Title: Rain Dust II -- Timeless
Author: D.L. SchizoAuthoress
Rating: PG-ish?
Warnings: alternate future
Notes: The title is taken from another song composed by Miguel Samiez for 'MahJongg Master 4.0', available at kyodai. com
Date: April 11th - 13th, 2006 and April 27th, 2006

Author's Note: The first half of this story, roughly, is in third person. I know that it's a departure from the narrative of the first chapter, but bear with me. It was the only way I could think up to best "reveal" what happened to Lee...and a few other things, as well.

Timeless
a naruto fanfic by d.l. schizoauthoress

-----

The second son of the Sixth Hokage loved his father, the great Uzumaki Naruto, very much. The first year after he entered the Academy, Uzumaki Kenichi dedicated himself to learning all that he could about his father. If the stories about how the Great Naruto Bridge got its name weren't exciting enough, there was always the tale of the first chuunin exam that Kenichi's father had participated in, when he'd fought the Shukaku. And beyond that, there was the time that Uzumaki Naruto had helped restore the princess of Snow Country to her throne.

However, the thing that Kenichi loved to hear about most was the earliest pursuit of Uchiha Sasuke, who had once deserted the village so many years ago. He often bothered the men who'd been involved in the mission, but only Akimichi Chouji seemed to have any patience for retelling the old story. And Akimichi-san had been the first of the pursuit team to fall back and deal with an opponent one-on-one, so...

Kenichi appreciated Akimichi-san's willingness to share memories of the young Naruto, but the man didn't know much about the end of the chase. And the end of the chase was what Kenichi was interested in. He could have just asked Uchiha Sasuke himself, who had returned to the village and been removed as a missing nin from the bingo book through the Rokudaime's pardon. But the Uchiha was absolutely terrifying to face, from the perspective of a young boy.

Finally, he went to his mother. He begged her to tell him about Naruto's battles with Sasuke, but she only smiled at him in her gentle way and refused.

"If you want to find out, Kenichi," she said to mollify him, "why don't you follow him and see who he talks to? That will give you a clue of who to ask, and this exercise will help you sharpen skills that you will be using at the academy."

As usual, his mother knew exactly what to say to give him fresh ideas. Kenichi hadn't really expected a straight answer from her -- she preferred him to find out things for himself, but she was a very good source of hints and tips. But this time, her suggestion presented the young Uzumaki with difficulties that he worried he couldn't overcome.

For one thing, there were only a few places that the Rokudaime spent a lot of time in when not at home : his office, the assignment hall, and the Ichiraku ramen stand. Everyone in the village was barred from entering the Hokage's office unless summoned there, or in the case of an emergency. His assistant, a female jounin known as Tenten, was totally implacable. Furthermore, if a person tried too hard or too often to get past her, she wasn't above using a weapon from her varied and impressively sized arsenal.

As for the assignment hall, the only people allowed in there, aside from the Hokage and the book-keepers in charge of the financial matters of Konoha, were clients and shinobi. There was no way that a six-year-old kid could fool anybody that he was a genin, a graduate of the academy. That hardly ever happened, and was always marked upon. Besides, everybody knew what the Hokage's son looked like. The blond hair he inheirited from his father, while not as bright nor naturally spiky as Naruto's own, was distinctive and unusual.

The Ichiraku ramen stand was out as well. It was a small place, and the public section of it had cloth walls, making it easy for the people inside to hear the movements of outsiders. Uzumaki Kenichi decided, at last, to try following his father as much as possible for one day, and take note of whoever he talked to.

-----

Uzumaki Naruto smiled to himself as he left his home one morning. He would bet almost anything that his son would leave the compound five minutes after he did. This was because in five minutes, he would be passing a large tree that would obscure his view of the gate. It would be the perfect oportunity for Kenichi to slip out and begin shadowing him.

It hadn't escaped Naruto's notice that his son was extremely interested in his past escapades. He'd asked all of his yearmates and other friends not to give Kenichi an entire story about anything he'd done -- he wanted to find out how dedicated his son was to discovering things about the past.

Behind him, the leaves of that large tree rustled softly. He took a few more steps and grinned, for his suspicions were confirmed. The tree was planted only a few paces from where the outer wall of his home turned a corner, and it wasn't yet high enough to reach over the top of the wall. A breeze was blowing, but that couldn't have shaken the branches, because the wall blocked it. So it had to be Kenichi trailing him.

Naruto knew that he wouldn't be able to see Kenichi if he turned around, because the boy was rather adept at hiding. Instead, he decided to test Kenichi's speed. See if the boy could keep up with him while he was running as fast as he could go!

-----

"Hora-yo!" says the curry cook, as he places a steaming hot dish in front of Naruto. Kenichi peers in through one of the windows, having finally located his father after losing track of him that morning. He's never seen his father come to this place for lunch before.

The place is called the Flame-Tamer Curry Shop. There are a few tables, seperated by the usual paper screens, and a lunch counter. Naruto is seated at the lunch counter, and talking to the cook in a low voice. Kenichi wonders with annoyance whether it's because Naruto knows of his presence.

"Itadakimasu!" Naruto says with a grin. "How's business doing, Gejimayu?"

"Just fine," Lee replies, smiling at the use of his nickname Fuzzy Brows. "Especially since word has gotten around that the Hokage eats here."

Between wolfing down his curry and taking huge swallows of water, Naruto manages to say, "Anything to help an old friend."

"More likely, anything for good food." Lee jokes. "I'm glad to see that all my travels have yielded enough knowledge and skill to satisfy your appetite. That's a true test of mastery!"

If a few other customers had not come in, the two men would have continued their conversation. In the time that Lee takes to get their orders and serve them, Naruto finishes his meal. He leaves the shop, smiling at the sight of his son ducking around a corner so as not to be noticed.

'Let Rock Lee deal with the little scamp,' Naruto thinks, watching out of the corner of his eye as Kenichi goes into the Flame-Tamer Curry Shop.

"You're a friend of my father's!" Kenichi exclaims as he enters, and climbs up onto the seat that Naruto just vacated. The curry shop owner only smiles at him and takes away Naruto's emptied plate. Kenichi leans forward and demands, "Did you know Uzumaki Naruto when he was a boy?"

-----

I have to laugh, quietly, at the young boy's enthusiasm. "Himitsu-dayo!" I say jokingly -- it's a secret. I don't recall if my younger self was ever as forward as Naruto's son. 'Kids today!' I think, then realize how old that made me sound.

'Oh, well. The springtime of youth has to end sometime.'

Kenichi scowls at me. "Then you do know my father somehow."

"Of course I do." I reply mildly, and busy my hands with cleaning off the lunch counter. "Everyone knows who the Sixth Hokage is." I glance out the window, gauging the foot traffic outside. It's not time for the lunch crowd yet, so I can continue talking with the young Uzumaki boy.

It's amazing that even with those white Hyuuga eyes, Uzumaki Kenichi looks and acts like a young version of his father. Not much of Hinata's influence seems to have taken effect with this son, not yet. I don't particularly mind it, though. I never really minded the way that Naruto was, and it's just amusing in this little six-year-old boy.

"Would you like some curry?" I ask, treating him like just another customer. "The special today is coconut chicken curry."

The boy's resolve seems to waver, slightly. He is indeed Naruto's son -- only the prospect of food throws him off the trail. "Is it very spicy?"

"Only as spicy as you want it."

"How spicy does my dad like his curry?"

"Hmmm..." I tap my chin thoughtfully. "Are you sure that you want it that way? Naruto-kun likes it pretty spicy. Not as hot as the 'Curry of Life', but very close..."

"Hey! I'm a paying customer, aren't I?"

"That you are. That you are..."

I spend the rest of the afternoon telling Uzumaki Kenichi about my life. He asks me if I was related to Maito Gai, his older brother's jounin teacher. That leads to several stories of my youth, and being trained as a ninja of Konoha. Then he wants to know why I was running a curry shop, instead of going on missions or teaching at the academy. I tell him about the dangers of the chuunin exam, and how I'd been so badly wounded by Gaara. That impresses him.

"You fought the Kazekage?" he asks, eyes wide.

I shake my head. "Gaara wasn't the Kazekage then. It was later, when they discovered that Orochimaru had killed his father..." With a shrug, I say, "However, Gaara was strong enough. The injuries I got in that battle made it impossible for me to continue living as a ninja."

I won't tell him about Tsunade-sama's special surgery, or how I turned down the offer. A child like him, with his whole life in front of him, full of dreams and ambitions of the shinobi life...he wouldn't understand. I hadn't been able to cope with the ramifications of my decision for a long time, myself.

"Instead, once I'd been healed, I got permission to leave the village. I took a journey to my grandfather's homeland, China. There, I became an apprentice to a master chef of Chinese cooking, where I stayed for several years."

"But you came back."

"How could I not?" I ask. "The Hidden Village of Konoha is the most beatiful place in the world. And it is my home."

"Will you tell me about my father? What he was like?" Kenichi asks once again.

Persistant kid. I know that Naruto doesn't want people spreading tales about him, and I could tell Kenichi some potentially embarrassing stuff. One of my employees, Feng Mui, saves me from making up a stupid excuse.

"Lee-san, we're getting very busy. I'm sorry to interrupt," she says, "But Zan Lien and I can't keep up with this rush!"

It gives me an idea. "Say, Kenichi-kun, would you be willing to help us out today? All I ask is that you assist in clearing up after the customers and keeping the store clean." Then, I lean close, as if telling the boy a secret. "If you do this, I might have time to tell you about your father. But only if you do a good job. Is it a deal?"

Happily, the young Uzumaki says, "It's a deal!"

As I close up my shop for the night, I thank Kenichi and ask if he will be able to help out tomorrow.

"Oh, no, Lee-san. I have school tomorrow." Kenichi answers.

"Ah, well. Perhaps you can come after school." I say, and I can see that the boy is interested. I give him a promise, "If your father comes in, I will definitely ask him to talk about his younger days when you are there."

"He'll notice me!" Kenichi protests.

I smile and reply, "Not if you are sweeping up or cleaning tables. Naruto always eats at the lunch counter, and a person cannot see who is behind the screens from the seats at the counter."

Convinced now, Kenichi enthuses, "Okay! Sounds perfect!" And he runs off before I can offer to see him home. I'm not worried, though. No harm will come to the son of the Hokage within the village.

"So, Naruto, does that solve your problem?"

What originally appeared to be a garbage can is hidden by a plume of smoke. When it clears, the Rokudaime is visible. He grins sheepishly at me, and rubs the long scar that runs across his brow -- a gesture of nervousness, I know. "Sorry. Kenichi really is pretty harmless, and I suppose that I could just tell him those stories."

"Where's the fun in that?" I reply, smiling back. "Besides, it's better that he finds things out for himself. He's got youth on his side."

Naruto and I begin walking down the street toward my home in silence. Naruto speaks up after a little while. "Thanks for getting him off my back. I don't want him following me to Sunagakure this week. Gaara-san probably wouldn't be as indulgent as the others about Kenichi's pestering."

"I needed a helper anyway." I laugh, "And if you stay away from the shop for a while, he'll stick around and I won't be breaking a promise."

END