating Naruto by not placing him with his fellow Genin to train might not be wholly optimal in the end. Teamwork was perhaps the hallmark Konoha-nin virtue and one that all the village's shinobi had to comprehend. At least Sarutobi had the boy's placement narrowed down to only two possibilities. The next logical step would be to consult with both prospective sensei and hammer out an actual arrangement. The Hokage pressed a button under his desk and summoned his messenger. The man appeared a moment later.
"I need you to recall Yuuhi Kurenai here and summon Mitarashi Anko as well."
Sarutobi snorted under his breath at the man's monotone as he departed to do the Sandaime's bidding. He leaned back in his chair and smoked his pipe in contentment. Perhaps the delicate Naruto situation would come to a positive end. This newfound Missing-nin threat coupled together with Orochimaru's upstart Hidden Sound Village meant than Konoha would need strong new shinobi to survive. One day the despised Uzumaki Naruto might even end up saving the village. He already once had as a mere newborn, after all. Jiraiya's student would have spat upon these people could he have seen the abuse the villagers had heaped upon his child. The Sandaime prayed that this tragic tale would have a happy ending.
(End Chapter One)
Author's Note: This constitutes my only foray outside the Potterverse to this point. I hope I've done a decent job with this. Not much action or dialogue I know, but I needed to use personal thoughts in order to set up the alternate reality. Anyway, we have two ways that this story's initial arc can go. They will most likely converge into the same overall plot after the Chuunin Exams, but Naruto's character might be different depending on which way I end up going.
One way involves him being placed on Team Eight under Kurenai. Kiba will almost certainly be a team member should I go this way, since I like dog boy and would certainly want to give the guy some screen time where he gets little in the actual story. The other would very depending on what I might decide to do, but I can say that going this way will cause me to alter all the canon genin teams somewhat. Meaning, the story assortments will definitely not be used in any circumstance.
The other path has Naruto being trained one-on-one by Anko. I think this is the more original path and the one I'm leaning towards at the moment. In this case the genin teams would be unaltered aside from Naruto being pulled from where he would have been on Team Seven in the actual story. Kakashi would have only Sasuke and Sakura on his team.
I suppose a third possibility would have me combining the other two somewhat. That is, placing Naruto on Team Eight and also having him train with Anko sometimes. I don't really like this idea though, and would rather commit to one or the other. Feel free to give your suggestions in a review.
Since I know it's going to be asked ad infinitum, I'll comment a bit on pairings now. I will say that I traditionally abhor bothering with romance pairings that don't concern the lead character, so don't start expecting to see this 'Sasu/Saku, Shika/Ino, Neji/Ten, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera…' mess. A ridiculous pairing craze is not ever going to happen, period. As for Naruto, should he have any partner, I will probably abstain for a good while with it and go for either Anko or Kurenai at some point. Maybe both, maybe neither. I suppose Temari or Shizune are very outside shot, but I much prefer the first two. Well, I guess that's about all. Hope you enjoyed and leave me a nice long review por favor.
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