Chapter 1: Chapter 1
Seven ANBU black-ops stood before the Hokage, the aged man looked them over with a stern, serious gaze.
Six of them had normal Anbu masks while the seventh, also the shortest of the group, had a simple faceplate, not unlike the Kiri hunter elite. Its slit eyeholes revealing only the faintest glimer of the true eyes lying beneath.
"Report." Sarutobi commanded.
The captain, wearing a hawk mask, straightened before he answered. "Hokage-sama, mission success. The Iwa daimio and his family are all dead."
"Casualties?" Sarutobi spoke.
The Anbu captain looked to the fox masked shinobi. "None sir." He said after a moment. "Kaidan, efficiently demolished the opposing enemy force. Leaving us to go after the Daimio and his family."
Sarutobi took a puff of his pipe, "I see." He stated thoughtfully, "Is anything else you wish to report, captain?"
The ninja seemed to shuffle nervously from foot to foot before he took another glance at the plain masked ninja before shaking his head. "No Hokage-sama." He said.
In truth he wanted to scream out at the old man. What he had seen had not been a fight, it had been a massacre. The bodies of all the enemy ninja were practically ripped to pieces or burnt to ash. Nothing but dust, bones and blood had remained of them.
He was no stranger to death, and in the end...better them than him. But it was unnerving. He knew who this boy was, and knew that what he'd seen today would only be the start of his strength. Should the dog ever come off its leash, none would be able to reign it in.
Still, he would hold his tongue. Perhaps because, despite his brutal efficiency he felt he owed this thing for ensuring all his men made it out safely. Or perhaps it was a mild respect.
Or perhaps it was far more simple than that. Perhaps the most powerful emotion that held him back was the fear.
Fear of the retribution the young fox would dish should he speak against him.
Sarutobi nodded. "Very well, you six may leave; Kaidan, you stay."
The designated men bowed before shuffling out of the room.
Sarutobi looked to the last remaining Anbu in his office. "Remove your mask please."
The short Anbu wordlessly removed his mask, revealing a blond haired boy with whisker like birthmarks on his face along with the calm cold blues that were his eyes.
He could be no older than six.
Sarutobi sighed sadly. His eyes had always been like that. Ever since he could remember, the boy was the embodiment of the perfect shinobi. The perfect tool. The perfect killing device.
He hated the council for what they had done. They had left him with an ultimatum. Either he would be trained as Konoha's weapon or he would be executed. Sometimes he wished he had taken the second option.
It seemed merciful in comparison to the empty void he now was. On par with Uchiha Itachi. Perhaps even colder.
He sighed again, now was not the time for this. Many in the council believed that training him like this had been the right call. Too many.
No...he would wait...he would bide his time and then he would set things right. "Naruto, I understand that this was your first mission as an Anbu."
"Yes." The boy spoke. His voice was flat and even, no emotion could be heard in his voice or seen on his face.
Sarutobi eyed him for a moment. "Are you well? Sometimes Anbu level missions affect people. How are you coping?"
Naruto mentally raised an eyebrow. He was confused by this. "They were merely enemies that were interfering with our mission. I do not understand why you would believe this would affect me in any way."
Sarutobi resisted the urge to sigh this was so frustrating. It felt like he was half beating his head against the wall.
It was sickening. "Never mind Naruto." He stated before standing. He looked at the boy for a moment, thinking, then he spoke. "I have a meeting, to finalize the alliance with the Kazekage of Suna. You are to be my bodyguard."
Naruto bowed his head. "As you wish." He stated before placing his mask over his face.
Sarutobi felt a pang in his chest at the sight. It was almost like that mask was consuming him. As if it would swallow his soul entirely every time he put it on. He hid his sadness, walked around his desk and out the door.
"Hokage-dono" The Kazekage greeted respectfully as he stood. "I am pleased you have arrived." He said as he bowed his head.
Sarutobi smiled and translated the words into non political, human language. 'About time you showed up.'
"Ah Kazekage-dono, forgive me for keeping you waiting. I had some urgent maters to attend to" Sarutobi spoke in that sage voice which indicated he wasn't really sorry at all.
The Kazekage nodded tightly, he never did like these meetings, couldn't really bring himself to trust his so called ally. He suddenly caught sight of Naruto's robed form emerging from the thin shadows in the corner. He wondered briefly when the Anbu had entered the room, and if there were more of them. "Hokage-dono, I respectfully request that our guards remove their masks." He requested, eyeing the strange short Anbu suspiciously.
Sarutobi nodded and turned his head to look at Naruto from the corner of his eye.
The blond raised his hand and removed the mask as the Kazekage's guard did the same.
The Kazekage out of sheer curiosity looked straight at the Anbu as he removed his mask. He immediately regretted the action. Locking eyes with those cold blues, he found himself freezing, his gut churning with disquiet. Those eyes were dead. They showed absolutely nothing, no happiness, no sadness, no anger, not even cold indifference.
"Well then, shall we get down to business." Sarutobi's voice brought the Kazekage back to reality, he tore his gaze away and looked at the old man, "Of course." He replied giving a slight nod.
Over the hours through the night they spoke over the details of the new treaty between their two countries and the conditions of the alliance for several hours before they finally came to a mutually satisfying agreement.
It would be signed tomorrow officially, in a public display, before the Konoha council, population and dignitaries from his own country of wind.
As the Kazekage stood in preparation to take his leave, Sarutobi stopped him. "May I have a word in private, Kazekage-dono?"
The Suna leader hesitated for a moment before nodding. Their two guards accepted the silent command and bowed their heads before walking out of the room.
Sarutobi suddenly sighed sadly as the blond boy finally exited the room. "Kazekage-dono…I know…of what Suna is planning. To create a weapon out of the Shukaku's jinchuriki." The Kazekage stiffened, his spine going ramrod straight.
Sarutobi looked straight into the Kazekage's eyes as he spoke his next words. "I warn you now that if you follow through with this…you will regret it forever."
The Kazekage's eyes immediately narrowed. "Are you threatening me?"
Sarutobi sighed again, shaking his head. "No…you may do as you wish; I assure you that it will not affect the alliance. It is just…" He trailed off as he turned his head to face the door Naruto had used to exit the room. "You have seen tonight, the results of such ambitions."
The Kazekage's thought, then his eyes opened a bit more in realization. "You mean that boy?"
Sarutobi nodded. "Naruto is Konoha's attempt at a living weapon. We succeeded but…" He trailed off slightly. "But the price was too high. At least...I believe it was." He then turned to the Kazekage. "Perhaps you might disagree...but if you find that you are wrong, could you live with that crime I wonder?"
As Sarutobi returned to his office he sat down in his chair with an exhausted sigh. His eyes landed on that familiar mask. "You may go Naruto." He said, his voice laced with weariness and his face showed his true age.
Naruto inclined his head in a short bow. "As you wish." He said, before he turned sharply on his heel and walked out the door.
Sarutobi's face twisted in grief after the boy left. It always did. The guilt and anger he felt always gnawed on his insides.
The the eve after Kyuubi's devastating attack six years ago tore at his heart. Ate away at him. It hurt just to look at the boy. To see the results of his cowardice.
The civilians wanted him dead, the council wanted a weapon and the dying wish of their savior was left…forgotten in the wake of fear, hate, and ambition.
Again...he wondered if it would have been better to have let the civilians have their way.
'NO!' He admonished himself as he shook his head. There was still time to save him.
Death was finite, life would always provide possibilities at some point. Somehow he would find a way to undo this.
The walk back to Suna seemed to lag on forever to the Kazekage. He longed to see the walls of his home again.
But the trip had also given him ample time to think, and reflect upon his actions. Mainly, his actions against his son Gaara.
The death of his wife at child birth was an unforeseen consequence on his part. The priest, who had also died sealing the sand demon had assured him that the only way for the sealing to succeed was for the beast to be sealed while she was in labor. He was never informed that his wife would die from the ritual.
Filled with grief and rage over his wife's death he had struggled to find an outlet and eventually he could only find one…
He had blamed Gaara for his late wife's death and had even cursed his very existence. He vowed to himself that he would cut the family bond of father and son, and that he would turn Gaara into what the Suna village needed him to be.
He had almost succeeded in that endeavor.
The boy was always alone, always at arms length from everyone, even his siblings.
But now, seeing the living result of such ambitions in that boy from Konoha had truly shook his resolve. No mater what he said, or what he had done...Gaara was still his son.
Could he bare turning Gaara's innocent green eyes into the same cold lifeless hue of that boys? Could he turn Gaara into what others had been calling him since he was born?
About a week ago his answer would have been easy. But now…now he truly didn't know.
He had seen a glimpse of the future. And he did not like what he had seen.
"Ahhh, Kazekage-sama." A servant spoke as the Suna leader entered his estate. "It is good to see you have returned. We were beginning to worry." He spoke as he bowed lowly.
"Where is Gaara?" Was the first thing that escaped his mouth. The servant looked up, startled at the question. It was very rare for the Kazekage to ever make any mention of his son unless there were reports that he had killed someone else in the village. "Err, he is in his room my lord...shall I...go fetch him?" He asked rather uncertainly, afraid. No one wanted to go near Gaara.
"No."The Kazekage spoke tightly, with a flare of his robe he turned sharply on his heel and walked down the hallway towards his son's room.
As he approached he felt his steps heavy, the clack of his shoes against the wooden floor echoing off the halls. He looked to Gaara's oak wood door and opened it without knocking.
And there he was, sitting in the middle of his room, hugging the old worn teddy-bear he's had since he was a baby. A gift from his mother, the Suna leader reflected sadly as he recalled his wife buying the toy when she was still pregnant with him.
As Gaara turned and caught sight of him, he saw the turquoise eyes widen in fear.
The Kazekaga didn't know how, but he would fix this. He would undo the wrongs he had committed upon his son and perhaps some day...
"Gaara." He called. He saw the boy flinch as if struck, an act that sent a pang of...something that took him a moment to recognize as guilt through his chest. "Come here boy."
Gaara stood and walked over, his eyes meekly down to the floor. He sighed and moved a hand to touch the top of the boys head when sand emerged and stopped him. Gaara looked up fearfully, every time his father saw any form of resistance from Gaara he would always get angry. But he couldn't control it, he didn't know how.
The Kazekage sighed heavily as he pulled back, allowing the sand to dissipate. Gaara looked up, for a moment before diverting his eyes. The Kazekage sighed again. "Gaara, look at me." He said to the young red head who raised his head to look into his fathers eyes.
The Kazekage stared into his sons eyes for several moments before he spoke. "I'm sorry." The simple words seemed to have the force of a thunderclap in Gaara's mind and his eyes visibly showed his confusion. The Kazekage stared at his son's eyes, seeing them, change, become sharper, colder, no longer the eyes of a boy and it sent a chill down his spine.
"I'll make things right." He said to his son's confusion before he turned and left the room.