Disclaimer: I don't own the Naruto anime or manga. I do own the Kuroihi syndicate, the Enkou Syndicate and all affiliated characters.

Author's Note: Re-edited.

It was cold that night in Konoha. The streets bathed in darkness as life went on in the shady slums. The souls unfortunate enough to live went about their business while trying to avoid the many gangsters giving each other threatening glances. Just seeing each other was enough to make brandish their weapons at each other, itching to start a fight.

The same weapons disappeared when three shinobi entered the shady slum. Few villagers dared to enter this area if they didn't have to simply for the history of violence. Each of them wore an ear piece which was carefully hidden, staying in contact with their command. The shinobi worked hard to make sure violence didn't spill out into the surrounding parts of the village. But that was difficult to do when many people in this part of the village weren't keen on cooperating with the ninja.

Peace here was kept largely through an unwanted, tense, and ultimately necessary agreement. The ninja would look the other way with anything that happened here - as long as the gang they cooperated with would maintain order. Eventually, they made their way into a back alley - taking care to make sure they weren't followed. Now came the waiting.

Several minutes passed before a man in a white suit stepped out of a bar escorted by two others in similar green suits - their contact. The man wore black shades, which likely made it hard to see in the dark, and his suit was complimented by a red flower. His black hair was neatly combed to the side, slicked down with a fine smelling mouses. The two men flanking him kept hands on their katanas, wanting to be ready in case things went south.

"You're late Takeshi," the lead shinobi pointed out.

"And you're bugged," Takeshi replied. He tossed a briefcase towards the three shinobi. The first shinobi opened it and saw several rolls of ryou in it. He closed it and nodded towards the Takeshi. Takeshi informed the shinobi, "Our deal is off. My boss is becoming suspicious. Take your money back - I want to tie up as many loose ends as I can."

He gestured to his escorts and they left. The shinobi turned to leave as well, stopping only to open the brief case and make sure the money was there. It was a shame about the deal but losses were necessary. Even more, it would easy to blame a few missing rolls on these gangsters. They slipped a few rolls into their pockets, already thinking about what they would spend it on, before noticing something underneath the wads of cash. Their eyes widened as they realized they'd made a poor mistake. The cash burst into flames and an explosion followed.

A resident looked out his window at three corpses and noticed one was holding a case full of what appeared to be exploding tags. The smell of burnt flesh filled the street that night.


Chapter 1: An Unlikely Guardian

Naruto sat on the swing underneath the tree. He'd failed the graduation exam in the academy again. He didn't understand. He'd tried so hard but it didn't seem like it was enough. He looked on in despair as the parents congratulated their children - his classmates - on their successful passing of the exam. He longed to be one of them, to have graduated, to be a genin. But after trying so many times, he wasn't sure if he could ever be a shinobi. This was the side of him he wouldn't ever want to show. He rose from the swing, rubbing his eyes and walked back to his apartment in defeat.

As he walked on, he was met with the casual response of being ignored by the fellow villagers. This wasn't unexpected - he'd grown accustomed to this treatment but it felt especially cold today. He ignored it, turned the corner to his apartment and stopped in his tracks. He had walked into one of the many people who were open about their hate towards him. The man cracked his knuckles and said, "Didn't I say I'd rip off your head if I ever saw you again!"

Naruto gulped and burst running in the opposite direction. Normally, he'd use some of the jutsu he'd learned to escape but most of his chakra was exhausted from the exam. The only training he could rely on was his physical endurance training. Besides, if he attacked in self defense then the other villagers may try to harm him too. He ran into an alley behind a bar and found himself at a dead end. He turned to face the man who had chased him, who busied himself by cracking his knuckles and sneering in delight, "I'm going to enjoy this."

He raised his fist and Naruto closed his eyes in fear. There was a sudden thud and a desperate groan. Naruto opened his eyes and saw his pursuer unconscious on the ground. Behind the pursuer stood a man in a black suit wielding a katana, who shook his head at the large man. Then he spat on the unconscious pursuer, grumbling about chasing kids. Naruto couldn't help but notice the man had only three fingers on his right hand: his thumb, fore finger and his middle finger. The man then turned to Naruto and seemed to freeze. Whether he froze because it was him he saved or if he had simply remembered something important, Naruto would never know. The man's mouth hang open in shock and his eyes widened like he'd seen a ghost. The man stood and stared at him for a few seconds before finally asking, "Are you okay?"

Naruto nodded. He knew who this man was, or rather who this man worked for just by looking at him. He was a member of the Kuroihi Syndicate, one of the boryokudan functioning in the village. Naruto had always tried to avoid the boryokudan. The villagers had never liked him and if he was seen with a yakuza, things could only get worse. The man motioned for Naruto to follow, "What's your name?"

Naruto hesitated, not wanting trouble and too scared to answer. The man pressed, "Well?"

"It's Naruto," he muttered. He'd heard stories about what they did to liars and didn't want to know if they were true. The man nodded and motioned for Naruto to follow. Naruto tip toed around the unconscious man and followed the gangster back out into the street. Then he paused when the man asked, "Where do you live?"

Naruto took a quick glance of his surroundings and answered, "Down the street at the apartment complex."

The man gestured ahead, "Lead the way."

Naruto took the lead, in a hurry to get home before more trouble happened. The man's presence made Naruto feel uncomfortable, and the terrified glances the villagers were giving him didn't help. Those who weren't intimidated showed a loathing respect for the man as he escorted Naruto back to his apartment. Outside of Naruto's home the man handed Naruto a card with an address on it, "If anyone ever gives you trouble I want you to come find me right away. Got it, Naruto?"

Naruto nodded, more out of fear than anything else. The Kuroihi were known to be ruthless and at the same time respectable. They didn't break any of Konoha's laws, but that didn't mean what they did wasn't morally bankrupt. Once he was out of sight, Naruto went into his room and sat down, trying to figure out what had happened. He'd been helped by a yakuza. More than that, the gangster had been kind to him.

The next day, Naruto learned the man who had attacked him was found half dead outside the village in a ditch. None of the boryokudan took the blame for the incident, declaring the man had done nothing to offend them. The shinobi in the village became much more vigilant after that. Many who had seen the incident from the day before claimed a Kuroihi attacked the man the day before. Those same witnesses quickly changed their story the second time they were asked.

Needless to say the incident had a negative effect on Naruto. Many villagers began to openly express their hate or began to avoid his very presence. This was true at the academy too, since everyone's chair had magically moved a complete meter from him, leaving a visible circle around him. Naruto shifted once during Iruka's lecture to pick up the pencil he dropped, only to notice the person to his side had moved a distance from Naruto's extended arm. Naruto understood the message and decided to use a different pencil. Iruka, whom Naruto had always considered the closest thing to a father-figure, tried to avoid eye-contact with him.

Once class ended, Iruka spoke with him, "I heard about what happened Naruto. Is everything okay?"

"Yes, Iruka-sensei," Naruto assured, noting that Iruka still refused to make eye contact. His teacher bit his lip, "Are you sure? I've been hearing some weird things from the other teachers."

"Everything's fine," Naruto feared to know where the conversation was heading. Iruka had probably learned about the incident the other day with the Kuroihi.

"Is this about the graduation exam?"

Naruto shook his head, "No, sensei."

Iruka took a deep breath, "Just promise me you aren't going to associate with any bosuzoku, okay?"

"Okay, Iruka-sensei," Naruto answered with his trademark smile. This seemed to be enough to convince Iruka since he patted Naruto on the back, "Okay, I'll take you to the Ichiraku tonight, okay?"

Naruto nodded with excitement. There was a tone of fear in Iruka's voice. During the meal, Naruto met more of the negative attention he hated. Throughout the entire meal, passerby ran quickly past Ichiraku when they saw Naruto inside. Others would come inside, order something, notice Naruto's presence, then leave before the noodles were prepared. It reached the point where the owner had to ask Iruka and Naruto to leave because they were scaring away customers. Naruto apologized to his teacher. Iruka said it couldn't be helped and told Naruto not to worry about it.

But he couldn't help but worry. The next day, Naruto went to the address on the card the Kuroihi gave him. The address, more or less, was for an office building in Konoha's market district. The sign over the office was emblazoned in gold and had a picture of a dragon on it.

Naruto hesitated to enter, since the people outside were giving him a curious look. A man tending his shop saw Naruto and seemed to lose himself in thought, as if praying he had done nothing to offend the boy. After several minutes of hesitation, a man stepped out of the office, escorted by two guards. The man from before. His two escorts were clad in black suits in general disarray - neatly pressed but not work appropriately. Upon leaving the building the escorts propped their collars up. They were about to leave when the man recognized Naruto. He smiled and instructed his two escorts, "Keitaro, Yahiko. You two are dismissed."

The two men nodded and wandered off, leaving him and Naruto alone. He asked the boy, "Is someone bothering you, Naruto?"

Naruto shook his head. The man bit his lip, "Then why'd you come here?"

Naruto was frozen. It was one thing to lie to a Kuroihi; it was another to tell him to back off. Naruto opened his mouth to answer but no words would come out. At that moment, Naruto noticed the tip of the man's right hand was bandaged. He also took note of a tattoo of a dragon underneath his suit's collar. He swallowed again and finally spoke, "Did you beat that guy up?"

The man offered a smile and raised an eyebrow, "No, I didn't."

Naruto searched his eyes for a sign of a lie, but found nothing. But Naruto knew he had lied, "Please, don't hurt anymore people."

"I haven't hurt any one," he replied. Sensing Naruto's unease, he asked, "What's wrong?"

Naruto continued, "Well, the villagers are worse to me now. Yesterday, my sensei and I were kicked out of the Ichiraku because I was scaring away too many customers."

The man nodded, "I see. Don't worry about it, okay?"

Naruto looked at the man; his eyes were deep in thought, the kind of thought that had something to hide. For a second, Naruto could've sworn he saw a resemblance to the reaper in his eyes. Naruto argued, "Only if you promise not to hurt anymore people."

The man assured him, "I never hurt anyone. Just head home and forget this whole thing ever happened."

Naruto nodded, not wanting to press the issue further, and went straight back to the apartment the Hokage was kind enough to give him. The man watched as Naruto disappeared from sight. The sun was beginning to set in the horizon, casting a gloomy blood red over the village.

The next day Naruto awoke to a knocking at his door. His clock read 5:00 AM. Outside the sun was rising, casting a foreboding orange into the apartment. He rubbed his tired eyes, and opened the door to three shinobi. He guessed they were ANBU considering all three wore masks of an animal and all three were in completely black hoods.

"What's going on?" Naruto asked.

"Uzumaki Naruto," the lead ANBU took a step towards the boy, "You're under arrest."

Terms to Know

Boryokudan: The literal meaning is "Violence Group", however it describes either a criminal organization or a gang known to take violent measures.

Bosuzoku: A term used to describe a gang of hoodlums. They tend to function as recruiters for the Boryokudan; otherwise, they are small time gangs which focus in small areas and have few members. They operate in the mediums of extortion.

Komon: An advisor. He is below the saiko-komon and his opinion has less value to the kumicho.

Kumicho: The Japanese counterpart for the Italian Don or "Godfather".

Ninkyo Dantai: A Chivalrous Organization, what boryokudan call itself. They view themselves as elite members of society loyal only to the Kumicho. It should be noted that only the Kumicho, the saiko-komon, the komon, the so-honbucho, the shateigashira, the wakagashira and the shateigashira-hosa are considered the members of the main ninkyo dantai family.

Oyabun-Kobun: The relationship between someone adopted into the boryokudan (foster child) and the person who adopted the Kobun (Foster parent). One's level is determined by when the person joined and who their allegiance lies to, sometimes allowing a 20 year-old to have seniority over a 60 year-old.

Saiko-Komon: The senior advisor to the Kumicho.

So-Honbucho: The Head-quarters Chief responsible for protecting the kumicho and his family. He manages a subsidiary gang which guard the compound or base of operations.

Shateigashira: The number three man, he protects the Wakagashira while overseeing his own operations. He also acts as the Wakagashira's assistant.

Shateigashira-hosa: An assistant to the number three man. Like his boss, he has his own subsidiary gang.

Shatei: A junior/younger member of the Ninkyo dantai. As the newer member he does the dirtier work.

Wakagashira: The number two man, he is in charge of his own sub gangs and is the most likely candidate to replace the kumicho.

Wakashu: A subordinate to the shateigashira or the wakagashira who manages his own gang. He functions as a recruiter for the main gang.

Ya-ku-za/ Hachi-Kyu-San: an individual member of the Boryokudan. The name derives from the most difficult hand to win with in a game of Oicho-Kabu, requiring the player to be cunning, intelligent and lucky at the same time. Many consider the hand worthless. As a phrase, it is believed to bring bad luck to whomever says it.