Morino Ibiki was not having a good day.
His 'talents' weren't needed at the moment, all his drinking buddies were out on missions, his favorite sake bar was closed for repairs, and rent on his apartment was due.
Add this on top of his usual grumpy exterior, and it was no wonder people were getting out of his way.
His apartment was close, so he funneled some chakra into his legs, leapt across two rooftops, and started in through his window, until he heard the telltale grunts and taunts of a fight. Ibiki jumped down to the alley behind his apartment building and saw a set of people kicking something on the ground. He didn't know what they were kicking, but he knew whenever six people were around one thing kicking it on the ground, it generally wasn't good.
Ibiki stalked towards the group who still hadn't noticed his presence, getting a better look at what they were kicking. His killer intent started spiking with each step as he realized that they were kicking the tar out of a kid. He couldn't have been eight years old!
Ibiki growled as he lifted his fist and knocked the first person into the wall of the alley. The second person was backhanded in a similar manner before the other four even began to react. That was when he got really mad.
One of the people he was fighting was a chuunin! It was horrible to find something like this taking place, but to have a ninja of his own village take part in it was just disgusting. Ibiki chose the chuunin as his next target as the villagers realized just who it was and tried to run. Ibiki wasn't too concerned if they got away, he had gotten good looks at their faces, and they wouldn't get away from this situation without some kind of punishment. But right now, he was dealing with the ninja who would defile the principles of his village like this.
The chuunin drew a kunai and that was all that Ibiki needed. Ibiki stepped into chuunin's strike and slammed a fist into his face, breaking his nose, and stripped him of the kunai, sliding it into his own kunai pouch.
The other three had run off, but Ibiki had gotten a good look at their faces. They would be getting a visit from him, but right now, he had more important things to worry about. Such as a beaten kid at his feet.
Ibiki used a binding jutsu on the three unconscious people littering the alley, making sure that even in the unlikely event that they woke up, they wouldn't be going anywhere. After that was done, he turned back and was surprised.
Morino Ibiki was not a man who was easily surprised. He had seen a lot of things that would shock many people speechless. He didn't get assigned as the second in command of the ANBU's Torture and Interrogation Squad for nothing, and he was going to be the one who took it over once the current head retired. But what he was seeing now was truly surprising.
The six or seven year old kid, the kid he had just seen getting beat by six full grown men, was getting back up!
The bear sized man moved over to the blonde haired kid and placed a steadying hand on his shoulder, only to have it shrugged off.
"Easy kid. You shouldn't move right now, not until someone's checked you out to make sure you don't have any serious injuries."
The blonde haired kid, who Ibiki had finally recognized as the Kyuubi container, scowled. "I'm fine. I've never had anybody help me like that before, and I've always done fine before. Besides, I'm Uzumaki Naruto and I'm going to be Hokage!"
Ibiki chuckled. "Well, if you can take a beating like that and get back up, you might be able to pull that off. Don't get your hopes up though. Now stop moving while I make sure you aren't too injured."
Naruto muttered, but didn't move. Being a specialist in torture, a lot of people wouldn't have thought that Ibiki would know much about taking pain away. But for those that thought about it, it made sense. One of the best techniques for getting information was putting someone on death's door then bringing him or her back. And the best way to make sure you didn't inadvertently kill someone was to have a serious knowledge of anatomy. So while Ibiki wasn't going to be a medic-nin anytime soon, he knew how to fix someone up long enough to get them to someone who was able to really heal them.
"Okay, you're good to move around, but you'll want to get looked at after we get where we're going."
"Where are we going?" Naruto asked.
"To see the Hokage."
"The old man? I guess so."
Ibiki kept his normal face but inside he was laughing. He'd never seen anyone be so disrespectful to the Hokage, but this kid did it without thinking. He said it like he would call the Hokage that to his face. But no one was that dense.
"The Hokage will see you now," the chuunin outside the Sandaime's office said to Ibiki and Naruto, who were waiting after dropping off Naruto's attackers in some of Ibiki's cells. They entered the office to see the Hokage lighting his pipe with a minor Katon jutsu.
"Ah, Naruto-kun, what are you doing here? And with Ibiki-kun no less? You haven't been pulling pranks again, have you?" Though Sarutobi's words were chiding, he was smiling.
"Hey old man! Why do you always think I'm pulling pranks?"
Ibiki forced himself to keep from reacting. The kid actually does call the most powerful person in Konoha 'old man'!
"Perhaps because you are always pulling pranks?"
Naruto just laughed sheepishly and rubbed the back of his head.
Ibiki was still running off his anger at the people who could do such a thing. "Hokage-sama, this is more serious than a simple prank."
"Yes, I thought it might have been when you brought him to see me. So what is the cause for this visit?"
"Hokage-sama, I was on my way home when I heard the sounds of a fight. When I went to investigate, I found Naruto here being beaten up by five villagers and a chuunin."
The Sandaime's face hardened. "Naruto-kun, is this true?"
"Well, I don't know if he was a chuunin, but I know one of them had a hitai-ate on his forehead. And I didn't prank them or anything! I was just trying to buy some food when the started chasing after me, calling me demon brat and stuff like that. But I don't want anyone to get into trouble because of me."
Sarutobi interrupted before Naruto could get to far into his apology rant. "Don't worry Naruto-kun, it wasn't anything you did. Any punishment they receive is entirely because of their own actions. But I think I need to talk to Ibiki-kun alone for a moment. Please wait out in the hall until I call you back in."
"Okay old man, but do you think we can go get some Ramen after this is done?"
Sarutobi chuckled. "We'll see Naruto-kun."
"Alright! Ramen here I come!"
Ibiki just stared at the door after it shut until the Hokage cleared his throat, bringing him back to the present. "What happened?"
"Like I said, I was going home, I was about to go in my window, and then I heard a fight. I found six people kicking the shit out of a seven year old, and then I stopped them."
"Just how did you stop them?"
"I didn't kill them if that's what you're asking. I knocked out two of the villagers, the chuunin, and got a good look at the other three. I would have tracked them down, but I was more concerned with the bloody lump at my feet. Much to my surprise, he wasn't a bloody lump, but already standing up and actually in pretty good shape for what had just happened to him. Now I know what he has sealed in him, but he shouldn't have to take a beating like that. He shouldn't be able to take a beating like that."
"I completely agree."
Ibiki scowled. "Than why does he?"
Sarutobi sighed. "I really wish the Hokage was as powerful as people think he is. But I can't change people's minds, and if I try to get to close to him personally, people will say the Kyuubi has corrupted me, and my resignation would be called for. Then I wouldn't be able to help him at all. So, I do what I can, and hope that people will overcome their feelings and see the boy as he is."
"I wouldn't count on that. People are going to be stupid no matter what you say or outlaw them from saying. They don't realize that if he really was the fox, they'd all be dead by now."
"I know. What did you do with the three you knocked out?"
"They're waiting for me in some of the holding cells. I'll deal with them in the morning. Does Naruto even know why he was being chased? He should know, if only to know why he's shunned. And you heard him; he didn't want anyone to get into trouble, even after they beat him up. I doubt he's going to go seeking revenge just because he knows why."
"I'm not sure that's the best idea, I wanted him to have a normal childhood."
"He took a six man beating and got back up like it was an everyday occurrence. That's not a normal childhood, no matter who you are. I'll do what you tell me, but I think he should know."
The Hokage sighed and stayed silent for a moment. "Bring Naruto-kun back in here, and I'll talk to him. But don't interrupt."
Ibiki nodded, and brought the energetic blonde back into the room. "Naruto-kun, I have something to tell you, but it may upset you."
"Alright old man, what is it?"
"Before I tell you, I want your word that you will try not to get to upset and listen to the entire story before you do anything."
"Is this really that big?"
"Okay, I'll try not to go nuts and I'll listen to the whole thing."
"What do you know of the Kyuubi no Kitsune and its defeat?"
Naruto quickly assumed his 'thinking pose', and gave the basic telling of how the Yondaime killed this demon fox at the cost of his own life.
"Yes, that is almost what happened."
Naruto scrunched up his face. "What do you mean?"
"The Kyuubi no Kitsune was the strongest demon in existence, the strongest of the Biju. Nothing could kill it, not even the Fourth Hokage."
"But the fox was beaten, and if it wasn't killed, what happened? Wouldn't it come back to finish us off?"
"I don't know. I don't know why the fox attacked us, and I doubt we ever will. But while the Fourth did defeat the Kyuubi, he wasn't able to kill it. Instead, he used a sealing technique that would trap the Kyuubi in a human vessel, protecting Konoha from harm. Unfortunately, the only way to keep the Kyuubi from destroying its vessel was to use a newborn baby, whose chakra pathways were not yet developed. That way, the body could use the demon's chakra and grow to adapt to it, instead of being killed by it."
"So why didn't we get told this? Why's it a big secret?"
"Because while the Yondaime wanted the Kyuubi's vessel to be seen as a hero for protecting the village from certain destruction, the villagers could only see the fox when they looked at the vessel. Someone who killed the Yondaime and their loved ones. So I was forced to create a law that prohibited anyone from speaking of what happened to anyone who didn't know the truth. I wanted the vessel to have a normal childhood. Unfortunately, I failed you in that aspect, Naruto-kun."
Naruto may be one of the densest people in the village, and certainly not one of the most intelligent, but he wasn't stupid. So with all the information given, his seven-year-old mind could only come up with one thing. "I'm the Kyuubi vessel, aren't I?" he asked in a small voice, one that was strange coming from the usually loud boy.
"I'm sorry that it was easier, but yes, you are the one who had the Kyuubi sealed into him."
Naruto sat in his thinking pose, looking rather rundown, as if the beating he had taken earlier was just now taking its toll. After a few minutes of silence, he spoke. "He had to do it, didn't he? Between one life or the entire village, he had to make the choice that he made."
"You're taking this much better than I thought you would be," Sarutobi said slowly, testing Naruto's reaction.
"What am I supposed to do about it now? There wasn't any other way to win, and he made the right choice for the village, which is what the Hokage is supposed to do. And since I'm going to be Hokage someday, I need to understand that. I don't like it, but he did what he had to do to protect his precious people."
The Hokage smiled. "I'm glad you understand. Now, you need to understand that what I've told you is a S-class secret, and it would be a bad thing if people found out. However, my law doesn't affect you, so anyone you want to tell you may, but I want you to know that you should be careful. You are not the demon, and you know this. However, some people do not see it that way, and those who you tell might not understand if you tell them. So you need to take caution."
"Okay. Can we go get some ramen now?"
Sarutobi laughed. "Unfortunately, I have a great deal of paperwork to finish. But if you asked nicely, perhaps you could persuade Ibiki-kun to take you."
Naruto immediately rounded to face the scarred man. "Please, please take me to get some ramen, I'll be good and Ichiraku's is so good and I'll even help pay and-"
Ibiki cut the small boy off. "Just shut up and come on." Ibiki would have rather just gone and gotten drunk to try to forget the ignorance of people in Konoha, but he had seen the Hokage's smile, and he knew he had no choice. Besides, he had the feeling the blonde would pester him until he said yes anyway.
"Hey old man, another bowl of pork ramen!"
Ibiki had been stunned and surprised more tonight than he had been than he had been for a long time. But the sheer amount of ramen this seven-year-old was simply astonishing. There was no place for the food to go, but Naruto simply kept eating. He didn't know how. Naruto was currently at eighteen bowls and counting.
"Alright kid, I think you've had enough." Not to mention I don't have any more money. "Let's get you home."
"Fine," Naruto mumbled, saying how he wanted more ramen.
"I'm not going to have you eat your way through my paycheck, even if you do want more ramen. Now let's go."
Ibiki and Naruto walked the short distance from Ichiraku's to his apartment, where Ibiki felt his anger rise at the state of it. "You mean the people you live with let their place get like this?"
Naruto looked around at his apartment, the only thing difference from how it was normally was that there was a new rock that sat amongst the shards of a freshly broken window. He picked up the rock and set it over with the others, not even bothering with the note on it. He looked back up at the scarred jounin. "Actually, this isn't that bad. The power's on at least. And what do you mean people I live with? You mean the people in the other apartments or something?"
"You live here by yourself?"
Naruto hesitated. "Uh, yeah. But I can take of myself."
Ibiki scowled. He wasn't normally this helpful to anyone, but quite frankly, not many people deserved help as much as this kid. And nobody deserved to live here. Hell, his interrogation cells were nicer than this apartment.
"Fuck it. Kid, grab some clothes for tomorrow, and come with me. I'm not going to have you living in a shithole like this one if I can help it."
Naruto stared at the large man blankly. "…Uh, okay."
Naruto grabbed a change of clothes, then the unlikely pair set out towards Ibiki's apartment.
Ibiki was definitely upset by the glares the villagers were giving the blonde beside him, only to advert their eyes when they saw whom he was with. Though some continued their arrogance, and looked at Ibiki with praise in their eyes, as if they thought Ibiki was taking him to one of his interrogation rooms. That simply disgusted him that people of his own village could think that way.
The thing that cut him the worst was that Naruto seemed used to it.
Hell, Naruto wasn't just used to it, he was moving like absolutely nothing was wrong or out of the ordinary, like this was something that happened to everyone.
Ibiki reigned in his killing intent; Naruto was looking at him funny. Sadistic torturer he may be, but he didn't like messing with kids like that.
"You said you wanted to be Hokage, right?" Ibiki asked. At Naruto's fervent nod, he continued. "Then you need to be a decent ninja first. Higurashi's is the best place in Konoha for equipment."
Naruto whooped and started to do a dance, but quickly followed after Ibiki when he wasn't being waited for.
After a few minutes of looking around, meaning Naruto was staring at all the weapons in awe, a shop clerk approached them.
"Ibiki-san, it's good to see you again. What can I do to help you?" Then the clerk noticed exactly who was with Ibiki and his face fell. It didn't turn into a sneer or grimace like some of the others Ibiki had seen that morning, but it definitely told him Naruto wasn't particularly welcome.
Ibiki saw this and immediately pulled him off to the side so Naruto wouldn't overhear them. "Um, Ibiki-san, is it truly wise to have him here?"
"Why? Is there something wrong with him that would cause a problem, Higurashi-san? He's no more trouble than any other seven-year-old. The worst he might do is pull a prank, and he knows not to do anything of the sort."
Higurashi held up his hands quickly. "I have no problem with the boy myself, but I have to look out for my family." Ibiki's scowl deepened. "No, no, not like that, it's just…you know this shop is my family's only source of income since I retired. While I don't see anything wrong with the boy, some of my customers might not see it that way, and I can't afford to lose too many. I'm looking out for my family's best interests."
"This is a shop for shinobi equipment. Which means the only people who need to be shopping here are shinobi. And if a shinobi can't get over stupid prejudices, I'm not sure I'd want to associate with them. Anyone with half a brain knows that boy is not the demon, and if he was, Konoha would have been destroyed ten times over for the crap he's been put through here."
Higurashi looked shocked. "What do you mean? I know some people don't like the boy, but it can't really have been that bad, could it?"
"Last night, he was getting beaten up by six people, and who knows what would have happened if I hadn't stopped them. Later that night, he was treating life like everything was normal and it was a common occurrence. With these people, it probably was. And besides, his dream is to become Hokage. I told him this was the best place for equipment in Konoha. I doubt he'll want to go anywhere else now. Not to mention your daughter seems to have taken a liking to him already." Ibiki nodded over to where Naruto and a girl with chocolate brown hair done up in buns on top of her head were talking.
"Hey, I'm Tenten, do you need some help?"
Naruto started at Tenten's voice, due mainly to not being used to people talking in a pleasant tone to him. "Um, yeah. Ibiki brought me here to get some stuff, but he didn't tell me what it was, so I kinda have to wait for him. He's over there talking with that guy."
Tenten smiled. "That's my dad. This is his shop, and it's got the best weapons anywhere! All the best ninjas shop here."
"Yeah, well, I'm not just going to be a ninja, I'm gonna be Hokage, the best ninja in the whole village!"
"You're a little short to be Hokage, aren't you?"
Naruto scowled. "I'm not short, and I am going to be Hokage. Nobody's going to stop me."
"Fine, but I'm going to be able to beat you. I'm going to be the best kunoichi ever. Just like Tsunade-sama."
Tenten's face went slack, in a dumbfounded expression. "What do you mean, who's she?"
"What do you mean, what do I mean? I don't know who she is and I was asking you to tell me so I would know. That's what I was asking."
"Tsunade-sama is only the best kunoichi alive, one of the Legendary Sannin, and the best medic-nin ever. She could probably take over for the Hokage when he retires."
"No she couldn't, because I'm going to be Hokage."
Tenten sighed, exasperated with the Hokage hopeful. "The Hokage's old, and you're still little. Even if you do become Hokage, she'll take over when the Sandaime retires. Maybe you could get it when she retires."
Naruto's face took on one of slow comprehension. "Yeah, and I'll get even better when she's Hokage!"
"…So, you want to be friends?"
"I guess so, but I've never had a friend before. What do we do?"
Before Naruto could learn exactly what friends do, Ibiki and Tenten's father wandered over. "So, I've been talking with Ibiki-san, and I understand you want to be a ninja. Best to start out early, I always say."
"Alright, I'd say he needs two sets of starter shuriken and kunai, blunted so he doesn't kill himself, and some weights would be good to. Build up his speed so he can get away from the shit he gets in."
Higurashi Satome nodded. "Tenten, can you go in the back and get the shuriken and kunai for me?" At her nod, he turned back to Ibiki. "So, do you want to have simple arm and leg weights, or did you want to go with a full weighted suit?"
Ibiki looked Naruto over. "Eh, go with both. Just little ones to start out with, but make sure you can add to them, he might get used to them pretty quick."
Satome shrugged. "Usually people go with one or the other, but if you're sure…" He walked off to get the correct weights.
After finishing up their shopping, it was getting late, so Ibiki took Naruto back to their apartment, told him to stay in there, and not open the door for anyone, including himself. He had a key to let himself in, whereas someone disguised as him wouldn't. Ibiki didn't really think anyone would be stupid enough to try to get into his apartment, but if there were, he wasn't going to let Naruto make it easier for someone using a basic Henge.
Once that was done, he headed towards the bar to get properly sloshed. He needed to forget the villager's reactions to Naruto.
While Ibiki was getting drunk, Naruto was sleeping, having a nice dream about him throwing his shuriken, defeating his enemies, being raised up as Hokage, and being hailed as a ramen god. As he stood in the Hokage's office, looking out over Konoha, the dream swirled. As the area around Naruto regained shape, he was standing in a dank hallway, pipes dripping, and a low rumble coming from the end of the hallway. Naruto took a tentative step forward, and jumped when he heard a voice speaking to him.
"Hey brat, get down here." Naruto slowly crept towards the voice, coming from the direction of the rumbling. "Hurry up, I don't feel like waiting, you little ape-rat!"
Naruto jumped again and rushed forward, emerging in a room that dwarfed him, making him feel truly small. There were bars separating the room, a large seal covering the center. But he froze at the sight of the gigantic red eyes, glowing in the darkness. Naruto knew what this was, the Kyuubi no Kitsune.
Naruto felt the eyes concentrate on his body and there was blast of wind as the demon snorted in disgust. "I still can't believe I got sealed in something so damn little."
Blue eyes flashed as Naruto shook off his shock. "Hey, I'm not little! Take that back!"
A loud yapping sound filled the air, a sound Naruto took as laughter. "You've got guts, I'll give you that, to talk back to the Lord of Demons like that. As for the little comment, I'm not going to take that back, it's the truth. Stupid human, before I ended up here, I was able to destroy a mountain with a single swipe of one of my tails. Compared to my former glory, you're tiny."
Naruto didn't have a response to that, and settled for a scowl.
"What am I doing here?"
"I needed to talk to you. And seeing as how you know about me now, now would be a good time. I would have done it sooner, but quite frankly, I didn't need you hearing voices and thinking you were crazy. If you were to do something like try to carve the voices out of your head, that would end up bad for the both of us. You die, I die. I don't want to die, so don't do something stupid and get yourself killed. Got that?"
"I don't want to die either. But what do I get out of it?"
Kyuubi laughed again, harder than before. "You know, you're one of the only humans ever to ask me for anything, and the only one stupid enough to do so in such a tone. But what do you get out of it? Stupidly large chakra reserves and increased healing, that's what. Maybe something else if you impress me. Don't count on it though. If not for me helping you out, you would have died several times over from the beatings those idiotic villagers give you."
Naruto shuffled his feet before replying. "…Thank you," he muttered.
"What?" Kyuubi asked, actually sounding bewildered.
Naruto looked the demon fox directly in the eyes, his own glinting with determination. "I said, 'thank you'. If someone saves your life, you're supposed to thank them. Even if they're a bastard fox that got you in the trouble to begin with."
The room was silent, save for the constant growling that came from the red-eyed prisoner. "…You're fucking confusing, brat."
Eloquent as always, Naruto replied, "Huh?"
Kyuubi sighed, or at least that's what it sounded like to the blonde. "…You're confusing as hell. No, no, hell's fairly straightforward. Lots of torture and pain. Bunch of fire. But you have the balls to insult me, yell at me, you don't fear me, at least not near as much as anyone with good sense, and then you turn around and thank me. You're confusing, even to someone who's lived as long as me. Well, if you can call being stuck behind a seal living."
"I already said it. You saved my life, and that deserves a thank you, even if you did it just to keep yourself alive. You make my life hell, but it's not like you asked to be stuck in my belly. Yondaime did that. So he gets his share of the blame. As for me insulting you, you're touchy and deserved it anyway."
"As loathe as I am to admit it, that attitude probably means we'll get on better than either one of us thought. Dammit."
The two glared at each other before Naruto broke the silence. "I've got a question. Why did you attack Konoha?"
"You know, the only other person to ask me that was your pops," Kyuubi said in a thoughtful tone.
"M-my dad?" Naruto choked out.
"Yeah. That blonde prick that sealed me in here. Unsurprisingly, also the only other person to look at me like you do. Determination to the point of a death wish and very little fear. The reason is very simple. I was asked to."
"Who would ask you to do that?"
"The Kami. The Biju are incredible demons, but unlike other demons, we do cleanup work when shit goes bad. Though we probably wouldn't do it if not for the fact that Kami could beat all nine of us with his arms tied behind his back and blindfolded and still not break a sweat. Crazy person about to destroy the world? We get orders to go eat them. Everybody else passes it off as us just being demons. Happened a long time ago when you stupid humans got too advanced and power-obsessed for your own good, and all nine of us had to be called in. Took out damn near the whole race before we got called off."
"What do you mean 'too advanced and power-obsessed'?"
"I mean you stupid ape-rats creating shit that would kill everything on the planet with the push of a button, and threatening to use it over petty differences. And you wonder why demons hate you."
"But why did that mean you were called in to attack us? Konoha doesn't have anything that could do anything like that."
"Well, you finally seem to be using that little brain of yours. We get called in whenever something gets too big for you to deal with, or when one of you stupid ape-rats gets too close to breaking the natural order of things. Konoha had that in the shape of a snake bastard called Orochimaru. Got too close to immortality for comfort, so I was called in to stop him, considering this village is in my territory."
"Orochimaru? I've heard villagers say things about him. But he's a missing nin now. He got chased out before you attacked."
"I know that now. But Konoha was where the Kami told me to attack. So that's where I thought he was. Of course, after being sealed in you, I'm not sure that wasn't his plan all along. Maybe he's got something big planned for you. But when your shinobi started to attack me, that was more proof that you were hiding Orochimaru to keep him from killing him. As for eating the ones who attacked me, I was hungry."
"So you were just doing your job when you attacked us?"
"An absolute oversimplification of what was actually divine punishment, but yes."
"So was there any other reason why you interrupted my dreams? I'd like to get back to them."
Kyuubi growled. "Listen brat, I may be stuck in this cage, but I'll be damned if I let you talk like that for too long. I'm still a hell of a lot more powerful than you and can make your life hell."
Naruto jumped up, interrupting the Biju's rant. "You already do, or don't you remember all the shit the villagers put me through? You make my life hell, and anything else you throw at me, I'll overcome it!"
"Sit down!" Kyuubi roared. "Yes, your life sucks. Yes, people are mean to you. I'd like to do something about that, but I can't. So stop complaining and show me a little respect."
"…You'd really do something about it if you could?"
"I may be a demon, but I've got honor. More honor than most demons and definitely more than most humans. I don't like innocents getting hurt. And you, brat, are an innocent in this situation. You technically prevent the people of your village from dying every day, and you get shafted because of something that's not your fault. I don't like that."
"You're weird. You bounce back and forth way too much."
"I've been alive longer than you can comprehend. I've seen more than you will ever know. I have my own reasons why I am the way I am."
"So are we done?"
"I don't feel much like talking to you anymore, but there is something you should know. Don't bother trying to talk to me day to day. I don't need people thinking you're crazy talking to yourself. The only time we can communicate like this is when you're asleep, unconscious, or if you're specifically meditating to talk to me. Now get out." And with a final snort, Naruto was blown out of the room, and awake, staring at the scarred man who had taken him in.
"Kid, wake up. We've got some stuff we need to do today," Ibiki said as Naruto blinked the sleep from his eyes.
"Get up before I dump you out of the bed. I need to go into work today, and you need to get signed up for the academy." At that, Naruto started moving much faster. He definitely wanted to be in the academy.
After a short breakfast and walking across the village, Ibiki and Naruto were waiting in the sign-up line, some of the other parents throwing the blonde dirty looks.
Once they finally got up to the front of the line, and got Naruto's name on the list a young chuunin named Iruka was manning, it was later than Ibiki had planned on. But that didn't stop someone from calling out to him.
"Ibiki-san! I didn't know you had a kid." The scarred man turned and saw a familiar man with long blonde hair waving at him.
"Inoichi, didn't expect to see you here. Wasn't your kid going to own your flower shop?" Ibiki didn't hold anything against Inoichi for being in the flower business, it was part of his family, and hell, it was how he met his wife.
The blonde chuckled. "She is, but apparently she's also going to be the best kunoichi of her generation, if you can go by her words."
Ibiki smirked. "If we're going by what they say, I'm dealing with the future Hokage."
Inoichi smiled mischievously. "So who's the kid? I know you don't have a woman in your life, and even if you were able to hide that from me, there's no way you'd be able to hide the fact that you made a new addition to gene pool." Inoichi looked down at Naruto once more, taking in whom it was. Only a trained jounin such as Ibiki would have noticed the shift in Inoichi's face, but it was there. Then the blonde made a slight hand gesture that signified that he wanted to speak in private. Figuring it would be good to nip this in the bud, Ibiki went with him.
After Ibiki set up a personalized privacy jutsu, Inoichi opened his mouth, but Ibiki cut him off. "Before you say anything about He-Who-Is-In-His-Stomach, you need to get that out of your mind right now. Do you want to know how I met him?"
"Yes, I'd like to know what you're doing with the demon boy."
"You know, I thought you were smarter than that. He's not a demon boy. If he was as you say he is, we'd all be dead. Last night, I was going home, and I hear a fight. Not one to turn down a fight, I go looking, and I find the kid taking a six man beating. I put a stop to it, and then he got up and told me he had never had any help before, and that he was going to be Hokage. Then, once we were in the Hokage's office, he said that he was trying to buy some food when they started chasing him. After taking a six man beating, for no reason other than something he can't control, do you know what he said? He didn't want any of them to get into trouble because of what he did. Does that sound anything like what a demon would do in his spot?"
"…No," Inoichi admitted grudgingly.
"And tell me, if he really is as you say he is, would you say it's a good idea to treat him like shit? Because I don't think treating a demon like shit is a good way to stay alive."
"I know that…but every time I see him, I remember my brother and how he died in the attack, and I can't help but get angry," Inoichi protested.
"Both my parents and my little brother, the same way, but I don't blame him. Don't hate the jailor for the inmate's crimes. It's stupid, and petty, and I thought you were above it. Think it over, and talk to me later." With that, Ibiki released the jutsu and walked off with Naruto.
Naruto sat down in front of the Hokage, intent on telling him what he had talked about with Kyuubi the night before, but one question was plaguing his mind.
"Hey old man, what do you know about my parents?"
The man called the Professor looked up. "Why do you ask?"
"I, um, had an interesting conversation last night."
"Please don't be mad. The Kyuubi."
Sarutobi's face hardened. "Is the seal weakening? Do you feel any different than normal? What did the Kyuubi say?"
"I don't think the seal's weakening, but I don't know what it would feel like if it was though. I don't feel any different, but I just got signed up for the ninja academy, so that's pretty cool. And Kyuubi was kind of rude and called me a bunch of names and told me why he attacked back then and that we were stuck together until I die and he wants to keep living so I better stay alive. But he also said that my dad was the Yondaime."
"I would like to check the seal after we're done talking, and it's good to hear that you got in. As for the Kyuubi, this is interesting. He really said that your father was the Yondaime?"
Naruto screwed his face up in concentration, a comical sight if there ever was one. "Well, he didn't come out and say it. I asked him why he attacked, and he said that the only other person who ever asked was my dad. Then I asked about my dad, and he said that it was 'that blonde prick that sealed me in here' or something like that. That's all he said about it."
"I'll look into this, and while it may explain a number of things, I don't want to get your hopes up."
"What things would it explain?" Naruto asked, genuinely curious.
"Such as where Arashi got a baby at the last second. Why you look so much like the fourth at his age. You see, Yondaime was ready to make any sacrifice for his people, and this is something that he would have done. He would not have wanted to take another person's child over his own. He would not have wanted to do this to anyone, but if anyone, it would be with his own son. He would have believed you strong enough to continue on no matter the circumstances, just as he did. But again, I don't know if this is true. And for that, I am sorry. I do wish I could tell you more, if only to give you a little peace."
Naruto was silent for a long moment, and then he looked up. "I think I understand. He put his people first. That's what a Hokage needs to do."
"I'm glad you understand that now. If you are going to be Hokage as you say, it's a very important lesson."
"About the other thing…why Kyuubi attacked? Did you want to hear about that?"
Sandaime smiled. "Yes, I think I would appreciate that greatly."
"Well, even though Kyuubi was always throwing out insults, I don't think he was lying, so that's the only reason I'm telling you. He said he was doing his job. That whenever humans get too close to something that's truly forbidden or going to destroy the world or something, him and the other Biju go out and stop it for the Kami. He attacked Konoha because someone was getting too close to immortality, which is apparently a big no-no or something. Someone called Orochimary or something."
"Orochimaru?" Sarutobi clarified, his voice steel.
"Yeah, that was it."
"I see. Well, we'll just have to add that to the list of his crimes. Causing the near destruction of Konoha. He really is one of my greatest mistakes," the Hokage said, mostly to himself. "If there's not anything else, I have a great deal of paperwork, but I'm sure we'll see each other again soon."
"I thought about what you said."
Ibiki looked up from his sake and saw Inoichi sitting next to him. "Two days? Here I thought you wouldn't be back before a week."
"Ha ha. I wanted to make sure I had everything straight in my head first."
"Nothing's straight in that head of yours. You've been screwloose forever. It's all that mind jumping you do."
"Was everything you said really true?"
"It's probably worse than I told you. For as loud as that kid is, it's hard to get him to open up about the things you want him to."
Inoichi put his hand over his heart in mock shock. "Morino Ibiki? The great interrogator? Bested by a child?"
Ibiki fixed him with a glare. "I want the kid to trust me. The only person he does even somewhat is Hokage-sama, and that's it. A seven year old shouldn't be that paranoid."
"Even if you're going to raise him?"
The interrogator scowled. "Don't even think about messing with me over this. You didn't see the shithole that kid was living in. The rats had sense to move out. He was happy the power was connected."
"I wasn't going to make fun of you. I was just saying that you aren't the definition of trusting either."
"Neither of us can be, but he's worse than me, and at seven. It's wrong, and it needs to stop. I intend to help."
"…I talked with Shikaku and Choza about it, and after they told me I was being an idiot for thinking the way I was, they said they were on your side. I'm not over my issues with him, but I'm working on it. And we'll help you with the kid when you need it. Kami knows you'll need it. You're not exactly the child-rearing type you know."
"Hmm. I thought they would kick your ass for thinking like that. Shikaku's too lazy to be troubled with thinking that way, and Choza's too easygoing. But it's appreciated."
"No problem. But I should probably get back. I don't want to think about what could happen if he got into my special stash."
The glare sent Inoichi's way was enough to make the seasoned jounin flinch and lower his eyes.
"I keep my really fun toys at home. I don't trust the guys at work not to fuck them up, and I don't trust Anko not to overuse them."
Inoichi shuddered. "Um, yeah, getting home would probably be a good idea."
"Ibiki-kun, Naruto-kun, have a seat, please," the Hokage greeted with a smile. "I believe I have some information that may interest the both of you."
"What's that old man? Is it about my dad? You said you were going to look at it and see if there was anything that proved it," Naruto asked eagerly.
"I'm not completely sure. The Yondaime was a private individual, at least when it came to his own life. Very sociable, but very secretive as well. He had the ability to turn any conversation away from himself without you knowing it until later when you realized you didn't get any information. This was a good thing, with his numerous enemies, but it does make finding information about him that I didn't already know difficult. It may have taken me a month, but I found one of his scrolls recently, and I believe it is the solution to our problem."
"How do you know that?" Naruto asked.
"It has his seal on it."
"However, I don't know what it contains, simply for the fact that this seal acts not only as an identifying seal, but also as a blood seal. It appears to from around the time of the Kyuubi attack, but again, I cannot be sure."
"Okay. But if you don't know what's in it, how do you know you have information for us?"
"Do you know what a blood seal does?"
"I think so. Ibiki had one put on his box of toys so I can't get into them. He hasn't even let me see what's in it to know if I want to play with them or not. Meanie." Naruto stuck his tongue out at his guardian, who smiled back. Luckily, Naruto was mostly used to it by now. For those that weren't, one of Ibiki's smiles was a fairly frightening sight.
Sarutobi was trying to decide between disciplining Ibiki for keeping torture implements in his apartment and laughing at the fact that Naruto thought Ibiki had toys he was keeping from him. He settled on an impassive face that came from years of experience of suppressing reactions and continued on.
"Yes. A blood seal will only open for those people keyed to the seal and their family. This primarily used to protect clan secrets, however, I suppose it could be used to keep things from mischievous little ninjas."
"But I still don't see how that helps us know if the Yondaime is my dad or not."
Ibiki really hadn't thought Naruto was this dense. Sometimes he wasn't. Sometimes Naruto made incredible insights that people doing double takes simply to confirm who made the comment. Other times, he was like this; denser than people believed possible.
"He means that if your blood works on the seal, you're related to the Yondaime, regardless of the information inside."
"Oh. That makes sense. But, old man Hokage, why didn't you have this thing before? I thought everything Yondaime left was a great treasure or something."
Sarutobi cleared his throat. "Yes, well, do you remember what I said was the greatest bane of any Hokage?"
"I know this one…wait a minute…it was something stupid…paperwork! That was it! Paperwork." Naruto sat back in his seat, looking distinctly pleased with himself.
"At the time after the attack, Konoha was in a state of disrepair, and quite frankly, we were more concerned with the village. Paper got shuffled around, and records from the time are shaky at best. I think this scroll was simply mixed in with something else, and got lost among the archives. That's why it took me so long. Not to mention the Kazama clan was known for being rather unorganized."
"Oh. Okay. But when I become Hokage, I'm going to do something about that paperwork you keep complaining about. I don't know what yet, but I'm gonna fix it."
Sarutobi chuckled. "Naruto-kun, if you accomplished that and that alone, you would most certainly be the greatest Hokage. But back onto the topic at hand, all you need to do is smear a little blood over the seal."
"Alright." Naruto quickly bit his thumb, ran the blood over the scroll's seal. Nothing happened for a moment or two, save Naruto sucking the excess blood off his thumb, and then the seal glowed a faint blue before opening. "Hey, it worked."
"We saw that kid. But I'd say that confirmed it. You're the Yondaime's son. There isn't any way to fake that, is there?"
The Hokage drew a long breath from his pipe, blowing out slowing. "No. Not that I know of, and especially none that Naruto would be able to perform. To fool a blood seal would require copious preparation, prior knowledge, and most likely a seal master, and Naruto-kun had none of those. Naruto-kun is the Kazama heir. Now, if you would be so kind, can you tell us what is on the scroll?"
Naruto shrugged and started reading over it. "Um, I don't know what this is."
"May I see?" Naruto tossed the confusing scroll to the Hokage. "This is a storage scroll. But why would Arashi-kun put a blood seal on a basic storage scroll? Unseal," Sarutobi commanded, and in a puff of smoke, there were three tri-pronged kunai in the center of the scroll. Ibiki's eyes widened and the Sandaime smiled.
"What's so special about those? Their just some funky kunai, right?"
"No, not at all. These kunai were instrumental in a technique that gave the Yondaime most of his fame. These were the reason he was called the 'Yellow Flash of Konoha'."
"Whoa, cool," Naruto said, eyes now fixated on the weapons. "Do you think I could learn that jutsu? Huh?"
"Don't get too excited. I do not know the technique, nor do I have any scrolls that detail it. There may be something in the Kazama clan house, but other than that, the only other person who could even begin to help you would be my former student Jiraiya, and I'm not certain how much about it he knows. The only person to master that technique was Arashi-kun."
"Don't worry old man, I'll learn it, even if I have to teach it to myself."
The old man chuckled. "I wouldn't get ahead of yourself. Make sure that you know the basics beforehand. However, since it has been proven that you are part of the Kazama clan, there is one other topic we need to address. Living arrangements."
It took Ibiki a moment to realize exactly what the Hokage was getting at, but that was probably just because he didn't want to believe it. "…Hokage-sama, you can't be serious. My apartment is fine for the two of us, and that place is-"
"That place is a part of Naruto-kun's inheritance. I agree that your apartment is fine for now, but Naruto-kun is a growing boy, and needs a place to develop. Your apartment is not the best place for that. Not to mention, there will be more places to hide your…toys."
"What place are you two talking about? It's like you're trying to keep me out of the conversation or something," Naruto grumbled.
"No, we weren't trying to keep you out of the conversation. I was merely trying to convince Ibiki to let you move into the Kazama clan house. It is your inheritance, and probably more suitable for raising someone as rambunctious as you than a small apartment."
"Wait. I have a house?" Naruto questioned in disbelief.
The Hokage nodded.
"YATTA! I've got a house. Sorry Ibiki, but if you don't want to live there, I'm going on my own. I've got a house!"
"Kid, I'm not letting you live on your own."
"Then you're living with me at MY house! Hahaha!"
"But it's a piece of Konoha history. You can't just live there. It would be disrespectful."
"But it's mine, and I want to live there! Why can't I?"
Sarutobi interrupted before the argument could go too far. "I'm sorry Ibiki-kun, but Naruto-kun is right. It is his house, and he has every right to live there if he wishes. I would hope that you would go with him, if only to make sure he doesn't end up hurting himself, but you can't do anything to stop him."
Ibiki grumbled. "Fine. I'll live in the house, but I'm doing so under protest."
"Alright! When can we move in?" The elderly Hokage merely chuckled at Naruto's wide-eyed expression.
The Kazama clan house was far different from the other clan houses. For one thing, it wasn't in the noble district. The Uchiha's and the Hyuuga's had always looked down on them for this, but since Naruto was the only Kazama left, and they looked down on him anyway, he didn't care. Instead of the noble district, the house was in middle of the woods, closer to some of the training grounds than anything else. The dense woods surrounding it made it hard to find, unless you knew exactly where you were going. The dense woods also had Naruto's mind racing with the sheer number of pranks he could set up in defense of HIS home.
Another noticeable difference between Naruto's new abode and the other clan houses was the way it was set up. Whereas the Uchiha's had a small city sprawling to house their clan, and the Hyuuga's favored a complex of rigid buildings, unyielding to any change, the Kazama clan house was small. Granted, it was still a large building, enough so for fifteen people to live comfortably without doubling up, but it had nothing on the other clan houses of Konoha.
The area where the Kazama clan house excelled was the grounds. The Uchiha's kept building until they had a small city with no vegetation, and the Hyuuga's held immaculate grounds and gardens where you simply couldn't do anything for fear of disturbing something. However, the grounds where our hero now stood were perfect, at least in his mind. You could walk through them and be at one with the woods, you could hop through the branches in a never-ending game of nothing, or you could train to the point of exhaustion, whatever your desire.
But the one thing that put all other reasons to love the house to shame was simple in Naruto's mind. It was his. Being an orphan who held the hatred of the village, save a few, Naruto had very little things he could call his own. What he was able to call his own, he held in high regard. Most of the things he owned, he couldn't really call his own. His old apartment? Paid for by the Hokage. Most of his clothes? Same thing. But now he had something of his own, something that had been his family's, and no one was going to be able to take that away from him. He wouldn't let them.
As Naruto stepped into his house, he felt something he had never felt before. He felt at home. He had lived places before, but never felt like he could really relax and call it home. His apartment was barely fit to live in, and while Ibiki's place was a lot better, it wasn't home.
"So kid, what do you think?" Ibiki asked.
Naruto was speechless for once in his life, something that anyone who knew him would pay to see. "…it's incredible."
As I forgot this at the top, I don't own Naruto. Kishimoto does, and all those who are fans of the actual title character are all the sorrier for it.
This is my first foray into writing Naruto fiction. Please review!