Note: This chapter is still being edited, and will be reposted later on, I just wanted to post this as a thank you to all the readers and reviewers. I haven't forgotten the stories and I am still on it.

Chapter 3

The moment Naruto left their little inn room to explore the village
of his birth, Motoharu secured their possession before leaving as
well and making his way back to the Hokage tower. He had witnessed
the wistful look in the old hokage's eyes when he met Naruto earlier
that day. He was positive that the hokage will ask questions that
would make Naruto uncomfortable at the scrutiny. It was easier this
way, to freely assure the old man that Naruto was here.

In Konoha.

Here to stay.

Motoharu shook the brief hesitation and pang within his chest at the
thought. It was Naruto's choice how he lived his life. He could not
choose for him. But he will prepare his nephew before that time came
when he had to say goodbye.

The dark haired man scowled at his melancholy thoughts, One thing
at a time.' He did not even bother with using the normal means into
getting to the Hokage's office. He leapt onto the near building
ledge before he launched himself towards the window of Sarutobi's
office.

From the second tensing of the old man shoulders Motoharu knew he
was expected. He did not hesitate to walk around and occupy the
chair he sat in earlier that day. He patiently waited for the older
man to speak. As he waited, he glanced around the room to find to
his hidden amusement that nothing had changed in the room since he
last he saw it eleven years ago. Except now, there was a picture of
the Yondaime on the wall next to Sarutobi's.

He was still studying that face when the old man finally placed the
last document away addressed him.

"He has grown so much."

Motoharu turned to the Hokage as he raised a dark brow at the
wistful tone. He kept quiet, knowing from the look in the older
man's eyes that he had so many questions.

"He has very…old eyes Motoharu. You did not come here from your
village did you?"

Motoharu cleared his throat, it was a valid question but he could
not help but feel defensive of how he raised Naruto for the last
seven years after leaving their village. He felt that he should not
have minced words or actions from his nephew. He wanted to prepare
him for what he might face when he was on his own. Motoharu knew
that he would not always be there.

So he covered everything he knew his nephew would need or come up in
question in the future. He wasn't about to let Konoha's leader
question his methods.

He met those wise eyes with arrogance and defiance. "Naruto was
taught by the best within each village he visited. He procured
allies that not even their leader's could do. No one can question
his skills both professionally and personally. Do not sit there and
question how I raised him when you could not even do something as
simple as protect him those years ago."

Both men were surprised at the outburst. Motoharu silently cursed at
his momentary lapse in control. He let his own fears concerning
Naruto amplify, that only a simple observation from the Hokage
brought everything out.

The silence lasted for a moment before Sarutobi cleared his throat
to grab the young man's attention. He smiled sadly at Motoharu, "I
realized how tactless that sounded and I apologize for that. I
regret…"

"I regret many things about what happened that day. And I will live
with those faults until my dying day. I am if nothing else happy to
see what a fine young man he has turned out to be. I do not question
your ability as his guardian or sensei."

He watched Motoharu nodded his head in understanding at the
sentiment as the silence washed over them again. He took that time
to light his pipe, he relaxed marginally as he puffed at it
leisurely. He saw no use trying to make small talk with the serious
younger man. It appeared that Motoharu had answers to his questions;
he just had to ask the right ones.

"Have you brought him back to stay or will I be saying goodbye to
the child again?" Sarutobi's voice was quiet as he watched his guest
stare blankly at him.

Motoharu smirked, his eyes sparked at the menacing thoughts that
flew within his head. "That decision will be up to my nephew. He is
not bound to this village, since no one here knows of his existence
but a certain few; he can leave it as he pleases."

Motoharu could see the objection arising, he continued without
pause. "It was his father's wish that he learn about his Namikaze
family. I am fulfilling a dying wish. If after Naruto has obtained
what his father has left him and he wishes to leave, neither you nor
your village has the right to stop him."

Sarutobi was not surprised at the revelation; he remained silent as
he observed the unflinching shinobi, meeting his gaze without
hesitation or fear. He had to admire the gull of this young man to
come into his village and speak to him this way. He was impressed,
but also irritated. He did not show either emotion.

"You make a good point Motoharu. Naruto may have that choice, but I
am the leader of this village and it is my job to protect this
village and everyone and…..everything in it."

Motoharu narrowed his eyes when the clear emphasis was placed on the
last words were given. He sat stiffly in his chair and waited for
the Hokage to continue.

"All of Namikaze Minato's possession is kept under my control. I
have kept watch over it, waiting for its owner to come claim them.
To prove that he is a Namikaze, he can not just leave."

Motoharu almost scoff at the threat, for they both knew that when
Naruto turned 18, everything would be handed over to him, the
properties, money and resposiblities. But still, Sarutobi might use
the Namikaze scolls as leverage for Naruto to stay in Konoha.

He wouldn't put it passed the old man to pull such a stunt. A leader
of a hidden village must take measures to ensure the safety of his
people. He was tempted to just stand and leave this miserable place.
But Naruto needed to be….at least for a little while. Until he knew
what he wants, Motoharu would stay with the boy. He would be damn if
he left his nephew here to be pawed upon by Konoha's council and
their leader.

Naruto was still his ward and until he thinks that his nephew is
ready to strike out on his own, he will continue to watch out for
him. He may be mature for his age, but in so many ways, he is still
a child.'

"You're holding my brother-in-law's property as leverage. You must
be very clever or….. desperate. I'm thinking the latter."

The older man softly chuckled as if Motoharu made a joke. The dark
haired man was not amused. He did not have time to comment as
Sarutobi waved his hand in dismissal at the arising question in
those grey eyes.

"That subject is for another time. Rest assured that I will be glad
to provide Naruto with everything that belonged to his father at the
time of his eighteenth birthday. All I ask is that you let Naruto
open his heart to the village that his father so loved. The very
village that he sacrifice his life to protect."

Motoharu did not contain his fury at that comment. The tightening
around his mouth and narrowed glint within his eyes gave away the
anger he felt. He gritted his teeth before replying in a soft but
dangerous voice. "You mean the village that demanded the blood of an
innocent baby. Are you speaking of the same village which in
ignorance tried to dishonor Minato's last wish?"

"…." The sadness and shame that fell across the Hokage's face was so
genuinely sincere that Motoharu halted his tirade. He nodded his
head when he met that old gaze again. Sarutobi sighed as he leaned
back in his chair, he contemplated that all was forgiven on both
parts and the momentary pause here was for both to compose
themselves before changing the subject.

Sarutobi cleared his throat, "Tell me of Naruto's travel."

Motoharu accepted the attempt to smooth the edges of the argument;
he paused for a second to collect his thoughts and wondered where to
start. Start from the beginning.'

Naruto smiled at Lee when he tried to keep him entertained so he
didn't leave. "Naruto-kun, you may not be a shinobi but your flames
of youth are strong and bright!!"

The older boy started dancing about trying to reenact the fight that
took place moments before. Naruto's ears were still ringing from
Lee's exclamation but just chuckled with amusement. "Lee-san, I
really have to go. My uncle will be wondering where I am. And it's -
" the sound of his stomach growling made everyone in the clearing
stop to stare at the blond haired boy. Two brushes of pink appeared
on Naruto's cheeks as he bit his bottom lip embarrassedly. "I guess
I was hungrier than I thought."

Ten-ten giggled while Neji just watched the whole scene with barely
concealed curiosity. He wanted to know more about this boy, but he
wasn't about to let them know that he was more intrigued than he let
on. He will just have to follow the boy after everyone parted ways.

Lee nodded his head in understanding. "I am sorry Naruto-kun, you
should go home to eat and bring out more bouts of youth. Allow me to
escort you home." Naruto did not have time to accept or reject it
before Ten-ten interjected. "Lee, Naruto isn't some simple girl that
needs you to-" She broke off when Lee jumped five feet away from
Naruto with his face all flushed red. Naruto smiled at them all.
They were all very amusing, but he wasn't going to stay around so
his stomach can start singing again.

"Actually Lee-san I would appreciate it if you did walk me back to
the inn. I don't remember my way. And I don't want to keep my Uncle
waiting too long…or my stomach." He smiled charmingly at Ten-ten
which made the girl blush. "It was a pleasure to meet you Ten-ten,
perhaps we'll see eachother again in the future?" Ten-ten smiled
shyly at Naruto.

"I would love that Naruto-san, maybe you could show me those moves
with the tessen. I have never taken that kind of weapon as a means.
I guess I underestimated a lot of things. I apologize." Naruto
understood what she meant, she had dismissed him at first glance,
but he smiled and nodded at her before turning to Lee.

"Shall we Lee-san?"

Lee smiled brightly before both he and Naruto turned to Neji, "I
will see both you and Ten-ten tomorrow for our next mission than
Neji-san?" The Hyuuga had no time to answer; Naruto stepped forward
and grasped Neji's hand. Neji was too surprised to pull away from
the touch.

"I hope I see you again Hyuuga-san. I want to know the products you
use to make your hair so…pretty." Naruto fluttered his lashes
dreamily as he eyed the boy's long dark hair. He tried not to burst
out laughing when Neji pulled away from his grasp in mild discomfort
and a hint of fury and embarrassment. At least I got a reaction out
of him. I think my work here is done.'

Naruto turned away and left the clearing. Lee opened his mouth to
say something but shook his head to clear the fog before jogging
after the retreating form of his new friend. Ten-ten was left with
her mouth hung open in surprise. "Shut your mouth Ten-ten, you'll
catch flies."

Neji tried not to snap at his female teammate, but he was till
furious at his humiliation. He should have seen that coming when the
blonde showed no hesitation in embarrassing Uchiha. He won't be
caught of guard next time.

Without waiting for a reply from Ten-ten, Neji made his way home. He
had training to do before Hinata-sama came home and his duty to tail
the Hyuuga heir. Surprisingly, Neji's fury was not directed at the
Hyuuga main family as usual, but at a certain blonde haired boy. He
will have to investigate the boy another time when Lee is not with
him.

"My Uncle seems to have disappeared somewhere. Do you know any place
I could find some takeout. I think my uncle will be hungry when he
gets back."

Lee did not waste time in taking his new friend to a restaurant just
down the street from the Inn. Naruto purchase some food and tried to
invite Lee to eat with them when his Uncle did arrived, but Lee
politely declined. "I am honored Naruto-kun, but I will leave you
today. You must be tired and I can always visit you tomorrow."

Naruto smiled in acknowledgement. "I will see you tomorrow then Lee-
san. And thank you for showing me around."

Not long after Lee left, Motoharu arrived with two containers of
food in his hand. He raised his eyebrow in question when he saw his
nephew sitting at the table with food spread out. Naruto smiled in
amusement at his uncle.

"Great! More food, can't wait to try everything!"

"How were your first sights of Konoha?" Naruto swallowed his noodles
before he spoke. He frowned at the first encounters he had
today. "Interesting. I met some people my own age. Already ninja or
in training, they were very…close minded. Except for Lee-san. He was
very funny and happy…..but other than him….Well…..It was a little
depressing to see the people that I will be associating with are so
artificial."

Motoharu nodded thoughtfully. His grey eyes met Naruto's curious
blue eyes. "I guess you have to show them that not everything is
what it seems."

They both fell into a comfortable silence, both occupied with their
own thoughts. "It seems that Sarutobi wants you to stay in Konoha
for a while. I did not inform him that we already decided to stay so
you can get to know more about Konoha. I wanted to see the lengths
the old man will go to ensure you stay."

Naruto tilted his head in contemplation. They had agreed that no one
must know about his lineage to Konoha, and they were going to use
the Hokage's promise to his father to receive the things that
belonged to him. All should be done without violence or threats…of
course. It seemed that the Hokage was willing to work with them.

"He has your father's possession; he has agreed to give them to you
when he feels you are ready."

Naruto sighed as he finally understood what his uncle was trying to
say. "When I'm ready, meaning that he needs to be assured that I
will not be using any of my father's influence or powers against
Konoha." It was not a question, so he did not receive an answer.

"I won't be proving something to the Hokage only, I will show this
entire village what a mistake it was to shun something they could
never understand." Naruto smirked at his uncle. It was full of
determination and mischief. "And I will do it with style."

Neji watched discreetly as Naruto sat in the clearing with a little
white puppy in his lap. He was talking quietly with the puppy as if
he could really understand the animal.

For the past three weeks Neji has been following the blonde hair boy
on his free time. There was something about the boy that rubbed him
the wrong way. Naruto was friendly and warm towards the people he
meets, but there was a hint of caution in his stance that betrayed
him when he met a ninja or government official. He kept himself
aloof when he was questioned about his past.

Neji was frustrated that out of all the time he spent observing the
blonde, he did not see him train or show any signs of extraordinary
exploits. He seemed like an average villager. But that was where the
problem lay. There was nothing simple or average about Naruto. After
he saw the spar..or fight it should be said…between Naruto and the
Uchiha, he was convinced that the blonde was hiding many things.

And a mystery was always meant to be solved. I don't want to be
caught off guard again.' Neji refused to acknowledge the hint of
bitterness in his thoughts. He was beyond such petty feelings of
adolescence. He was better than a blonde haired boy, and he will
prove it.

He turned back to the scene in front of him to see the little white
puppy start barking softly. Naruto laughed before he nodded as he
released the dog and stood graceful from his seat under the tree.
The dog started off and Naruto followed him. Neji not far behind.

TBC…

Thanks for reading and I hope everyone reviews