A Simple Change: The Rasengan

By: Hideo Kazama (秀夫 風間)

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto and co. If I did, Naruto would have beaten the crap out of Sasuke at the Valley of the End and wouldn't wear that awful orange jumpsuit. No, he would wear old fashioned Shinobi clothes, and, in this fic, he will.

Chapter One: A Simple Change

Naruto sat down to catch his breath, having just escaped into the forest from the Hokage's mansion. His breathing was ragged and irregular, but still at a healthy pace. When he had finally slowed his breathing back to a normal pattern, he opened the Scroll of Forbidden Seals, his fingers trembling in excitement.

"First Jutsu on the list…Jissai Soru no Jutsu!" "Art of Reality Warp?"

He stopped and seemed to think about it for all of two seconds, his eyebrow rose in curiosity, before he looked at the description:

A Nin/Genjutsu Hybrid. This Jutsu slows down the real world to an extreme degree. The user, therefore, is able to do many more things than the people in the real world since he or she is not affected. The greatest known time difference noted is a whole six years. In other words, the user had slowed down the world around him to the point where he spent six years training while only a few hours passed in real time. A thing to remember about this jutsu is that your aging process is not affected by it, meaning that, no matter how far you slow reality down, you'll age the way you would in the real world. It is extremely easy to learn and cast but would be deadly in enemy hands.

Note: This jutsu can only be used for training. You can not affect anything happening in the real world, and the real world won't affect you.

Hand Seals: Bird, Dog, Monkey, Snake, Bird, Ox, Boar, Snake, Ram, Tiger, Horse, Hare, Snake, Bird, Dog, Monkey, Hare, Ox, Rat

Naruto grinned widely, his fingers twitching in anticipation. He took a quick look around, and then lay the open scroll on the ground in front of him. He went through the hand seals slowly so as not to mess them up. He finished with a low whisper to himself, "Rat."


In a bright flash of light, everything around Naruto disappeared! A sudden falling sensation ran through the blonde's limbs as darkness engulfed him! Then, all of the sudden, everything stopped!

When Naruto opened his eyes, he was no longer in the forest. Instead, he was sitting in a clearing. Beyond the clearing, in one direction, North, he could see a desert. In another direction, East, he could see a snow capped mountain. To the South, he could see a river and a waterfall. To the West, a bamboo forest lay in wait.

Naruto's rubbed his eyes in disbelief, his mouth hanging open slightly, "Sugoi!"

With a bright flash, fiery words wrote themselves in mid air:

Six months

Naruto was a bit confused for a second, then he remembered that the Jutsu he used manipulated time and space (only he didn't think of it as complexly). He grinned, and, as he was about to stand, his foot collided with something. Looking in the offending limb's direction, he found the scroll lying in front of him. He greedily picked it up again, searching its contents for another cool Jutsu.

"Du…du…duu…Ah! Here we go! Rasengan! It has to be learned in three steps!" Naruto scowled angrily, "ARGH!"

"Let's see if it's worth it."


A Ninjutsu originally crafted by the Yondaime, Rasengan is an A rank Jutsu. It requires no hand seals, but is extremely difficult to learn. It combines the Tree climbing and water walking exercises(which are later explained due to their necessity for certain jutsu) into its design, making it easier for some of the more experienced Shinobi to learn it. It is a powerful technique that causes much more internal damage than external damage if it is done right. Thus it is very hard to block.

Note: Yondaime created other Jutsu, such as Hiraishin no Jutsu (Later mentioned in this scroll) that aided in his single handed victory against scores of Iwa-nin in the Third Great Shinobi War.

"Whoa! Yondaime made this? It 'aided in his single handed victory against of scores of Iwa-nin'? Sugoi! I HAVE to learn this!"

Four Months Later…

"I think I have it," Naruto thought, "But it took me a long while to finally master it."

Naruto, of course, being the dense person that he was, had no idea that he had done something it had taken the great Yondaime years to accomplish in just four months.

Now, he was moving on to his next Jutsu, Kage Bunshin. A Jounin level Kinjutsu. He, with his now superior chakra control, proceeded to try this technique.

And, two days later, succeeded in mastering it.

The last Jutsu on his list of things to learn was the 'Hiraishin no Jutsu' he had heard so much about in the scroll. So, he unraveled the scroll again and proceeded to read what was said about Hiraishin no Jutsu…

…then he face faulted into the ground.

"Kuso! That'll take me at least THREE MONTHS to master…"


He sighed heavily, then took off his jacket, pulling a marker out from his kunai pouch (after all, what if he came across a sleeping Chuunin, but didn't have a marker with him to do doodles on said ninja's face?). He set his jacket down near the scroll, and proceeded to copy everything about the Hiraishin no Jutsu onto the inside of it.

After that, he put his jacket in a safe place and began studying the theory of Hiraishin no Jutsu (He didn't have the proper kunai or paper to write the seals on).

When his time was up, Naruto was transported back to the hut where he was supposed to meet Mizuki, his jacket (which now housed the whole theory and such behind the Hiraishin no Jutsu on its inside) now on his body again.

He looked at the moon to discover that it hadn't moved much compared to when he had left. He had become a bit more serious during his stay in the other realm— solitude tends to do that to you. He was still a bit loud and exuberant, but he had toned down a little.

To the average onlooker, he didn't look any different than when he had left. But, to a shinobi, his muscles had become more toned, his face a little less chubby with baby fat. To a shinobi, his eyes held a little less emotion, though they were by no means blank. To a shinobi, his skin was a bit darker; not very noticeably so, just a bit. To a shinobi, this would be very strange, as he had not aged a bit.

He smirked as his nose picked up a smell coming at him fast. He dropped the expression in favor of an exhausted one, doubling over with his hands on his knees and pretending to pant. He waited.

As soon as he sensed someone land in front of him, he looked up, dropping the pant. Iruka stood there, a disturbing look on his face, "I've found you!"

Naruto fell into his character easily, half of it genuine, "Heh, heh, you found me…I only had time to learn a few jutsu."

Iruka gave Naruto a once over, noticing frayed parts in his pants…but his jacket was strangely untouched. Naruto interrupted him, "Never mind that! If I show you this awesome Jutsu, you'll let me graduate!"

Iruka looked at him, surprised, "What gave you that idea?"

Naruto grinned, "Mizuki-sensei! He also told me about this scroll! He said that if I mastered one technique on here, you'd let me graduate!"

Iruka's eyes widened, "Mizuki?"

A sound fell onto their ears and Iruka flung Naruto out of the way, spinning around to get barraged with kunai! When Naruto looked up, his teacher was pinned to the hut they had been standing in front of!

A slight rustle caught Naruto's attention, and he whipped his head around to find Mizuki crouched on a tree on the other end of the clearing. Mizuki smirked, the supersized shuriken clanging lightly as he let out a low, short chuckle.

Mizuki's evil smile stretched a bit, "Great job finding him…"

"Now, I understand," Iruka spat venomously, tugging a kunai from his shoulder.

Mizuki's smirk dropped, and he spoke seriously, "Naruto, give me the scroll."

"No matter what, Naruto," Iruka said, pulling another kunai loose, "Don't give him the scroll! Mizuki used you to get his slimy hands on it!"

Naruto didn't know what was going on. He had an idea, but… "Mizuki-sensei wouldn't do that, would he?"

Mizuki smirked evilly, speaking in a singsong voice, "Naruto, there's no point in you having it…let me tell you the truth…"

Iruka's heart stopped for a second, "NO! DON'T MIZUKI!"

Mizuki's smirk widened into a maniacal grin and his voice was slightly giddy, "Twelve years ago, the demon fox Kyubi was sealed. And ever since that event, a new rule was created…a rule that everyone knows but you…because, Naruto…you were never meant to know it."

Naruto stuttered slightly, confused and a bit fearful, "Wha-what is this rule?"

Mizuki's grin widened to an impossible degree, "The rule is that no one is allowed to speak of the fact that you are the Kyubi no Yoko! The very demon fox that killed Iruka's parents and nearly destroyed the village!"

Mizuki began to yell in his exuberance, "You were sealed up by the Hokage you admire…"

Iruka closed his eyes, "STOP IT!"

Mizuki paid him no mind, "…And everyone lied to you! Didn't you find it weird that everyone hated you! What crackpot excuse did that decrepit Hokage give you for that!"

Taking a shuriken from his back, Mizuki started to spin it, "Even IRUKA hates you!"

Naruto roared in his anger, amethyst chakra whirling around his body! As his whisker marks became slightly more defined, crimson started to bleed into his irises!

Even as he prepared to throw his oversized shuriken, Mizuki rubbed salt in the fresh wound, "Nobody will ever accept you!"

Tears crept down Naruto's face as horrific scenes flashed in front of his now amethyst eyes. The first three were of his maltreatment by the villagers. He could hear them whisper to their children to stay away from him. Mizuki's voice crept into each scene, telling him he'd never be accepted.

"You are the Kyubi no Yoko!" A scene of the night the battle took place appeared in his mind, filled with carnage as a gigantic fox towered over the forest surrounding it, its jaws soaked with red blood. He could hear its monstrous roar!

SQUELCH! The sickening sound of metal piercing flesh reached his ears as small droplets of warm liquid fell on his face! A groan came from in front of him, prompting Naruto to open his eyes.

Iruka's eyes were closed, but he knew Naruto was still underneath him, so he decided to make his opinion heard, "When my p-parents died, I had no one to acknowledge me, to care for me. I-I acted the fool t-to gain attention. It was so painful."

The whisker marks on Naruto's cheeks returned to normal, but his eyes remained the amethyst they had become, the rounded human pupil there like it always had been. Naruto blinked when he felt water drip onto his cheeks, "I-If I'd done a better job, Naruto," Iruka's voice tightened in regret, tears falling from his eyes, "Y-you wouldn't have had to feel that pain like I did."

Naruto's eyes narrowed a bit as he looked towards the ground. Before Iruka could say anything else, Naruto had dashed off into the forest.

Mizuki chuckled, "Touching, Iruka, but it doesn't matter. Naruto is going to use the scroll to get revenge on the village…whatever you do is useless."

"Naruto isn't like that," Iruka ground out, pulling the shuriken from his back and throwing it back at Mizuki. Mizuki just chuckled, jumping away in pursuit of Naruto.

The Hokage sat in his chambers, his crystal ball set out in front of him.

"This is not good. If Naruto releases the Kyubi, even if by accident, then the village is doomed. I can only hope, and place my faith in Uzumaki Naruto."

The Sandaime Hokage turned his gaze to the pictures hanging on the wall, his eyes homing in on the picture of the Yondaime, whose spiky hair and blue eyes stood out amongst his other features.

"My friend, you would be deeply ashamed if you could see what your village has done to your only son. We can only pray he has inherited your strength like he did your determination."

A damaged and battered Chuunin chased after a not as battered, blonde haired boy, leaping from tree to tree as his target did. He rushed to catch up, his voice urgent, "Hurry! Pass me the scroll! Mizuki is after it!"

Said boy made his way towards the Chuunin, and…rammed his shoulder in the other's stomach as the both fell from the trees.

The boy fell back against a tree trunk, gasping for breath, while the Chuunin pushed himself from the ground, an odd look on his face, "Why? Naruto?"

The brown haired Chuunin glared at the boy, and, with a puff of smoke, turned into a gray haired Chuunin, "How did you know I wasn't Iruka?"

The boy smirked and turned into the brown haired Chuunin, "Because I'm Iruka."

The gray haired Chuunin smiled evilly, "I see…"

He turned to face Iruka, "So…You'd go that far for that thing? You don't get it…Naruto and I are the same! We both want the power of the scroll for our own purposes. There's no way a demon would pass that up!"

Iruka looked to the ground, "Yeah, a demon would do that…"

He looked back up, his face drawn into an angry expression, "But he's not a demon! He's Uzumaki Naruto of Konohagakure no Sato!"

Mizuki frowned, and prepared to throw the other shuriken, "Bah! I'll kill you now. Hurry up and die!"

WHAM! An orange blur flew through the clearing, colliding painfully with Mizuki's jaw! The shuriken flew forward, missing Iruka and going off course.

Mizuki was knocked backward and skid a bit on the ground as the orange blur landed. The gray haired Chuunin began to stand, anger and venom dripping from his words, "You shouldn't have done that."

Naruto's tone was low, and his amethyst eyes were glowing ominously, "Don't hurt Iruka-sensei, or I'll kill you!"

"I'll kill you with one blow!" Mizuki shouted back.

Naruto snorted, his right hand positioned off to the side a little, a safe distance away from his body, "Fool. I'd like to see you beat the Yondaime's prized Jutsu."

Iruka's eyes widened, his jaw dropping a little. Mizuki just laughed, "Stop bluffing! There's no way a loser like you could know the Yondaime's Jutsu, let alone master it in a day!"

Naruto frowned, which twisted upward a short time later as chakra began to gather in his right hand. Iruka and Mizuki watched in amazement as it began to form a sphere. Naruto lifted his arm to shoulder level, letting all present see the blue ball of charka as it spun an inch or so above his open palm. Small tendrils of wind swept around it as it spun faster and faster!

Naruto smirked evilly at Mizuki, "What was that you said Sensei?"

Mizuki took a step back, fear plastered on his face. Naruto started walking towards Mizuki, the Rasengan still spinning and hovering above his palm. He brought his left hand in front of him into half of the Kage Bunshin seal. The Rasengan flickered for a moment as chakra molded itself using that one handed seal.

With a low "Pop!" two clones appeared behind Mizuki and grabbed onto his arms, holding him in place. They snickered as Naruto addressed the captive Chuunin in front of him, "This will only hurt for a second…"

As Iruka closed his eyes, the scene changed to that of the bright full moon in the night sky. Then, out of nowhere, the serenity of the scene was broken by a loud, "AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

Mizuki was lying on the ground, unconscious. A large, round hole was easily seen ripped into his Chuunin vest and shirt, a burnt and scratched stomach beneath them. Naruto stood in front of Iruka, scratching his head sheepishly, "I…could've handled that better."

Iruka grinned, "Close your eyes, Naruto, there's something I want to give you."

Naruto felt his goggles being removed and replaced seconds later by something made of cloth. He fidgeted, eager to know if it was what he thought it was. He bit his lip, "Iruka-sensei…now?"

Iruka smiled, though Naruto couldn't see it, "You can open your eyes, Naruto, and…Congratulations on graduating!"

Naruto's eyes watered a bit as he stared at his father/older brother figure. His mouth wobbled a bit, then he flung himself at his teacher, screaming, "Iruka-sensei!"

Two Days Later…

The sun was bright as Uzumaki Naruto walked down the dirt roads of Konoha, his hitai-ate now wrapped around his forehead with black cloth instead of the usual blue. A large smile was plastered across his face, his amethyst eyes gleaming with happiness. He continued his purposeful strides down the path in front of him, taking his time walking to the Academy.

As he reached his destination, he slid open the sliding doors that lead to the room he was looking for. His smile widened into a happy grin as he saw the other graduates chattering gleefully amongst themselves. He let loose a short chuckle and searched for a seat.

"Let's see," he told himself, "I can sit either next to Hinata-san," his gaze traveled to a dark haired girl with white eyes, then swerved to lock onto a dark haired, broody boy, "Or Sasuke-teme."

Making up his mind, he twisted his head back towards the shy Hyuga heiress, "I'll sit with Hinata-san. She could use some company."

As Naruto walked up the steps, he heard a slight jingle coming from his kunai pouch. He mentally grinned as he remembered he had gone to a blacksmith shortly after his ordeal with Konohamaru yesterday. He had specifically requested the kunai necessary for the Hiraishin no Jutsu, though not in those words.

He sat down next to the shy girl, greeting her warmly, "Ohayo Gozaimasu, Hinata-san! Nice day, isn't it?"

She blushed prettily, her cheeks turning hot pink, "O-ohayo go-gozaimasu, Naruto-kun."

She looked like she was trying to say something else, but she turned back around, poking her fingers together and blushing a light scarlet. Naruto noticed that she would throw glances his way every now and then, and he thought he knew why, but he didn't want to jump to conclusions.

"After all, who would care for the village pariah?"

He barely registered the fight between the two girls at the door, his mind on other things. He caught a whiff of a familiar scent and wrinkled his nose as a pink haired girl walked by his seat towards the dark, moody boy known as Uchiha Sasuke. He scowled in disgust, "What did I ever see in her? She's a little witch who cares for no one but Sasuke-teme. I think I'd like a quiet girl over loud, noisy pains like Sakura. I'd prefer a girl like Hinata-san. She's quiet and gentle and nice." He had started to smile, it faltered a bit, "But she has a confidence issue. I hope she's on my team, I might be able to help her a bit in that department."

He was broken out of his musings by Iruka, who had already finished his graduation speech, "…Next: Team 7: Uzumaki Naruto, Uchiha Sasuke, and…" Iruka felt the gaze of almost every Kunoichi in the room on him. He could feel a slight bit of killing intent oozing from them, almost as if they were threatening him. Iruka started to sweat a bit as at least a dozen eyes glared at him with an intensity to match the sun.

Iruka cleared his throat, "…Hyuga Hinata…"

Naruto rose from his seat, an angry look plastered across his tan face. Next to him, Hinata could feel the beginnings of depression. He didn't want her on his team. He didn't like her. He thought she was too weak to be on his team. He… "Iruka-sensei! Why am I stuck with the cold, weak bastard, Sasuke-teme! Hinata-san and I are too good for him!"

Iruka glared at Naruto, "Because, Naruto, Sasuke is the number one rookie of the year! You have the lowest scores! Tradition dictates that the best and the worst students be paired up in a team so that the best can make up for the worst's lack of skill!"

Naruto's voice was chilly and cold, "We both know, Iruka-sensei, that I'm better than Sasuke. I proved that last night!"

Iruka waved it off, but he was almost scared by the biting chill in Naruto's words, "That may be, but the ranks in this classroom are dependant on grades and nothing else."

Naruto still didn't look happy, but he nodded tersely and sat down. Hinata looked both happy and concerned, and, while looking out of character to Iruka, asked Naruto if he was okay. Iruka shook his head to clear it, his tone a little more somber and subdued as he finished reading off the teams, "The Jounin senseis will be introduced after lunch. Take a break."

Naruto and Hinata had spent lunch together, chatting happily (which means Hinata sat and listened to Naruto's stories). Sasuke had spent his lunch hiding from his fan girls. The Jounin senseis had come to collect their teams, and everyone had already left…except team 7.

Naruto sat at his desk, as far away from Sasuke as possible, a scowl planted firmly on his face. Hinata sat next to him, a light blush on her face from the proximity. Sasuke was his normal, broody self, his hands folded in front of his mouth. It had been nearly three hours since the other teams had left.

Finally, after a very long and tedious three hours, Naruto heard the soft pitter patter of feet walking down the hall. He perked up and glared at the door as it slid open. He was faintly aware of Sasuke mimicking him, to an extent, as a silver haired head popped in the door.

The head had a dark blue mask on that covered his nose down. Also, a Konoha Hitai-ate was slung diagonally over his left eye, leaving his hair and his right eye the only distinguishable things on his head. The head was followed by a body wearing the traditional Jounin garb, including armored gloves and flak jacket.

The Jounin turned towards them, catching sight of the death glares directed at him, "Hmmm…My first impression of you is…"

Even through their glares, the two boys seemed to hang onto his every word the same way the Hyuga heiress did, "…I don't like you."

Naruto face faulted and Sasuke sweat dropped, as he grinned at them beneath his mask, his right eye curving upwards, "Meet me up on the roof." He disappeared in a puff of smoke.

Hinata and Naruto left after Sasuke, trailing behind him slightly.

They met Kakashi on the roof of the Academy, where he was leaning on the railing, hands in his pockets, "Alright, you three. Let's start off with some introductions…"

Naruto and Hinata looked at him blankly. Sasuke looked impassive, as always.

Kakashi sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose, "You know, likes, dislikes, dreams for the future, hobbies…"

Naruto grinned wickedly, "You first, Kakashi-sensei."

Kakashi just stared at him, "My name is Hatake Kakashi. My likes and dislikes are none of your business. Dreams for the future? Hmm…I have a lot of hobbies."

Naruto shot him a glare. The Jounin smiled innocently and pointed to him, "Your turn, blondie."

The Kyubi vessel huffed, crossing his arms, "My name is Uzumaki Naruto. My likes and dislikes are none of your business…" he grinned at the gray haired Jounin, "My hobbies are training and pulling pranks. Dream for the future? Can't tell you. The world would end."

"That was an obvious lie…" Kakashi thought.

He shook his head, motioning to Hinata, "Your turn."

The shy girl blushed and looked at the ground, "My n-name is Hyuga Hinata. My likes and dislikes…" she glanced at Naruto, then said firmly, "…are none of your business. My hobbies are pressing flowers and training to be a medic-nin. M-my dreams for the future are none of your b-business."

"Great job, Hina-chan," she told herself, "Almost no stuttering that time!"

"Wow," Kakashi's eye was open slightly wider, "She actually stood up to me and, more obviously, she likes Naruto."

He turned his gaze towards Sasuke, "Go, Mr. Icicle."

Sasuke gave his patented death glare, then sighed exasperatedly, "My name is Uchiha Sasuke. I have no likes, and very many dislikes. And…" he paused, "I don't want to call it a dream, it's more of an ambition. To restore my clan and to kill a certain man."

Kakashi stared at him, "I got one word for ya. Predictable."

He stood up off the railing, "We'll begin our duties tomorrow with some survival training. Just the four of us."

Naruto settle for a confused look, "But we've already done survival training in the Academy…"

Kakashi closed his eye and chuckled, "You guys are gonna flip. You see, the graduation test was just to see if you had what it takes to be Genin. The real test is administered by us Jounin sensei."

Kakashi looked at them, an evil look in his eye, "And that test has a failure rate of 66.66 percent."

He turned around and looked as if were about to jump away, "Bring your ninja gear. Oh, and skip breakfast, or you'll throw up."

The Next morning….

The three Genin were waiting where Kakashi had to them to. Kakashi himself almost lost his jaw when he arrived to see Naruto wearing old fashioned shinobi garb consisting of a sleeveless black haori with dark orange trim, a long orange obi tied in a knot on the front side of his body, and black pants styled similarly to Kakashi's, with black bandages instead of white. Tied around Naruto's forehead was his hitai-ate and underneath his haori was a fishnet shirt sown into a skintight, navy blue shirt of the same size. On his hands were the same gloves Kakashi sported and on his feet were black sandals.

Kakashi whistled (how do you do that through a mask?), "I see you've decided to change, Naruto."

The Jounin shook his head, placing a clock/timer on one of the stumps in the area. He held up two bells and attached them to his waist, "Your task is to take these bells from me by noon. Those who don't get a bell get no lunch. If you don't get a bell, I'll tie you to a stump and eat in front of you."

Three stomachs growled. He ignored them, "Fail to get a bell and you fail the test. Fail the test and you get sent back to the Academy. You won't succeed if you don't give it your all."

He stared at them, "Ready…START!"

In a blur, all four Ninja disappeared. Kakashi landed farther away in the clearing while the other three seemed to have gone hiding.

"Good, they've all hidden well."

The Jounin sweat dropped as he saw Naruto not too far away, arms crossed with a wide grin on his face.

"What a Dobe."


"Ah, so we have our first contestant."

Kakashi stared at him, "You're a little off."

Naruto's grin widened, as he pulled some odd looking kunai from his kunai pouch, "I want to test out my latest Jutsu."

The silver haired Jounin's eye widened as the three pronged kunai went sailing, landing in strategic spots around Kakashi. He narrowed his eye as he watched the Kyubi vessel's grinning face disappear.

Cursing, Kakashi pulled up his Hitai-ate, exposing the Sharingan to the world against a Genin for the very first time. He caught little snippets of movement around him, but he couldn't make out a solid form. The Jounin found himself spinning his head and body around in order to track the dead last of the Academy.

As he was trying to follow Naruto, he felt a large, angry spike in chakra somewhere in the trees. Despite his situation, Kakashi couldn't help but laugh to himself, "Looks like someone's jealous."

His moment of distraction was all Naruto needed as he snatched up both bells and delivered a roundhouse kick to Kakashi's jaw, sending the Jounin sailing towards a tree. As Naruto and his kunai disappeared with a final blur of yellow and black, Kakashi collided with the tree and fell to the ground in a daze.

Elsewhere in the forest, Naruto reappeared, panting. He leaned against a tree while he attempted to catch his breath. "Damn! I have to lower the Chakra consumption! Fifteen seconds and I'm already drained!"

He stiffened when he felt a hand on his shoulder, knowing full well he couldn't fight off his Jounin sensei in his current state. He was met with surprise as the voice of the person he had been looking for reached his ears.


He whipped around and flung his arms around the girl behind him, letting out a short laugh of relief. The bells in his hand jingled as he took deep steadying breaths. In his joyful relief, he failed to notice Hinata hugging him back with a small smile on her face and a blush on her cheeks.

When he had regained enough energy, he released her and held a bell out in his palm. She blushed, looking surprised, and gingerly asked, "Naruto-kun?" hoping he was doing what she thought he was.

He nodded, grinning a vulpine grin, and she hesitantly accepted it…before the boy in front of her collapsed into her arms, snoring lightly. She slowly sat down, resting his head on her thighs and gently running her hand through his hair. She tucked the second bell he had, the one he kept, in his obi, then put as much chakra as she dared into an invisibility genjutsu. After all, they weren't that far from the clearing, so if Kakashi looked hard enough, he'd have seen them.

She went back to stroking his hair with a light blush and a small smile on her face, listening to him sigh blissfully in his sleep, muttering things about ramen.

In another clearing, Sasuke was buried in the ground up to his neck, Kakashi leaning over him. The Jounin took the opportunity to taunt Sasuke, "Your Ninjutsu is pretty good, but it's nowhere near Naruto's level."

"Which reminds me, I'm going to have to ask him where he learned Sensei's Jutsu."

He refocused on the Genin in front of him, "I didn't get the chance to test Hinata, and, if I'm right, I probably won't. Besides, if I'm right, then Hinata already has one of the two bells Naruto stole from me."

"T-two?" Sasuke asked shakily.

Kakashi nodded, his Icha Icha Paradise in his hand, "Yup. He took both bells and took off in Hinata's direction. They're probably hiding, waiting for the alarm to go off, or, in Naruto's case, sleeping to regain lost energy."

"B-but, how?"

Kakashi looked at him, unfazed, "Naruto knows a Jutsu that should have died with my Sensei; a jutsu that shouldn't even be possible for a Jounin to do, let alone a Genin." he sighed, "But, then again, given who and what Naruto is, I guess I shouldn't be so surprised."

A loud ringing was heard, signaling the end of the exercise. Reaching into the ground, Kakashi pulled Sasuke up out of the earth by his arm, steering him towards the posts with an evil look in his eye.

When it was all said and done, Sasuke sat tied to one post while Hinata and a sleepy Naruto sat side by side against the other two. Kakashi stood in front of them, both bells back in his possession.

"Well," he said, addressing them, "Before I pass or fail you, I want to know a few things."

He turned to the dark haired girl, "Hinata, why didn't you help Sasuke instead of hiding with Naruto?"

Hinata blushed for a second, but set her eyes determinately and said firmly, "Because Naruto-kun was asleep from exhaustion and defenseless. Uchiha-san could take care of himself, Naruto-kun couldn't."

Kakashi nodded, turning on the tired Naruto, "Why didn't you give the bell to Sasuke instead of Hinata?"

The blonde grinned, "Because Sasuke-teme wouldn't have accepted it. He has too much damn pride."

Kakashi nodded again, turning, at last, towards Sasuke, "Why didn't you help either of your teammates?"

Sasuke scoffed, "Teammates will only hold me back in the end."

Beneath his mask, the Jounin scowled, his eye narrowing, "In the beginning, I didn't think I would pass this team, and, if it hadn't been for Naruto and Hinata's show of teamwork, I wouldn't have anyway. But I'm going to let you guys pass." He looked towards Sasuke, "Sasuke, just remember, the only reason you passed is because your teammates did. This was never about getting a bell, it was about teamwork. Those who don't follow the rules are trash, but those who don't care about their teammates are lower than that."

Kakashi stood up straight again and let loose a sigh, "Tomorrow, Team Seven starts its duties."

After chasing and catching the same cat for what had to be the sixth time in one week, Team 7 returned to the Hokage Tower for their next mission. Hinata and Kakashi pitied the cat as it was returned to the gentle, loving arms of Madam Shijimi, the fire lord's wife.

The Hokage turned his gaze towards the list in his hands, "Hmm…Team 7, your next duty is…"

"No, no, no, no, no!" Naruto interrupted, "I'm tired of these easy, boring tasks! I want to do a C rank mission!"

"Naruto-kun is right, these are too easy and boring."

"I agree with the Dobe."

"I want something that will test my skills, not my patience!" Naruto was about to start his rant when a chuckle broke him off.

"Very well, Naruto-kun," Sandaime said, "Your task is the protection of a certain individual."

He turned toward the door on the side, "Hey, can you come in here?"

An old man with a bottle of sake walked into the room. Naruto could distinctly smell the rice wine on his breath, "They're all a bunch of super brats! Especially the short one with the super weird looking face!"

He took a swig from his bottle, pointedly ignoring the amethyst eyes glaring at him, "I'm Tazuna. I expect you brats to protect me until we get back to my country and complete my bridge. Think you midgets can do that?"

As the left the village gates, Naruto and Hinata ventured to ask questions about Wave Country. Together, Kakashi and Tazuna answered each question as best they could. Sasuke simply ignored them and walked ahead of the rest, acting as if he were some king or something.

As they walked past a puddle, the four ninja noticed it and waited for what would inevitably happen. They weren't disappointed when, out of the puddle, two Mist Chuunin appeared wrapping their chain around Kakashi! Kakashi looked surprised as the chains tore him to bits. In a deep, rough voice, one of them said, "One down."

They dashed towards Naruto, muttering to one another, "Two down."

Sasuke flung a shuriken in midair, throwing a kunai after it to make sure the chain stuck to the tree. The two Chuunin noticed the snag, but weren't quick enough to defeat Sasuke, who landed on their shoulders and kicked them apart! They were flung to the side, the chain snapping from their gauntlets.

Landing on their feet, the Chuunin each dashed for a different target. The smooth haired one headed for Tazuna and Hinata, who stood in her Jyuken stance. The spiky haired one went for Naruto, aiming to poison the blonde haired Genin.

Naruto powered up a Rasengan seconds before he would get slashed by the second Chuunin, thrusting it into the ninja's gut! Naruto's opponent's eyes widened, and then he went flying, smashing through two trees before he came to a stop!

Growling, Naruto spun around, ready to fling one of his special kunai to stop the other ninja…only to discover he didn't have to.

Kakashi stood in front of Tazuna and Hinata, the first Chuunin slung across his arm. He turned his head to the bridge builder, "Tazuna-san, we need to talk."

As they set up camp for the night, Kakashi addressed his team, "Alright, everyone. With the information Tazuna has given me, this is most likely a B or A rank mission. We have a choice, continue on from here, regardless of the danger, or call it quits and go home. Which do you guys (and girl" he added after a scathing look from Hinata) want to do?"

The three Genin gave him a look that said, "Are you kidding me?"

Kakashi laughed nervously, "Maa maa, I should have expected that from you guys. Alright. We'll keep going. Just remember, it won't be as easy as you think."

He turned around, sighed, and headed off into the woods to think and get more firewood.

Team 7 and their client had just left the boat they had taken to Wave country a few minutes ago. Hinata and Naruto were walking close together, a contented smile on both their faces. Their hands would occasionally brush together and they would both blush, a smile still stuck to their faces.

Kakashi and Naruto had stopped when they felt someone watching them, the hair on their necks standing on end. Naruto heard something slice through the foliage and heeded Kakashi's warning of "Everyone down!"

Following his command, everyone ducked as a huge Zanbatou flew over their heads, embedding itself into a tree! A low chuckle brought everyone's attention to the shirtless man now standing on top of its hilt.

Kakashi glared at the man, "Well, well, if it isn't the infamous missing-nin, Momochi Zabuza."

Kakashi pulled up his hitai-ate, revealing his Sharingan eye.

The man looked back, "You appear to be Sharingan Kakashi. Sorry, but the old man is mine!"

"Surround and protect Tazuna-san! Do not enter the fight!" Kakashi ordered his team.

Zabuza crouched on his sword, "Let's end the talking. I have to kill that old man. But it seems I have to beat you first, Kakashi!"

The missing-nin launched himself from the tree, taking his sword with him. He landed on the water, hands in an odd hand seal. From his mouth came a quiet whisper, "Kirigakure no Jutsu!"

A large mist gathered around the lake and slowly began to spread across the land. Kakashi, Sasuke, and Hinata retreated into a fighting stance while Naruto pulled out some of his special kunai. Aiming as precisely as he could, he flung them into strategic places on the land, a few of them being in the trees.

The mist began to thicken and Kakashi made a hand seal, using his chakra to dispel the mist! Sasuke was trembling, the killing intent that Zabuza oozed and overwhelmed him. His hands began shaking uncontrollably. He was ready to end all just to get it over…!

"Sasuke!" Kakashi turned his head, eye smiling at them, "Don't worry. I don't let my comrades die!"

A rush of air met Naruto's ears and a foreign scent invaded his nostrils! He twisted his head around to see…Zabuza! The tan mist shinobi prepared to swing his giant blade when, out of nowhere, Kakashi appeared, stabbing a kunai in the mist nin's gut!

A faint dripping sound forced everyone to see what happened. From their standpoint, it looked as if Kakashi had landed a fatal blow on the dangerous missing-nin, until it burst into water!

A second Zabuza appeared behind Kakashi, ready to swing its blade!

"Kakashi-sensei!" Naruto and Hinata yelled in unison.

SPLASH! Zabuza swung his Zanbatou, cutting Kakashi clear in half! The three Genin gasped! The Kakashi that had stood in front of them turned into water!

Zabuza felt cold steel against his neck. Kakashi stood behind him, kunai in hand, "It's over."

There was silence for a few seconds, then Zabuza started to laugh, "'It's over'? You're right, Kakashi, it is!"

With a splash, Zabuza turned into water! From behind, another Zabuza swung at Kakashi, who ducked! The remaining Zabuza dug his sword in the ground and used his momentum to send Kakashi flying with a roundhouse kick to the jaw!

Kakashi landed in the lake, Zabuza standing on the water above him, "Suirou no Jutsu!"

A large ball of water formed around Kakashi's body, trapping him in Zabuza's hold. Zabuza laughed, making a hand seal, "Now to take care of you little friends! Mizu Bunshin no Jutsu!"

A water clone rose from the remains of its predecessors, smirking through the bandages covering its. It laughed, "Hehe, you punks don't know what it's like to be a real ninja! Take of those hitai-ate and stop pretending!"

The clone lashed out, kicking Naruto in the stomach! Its gaze was never on its legs, though, which left it confused when the boy it had kicked hadn't flown. It looked down to see the boy clinging to its leg, smirking!

He grinned, flashing a fanged smile, "I got two words for ya, you eyebrow less freak! Bunshin Daibakuha!"

BOOM! The boy on the Mizu Bunshin's leg exploded, destroying the water clone, and the shadow clone that had apparently been clinging to its leg! The majority of the Ninja stood with a surprised look on their face!

The real Zabuza felt someone tap his shoulder, and, almost fearing what he would see, he turned his head to see who it was.

WHAM! BANG! POW! Zabuza took a punch right to the jaw that sent him flying for dry land!

Naruto grinned, "I thought that move might come in handy!"

Zabuza growled angrily, pulling the massive Zanbatou from his back and charging for Naruto! He roared, "You damn brat!"

WHAM! A roundhouse kick from Kakashi sent the mist-nin into a tree! The Konoha Jounin glared at Zabuza, his Sharingan eye whirling, "Don't forget! I'm your opponent!"

His voice lowered, "And I don't fall for the same Jutsu twice."

Zabuza snorted, flashing through hands seals as Kakashi followed his lead, "Bah!"

They both stopped on bird, "Suiton: Suiryudan no Jutsu!"

Two large water dragons rose from the lake, battling each other for dominance! With a loud SPLASH, they both collapsed back into the lake as water, sending waves rippling across the surface!

Growling his frustration, Zabuza ran to the side a bit, Kakashi mirroring his movements. "My movements! He's…"

"Reading them," Kakashi finished the missing-nin's thoughts aloud, creeping his students and opponent out.

"What? Did he read my mind?"

He stared at his legendary opponent, glaring at the Sharingan, "Damn! That…"

"Freaky eye is pissing me off! Right?" The Copy Nin said to his enemy tauntingly.

When Zabuza started yelling, Kakashi shouted back in perfect unison, "All you're doing is copying me! You can't beat me, you monkey bastard!"

"Damn! I'll make it so that you'll never open that mouth again!"

He started with hand seals again, but stopped when he saw a fuzzy image of himself appear behind Kakashi.

"W-what? Is this another of his damn Genjutsu!"

Kakashi finished sealing, "Suiton: Daibaku no Jutsu!"

A great explosion of water picked Zabuza up and forced him into the trees! It traveled to the shore as well, soaking Tazuna and the three Genin!

Four kunai soared through the air, each one piercing an arm of a leg! The missing-nin cried out in pain! "Gaaahhh!"

Kakashi landed on a branch above him, kunai in hand, "It's over."

Zabuza looked up at him, surprise evident in his eyes, "How? Can you see the future?"

Kakashi and his Sharingan stared down at him, "Yeah. Your future is death."

WHOOSH! THUNK, THUNK! Two senbon flew through the air, lodging themselves deep in Zabuza's neck! Everyone spun around to see a masked Hunter-nin, "Yeah. He's dead alright."

He jumped down, landing next to Zabuza's body and beginning to lift it, "Thank you very much. I've been searching for the opportunity to kill Zabuza-san for a long time."

He hefted the missing-nin onto his shoulder, "I must dispose of this body. Farewell."

In a whirl of wind, he disappeared. Kakashi sighed, pulling his hitai-ate down over his Sharingan again, "Now, we have to get Tazuna-san home. Let's go!"

Tazuna went from 'silent observer' to 'happy hero' before their eyes, "Haha! Come over to my house and relax for a while."

Everyone sweatdropped as Kakashi fell flat on his face! Naruto poked the silver haired Jounin with his foot, "Uhhh. I think he's dead!"

Hinata giggled, leaning down to check on their sensei, "N-no, Naruto-kun. It's just Ch-chakra Depletion."

Naruto grinned evilly, "Well, Sasuke, since you didn't do anything, guess who gets to carry him!"

Sasuke grumbled about 'mean Hyugas' and 'cruel blondes' as he picked Kakashi up and slung him over his shoulder. They followed Tazuna as he led them to his home.

Naruto grinned happily as he slurped up Ramen, the Hyuga heiress next to him giggling at his antics. When he had finished his sixth bowl, he smiled at her, content with her company. They had become great friends, and Hinata hoped they would become even more than that…eventually…

In the room next door, Kakashi lay down on a futon, covered up to his chin. Tazuna sat not too far away from him, laughing with a care free grin on his face, "Well, we defeated that super strong ninja! We should be safe for a while."

Sasuke just ignored him and Kakashi was asleep. The only one who really acknowledged his statement was his daughter, Tsunami.

A sharp gasp stopped all motion inside the Tazuna Household as Kakashi's eye snapped open…

——————IMPORTANT A/N!——————

A/N: Okay. I'm sorry I haven't posted the next chapter of "If Things Were Different" yet. I'm having a bit of writer's block with it and this little plot bunny popped into my head. For the moment, this shall be a one shot. You guys have a choice. You can vote either to further this story (in which case I'd try to get chapter two out and finish chapter five of ITWD) and turn it into a multi chapter, or you can vote to leave it a one shot and leave it where it lay.

If I get enough votes for leaving it, I'll probably continue it when I finish ITWD, which will probably be a year or so from now. If I get enough votes for continuing it immediately, I'll be posting for two stories, so it'll take longer for me to get the chapters out, but they'll be much better (and longer). This could mean that I finish both within a few months instead of a year, since I'll be taking some ideas from both stories and using them in each other .coughreality warp jutsucough

The last thing that may happen is that I'll disregard all the votes and scrap ITWD (it's officially on Hiatus now while I come up with new ideas) and work on this. Hopefully, it won't come to that, because I like both stories, I just like this one better (it doesn't have any OCs! A first in my stories!).

Anyway, I've got some news for you all. I've got a beta reader! Please welcome Kyra-chan!

Kyra-chan: Hello fellow Fanfictioners! I'll be Hideo-sama's beta reader and he is supposed to be mine but I haven't written anything yet, Oops…. That's all for now. Bye!

So Kyra-chan will be my beta and she'll help me with any mistakes I make and so on. I think all of you Naru/Hina fans out there will really appreciate the rest of this story (whenever I finish it. If you can't wait, then vote to have it continued immediately instead of later).

Now, one of the most important parts of this A/N. Whenever I DO continue this, it will always be NARU/HINA! I don't care WHAT any of you say, MY pairings are set in stone and it's MY story. If you don't like it, then suck it up and ignore the Naru/Hina fluff. Either that, or don't read. I WILL retaliate to any flames thrown my way about my choice in pairings! It's MY story, so what I say goes!

For those of you who like or just don't mind the pairing, I thank you for reading. Naru/Hina fans out there, thanks in advance for any support. It's greatly appreciated. Trust me, I've seen fics where authors have posted about getting flamed for the pairings they chose, and it's absolutely ridiculous.

Thanks for reading! Read and Review!

Ja ne!

Hideo Kazama (Kazama Hideo—風間 秀夫)