A/N

This is just an idea I had a while back, and I couldn't get it out of my head. I'm not abandoning my other fics, but I like how this one is starting. Its slightly less...far fetched, than my other two. And it leaves me room to develope a lot of plot.

A/N

Just another Day. Just another day doing my job. Nothing more, nothing less.

These were the thoughts of one Uzumaki Naruto, after having completed his latest mission as an ANBU Captain. Unfortunately, it was yet another solo mission. After all, ANBU identities were kept secret from everyone, sans the ANBU themselves. Being as such, his reputation as the Kyuubi incarnate completely shattered all hopes of any kind of team. So here he was...again...covered in the blood, some of it his own, but mostly that of his targets, walking down the streets of Konoha to the ANBU headquarters. Long ago had he been numb to the stares of fright and horror that the villagers gave him. At least when he was wearing his mask, they didn't fear him because of his reputation. No, they feared him because of his power, prestige, and his brutal efficiency.

The years have not been kind to him, at the tender age of 19 and already having served over 2 years in the Service of Konoha's elite ANBU corps. In all two years of service, he had yet to work in a cell of other ANBU. He compensated by being a loner of sorts. He figured if no one wanted to work with him, he would just make himself suited to not needing a team. Ever.

His old team should have been foreboding enough. He had spent years after his return with Jiraya trying to recover the Lost Uchiha. All for the sake of one girl. I was a damn fool to even try. No matter how many times he had faced the Uchiha on retrieval missions, it seemed the only thing he was ever able to do was prevent Orochimaru from taking him as a host for another few years. After the last attempt almost 2 years ago, he had finally given up. Two or three years ago, 'giving up' had never been in his vocublary. Funny thing, how multiple chidoris to the chest can mature a person. Of course the girl he had cared for back then tried to convince him to help her again. Even as he thought he wasn't going to make it, almost dieing in the hospital, she had clenched his hand and tried to make him promise to go after Sasuke again.

At that point, on his would-be deathbed, had he conciously given up on the Uchiha. He never spoke the words aloud, but it was understood. Shortly after his maraculous recovery, he pulled a few favors from the Hokage and enlisted into the ANBU. He hadn't seen any of the Rookie Nine or Gai's team since. He had almost a mental illness when it came to completeing missiona fter mission after mission. It seemed he never took off the ANBU Fox Mask that was handed to him when he achieved the rank of captain. Regular ANBU have indescreet masks, but only captains have their masks painted somewhat, to distinguish themselves. That, and a red cloak of sorts, that more resembled a tattered scarf that was worn around the neck and drapped over so that it dragged ont he floor behind him when he was leisurely walking, and fluttering wildly when he was in battle. Needless to say, his skills improved drastically, earning the nickname "Konoha's Red Flash", due in no small part to the cape and his notorious speeds. He even now wore the rope around the cloak of his uniform that signified he was a Seal Master. No easy feat, as the tests were rigorous, but he had passed with flying colors. Yes he was powerfull, but he was also consumed by that power. Not in the way of the Uchiha that deserted have, but rather in the absolutes of completing his missions.

So now here he was, dressed in full ANBU gear, red cloak, rope, and 2 swords that hung like an 'x' on his back, walking into ANBU hq after another assasination mission. He had been told about a month ago that he had set a new record for completed missions since the history of the ANBU. He was, in fact, suppose to go to a meeting today with the Hokage after handing in his mission report. It read the usuall 15 some killed, to include his primary and secondary targets. So he strolled in, handed the report to the clerk, and proceeded to the locker rooms. It wouldn't due to have his meeting witht he Hokoage while still covered in blood.

Dumping his clothes into a bin and wrapping a towel around his waist, he proceeded to the shower. It still amazed him how blood would suddenly become dromant when dried, only to stutter back to life in small rivulets when introduced to a hot shower. Showers, eating in his own home, and sleeping...some times... were the only occasions he ever felt the need to take off his mask. No one had seen his face for a good two years.

After drying himself off, and picking up with newly laundered clothes from the return bin, he changed and started to make his way up to the Hokage Tower.

He pushed opent he double oaken doors of Godaime's office once he heard her say 'Come in'.

Upon noticing the familiar mask and countenance that was Uzumaki Naruto, she picked up the paper work in front of her, and slid it over to the corner of the desk. 'This,' she thought 'is going to be hard enough as it is without paperwork'.

"Naruto, please sit."

He snapped out of his kneeling position, a position made to honor the presence of the Hokage and prorperly salute her, to do as she commanded and sat down.

"Uzumaki Naruto, please remove your mask."

'Shit'

He thought he was being dragged in here for a congratulations or something along those lines. But, the Hokage NEVER asked any ANBU tot ake off their masks...EVER...unless...

regardless, he didn't make a move to remove his mask, the order apparently falling on deaf ears. This made the Hokage visibly stressed, but she continued her lecture none-the-less.

"Naruto..." She began "How many years have you served int he Anbu?

"Two" Was his curt reply.

"And, how many missions have you completed in a team?"

"...Zero..."

"And, how many missions have you completed solo?"

"Hokage-sama, I don't see what this has to do with..."

"Just answer the question Naruto."

"...32 B-Rank, 87 A-Rank, and 112 S-Rank missions to date, Hokage-sama..."

"Naruto, I will put this very bluntly. I am concerned for your mental health. All you seem to do is go out on missions or train. You havn't even used a day of vacation since you signed up."

She took one piece of paper from her pile, and started scratching words unto it in a happhazard manner.

"Uzumaki Naruto, I have deemed you mentally unfit to carry on your duties as an ANBU captain, and demote you to Special Jounin. Please remove your mask. You may keep it, but your not going to wear it ever again." Said the Hokage in a stern voice, still not looking up as she continued to write was was presumably his honorable discharge from the ANBU.

What should have been rage over a demotion when he was clearly the strongest n the ANBU, what should have been anger that he was demoted after so many missions completed...was just simply absent. He took this like a sword through the heart, not bothering to show emotion, because it would heal up afterwards...granted it wouldn't be the same, but he could still take missions. Being out of ANBU would not stop him from doing his duty to bring honor the the village and oblivion onto its enemies. So he removed his mask and made to leave. He had reached the door when the Hokage looked up from her papers to face Naruto's retreating back, and called out to him.

"You are to report in two days to meet your Jounin Team and be assinged your missio..."

She trailed off as she looked upon his face, which had turned sideways to acknoledge her words...simply put, she was caught rather speechless.

"Hia, Hokage-sama." And just like that, the doors closed as he left the tower, presumably to his old apartment...which he probubly hasn't even been to in months...or even years.

She was speechless for a full minute after he had departed her office. The years had been kind to Naruto indeed, atleast on the looks department. His hair was longer, a lighter shade of yellow, and fell over his forehead, threatening to cover his forehead protector. His eyes had remained the same cerulean blue she had remembered, but lacked the innocense that had once taken up residence in his soul. Two years of killing over ten people a day (on OFF days) had that effect she guessed. His face was much more angular, much more handsome than she remembered. he still had his whisker marks, but they had faded to a dim line, barely noticable if it wasn't in the right angle. He looked like a carbon copy of the Fourth himself, through and through.

He found himself walking back to ANBU hq, seemingly to deposit his equipment. Luckily, ANBU hq and the Hokage Tower were connected, so he didn't need to go outside for people to gawk at his face. he hadn't really taken the time to study his own features ever since the mask came into play, so he had no idea how handsome or hideious he actually looked. He felt naked without his mask. So he found himself in the locker room, taking out the civilian clothing he had used for a staek-out mission once. They had seemed to fit well and allowed for maximum mobility in battle. It wasn't comparable to the protection the ANBU light armored vest gave him, but then again, if the enemy ever had enough speed, or luck, to harm him, the vest was as good as paper anyway. So he donned balck Shinobi sandals, connected to moderately baggy black pants through white badnages and a few leather buckle warps around them (for the bandages, think what Sasuke was wearing on his for the Chuunin Exam). He put on his shirt. This shirt wasn't very unique, but its defining feature had to be its neck line and the lack of a short sleeve on his right arm to mirror his left.. It was a semi-tight fitting shirt, whose neckline was a normal curve untill it reached the middle, where it dropped on both sides to almost the middle of his chest (kinda looks like a keyhole type of shape). It definately accentuated his prized possesion, the Godaime's necklace, which shined through, visible to all. he strapped his arm bracer, which was an ANBU spare that he picked up along his travels, and fastened it to his left arm. He then put on his last article of clothing, his long, flowing black trench coat, with fuzzy white collar (The kind of collar the Ni-daime wears). The sleeves on the coat were large enough to fit his weapons in, and his entire ensemble gave a fairly intimidating look. He then finished his new attire by typing his rope of seals mastery round his right arm, above the trench coat, from shoulder to forearm, all the way intertwining numerous times.

With his new attire, he walked to the clerk, who normally paid him no mind when he handed in reports, but when he handed in his ANBU uniform, seemingly for the last time, the clerk could only gaze on him, pale a deathly shade of white, and dumbly nod when he recieved the articles of clothing.

So he walked out of the hq, again, for the last time (today seemed to be a day filled with 'last time's), and for the first time in two years, hit the streets of Konoha without his mask.

Being in the service for as long as he had been, and not taking any time off, he gradually decided that he didn't know what to do, so went out of habit to Ichiraku's Ramen. It had been a good long while since hed had a decent bowl of Ramen, he mused.

Along the way to the Ramen stand, he had noticed people glaring at him. But something was off. They were not glaring at him angrily...or coldly...or even with horror on their faces. They merly went slackjawed whent hey looked at him, paled, and moved out of the way. This scene seemed to repeat itself all the way untill he hit his favorite Ramen stand. He definately did not expect to find out that there was only one seat left in the stand. it seemed Ichiraku's was doing good without him afterall. But upon closer inspection, he found that the inhabitants of said stools were none other than the entirety of the Rookie Nine. A quasi-comforting fact, he assumed. Since he was now a Special Jounin (above Jounin and below ANBU), he assumed he would be working with some of the Rookie-Nine, as most were now Jounin themselves. Neji was the only other Special Jounin. It seemed that Naruto had been the one to climb the ranks the fastest without really noticing.

Thinking he might as well sit down, eat, and wait for one of them to notice him and spark up some conversation...not that he really liked conversation that much anymore...he sat down and ordered Two Pork Ramen.

"Oi, Old Man, two prok ramen please".

At the baratone voice that seemed to roll off the speaker as if he practiced saying that sentence many times, the Rookie Nine all looked int he direction of Naruto.

"Here you go mister." Ichiraku said as he served his new customer his order, only to gawk at him after he had placed the bowls down.

Mister? I guess my face changed somewhat for the old man not to remember me.

So Naruto went on eating, unaware of the stares he was recieving from the Rookie Nine and Ichiraku himself.

"Ano sa," spoke the person he was sitting next to. The green spandex was a dead give away. "Who are you?"

Knowing Lee, Naruto just assumed to be one of his questions that would lead to a story of 'Blazing Youth'. So he merely looked Lee dead in the eye, and then turned to finish off his first bowl.

Having not been answered, Lee was growing more impatient. The last straw was when he had torn his gaze away from Lee to indulge himself in more ramen.

"Excuse me, but that seat is kind of reserved for...someone." Spoke a not so shy Hyuga Hinata.

Tearing his gaze away from his second bowl to stare at Hinata now, he had his interest sparked. Lee had looked like a carbon copy of his Jounin-Sensei, Gai, while Hinata had definately filled out her proportions well.

"And may I ask, who is this seat reserved for? I have been here enough times to know if I were intruding." Spoke Naruto

"This seat is reserved for someone that we are waiting for." replied Hinata, rather curtly.

"And what makes you think he will show up?" Said Naruto, now having caught on the several facts. First, being the Hokage had definately predicted well that his first stop would be here, and that she had arranged the Rookie Nine to wait for him for a sort of reunion. Second, was that he had changed...apparently a lot...to an extent that they did not recognize him. And lastly, he rather liked playing with peoples minds. It actually had benefits on applying Genjutsu in combat, something he was rather infamous for himself.

"He will be here, please leave!" She replied, looking from left to right as if expecting a bouncing ball of orange and black to come out of a corner and say 'hi'.

'I don't care how hot he looks or how eerily accurately he looks like the Yondaime, I havn't seen Naruto in over two years and he is not going to ruin my chance now'. Thought Sakura, Ino, Ten-Ten. and Hinata simultaneously.

"I see...may I know the name of this person?"

"Uzumaki Naruto." Came the unison reply from everyone sitting in the small ramen stand, to include Ichiraku himself.

"Well then, there isn't a problem. he won't be arriving here anytime soon."

"Whats that suppose to mean!" Said an irate Ino.

"What have you done to Naruto-Kun you unyouthfull trash!" exclaimed Lee, knowing that the village has always had something against the blond enigma for no apparent reason.

"I see we've toned down the volume fromt hat of Maito Gai, eh Lee?"

An almost visible quesiton mark came up over Lee's head. He didn't remember giving his name to the man.

"And Hinata-chan..." Said Naruto.

How does he know my name, and mroe importantly, why is he reffering to me like that? Thought Hinata.

"Naruto will not be arriving...because he is already here."

At the mention of 'here', the enitrety of the ramen stand darted left to right trying to see what this man was pointing out to them. They were trying to find Naruto.

"Listen you Fourth Hokage look-a-like freak, we are not in the mood for games, just get out so we can meet our friend!" Yelled an angry Kiba

"I told you, hes already here." Replied a cool Naruto.

"Ok buddy, thats it, my name is Kiba Inuzuka, now whats your name so I can carve it on the memorial stone after I kill you!"

"My name...is"

Naruto finished slurping up his second bowl of ramen, and dumped some ryo unto the table to pay for his meal.

"U-zu-ma-ki, Naruto."

And with that, he got up, and started walking to his old partment complex, leaving a pale, confused, and overall shocked Rookie Nine to stare dumbly at his retreating back.

'That went well' thought Naruto as he rounded the corner out of sight.

'What-the-...THAT WAS NARUTO?' was the collective thought of the Rookie-Nine as they had seen him round that corner.

A/N

Sorry about dragging it on at the end, but I'm not so good at dialogue scenes, so I had to practice...that and I think the whole climax was very well punctuated.

Also, please do not critisize my grammar, as Microsoft Word has decided to crap out on me, and I don't have the patience to read my own writing more than once.

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