AN: Yeesh. I can't believe I've taken this long to get the actual first chapter up on this fic. Blame me being lazy and my preoccupation of haunting the Evangelion fanfiction site. Speaking of shameless self-advertising, I've also been working on my new Naruto fic, Dead on Arrival. Check it out sometime.

Enjoy and review...please?

Summary: Heroes are shaped by many a thing, and the slightest deviance from the course that Destiny has set for them will result in wondrous, unimaginable, and possibly catastropihic consequences. So begins the tale of the Boy Who Lived and the Boy No One Wished to Live. Even across worlds and oceans, some things never change.

Disclaimer: Sighs No...I don't own Naruto and all things related. Happy now?

Heroes of a Different Sort

A Xenocide Production

Chapter One:

Cremation Desecration?

The village was the perfect picture of peace and tranquility. The usually busy marketplace was sluggish and bereft of its usual frenzied pace when catering to potential customers. The weather was balmy and induced a haze of general laziness. The few adults that could be seen out and about were either sitting under a shade tree snoozing peacefully, or keeping a watchful eye on the rowdy group of youngsters that were taking full advantage of the lack of responsible adults.

Yes, all was right in the world.

"STOP THIEF!"

Then again, tranquility was overrated.

A small, orange clad boy was blurring down the street through the marketplace. He was pursued by a small crowd of vendors and merchants who were out for his blood. The boy stopped for no one and nothing, knocking over startled customers, bowling through clots of children at play, and somehow managing to plunge half the stands of the market into ghastly scenes of disarray and chaos in his mad dash to escape the angry mob.

One particularly burly man, the leader of the pack and victim of the boy's sticky fingers, was puffing heavily in his attempt to keep up with the boy.

"YOU BRAT! STOP RIGHT THE-!"

The rest of his sentence ended in a wet gurgle as a squashy and extremely ripe tomato smashed with a sickening thlop into his face, courtesy of the orange clothed boy who had barreled his way through an unfortunate vegetable stand, which was now nothing more than a sad pile of crushed and squished vegetables.

The man's howl of outrage as he tried to remove the pulpy mess from his face very nearly deafened the pursuing mob.

The boy grinned as colorful curses followed him as he made his way through the winding street. His grin widened as he noticed that the street was getting narrower as he advanced. Freedom was nearly in sight! At the end of the lane were several alleys that branched off into a maze that the mob would be hard pressed to find him in if they continued the pursuit.

He chanced a look over his shoulder to see how close his pursuers were. The havoc that he had wrought on the marketplace was seriously hampering their movement, causing the mob to trip over the remains of stalls and slip on various foodstuffs. The burly man was still spouting off curses, so incredibly angry that the boy was sure that the many veins that were popping up on his forehead would burst. Of course, the remains of the ripened tomato still on the man's face managed to make him look like a failed experiment in lipstick application rather than a merchant stewing in righteous anger over a thief.

The boy stopped and turned around to face the crowd of people. Sticking his tongue out and posing victoriously, one hand in the sign for victory, and the other grasping the stolen item closely to his side.

"Hah!" he crowed, "You bastards can't catch me! I'm the great Uzumaki Naruto, Konohoa's Number One Ninja!"

The portly merchant was trying his hardest to form a coherent sentence, but all he could manage was a few spluttering noises and wild gestures, most of which were obvious pantomimes of how he would go about wringing the brat's neck. The mob was still quite a ways off, as they had to practically wade through destroyed stalls and goods. The others in the group had joined the merchant in his rant, shouting the extremely painful and fatal things they were going to inflict upon him when they caught up.

They very nearly dropped dead of rage induced apoplexy when the Uzumaki boy presented his response in the form of one finger, and one doesn't have to guess which finger it was.

The mob dove into the mess with a renewed vigor, practically frothing at the mouth and flinging any unfortunate bystander or offending pile of ruined goods out of the way in their haste to reach the thief.

Naruto sweat dropped as the portly merchant bowled over a rack of women's clothing, leaving the owner of the stall, while adding her own obscenities, to chase after the various articles of clothing that had attached themselves to the man's body. In his haste to speed Naruto on his way to the afterlife, he failed to notice the frilly under things that were dangling over his shoulders. Somehow, a bra had managed to find its way atop the man's head.

Assured of his easy escape, Naruto whirled around and dashed to the mouth of the street, turning his head back to the mob and giving them one last raspberry.

"Nyaa!"

WHAM!!!

Naruto slammed into a wall that he could have sworn wasn't there two seconds ago. He literally bounced backwards, tumbling to the ground in a cloud of dust. He lay there staring at the sky, stunned. His thoughts were kind of hazy, and though his skull was thicker than the Hokage's pile of daily paperwork, crashing into a wall at full speed had lowered his already considerably dull thinking process. As such, he could only think of one word to sum up his feelings.

"Ow."

The Great Uzumaki Naruto, ladies and gentlemen.

A large shadow fell across his figure. Bloodshot eyes bore into him, nearly drilling two smoking holes into his own eyes.

Despite Naruto's admirable survival instincts, his ability to do and say the most damning things outweighed those traits considerably. So of course, he just had to snicker and slur somewhat drunkenly to the enraged merchant,

"Whatch yer doin with a bra on yer head?"

It was amazing how many shades of red and purple that the human face could cycle through in less than a minute. The portly man managed to go through all sixty-three in thirty seconds. Not even bothering to snatch the offending garment from his head, he reached down to throttle the everlasting life out of the boy.

The impending threat to his life very quickly brought Naruto out of his daze. He quickly squirmed backwards across the ground, out of his would-be killer's reach, fully intending to make another dash for freedom with his prize. Eyes focused only on the mob that was slowly edging closer, he somehow forgot about the wall that he had crashed into but a few moments earlier. Unfortunately for Naruto, the wall was in fact not a wall at all, as he discovered when he whirled to make another mad dash for freedom, which was only a few feet away.

Blocking his way into the alley with his arms crossed was an ANBU. Nartuo noted with dismay the red markings on the man's tiger mask, which signified his rank as a ranking officer. The light armor strapped on various body parts and wakizashi1 across his back only added to the aura of authority and power he was exuding. Again, Naruto could only think of one word that could sum up his situation.

"Crap."

Tearing his gaze from the ANBU and turning back to the mob, who were now brandishing various sharp and pointy objects, and then glancing back at the imposing ninja, he made a decision. It was perhaps the wisest one he had made, and probably ever would make. Faced with an insanely strong ANBU whose appearances in civilian matters was a rare and grim occurrence, and an angry group of merchants that were most likely going to rip him limb from limb, the choice was painfully obvious.

In a blur of speed almost unreal for a boy barely even into his second year at the Academy, he whirled around and made a dash for the crowd, praying to Kami-sama that his death would be quick and painless, preventing any of the horrible things that an ANBU would surely inflict upon him.

Naruto was fast. The ANBU was faster.

"Ack!"

With terrifying speed and precision, the ANBU had lazily reached out and snatched the back of Naruto's collar as he made an attempt to impale himself upon the mob's instruments of death.

Naruto's eyes bulged obscenely as he was yanked back towards his doom, the collar nearly crushing his windpipe in the process. He suddenly found himself gazing into the thin slits of the tiger mask. A gravelly voiced laced with minute amounts of amusement and annoyance barked out, "The Hokage wants to have a word with you, boy." Here the elite ninja paused, giving the unfortunate thief a brief but rough shake. "He's very displeased by your actions."

Naruto broke out into a cold sweat.

Death and torture by an ANBU was one thing, but the Hokage was in a different league altogether. As the strongest ninja in the village, who knew what horrible punishments the old man would inflict upon him?

Still holding Naruto by his collar, who was squirming and trying his very best to escape the man's iron grip with his prize still intact, the ANBU turned to leave, only to have a still extremely pissed off mob begin to murmur in protest.

"Wait just a minute! That brat stole from me and you're taking him to the Hokage!?" The portly man, somehow now missing all his frilly decorations, was livid. "We all know that the Hokage clearly favors the boy! He'll only get a slap on the wrist and then sent on his merry way."

The ANBU paused in midstride, and slowly turned around.

He settled his gaze on the indignant merchant. It was quite unnerving to be able to feel the intense glare that the ANBU was shooting the portly man from behind his expressionless mask.

"I'm sorry sir, my ears seem to be acting up. I'm not sure I heard you right."

The sheer coldness and venom with which the ninja spoke propelled the now fearful crowd back a few steps. The merchant stood alone, with no strength of a mob to back him up if things should turn ugly.

A person is a calm, rational being that can steadily reason it's way through any situation, assessing all the possible angles and outcomes. People, on the other hand, are dumb panicky animals that can only find security and safety through a herd or pack mentality. When something bigger and badder than said pack comes along, then it will do one of two things. It will either immediately disperse into a free-for-all, every man for himself, get my own ass out of the fire escape, or the herd will choose one of their own number to appease the threat.

It wasn't courage that enabled the merchant to stand in front of an ANBU without any support.

He was just incredibly stupid enough to not realize that he had been offered up as the proverbial sacrificial lamb.

"You heard me!" The porcine man ranted, "That... thing...will get off scot free and we'll not get a cent of justice!" Here he gestured broadly at the widespread damage to the marketplace. "Who will pay for this mess!? The Hokage is a senile old-"

Suddenly, the fat unfortunate was flying through the air over the heads of the crowd, only to crash into a stone wall of a nearby house. Blood was spurting freely from a mangled nose and a mouth that was bereft of all its front teeth. He was out like a light and was likely to be in a tremendous amount of pain when he regained consciousness.

The elite ninja casually wiped the blood spatters off of his fist onto Naruto's orange jumpsuit.

Amazingly, he had held on to Naruto with one hand while dashing to pummel the presumptuous merchant.

Naruto was gazing up in awe at the ANBU. He had known that the ninja had moved when he saw the crumpled form of the fat man, but all he had felt was a slight breeze from his passing and a light blur of his surroundings. From Naruto's perspective, it was like the two hadn't moved at all.

"It wouldn't be wise," drawled the ninja, seemingly to no one in particular, "to disrespect the Hokage in my or in any of my colleagues' hearing." His mask nodded slightly in the direction of the motionless body of the outspoken vendor. "We would have to chastise you." And here he turned his head towards the crowd, who instinctively edged back from him. "I'm sure that you all agree that it would be an...inconvienience...if you were to end up like our friend here."

Soft mutterings of agreement floated from the crowd, who were now cowed and beaten.

Pivoting on his feet once more, he aimed himself towards the Hokage's Tower. His voice carried behind him as he walked away. "You'll be compensated in some small way by the Hokage. For now, I would suggest that you get this mess cleaned up." Though he hadn't come right out and said it, the former mob understood the unspoken 'Or Else'.

When you lived in a ninja village, you tended to notice beneath the underneath.

Throwing Naruto over his shoulder like a sack of flour, who squawked pitifully in protest, he sprang into the air, leaping from rooftop to rooftop to make his way towards the Hokage's Tower.

Slowly, the crowd dispersed, leaving behind only the women's apparel vendor. She was agitatedly snatching various garments and frilly underthings from the dusty ground and muttering under her breath. She finally came to the merchant, who was starting to stir to awareness. As his vision focused, he noticed three things: 1) He was living every pervert's dream of lying in a pile of women's underthings, 2) His face felt like his wife had finally taken that sledgehammer to him like she had been promising to for years, and 3) One very pissed off panty merchant's fist was heading towards his face.

KRUNCH!

Ah well, at least he wouldn't have to worry about solid foods anymore.

A liquid diet's healthier anyway.

------

The air was rushing past his ears as the ANBU ran, creating a hollow whooshing sound that deafened him. He knew that higher classed ninja could condition their bodies and chakra until it seemed they could move faster than normal, but this was insane! A runny blur was all that Naruto could make of his surroundings as the unlikely pair dashed towards the Hokage's Tower.

Naruto had long since given up struggling. Every time he tried to wiggle out of the man's grip, he just clamped down tighter, squeezing the breath out of Naruto's body every time he so much as wriggled his pinky toe.

So he lay as still as possible, trying to act like the sack of rocks the ANBU had treated him as.

A few moments later found a dizzy Naruto dropped carelessly in front of two other ANBU, the guards to the small gated entrance of the Tower.

"Here's the brat. He's to be taken to the Hokage immediately." The man's words were clipped and precise, as if every moment wasted was a crime in of itself.

The two guards nodded their badger and rat masks simultaneously.

"Understood," they barked.

Finally coming to his senses, though his vision was till a tad blurry, he focused his eyes just in time to see Tiger disappear in a puff of smoke and a whirl of leaves.

He blinked.

He looked up at Rat and Badger, who unconciously puffed out their chests, well used to being the subjects of admiration for young boys, ninja and civillian alike.

"Who the hell chooses a rat and badger as a mask?! They suck!" Naruto shook his head disdainfully. "Now a Tiger mask...that's cool!"

The two guards deflated like a pair of ballons.

------

"Gaaaahh!"

A very irate Badger literally tossed the little brat into the Hokage's office.

He landed with a very painful thump face-first on the floor in front of a huge oaken desk.

"Hokage-sama shall be here shortly. Sit down and be quiet!" Rat snarled over the shoulder of Badger. Apparently, the subject of the two's masks was a serious taboo. Who knew that they were so sensitive about it?

Naruto blithely flipped them off as he cradled his sore cheek in his hand. Badger's hand instinctively twitched towards his shuriken pouch, but Rat managed to stop him in time. Badger shook him off and huffed angrily before slamming the door behind him.

Still scowling heavily, Naruto took his prize out of his pocket and examined it for damage. The little wooden kunai was cracked in a few places, but otherwise seemed undamaged.

Naruto's shoulders drooped slightly as he recalled the theft.

This year, the Academy students were beginning their instruction on how to properly handle tools such as shuriken and kunai in battle. Admittedly, he was terrible at the subject, but that only made him all the more determined to succeed at it. Unlike most of his classmates, he could ill afford to buy the required sets of weapons that would allow him to practice at home. As it was, he was forced to use old hand-me downs from the Academy, and they never seemed to fly as true or gleam so brightly as the set that belonged to the Uchiha kid, or even that Hyuuga boy who was already in his third year.

And so, he scrimped and saved as much as he could, even skipping a few visits to Ichiraku, in the hopes that he could buy a set that would do him proud.

Unfortunately, he had grossly underestimated the price of a student's set of weaponry. The few ryo2 that he had managed to set aside was not nearly enough to buy what he had in mind. The only thing that was even in the neighborhood of his budget was a dull wooden kunai that was hardly useful and intended solely for decoration or for a small child. Naruto knew this, but anything would have been better than nothing. It would be useful for target practice, at least.

The only problem was the weapons merchant, the very same one that had led the mob on that wild chase just a short while ago.

For some reason, most inhabitants of the village hated Naruto with a passion that they reserved for the lowest of the low and the worst of criminals. The mere sight of him was enough to silence an entire street. They would fix him with baleful, wrath filled stares and whisper quietly amongst themselves. They all put as much distance between the hated child and themselves as they possibly could.

For a eleven year old child with no family or friends to speak of, you can imagine the pain and confusion his forced isolation caused him. But somehow, even through all of his childhood, he managed to brush it ashide as if it mattered not. His brash and cocky attitude shielded him from those stares and whispers. They were the only things that could.

The weapons merchant, in particular, positively loathed the boy. When Naruto had first approached him about the wooden toy, he was chased from the stall with blows and curses. Naruto, being the impulsive prankster that he was, decided to take matters into his own hands. Utilizing all the stealth he possessed, he manged to palm the kunai while the merchant was occupied with a customer, leaving the two ryo where it had lain. A few feet from the stall without any trouble and he considered himself home free.

The merchant's wounded screeching behind him told him otherwise.

He might have gotten away with it if he hadn't tried to speed away from the scene of the crime.

As it was, a speeding flash of orange told the merchant all he needed to know.

In a sudden fit of anger, Naruto snarled, "Goddammit! I hate them!"

He was so tired of being cheerful. So tired of smiling when he wanted to cry instead. And he was so utterly weary of pretending that his dream of acknowledgement would ever come true.

Disgusted with the world in general, he flung the kunai over his head, not caring where it landed.

Until he heard a crash, that is.

His anger forgotten in his fear, his head whipped around and he nearly fainted on the spot when he saw what he had broken laying in front of the small fireplace.

A small vase lay shattered, and bits of gray dust were settling down around it.

Naruto had no idea what he had just broken, but it certainly looked a lot like those urns that held the ashes of dead people.

His eyes instantly snapped to the pictures on the mantle above the fire place.

His hands flew to his forehead in horror as he saw pictures of the Fourth and the other previous Hokages staring impassively at him.

"Ahh! I broke the Yondaime! I mean, his body, the urn--dust--broken….?" His voice trailed off into incoherent babbles. Forget a torture session, this was more likely to earn him a one way ticket to the executioner's block!

He scuttled over to the vase, whimpering like a kicked puppy. Oh, he was so dead!

In this situation, ladies and gentlemen, we see a classic Uzumaki technique. If perhaps, we ignore reality hard enough, and pretend that it never happened, then maybe, just maybe, it will go away.

Naruto had nowhere near the patience to wait and hope the mess solved itself.

He bent over and picked up a corner of the rug and swept the broken shards under it. He studied the lump intently. If you looked at it right, it seemed flat. Sort of. Satisfied, he dusted his hands and tried to get rid of the dust the only way he knew how.

By throwing it in the smoldering embers of last night's fire.

This was a completely logical thought and we cannot fault him for thinking so. However, this particular dust reacted rather violently when it came into contact with fire.

Three things happened the instant that Naruto tried to hide the evidence of his idiocy.

The Third Hokage opened the door, and upon seeing Naruto about to throw the dust upon the coals, shouted his name in alarm, throwing out his arm in a hopeless attempt to halt the boy.

Naruto jumped reflexively, causing him to drop the dust directly onto the fireplace, which roared instantly in a whirling maelstrom of green flames.

Surprised beyond belief that a little dust could cause such a violent reaction, Naruto tried to dash away, only to trip up on the shards of the vase he had tried to sweep under the rug. Screaming his throat hoarse, Naruto fell headfirst into the blaze and disappeared into it's depths as the green fire died back down to embers.

The Hokage made an awkward flying leap to try to catch the boy, but alas, he was far too late and too far away from Naruto. He landed face first into the gritty ashes in front of the grille.

And that was how Rat and Badger found the strongest ninja in the Hidden Village of the Leaf when they rushed to investigate the scream.

Can you say blackmail material, kids?

------

Halfway across the world, somewhere in the misty highlands of Scotland, there exists an extraordinary school whose existence is hidden from the mainstream world.

Indeed, Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry is a boarding school that is far from ordinary as you can get, as you can very well imagine. Oddities and rarities are the norm in those hallowed halls of learning. But today...something beyond even the normality of Hogwarts occured.

While the Headmaster of this school, one Albus Dumbledore, was away on business at Gringotts, a very peculiar thing happened, even by wizarding standards.

The small fireplace, which contained a small merry flame, suddenly burst into a whirlwind of green. A moment later, one very sooty and disoriented Uzumaki Naruto landed arse first on the carpet, covered in soot and nauseous beyond belief. After staring wide-eyed at the office full of wondrous gadgets and shiny dohickeys, his eyes rolled up into the back of his head and he passed into the world of blissful ignorance.

AN: Wow, I really like doing things in threes, don't I? It is a fairly powerful number after all.

1. Unless I'm mistaken, that is a straight-edge sword sword that was actually utilized by ninja. I believe that is it similar to the short sword that the Samurai used as a defensive weapon, but I could be wrong.

2. Again, don't quite have the numbers straight. All I know is that ryo is a higher form of currency than yen. And surely a professional set of kunai and shuriken would cost more than a large amount of yen, am I right?