Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto and I have no intentions of profiting from this story.
Something to Die For – A Naruto Reimagining
Chapter 1 –The Path Diverges/A New Day
Umino Iruka wasn't bothered by the fact that the other teachers had long ago finished up with their assignments, but it seemed that the Third Hokage's patience would last at least a little bit longer. The conference room had been relatively clean when the meeting had begun, but now the floor and the table around him were covered in dropped lists, records, and pictures.
"Yuuhi Kurenai, genjutsu specialist. Recently promoted during last year's exam. She's up for a team, isn't she, Hokage-sama?" Iruka asked, pushing papers aside, trying to find the correct list.
The Hokage watched Iruka's search with amusement. "Yes, Iruka, she put in the request a few months ago. She seems to think she has something to prove."
Iruka nodded distractedly as he continued to rummage through the papers. "I'd like to pair her up with Hyuga Hinata, Aburame Shino, and Inuzuka Kiba. I think she'd be a good influence, especially with Hinata. The only thing she needs to be a good shinobi is confidence, and a strong woman in her life might be just what she needs. She also has done extensive work in reconnaissance, which will benefit all of their abilities. " Abruptly finding the paper he was look for, he made a quick note on it, before looking towards the Hokage.
The Hokage glanced over his own notes before nodding. "I believe that can be done, Iruka. Is that all the teams? I believe you were assigned to help pick the jonins for Teams 7-10, am I correct?"
Iruka seemed to deflate a little. "Actually, Hokage-sama, we haven't picked a sensei for Team 7."
The Hokage frowned and looked down at his notes. "So it seems. Well, which students are on the team?"
Iruka seemed to deflate a little more, and it took him several seconds to answer. When he did, it was in a quiet voice. "Haruno Sakura and Uchiha Sasuke."
The Hokage instantly understood. "Ah, I see. This was to be young Naruto's team, was it?" Iruka gave a mute nod. "And since he did not pass yet again, we are left with only two members. Quite a quandary indeed."
Iruka seemed to stare out into space for a moment before speaking in an even quieter voice than before. "I was so sure he would pass this year. His taijutsu is still a horrible mess, but I was amazed at how much he improved this year. He seems to finally understand that to reach his goals, he would have to work for them." He gave a small shrug. "But I guess he still wasn't ready. Maybe next year…" He drifted off into a morose silence.
The Hokage kindly gave him several seconds to brood before he cleared his throat. "Iruka, I do understand how you feel about the boy, growing up, like you, with his parent's love, but sometimes," The Hokage sighed, "we must move beyond that. He has failed the exam three times, and he does not have many more chances. Right now, concentrate on the students that you can do something for."
Iruka started, before blushing in embarrassment and scrabbling through his papers again. The Hokage smiled and gave him a few moments before asking, "Your recommendation for the jonin-sensei?"
"Actually, I'd like your advice on this one, Hokage-sama, but with…the failure of the third student, I'm not too sure that my recommendation is the right one." He looked pensively at the Hokage, who raised a thick eyebrow at him, before waving at him to continue. "I'd like Morino Ibiki to take Team 7."
The Hokage blinked in surprised, before rapidly looking through his notes. He had almost reached the last page before he found what he was looking for. "He does have a standing request for a team, but it was made almost 6 years ago. I'm sure even he has forgotten about it by now." He flipped to the front of his notes. "Why not Hatake Kakashi? He recently put in for another team, and he is a master of the Sharingan. He'd be a perfect match for Uchiha Sasuke, should he ever unlock his family's bloodline."
Iruka shifted uncomfortably. "I saw that as well, Hokage-sama, but I'm not sure such a sensei would do well for Haruno Sakura. She's an outstanding student, a genius most likely, and I think she'd do much better with…well, a more intellectual sensei."
"And you had hoped he'd give Naruto the same boost he'd given you back when you were a genin?" The Hokage added sharply.
Iruka winced, but nodded. "The thought…had crossed my mind. Ibiki was one of the few jonins I was certain would treat Naruto with some respect…"
He quailed under the Hokage sudden glare. "I dislike the fact that you believe any of my jonins would treat their students with anything less than respect," The Hokage's glare abruptly dropped, and he continued wearily, "But I will admit that slip-ups have on occasion occurred. But back to the matter at hand, how do you expect that Morino Ibiki will provide this support? He is the leader of the ANBU Torture and Interrogation Unit, and his skills cannot be spared from there. Do you believe it possible for him to juggle both a genin team and fulfill his responsibilities to his unit?"
Iruka seemed to shrink into himself a bit. "I thought that maybe we could formally attach the team to the unit. Ibiki-semp…-san would be able to take care of both. It used to be done all the time with other units back during the last war, but I'm sure there is some sort of compromise we could come up with…" Iruka trailed off when he saw the Hokage's blank expression.
"You are suggesting we attach a group of genin to the most secret and feared unit in the village? Have you considered the consequences of such an action, Iruka?" The Hokage asked in a very mild voice.
Iruka nodded nervously, but spoke up nonetheless. "I have thought about the consequences, Hokage-sama. Genin are notorious for their inability to keep their mouths shut, but I have full confidence in both Sasuke's and Sakura's abil-"
"Those were not the consequences I was speaking of, Iruka. Have you thought what such an assignment might do to the children?" The Hokage asked gently. "Have you considered that assigning them to Morino may set their path's into a path that will lead them only to darkness? You know full well, that one's jonin sensei's abilities have a great effect on the future of their genin. While no one doubts the necessity of the Interrogation unit, it is not a unit that many actively seek to join. Would you be willing to do such a thing to those children?"
Iruka did not reply and refused to look the Hokage in the eye. He sighed. "I shall consider the choice for Team 7, Iruka. You may go."
For a moment it looked as if Iruka would protest, but he caught himself. He gave an audible sigh, before picking up his scattered papers, and excusing himself from the room.
After a few minutes of quiet contemplation, Saturobi reluctantly and wearily got to his feet, collected his much smaller stack of notes, and started the long climb to his office. Iruka certainly meant well, but he was thinking with his heart and not his brain. It was simply not possible to assign a genin team to Ibiki, who was already hard pressed for time. Plus, there was the upcoming chuunin exam to consider. Ibiki would make a wonderful proctor for the first test…
Passing a group of storerooms on the way to his office, his chain of thought was broken by a faint noise coming from behind one of the doors. That was curious in itself, for at this time of night, the tower should be almost deserted and as that particular storeroom was only supposed to be opened by his decree. For someone to be in there, that meant an intruder of the highest degree. Few knew about that storeroom outside his own council. Saturobi's eyes narrowed, and quicker than the eye could see, he removed his ornamental hat, and had drawn several kunai from beneath his bulky robes. It would take too long for even the ANBU to get here. He smiled. It had been a long time since he'd had to deal with an intruder himself.
He waited for a few moments for the sound to move further into the room, before quietly opening the door, and slipping through. He brought his blades up to throw, took careful aim…and then stopped, surprised by what he saw. He quickly put away his blades and tried to look as stern and grumpy as possible. "Naruto! What are you doing in my house at this hour?"
For a moment, the boy seemed surprised, then flashed him one of his characteristic grins, and he began working quick hand signs. "Behold! The Ninja Centerfold!"
For a moment Naruto was obscured by smoke, and the Hokage almost laughed when he heard the name of the technique. However, when the smoke cleared…the world seemed to go away.
When he came to a short while later, he rubbed his head gingerly. Who knew that Naruto knew the Hokage's weakness? He laughed to himself quietly, but that laughter was quickly choked off when he looked around. This storeroom contained many forbidden, but precious things. The problem was that the most important of them was missing, and the Hokage knew without a doubt who had taken it.
After the jonin and chuunin of the village had been informed of the theft, Saturobi had dashed up the stairs as quickly as his old bones would let him. When he reached his quarters, he carefully locked the entrance, and after a moment's consideration, shuttered all the windows. Being too warm was a small price to pay for privacy.
Moving to the front of one of the many bookshelves that decorated his home, he pulled several books in quick succession, and then stood back as the shelf soundlessly retracted into the floor. A small room was revealed, containing only a small table and a comfortable chair.
What was on the table however was what held Saturobi's attention. It was one of the most precious possessions owned by the Leaf village, a scrying stone. Four generations of ninja had studied it, but none knew quite how it worked. In fact, the farthest any of them had ever gotten was that if the user fed chakra into it, and concentrated really hard on something, the stone would show what the user was thinking about. It did not have a large range, which made it unsuitable for spying, but Saturobi found it useful to keep track of those under his care. And of course, find young scroll thieves.
He quickly became engrossed in the scene that played out before his eyes. He had been lucky. He had activated the stone just in time to see poor Iruka catch up with Naruto. He listened patiently to Naruto's explanation and rejoiced in the fact that Naruto was innocent. However, he was greatly angered and worried by Mizuki's betrayal, but as the events quickly escalated, however, Saturobi's worry began to subside. He had full confidence that his ninja would pull through and deal with the problem. Both Iruka and Naruto were excellent ninja, after all.
When the battle finally resolved, the Hokage smiled. They had a ninth graduate and a third full team. Saturobi turned the possibilities over in his head. With a person like Naruto, whose own inner light always seemed to shine through, perhaps he would have to reconsider Iruka's recommendation. A bright light to illuminate a dark path, indeed.
And with that, Saturobi left his quarters and walked out into the new morning to calm the anxious group of ninja gathered about his tower.
Well, this is my first story I've posted on if you haven't figured that out already. I've been a member for a while, but until recently I haven't felt the urge to write anything out. So here it is, my story, Something to Die For. Reviews are appreciated, but not required, I'm happy enough to get something up on the site for once. I don't know when the next chapter will be up, or if there really will be a next chapter, so don't hold your breath.