Summary: Uzumaki Naruto was taken from Konoha at age 6 by a friend of his parents, after a mob beating. After eight years of one-on-one training and learning techniques handed down through his family Naruto is coming back to Konoha to become a Genin.

Pairings: Naruto/Itachi (main, eventual), mentions of Kakashi/Iruka, Sakura/Ino, Sasuke/Temari, Neji/Shikamaru, Kiba/Hinata, Zabuza/Haku, Sasuke/Naruto (one-sided), Lee/Sakura (one-sided).

Disclaimer: If I owned Naruto, Sasuke wouldn't have left, Sakura would be less annoying, and Yondaime would still be alive. Plus there'd be Yaoi. Lots of it. Anyone who suggests that this story doesn't belong to its wonderful author will be fed to Kama-chan.

Warnings: This is a SLASH story, which means there will be guys on guys and girls on girls. There will be a lot of scenes that contain violence and swearing as well as some scenes that contain mature content (which means sex people). There will be some minor OOC-ness, but I'll do my best to keep them in character. There will be a small smattering of Original Characters. Naruto & co. will be 14 in this fic, which will be explained later on. If anything of the above irritates/offends/disgusts/irks you I suggest you don't continue and hit the back button.

Author's Note: Well! I've been working on AIT ever since Jan. of this year (2007), but the first chapter is only just being finished. It took me so long because the plot was constantly changing and I abandoned it for most of the summer to write other stories. Please review, as I'd love to have some advice/criticism to work on. Enjoy minna-san!

"Talking" / 'Thinking' / Emphasized words / "Kyuubi speaking" / 'Kyuubi thinking'

An Inconvenient Truth
Chapter One: In Which Uzumaki Naruto Returns and the Fun Begins

Journal (Since you are NOT a Diary. Nope, just a manly little journal),

Today was really weird.

First of all I left Rai-nii-san earlier that I planned; that lazy old man decided to stay behind! Can you believe it?! How stupid of him! And, then when I was going by Suna, I met this really weird old guy who kept saying 'I am the SUPER Pervert, Jiraiya-sama!' or something like that nonsense. He really isn't what you'd expect of a Sannin (I do know who he is. It's rather obvious when he shoots off his name like that). I was stopping him from peeping in on ladies when I first met him (had to do my manly duty of course). Then when he saw me, he asked all sorts of questions about my name, where I was going, why I was going there. When I said my name was Uzumaki Naruto, I was heading to Konohagakure no Sato for the Genin Exams (after checking for Genjutsu; I'm not that stupid) he got real excited, and then told me I was his apprentice without so much as a by-your-leave. Then he said he'd accompany me to Konoha. What a strange old guy. He didn't ask any more questions after that, so I didn't tell him about my relations to the Uzumaki's; he may be the "great" Jiraiya-pervert, but I don't know him well enough to divulge my secrets to him. Maybe I'll tell him when we get to Konoha?

Anyways, here I am, traveling to my homeland with a strange white-haired pervert that randomly decided to join me on a journey. Joy.

-Excerpt from the Journal of Uzumaki Naruto

Konohagakure: Hi no Kuni
The 5th of May

Konohagakure no Sato was peaceful in the early hours of May 5th. The villagers were still asleep in their beds, safe in knowing that their walls and homes were protected by very capable shinobi. Their eyes wouldn't open for another hour or so, when they needed to get up and open their shops and stalls. The sun was barely peeking over the horizon, and the entire city was quiet and dark.

The gates of Konoha were drowned in the faint mist that came only in the early mornings. Two shinobi were guarding it, looking more asleep than awake. One had his head tucked onto his chest, dozing lightly, while the other leaned against a wall, doing her best to stay awake. Being as drowsy as they were, neither of them noticed the strangers until they were in front of them.

One, the shinobi knew instantly; the legendary Gama Sannin, Jiraiya-sama. He had always been known for his long ponytail of spiky white hair, his outlandish clothes, and the two red tear trails that fell from his eyes and down his chin. On his back was the scroll that allowed him to summon the great Gamabunta; lord of the Toads.

However his companion hadn't been seen before in Konoha. Underneath a dirty white bandana the kunoichi could see spiked blonde hair, a color rarely seen in Konoha. Cat-like deep blue eyes peeked out from the stray bangs that had fallen out of his headband and the kunoichi could see sharp whisker like marks on either side of his mouth. He was dressed in a white Haori, whose sleeves were pulled up to reveal bandaged arms, and a black Hakama which covered his geta-clad feet. Dressed in traditional clothing as he was and with a long Katana on his back, the boy almost looked like a wandering samurai.

Both shinobi were instantly on alert; Jiraiya-sama may have been trustworthy, but they did not recognize his companion. However the large man laughed when he noticed their suspicious looks, slapping the back of his slightly shorter companion. Said boy scowled and glared up at the renowned Gama Sannin, muttering something that sounded suspiciously like 'Ero-Sennin' underneath his breath.

"Ohayo Gozimasu," Jiraiya said in a formal tone, dropping into a short bow. "I would like to speak to Sandaime-sama please. It's urgent."

The kunoichi nodded but eyed the blonde boy suspiciously, "You may go in Jiraiya-sama, but we need to know your companion's identity before he can be allowed inside." She couldn't help the feeling that the strange boy looked familiar……

Nobody noticed the sudden tensing of the blonde boy's shoulders, or how his hand formed a fist so hard that a few drops of blood fell silently to the ground from it. However, after a few moments of awkward silence, the boy smiled a huge, bright, blinding smile. Later the male shinobi would say that Maito Gai and his protégé Rock Lee could learn a few things about blinding smiles from this boy. And, since both men were the masters of the 'Good Guy Pose', that was saying something.

"Uzumaki Naruto," the now named boy said slowly, "returning to the village after eight years absence."

Both shinobi tensed even more, and the male guard was now completely awake, his head itching for his Kunai case. The female found her hand on the hilt of her short dagger, her Chakra spiking wildly with alarm.

Uzumaki Naruto had been born in the village 14 years ago, on the night of the dreaded Kyuubi attack. Sandaime had announced after the survivors had emerged from the ashes, that Yondaime had sacrificed himself to seal the demon into a small orphan child. He had gone on to tell about Yondaime's last wish that the boy would be known as a hero, but most of the remaining villagers ignored him, instead glaring at the bundle with blonde hair in his arms. Hate was already gnawing away at their hearts, fueled by the fear of the Kyuubi and the grief for their lost loved ones. The little container's name was etched into the villager's minds, always there to spit at and loathe and detest with a passion.

Uzumaki Naruto.

Uzumaki had lived in the village for six years; this the kunoichi guard knew. He had been shunned by the villagers, treated cruelly by them, and she knew that the night before his disappearance, the civilians had ganged up on him and beaten him to a near deathlike state. She had, after all, watched them, silently cheering them on and not interfering with the beatings. Why would she after all? She had left before the end though, continuing with her patrol with a jaunty stroll and cheery whistle. The next day, the boy had disappeared. There had been an outrage (what if he comes back to kill us all?) but eventually it died down, and the villagers began to forget him. Even some of the Shinobi had failed to remember his existence, and since the search had been called off years ago, nobody really thought of him anymore except for, perhaps, the Hokage.

And now the forgotten demon was back and with the great Jiraiya-sama.

The Sannin smiled and placed a hand on the younger boy's shoulder, "Now if you could please step aside….? I have important things to talk about with Sandaime-sama."

"No," the male guard's voice was hard as ice. "You may go in Jiraiya-sama, but the demon stays out."

Jiraiya's dark brown eyes hardened and the kunoichi could see him restraining a glare at her companion. She also noticed the silent tensing of the demon's shoulders, and prepared herself for an attack. To her surprise, none came, and she glanced at his face to see a huge smile on his face.

"It's alright Ero-Sennin," both shinobi gasped at the rude nickname. "Go inside. You need to get your information to Jiji-sama."

The Gama Sannin's hand tightened on his companion's shoulder, "Naruto, you're coming in with me. Sarutobi-sensei will want to see you as well."

"He's not entering this village," the kunoichi spoke, her eyes hardening. "We won't allow a demon like that to enter and defile our peaceful village once again."

Naruto's eyes hardened and the kunoichi could see him barely restraining to pounce at her. This thought made her hand tighten on her dagger's hilt, and set her thoughts in stone. This demon wouldn't be allowed in Konoha, not if her life depended on it. If this brat was going to go on a killing spree, innocent people would be caught in the rush. She wouldn't allow that to happen.

Jiraiya, however, had other ideas.

"I need to give important information to Sandaime-sama, and the brat is my apprentice – he goes where I go. By denying him entrance you are also forbidding me entrance," the Sannin's voice was hard and suddenly the two guards could see glimpses of why people feared to meet the great Jiraiya-sama in battle.

The kunoichi allowed her hand to drop from her dagger's hilt, but still kept her eyes on Uzumaki at all times. Quickly she gestured to her partner to stand down; as much as she hated this spawn, she couldn't disobey or aggravate Sandaime or Jiraiya. It annoyed and frustrated her to no end, but unless the brat showed clear malicious intent she couldn't keep him from entering. 'Damn stupid laws' she thought helplessly, gesturing for both men to enter 'if it wasn't for them…..'

Jiraiya nodded in satisfaction when he saw both guards - however reluctantly - stand down and stand aside. Pulling his newest idiot pupil with him, he marched to the gates and stepped inside Konoha for the first time in fourteen years.

He was stubborn as a mule, clever as a monkey, and nimble as a hare. (Louis Pergaud)

Sarutobi was not having a good day.

He had fallen asleep at the office last night, like he had done many times before, and now he had a crick in his neck from sleeping in an uncomfortable position, and ink on his face from the paperwork he had been reading over before sleep overcame him. His clothes were wrinkled, and his Hokage hat was turned sideways on his head, the thin cloth veil covering his eyes so he couldn't see. His pipe was nowhere to be found, and the ash from its hollow was spread everywhere, making his desk and office a mess.

He groaned slightly as a knock sounded on his door, waking him from his half-dozing state. Glancing sleepily at a nearby clock he nearly cursed when he read the time. Who in their right mind would come up to the Tower at five in the morning?! Rubbing his head in exasperation and weariness Sarutobi gave a quiet call for the person behind his door to enter.

His door exploded open, revealing a grinning white-haired man waving a victory sign and holding a small orange book in one of his hands. The white-haired Hokage gave a small groan as he watched his ex-student Jiraiya enter the room, opening the little orange book and gaining a nose-bleed from the contents in the process.

"Jiraiya," he said wearily, rubbing the part of his cheek where he could feel ink, "what are you doing here? Your last message said you were gathering information by Iwa."

The Sannin grinned mischievously, a look Sarutobi had learned to be suspicious and wary of. "But sensei….." the younger man whined, "I found something interesting!"

The old man's eyes sharpened and he sent his student a curious look, "Interesting?"

Jiraiya nodded then glanced back at the door, huffing slightly and muttering something that sounded like "stupid gaki" underneath his breath. "Oi! Gaki! Get in here!"

"I'm coming ya old pervert….." a young obviously male voice said from behind the closed door. Sarutobi stifled a giggle at the irritable sentence; when was the last time he had called Jiraiya called an 'old pervert' by anyone other than Tsunade? He smiled slightly; he had a feeling he would like this person that Jiraiya brought with him.

The door slammed open (Sarutobi winced slightly; he might have to get his poor door re-hinged from all the abuse it went through) and a boy stepped inside, probably no older than 14 or 15. All the Hokage could see was the traditional Samurai clothing (which he looked at with a raised eyebrow) and shoulder length, shaggy blonde hair covered by the white bandana. He took note of the sword with caution, and eyed the bandaged arms and scrolls dangling on his belt with a barely concealed curiosity. Then the boy lifted his head, and Sarutobi gasped, his eyes widening with surprise and shock.

The boy's shoulder length blonde hair was mostly covered by a dirty white bandana, with only a few thick strands left to fall across his face and the back of his neck. His sharp cerulean eyes were serious, but they had a hint of mischief and childish glee hidden within the blue depths. He had a handsome face with high, prominent cheekbones, a slender nose, and a high forehead which was covered with some strands that had fallen free of his headband. A cocky grin was on his face as he strolled in, showing off larger than normal canines and shiny white teeth. Seeing him, the old Hokage was struck with the memories of the past, where a young man that looked remarkably like this one stood, smiling and laughing at him.

Gaping, he turned to Jiraiya who was watching his astonishment with obvious amusement. The younger (though not by much) man just gave his older sensei a look that obviously said 'told you it'd be good didn't I?' before turning to the young man with his eyes and cuffing him sharply on the back of the head.

"Itaiiiii!!" the boy cried dropping to the ground and clutching at his blonde head, dropping his eyes from Sarutobi. In an instant the boy was up, glaring and pointing an accusing finger at the white-haired Sannin. "You old pervert! What the hell was that for?!"

Jiraiya sent a glare of his own at the blonde and huffed lightly when he saw it went ignored and unnoticed. "What took you so long gaki?"

The blonde boy huffed lightly and sat himself in a nearby chair, crossing his arms over his well-muscled chest. "I was looking around. It's been a long time since I've seen Konoha Ero-Sennin."

Sarutobi felt clarity come upon him when he heard the boy speak. The way this boy carried himself reminded the old Hokage so much of his successor; especially the shaggy blonde hair and cat-like blue eyes. There were hints of Kushina-chan in his face too; the high cheekbones, slightly arched eyebrows…..With his looks and how old he was this boy could most probably be—

"Naruto," Sarutobi breathed out, pipe hanging from his fingertips, forgotten.

The boy-no Naruto, turned to him with a small, genuine smile on his tanned face. "Hey Jiji-sama, long time no see ne?"

Sarutobi felt stunned. This boy, this boy, was the son of one of his most beloved friends and his lover; the woman he had cared for and respected the most in the village. Uzumaki Naruto had been like a grandson to him; he had been devastated and shocked when the news of his disappearance was reported by the frail owner of his apartment. He had spent months searching for the 6 year old; sending every spare ANBU and Hunter-nin on wild goose chases to find him. He had finally given up years ago, when no one had seen or heard of the boy and no news of a blonde teenager that looked remarkably like Yondaime Hokage had ever reached their ears.

And now he was here, standing in Sarutobi's office and giving him one of his unique fox-like grins.

Sarutobi chuckled slightly and soon the chuckles turned to full blown laughter, causing his two guests to look at him in confusion. Wiping a stray tear from his eye, the old man sent a kind smile at the person who was like a grandson to him as he said, "Naruto-kun, you are always surprising me."

The young blonde tipped his head in slight confusion before beaming at his surrogate grandfather, happiness at being with a treasured person evident on his face. Jiraiya watched the two happy men for a minute with a strange hint of softness in his dark eyes before rolling said eyes and planting another bop to the gaki's forehead. He hid the smile that threatened to come over his face as said gaki turned to glare up at him, blue eyes annoyed. Seeing his traveling companion just stand there, Naruto huffed and rolled his eyes before turning back to his Hokage.

"Well Jiji-sama……I suppose you want some questions answered no?"

Sarutobi nodded, his shock slowly fading away and clearing his mind. Subconsciously, he started to analyze Naruto's movements and speaking habits. He was quieter than before (but then again……the last time he had seen him when was when he was 6 years old……), and instead of having overly klutzy and slightly awkward movements he had a quiet strength and skill, almost unnoticeable to anyone but the best shinobi. His mannerisms had toned down a bit, and his style of dress was that of a wandering Samurai; loose, unassuming, but helpful to hiding weapons and the feet.

Naruto, either not noticing the man's silent evaluation or ignoring it, started to talk. "Well do you remember the day I went away……?" When Sarutobi nodded he added quietly. "It happened something like this……"


Uzumaki Naruto, a kid of 6 years old, was currently pondering in a tree.

Anyone who'd met the boy would instantly be shocked and deny Naruto doing any such thing. That boy? Think? Impossible! But the matter remains that Uzumaki Naruto was sitting in a tree, pondering the events that had overwhelmed his life in the last week. It had all started a few nights ago……

He had been heading home, his mind happy and his stomach full from Ramen, when he heard the shout. It didn't particularly bother him; a lot of people were shouting in the village. However, when another shout came, this one much closer to him, he felt fear pierce his heart. Those words……Was it already that time of week?

"Get the Demon Kid!"

He turned, horrified and more than slightly scared, to see a huge mob of people running at him wearing cruel grins and those cold eyes. He instantly started to run, wondering why the hell he had forgotten to stay inside today, and quickly drawing up memories of the best escape routes to his apartment. None came to mind.

The mob was quickly gaining in speed, and soon Naruto found himself in a small tucked away alley, backed into a corner with more than 75 cold eyes watching his fear with malicious glee. They had waited so long for this moment. The weekly mob beatings they had issued weren't affecting the demon, but if they could just hit it hard enough maybe it would die and they could live in peace……

Two men started forward and held down the small child, ignoring his feeble thrashing and startled curses. Their partners sidled up next to the boy and gave dozens of clean, quick, and hard slaps to every part of the blonde's body. Seeing this, dozens more men and women came up, all trying to beat the most out of the "demon child". Slaps and hard nudges soon turned into violent kicks and hard punches that sent the "demon's spawn" into a whimpering ball, doing his best to protect himself and trying to keep his mind away from the torture being issued to him. 'Think of Ichiraku's' he told himself, keeping the friendly Ramen stand firmly in mind.

The mob was so high from the glee of finally extracting their revenge that they didn't notice the lazy man until last minute. And that was only after he stepped in between the boy and his captors and stared them down. The civilians instantly cowered, not used to such eyes being turned on them. After all, weren't the shinobi (for that was what this man was; his Headband was visible on his shoulder) of the village supposed to protect them? Why was he glaring at the, like they were scum on the edge of his sandals? They were doing a good deed! They were ridding the world of another demon!

Once the villagers had back off, the man quickly bowed down near the blonde, no evident concern visible in his face. He gently picked up the boy, careful not to jostle the already healing wounds and make him wake up. Once the boy was settled easily into his arms, he sent a glare at the cowering mob before leaping away, heading towards the Forest of Death. He knew who this child was (the looks pointed towards the obvious) and he would be damned if he let those idiots beat this child to death.

-End Flashback-

Sarutobi felt rage come over him at the thought of an angry mob descending on his favorite blonde, but quickly squashed it, focusing on more important issues. Nobody from this mob had come forward and reported what they had seen, but Sarutobi wasn't really surprised by that.

"Naruto," he said quietly, "this man, who was he exactly?"

The boy gave him an irritated glare, "I'm getting to that Jiji-sama, be patient already!"

Sarutobi chuckled lightly and waved a hand, urging the boy to continue, and silently pondering the blonde's mysterious savior.

-Flashback: Two Hours Later-

Naruto woke up with a small groan, blurred images swimming around his head as soon as he opened his eyes. He wasn't moving, and he could tell that he was sitting on something rough, most likely tree bark.

"You're finally awake brat," said a voice and Naruto turned in alarm, instinctively turning up his arms to protect himself from any future blows.

When none came, he peeped over the top of his arm, and stared at the stranger in front of him. His vision was finally clearing and although the man's features were slightly blurred, he could make out most of his features pretty well.

The guy was tall, handsome, with lazy golden eyes standing out in his thin tanned face. His hair was dark and straight, and pulled back into a tight ponytail at the base of the man's neck. His clothes were black and unassuming, and he had a Konoha Headband tied around his left forearm.

"W-who……are you? Why d-did you bring me here?" Naruto asked, his voice trembling slightly as he tried to find his way to his feet. If this guy came out here to kill him, he wouldn't go down on his butt!

The man's irritation seemed to vanish and was replaced by a lazily amused attitude. "My name's Raiden kid and I brought you here to talk."

Raiden watched with amusement and slight surprise as the kid's terror practically disappeared and was replaced with an analytical look that he had never seen on such a young brat's face. Serious blue eyes were staring at him, and had he been a lesser man he might have fidgeted. Then, just as suddenly as it had come, the cunning disappeared leaving a smiling and hyper blonde boy behind.

"What did ya wanna talk 'bout Onii-san?" the boy asked, bouncing over to him.

Raiden raised an eyebrow lazily, hiding his surprise that the boy had recovered so quickly from the numerous injuries he had received from the mob beating. Only two hours later, and he was already bouncing around like it was nothing……! There was no sign of mental trauma either, or any tears………He sighed as he realized that Minato's plans for Naruto to be a hero must not have worked at all if the brat was used to mob beatings. He decided to get straight to the point.

"Boy," he said slowly, "do you have anything in this village that ties you to it?"

Naruto stopped mid-bounce and gave the man a shocked look. Raiden motioned impatiently for him to answer, so the little blonde considered the question before answering, "Well……Jiji-sama is nice to me, getting Ramen for me all the time and paying for my apartment but……people are always insulting him for helping me. I am a burden to him," he stopped for a minute and then looked up at Raiden. "So, no I guess."

Raiden nodded and said, "Would you like to leave the village with me?"

Blink. Blink.


Raiden grimaced and rubbed one of his ears; the boy yelled too loud damnit! Just like that baka best friend of his. Of course Kushina had been loud too……he shook away the memories and looked down at the boy irritably.

"I'd. Like. You. To. Travel. With. Me," he said through gritted teeth, his golden eyes annoyed.

The boy flinched and Raiden's temper vanished. He had forgotten that Naruto had, more than likely gotten beaten weekly or even daily, if that show today was any indication (the boy hadn't fought back, had let them hurt him, and had taken their insults……) and showing anger in front of him was probably not the best way to earn his trust. He sighed; damnit getting this boy to trust him was going to require work, and he would need the boy's trust if he was going to get the brat to travel with him. Raiden nearly whined; he hated work in all shapes, sizes, and forms; it nearly made him wonder if offering this opportunity to the brat was worth all the effort. He stared down at the blonde head and sighed; even if he had wanted to, he knew that giving the kid up now was not an option. Naruto would be stifled in this village, his talent which was so obvious to Raiden would be ignored by the prejudiced teachers at the Academy. He couldn't allow that to happen to Minato's son and he was already regretting not coming back to the village earlier.

Naruto stared at the ground, contemplating the fact that this strange man with unique eyes had saved him just so that they could travel together. However, even in his hyper six-year old mind, the little blonde realized that something was very wrong with this picture. Hesitantly he looked up, hoping that Rai-nii-san wouldn't be angry at him anymore.

He blinked as he came face to face with soft gold eyes. The man ruffled his hair softly and then stepped back, his lazy attitude once again flashing across his face. 'Well' Naruto thought stupidly 'I guess he's not mad anymore.'

"Why……me?" the boy asked, staring up at the man's face.

Raiden seemed to consider it for a bit and he decided there was no use lying to the kid, "Your father and mother were good friends of mine, and I don't want anything bad to happen to their kid. Plus you have talent, and if I get an apprentice, than maybe Hisoka will stop nagging at me."

Naruto's eyes widened when he heard that this man had known his parent's, beamed when Rai-nii-san said he had talent, and then said, "I'll go with you!"

-End Flashback-

Sarutobi stared at the boy, his eyes wide with shock. "Did you say Raiden?" he asked, completely bewildered.

Tanaka Raiden was one of his best Jounin; but he was lazy as hell and often away on long term assignments. The only people Sarutobi had ever seen the man associate with were Uchiha Itachi, Hatake Kakashi, and his weird wandering samurai friend Ryuu Hisoka. He had also been Yondaime's personal bodyguard and best friend. He chuckled slightly; now he knew who the mysterious apprentice was that Raiden had been bragging about for the last eight years. Though it seemed strange that Raiden had never taken the time to tell Sarutobi he'd had Naruto all this time. He would have to ask him about that.

"Oh and by the way old man……" Sarutobi shrunk in his seat as he was distinctly reminded of Kushina. "Did you ever think to tell me about my parents?"

Sarutobi resisted the urge to fidget in his seat; Naruto's stern gaze reminded him way too much of his. It was both stunning and ironic how much the "village demon" looked like his father. Minato had always managed to make Sarutobi feel like a child who had messed up when he was angry or stern; it was a gift that very few people knew about (Sarutobi had managed that. He didn't want people to know that Minato could give a good tongue trashing to his elder and get away without punishment).

"I didn't wish for you to be targeted by your father's enemies," Sarutobi explained gently, ignoring Jiraiya who was looking increasingly confused. "I couldn't trust you to keep it to yourself if someone provoked you badly enough."

Naruto's eyes softened slightly and he sighed, "I grew up much faster than the rest of the children here Jiji-sama," he explained quietly, "and my dearest wish was to know who my parents were. I'm angry that you took that away from me, but I can understand why."

"Sarutobi-sensei," Jiraiya cut in as the two men looked at each other silently, "what are you two going on about?"

Sarutobi turned to his student with a look of astonishment on his face, "You're telling me you took this boy here without knowing who he was?"

The Sannin shrugged nonchalantly, "I knew he was the brat you had been moaning about for the last few years, and I was heading this way anyway so I decided to escort him. But what are you two talking about with his parents……?"

Sarutobi and Naruto looked at each other, silently having a conversation about whether to reveal this information to Jiraiya or not. When Naruto nodded, Sarutobi waved a hand for him to explain it to the Toad Sannin.

"My father was Namikaze Minato, also known as Yondaime Hokage," Naruto said quietly, "and my mother was his private lover, Uzumaki Kushina, a foreign shinobi from the former Uzu no Kuni."

Jiraiya's jaw dropped and he openly gaped at the boy. 'What the hell is this boy implying-?!' he thought, his shock quickly being replaced with anger and righteous disbelief, "Boy, I don't know who the hell you think you are, but there's no way you're Minato's son. He was good friends with Uzumaki Kushina sure, but he would have told me if she was pregnant, or someone would have noticed it. How dare you--"

He stopped when he caught sight of Naruto's glare, "Ero-Sennin; my name is Uzumaki Naruto, and my mother is Uzumaki Kushina. I have no idea why Tou-san kept their relationship secret, especially from his friends and family but he is my father."

Jiraiya stared at him for a moment, swallowing in the fact that this boy who he had taken an interest in (so much like his previous student, it was startling. Now he knew why) for the past couple of weeks was claiming to be the son of his only apprentice and his previously unknown lover. Then he glared his fury and frustration mounting; why would Minato keep it from him if he had a lover, especially Kushina?

"I took a blood test," Naruto's voice interrupted the Sannin's thoughts, making Jiraiya turn to him in disbelief. "I had a medic look at it, and I looked at it myself. It states clearly that my parents were Namikaze Minato and Uzumaki Kushina."

Sarutobi was the one gaping in belief this time. He knew of blood tests; orphans all over the Countries took them to determine who their parent's were and if they had any living family left to contact. It took a skilled medic-nin to do the Jutsu however, and he was curious who had done it for Naruto.

Jiraiya held out his hand, and Naruto sighed slightly before taking out one of the scrolls that were hanging around his waist. He tossed it over to Jiraiya, who caught it and immediately pried it open, eyes quickly scanning the contents. The old man gasped and the scroll fell from his limp hands.

In big, loopy letters it stated: Uzumaki Naruto, Father: Namikaze Minato (deceased at age 25), Mother: Uzumaki Kushina (deceased at age 27). There was a complete family tree of both the Namikaze's and Uzumaki's below both Naruto's parent's names.

"You……Sweet Kami……" Jiraiya stuttered, at a complete loss for words. If anything was known about blood tests, it was that if they were completed they were completely accurate and impossible to forge or change in any way. And……That meant……

There was something left of the student he had loved and lost.

Jiraiya passed a weary hand over his face before glaring half-heartedly at the blonde brat through his fingers, "And you didn't tell me this when we first met because……"

Naruto's face was the perfect mask of innocence (if it was not for the small twinkle in his eyes, people would completely believe it) as he pouted at his companion, "Because you never asked?"

Even when it was hidden behind his rather large hand, anyone could see Jiraiya's temple throb with annoyance. Slowly, he lifted his hand away from his face and sent an irritated glare at a certain innocent looking blonde. Stalking over to said boy, he glared down at him before calmly and firmly giving him a hard bop to the head.

Naruto went down like a rock.

"Itaiiiii! Why is always meeee?!" the young boy wailed, clutching at the bump on his head while sprawled over the floor.

Sarutobi watched the two in amusement and with a hint of tenderness. It was good to see Jiraiya behave like he had 14 years ago, before Minato's death. The few times he had met with him after the Kyuubi attack, the Sannin had been cold, precise, and business-like; the complete opposite of his usual informal, humorous reports. He stifled a laugh as he watched Naruto climb back to his feet and enter a glaring contest with his former student. Both of the younger men were making numerous faces at each other; if it wasn't for his reputation as the Hokage, Sarutobi might have dropped to the floor and started laughing his a—hem butt off. He let it continue for a while, drawing amusement from their childish play, before he cleared his throat, reminding them of his presence. They both reluctantly drew out of the fight, eyes promising that sooner or later they would have a re-match.

"Hem—so sorry, excuse me; I must be getting some sort of cough," Sarutobi grinned when Naruto rolled his eyes, obviously not drawn in by his fib. "More importantly; Naruto, why are you here now, and where is Raiden?"

"Rai-nii-san said to go without him. He'll probably be here later, maybe in three days or so. Anyhow, the reason I came back was to ask if I could join the Genin Exams this year to become a Konoha Shinobi."

Sarutobi rolled the idea over in his head. On one hand; Iruka had been saying that they needed another graduate for this year's batch of Genins as they were just one short. Naruto had been at least partially trained by Raiden (hopefully) so he might be able to qualify. However there was also the risk of ruining the team setups now with a wild card graduate, and the risk of Naruto's identity as a Hokage's son being discovered. Chewing on the base of his pipe, Sarutobi thought about it a few minutes more and then giving a shrug. 'What the hell; why not let the brat try out.'

"All right Naruto, I'll write an explanation to Iruka-kun about your arrival. You're lucky – the Genin Exams are today and they don't start until Noon. You'll have quite a bit of time to get re-acquainted with the village," he peered out of his large windows and winced when he saw the still dark skies of Konoha. 'Kami-sama is it that early?'

"Ah Sarutobi-sensei, I was wondering about that," Jiraiya interrupted. "Is this gaki going to be put with 12 year olds? No matter how bad he is, he'd outstrip the shrimps by miles by physical training."

Sarutobi smiled wearily, "Since we are living in a time of peace Jiraiya, the council has decided that Academy training will be longer. The students now wait until they are 14 to graduate. This year's graduates are the second to take this extended route."

The Sannin stilled at that before sputtering in outrage, "T-that's ridiculous! To wait so long before giving the kiddies proper training is suicidal! By the time they're 14 they could be Chuunins or even Jounins, instead of just graduating! What the hell is that idiotic council thinking?!"

"They are thinking that this is peace and war is a far off time. They apparently want to keep the children as innocent as possible for as long as they can," Sarutobi stated sadly, puffing on his pipe.

"How stupid," both men turned to look at Naruto, whose eyes were suddenly cold. "Those children chose to be Ninja, not some school-kids playing at a dangerous job. If they don't get the seriousness of this duty into their heads at an early age, none of them will live past their 20's. Your supposedly kind council is just signing their death wishes."

Sarutobi sighed slightly; it hadn't taken him long to see the reasoning of such a way of thinking, but the Hokage couldn't pull an order from the Council if the majority voted in it. It was one of the lesser quirks (ones that included paperwork) of being who he was. It surprised him, however at how quickly Naruto had seen the dangers of the Council's actions, and how cold his tone and eyes were. Quickly he sent a questioning look at Jiraiya, but the man just shook his head, obviously puzzled. Sarutobi eyed the bowed blonde head before him while thinking 'did something happen to him while he was with Raiden……?'

"Well, anyways, please enjoy yourselves. Naruto you'll have to report to Classroom 5 at Noon; give this to the brown haired man there," Sarutobi instructed, giving Naruto a slip of paper. "His name is Umino Iruka-kun, and he is the sensei of the class."

Naruto nodded and accepted the slip of paper, slipping it into one of the pouches at his waist, "I'll be sure to do that Jiji-sama. Ready to go Ero-Sennin, or do you need to give that info to him first?" the boy asked, turning to the white haired man.

Jiraiya smiled slightly and shook his head, "I need to get some sleep before I report in. I feel sorry for that mentor of yours," he groused, "having an apprentice that wakes up so early in the morning must be such a pain for a lazy man," ignoring the sputtering of his companion, the Sannin turned to his ex-sensei and raised an eyebrow. "Sarutobi-sensei, I'll report back after Noon. Is that alright with you?"

Sarutobi nodded and waved a hand at them in obvious dismissal. He watched with a smile as the two left the room, bickering and bantering the entire way out. Silently the old man rose to his feet and turned to stare out his wide windows, thinking heavily about the new developments that had occurred in the last hour. But there was one thing he knew for certain.

This village would no longer be boring, with Uzumaki Naruto among them.

We're not lost. We're locationally challenged. (John M. Ford)

Naruto bounced as he walked, enjoying the feeling of not having to watch his back every second because people were coming after him. For some reason everyone always happened to be after him (Naruto had said it was because of his charm. Rai-nii-san had said it was because no one could stand his idiocy and wanted to kill him as soon possible), so he had learned early on to watch his back. But in this village there were already people watching the streets (not that he'd rely on them. After all, Naruto knew how easy it was to sneak in and out of the village firsthand), so he could release some of the caution that had been installed in his brain since he was born.

It was around 9 o'clock now, and Ero-Sennin had left to go gather his "research" (note: look and drool at pretty girls at the onsen like the pervert he is), so that left Naruto with time to waste and nothing to do. So he had decided to go shopping.

Now no self-respecting man would admit to wanting to shop, and Naruto was one of the manliest men anyone could have ever met (or so he told himself), but he needed some new clothes. Not that his Hakama and Haori were too bad too wear, but they were smelly and worn and pretty much the only clothes he had. Plus, the wide legs of his Hakama, while being great for a traveling Samurai, were useless for a Ninja. He'd need something sleeker and much easier to travel in, especially in the forests that Fire Country seemed to favor.

So, since he was in a Ninja village, he decided to go shopping for clothes. Which led to his current dilemma; where exactly were the clothing shops around here? Naruto could see plenty for civilians (there were almost too many, actually) but none seemed to hold any Shinobi clothes or the fighting accessories that they'd need. Of course, the blonde teenager could see the wisdom of hiding their shops; disguised enemies could easily enter them and find out all they wanted to know about Konoha equipment. But shouldn't the Ninja of the Village be able to find them?!

Annoyed, Naruto continued to search.

'Civilian store, civilian store, kid's store, flower shop……How many shops do they have around here?!' he thought after a few hours of wandering around mindlessly. Left eye twitching, he carefully drew in a few deep breathes, trying to keep himself from blowing up everything he could see. After all, that wouldn't be a very good way of re-introducing himself to the village now would it?

Naruto sighed and turned to a small shore advertising 10 percent off all goods inside. He, like his mentor, was very cheap and wanted to spend as little money as possible. Since he couldn't find any shinobi stores he'd ask for directions or deal with civilian clothes until Raiden got off his lazy ass to show him around. Naruto entered the small shop blinked when he saw that most of the clothes were gone. Sighing he walked up to the counter and rang the small silver bell, waiting for an employee to come out to help him.

A young man with dark hair and brown eyes came in from the back of the shop and greeted Naruto with a friendly smile, "What can I do for you today Samurai-san?"

Naruto blinked and looked down at himself, wondering if he really looked like a Samurai. Mentally shrugging he answered, "I'm new here and I was wondering if you could point me in the direction of a store with shinobi clothing. I'm afraid these just won't cut it," he added, picking at his white Haori.

The man smiled slightly and said, "Well you seem to have a lot of luck sir, as this is a store for Ninja folk. The manager put up a few civilian clothes up in the front and the back," he pointed to the door he had come out of, "has any and all shinobi clothing you could want. Would you follow me sir?"

Naruto nodded, happy that he seemed to have found his place and wouldn't need to wander all over town anymore. He followed the employee to the back and gaped at the huge room that was filled with all types and colors of sturdy, Ninja clothes. He grinned at the employee and waved him off before wandering into the racks of clothes and searching for his new outfit.

He really wasn't that picky when it came to clothes, and the only thing he required was something darker colored. He grabbed a pile of cargo pants that had tons of pockets both visible and hidden and went down to his feet, in all sorts of dark colors, especially dark gray and green which were good for missions in Konoha. He also spotted some sleeveless, skin-tight shirts and grabbed a handful, testing out the fabric. They stretched easily and Naruto grinned, grabbing a few more.

Naruto headed over the coat section, dragging his already large pile of clothes behind him and intently searched for styles. He grinned when he saw one that he liked and quickly tried it on. It buttoned down to his waist with small-ish buttons and was left to flare about his legs. Its hems reached to a little below his knees, and the sleeves were so long they covered all but the tips of his fingers. Nodding, he shrugged off the one he had tried on and grabbed a couple more in the same style, only with different colors. One was white on the outside and black inside, for easy switching, a fading gray, and a deep forest green. The last he picked out was a dark crimson red that he would wear when he wasn't on missions.

He headed to the shoe section and scrunched his nose at the collection of shinobi sandals the store seemed to have. He had never liked those shoes – they seemed too uncomfortable to him. Naruto quickly hunted through the aisles and grinned when he came across a small section of combat boots. He grabbed two pairs of black leather knee length boots that were tied onto the side by square silver buckles. He was delighted to find that they had a catch for a dagger in the heel and a hidden slot for a knife or kunai to slide into on the side.

Finally he grabbed some cream and white bandages (he had been running out), and a variety of bandanas to cover his bright hair. He also spotted some elbow length, steel backed fingerless gloves that he instantly liked and brought to his pile on the spot. Satisfied he stared down at his large pile, and was glad that he had saved up a lot of money over the years. This was going to cost him a lot.

The cashier looked surprised at Naruto's large bundle when he brought it to the desk, and even more surprised when the blonde even had enough money for the entire thing. Quickly Naruto asked about a Weapons shop and, after getting directions to one, left the store, two huge bags slung over his shoulder. He hurriedly made his way to the hotel room Jiraiya had rented for them when the hotels had opened and shucked his samurai clothing, bundling it into a ball and throwing it in the corner of the room.

Hurriedly he changed into his black cargo pants and shirt, pulling his dark red trench coat, black gloves, boots, and a black bandana on as well. He secured a kunai pouch to his left thigh and his sword against his back before quickly making his way out of the apartment. He would have to run for it; it was nearly noon and he still had no idea where the Academy was!

Good instincts usually tell you what to do long before your head has figured it out. (Michael Burke)

Yamanaka Ino was not having a good day.

First of all, her favorite purple outfit was dirty, which meant she had to wear the less seductive black outfit the she only wore during training. Added to the fact that she had somehow managed to meet up with Forehead-chan, and was currently getting hot, dirty, and dusty while participating in the silently challenged footrace, and the blonde was starting to curse the fact that she even got out of bed.

It very nearly made her want to cry, in fact. Today was her Genin Exam, one of the most important days in her entire teenaged life! She was supposed to be glowing, to be sparkling, to be wearing purple. Not getting dust and grime over her already second-rate black dress in a stupid footrace with Haruno Sakura!

Growling under her breath, Ino shoved at her pink haired partner viciously, smiling when she heard the slight wheeze of pain. She knew it was wrong to take out her anger on Sakura, but right now she was hot, dirty, and tired so she just didn't care. She nearly collapsed in relief when the Academy came into her sight. 'Shade, shade, sweet, sweet shade……' she thought giddily, speeding up even more in her hurry to get to the wonderful shade of her school.

"Shit!" a call came from her right, making Ino's head turn sharply to the left. Her eyes widened in horror as she saw a red and black blur coming at her, too fast to dodge. "Watch out lady!"

Too late, Ino realized she had to get out of the way. By the time she had started to move, the bundle had already crashed into her, sending both of them tumbling to the ground in a heap of tangled arms and legs. She squeezed her eyes shut tightly, blocking out the pain in her back as she had been taught to do, before carefully cracking an eye open to see her assailant. Letting out a groan as she saw nothing but red, black, and blonde, Ino carefully squirmed underneath the person, signaling them to get off of her.

The person seemed to get it, and carefully they got up, muttering, "Shit, shit, shitty shit, shit, shit," under their breath.

Relieved to be able to breathe again (that person was heavy) Ino scrambled to her feet and dusted herself off, wincing at the new tears and marks on her dress. She glared at the currently unharmed Sakura; of course the pinky would be unharmed, because nothing ever seemed to happen to poor little Sakura……Her ire rising dangerously, Ino turned to where she still felt the presence of her perpetrator, ready to give them a sound piece of her mind for squashing her like that.

And then she blinked.

She had been expecting a guy in his older teens or adulthood, a civilian maybe or an extremely clumsy shinobi to have knocked into her. Not a guy who looked to be around her age, with shaggy blonde hair falling out of his black bandana, a long dark red trench coat and baggy black cargo pants. At least she had been right on one part; the Katana on the guy's back and the Kunai bag around his thigh pointedly told of his Shinobi training.

The guy rubbed the back of his neck in a nervous gesture, grinning at her with a slanted-eyed smile that reminded Ino oddly of a fox before saying, "Gomen. I was hurrying, and lost in thought, so I suppose I wasn't really watching where I was going……You're not hurt are you?" at the last question the boy opened his eyes to reveal deep blue irises. Ino shook her head silently, still slightly shocked that she had been knocked down by a boy who could probably rival Sasuke and Shikamaru in sexiness.

"Aa. Alright then," the boy looked her up and down before nodding to himself reassuringly, as if to convince himself thoroughly that she was unharmed. He perked up as he took in her Ninja attire and asked quickly, "Are you a Shinobi?"

Ino shrugged modestly, "Not technically I suppose. I'm still in the Academy, although I'm taking the Genin Exams today."

"Do you think you could show me the way to the Academy?" the boy asked. "I'm new in Konoha, and Ero-Sennin disappeared before giving me directions."

Ino could see the pout starting to form on the boy's face, as well as the widening of the deep blue eyes that were starting to film over with unshed tears. She nearly groaned; she recognized this! She used the 'Ultimate Puppy Dog Eye no Jutsu' every time she wanted to buy something and needed money from her parents.

Groaning Ino nodded at the boy, getting a large, beaming smile in return. The boy's "kicked puppy" look has disappeared, leaving him looking hyper and happy.

"Yatta! I told Ero-Sennin someone would show me the way there! Stupid old pervert, saying everyone would avoid me because of my stupidity……" he muttered the last bit under his breath, making Ino sweatdrop. "Anyhow, my name is Uzumaki Naruto."

"I'm Yamanaka Ino," she replied, smiling a bit at him, "and this forehead with a body is Haruno Sakura."

Naruto spared her a glance, blue eyes narrowing with both confusion and annoyance as he saw the pink-haired girl's glare. Ino gave Sakura a curious look; why was she looking at Naruto like she was the dust on the edge of her sandals? They had just met, and he hadn't done anything bad, just accidentally knocked into Ino. And Sakura wasn't close enough to her to be upset about that……

"And why would you need to go to Academy?" Sakura asked icily, sticking her nose into the air haughtily. Ino gaped at her snobbishness before turning to Naruto, fully intending to apologize for her rival's behavior. She stopped dead when she was met with narrow, cold blue eyes, even though they weren't directed at her. Even an Uchiha's glare wasn't that deadly, and that was saying something.

"Because I'm gonna take the Genin Exam today Haruno," he replied tightly, and then noticeably reigned control over his death glare, giving a falsely easy smile.

Sakura looked surprised, then annoyed, and then smug, "You're lying. You can't take the Genin Exam; you need to actually train in the Academy first."

Naruto scoffed at her, making Sakura glare at him with angry green eyes, "I suppose you read that somewhere in a book Haruno? It doesn't matter where the person's gotten the training, so long as they've got it. Just because I haven't trained in your precious Academy doesn't mean you're a better Ninja than me."

Ino suddenly had a moment of insight. Sakura was treating Naruto this way because she thought he was some vagabond Ninja and hadn't gotten a 'proper' Shinobi training? Was she really that shallow? Some part of Ino acknowledged that her ex-friend could easily be that shallow, given the chance. But it seemed strange that she would instantly dislike Naruto because he hadn't gone to the Academy with them, yet was taking the Genin Exam anyway.

"But can we please go now? I don't know about you ladies, but I'm not particularly fond of being late for important exams," Naruto's voice pulled Ino out of her musings.

She looked up to see Sakura glancing at him with her haughty air back up, but the pink-haired girl nodded, before rushing down the street, leaving them behind in the dust. Ino scowled; how perfectly Sakura. When she glanced at her fellow blonde, she noticed Naruto was staring at the disappearing back of Sakura thoughtfully, frowning slightly. When he noticed eyes upon him, he turned to her and smiled.

"Shall we go then?" he asked, gesturing in the direction Sakura had hurried off in.

Ino nodded hesitantly and started to walk down the path, Naruto at her side. Slowly she put the Shinobi aspects of her personality to use and started to analyze the conversation she had just been a part of. Sakura had been unusually bitchy to Naruto; but then, she had discovered a possible reason for that a few minutes earlier. It didn't really explain why she hated him at first sight, but it did explain why her snobbishness escalated in Naruto's presence. This Naruto character on the other hand………she didn't know what to make of him. He didn't seem to get along with Sakura, which made him, okay in her books, but he was stranger with no past nonetheless………

"Ino-chan?" Naruto's voice once again pulled her out of her musings. "You alright?"

She blinked, and then realized she must have zoned out for a few minutes while she had been thinking, "Yeah," she managed to say, laughing dryly, "I think I'm just nervous for the Exam."

"Don't be," Naruto told her quietly, turning to give her a sly looking smile that made her slightly suspicious. "These tests aren't that hard."

Trained as she was, Ino had noticed the stress on the word 'these', as well as the look Naruto had given her with the last sentence. Was he trying to tell her something? What exactly? What did he mean these tests weren't that hard? Was there more than one test? Another one after the Exam maybe?

With questions racing through her brain at light-speed, Ino didn't notice they had walked inside the Academy until Naruto gave her light shove from behind. Shaking her head and heading for Iruka-sensei's classroom, she stored her thoughts and questions deep into her mind for later examination. After all, she couldn't be distracted during the Exam!

The first impression is an important thing. Nobody ever forgets it, even after the second, third, and fourth impressions. (Unknown)

Naruto chuckled under her breath as he watched Ino square her shoulders and thrust out her chin defiantly; looking like the stubborn woman he knew she was.

He knew it wasn't that great of an idea to give out hints about the team tests right before the Exam, when Ino was already nervous, but he wasn't sure if he would be able to see her later. She was nice, and he could see good emotions rolling off of her when she talked, telling of her innocent intentions. Her aura was a mixture of will-power, determination, and strength of heart, showing good Kunoichi material. If anything, Ino was friendship material, and he wouldn't allow anyone close to becoming his friend fail the team exam because they were surprised by it. Rules about keeping the information to himself never meant anything to him – Naruto made a habit to break as many rules as possible.

He followed his female companion quietly, trying to quell his nervousness. He was good with people, especially those around his own age, but he was going to see some of his playmates-that-weren't, and it was something he hadn't been really looking forward too. He'd already met two of them, and it had quickly turned into a disaster.

He had recognized Ino right away. He hadn't actively bothered her out to play (girls were still icky back then) but she had rampaged into him one day and demanded he play a game of 'The Ninja and the Princess' with her. Not being one to refuse company (even if it did come in the form of a bossy five year old girl) he had accepted, becoming a Ninja to rescue Princess Ino from where she had been kidnapped. He'd had fun with her until her parent's had discovered them playing and taken her away. He didn't play with Ino again after that.

But Sakura-! Naruto frowned as he delved into his memory. Sakura had been a sweet-tempered, mild little girl until she had reached her fifth birthday and met Ino, who had given her confidence. She had ignored him before that, but during his last year at Konoha……she'd been a bitch, to put it bluntly. And with her current attitude at him, Naruto was willing to bet that hadn't changed.

But her soul was myriad of soft, healing colors and fiery spirit. She'd be one hell of a woman when she got off of her high horse and learned that being a Shinobi was serious job, not just book smarts. Her brain might be a help before the battle, but in the war-field, she'd need serious training before she could hope to come out alive. Training she obviously didn't have, if her power level was anything to go by.

Naruto was startled out of his musings when he bumped into Ino's back. Peering around the girl he saw a sign hanging over the door they were standing in front of saying 'Classroom 5'. Obviously, they had arrived. Ignoring Ino's sudden nervousness he gestured at her to open the door. Her irritation flaring at him made him smile, but she did as he asked, hesitantly opening the door and stepping inside. Naruto followed quietly.

Damn the place was loud.

He was startled to notice the muddle of screaming banshees (that other people would see as human teenage girls) were clawing at each other, doing their best to tear each other's throats out. Naruto shuddered lightly, reminding himself to avoid these girls for all eternity. Their bloodlust was really unnerving.

He eyed the mob carefully as he slipped around them and slid into one of the few empty seats open, oblivious to the fact that he had just taken the very thing the bansh—girls were screaming at each other for. The chair next to Uchiha Sasuke.

Said boy was currently wondering if this kid was stupid, had a death wish, or was possibly insane. Everyone who attended Classroom 5 with Uchiha Sasuke (especially the boys) knew the rules and followed them religiously. They were as follows:

1. Never deal with USRFA (Uchiha Sasuke's Rabid Fan Association) or get between them and Sasuke. This will mean instant, painful death.

2. Never take the seat next to Uchiha Sasuke if you value your life, sanity, ears, or precious body items in general.

Not only had this blonde dope (who was he anyways?) broken the second rule, he'd also shattered the first one as well. Smirking lightly, Sasuke leaned back in his chair and waited for the USRFA to notice the intrusion.

Naruto, on the other hand, was studying the boy next to him out of the corner of his eye with a curious and slightly wary look.

His hair was black, almost darker than Rai-nii-san's, and his eyes seemed to blend into his pupils. The hair style was little unusual, and oddly reminded him of a duck's butt. Struggling to hold in the laughter that that image provided, Naruto roved his eyes down the boy's body, nodding to himself when he noticed well toned muscles and hidden weapons. At least one of the kiddies in here was actually taking this job seriously. The boy's clothes were fairly basic; black, unrestricting, and bland; standard Jounin wear actually. He raised an eyebrow at the only extravagant clothing the boy wore; a long, sleeveless black coat that fell to the middle of the boy's calves (1). What was with there being the word 'Avenger' stenciled into the back in bright crimson red? But wait – Naruto peered closer – was that an Uchiha symbol above it?

Naruto silently sighed to himself; of course it would be his luck to sit next to the only Uchiha in the room. Then an idea came onto him and his eyebrow propped up as he considered the mob of screaming banshees. Slowly understanding dawned on his face and he turned to face the front slowly. That poor, poor boy. The banshees probably did this everyday.

Sasuke noticed the new guy's staring and sudden revelation that the screaming girls were his fangirls (he cringed; kami he hated how that sounded) and most likely realized that they wanted the seat the blonde was sitting in. He smirked outwardly, while inwardly pleading for the stupid, mentally insane boy to not leave him alone. The fangirls would jump him as soon as he was by himself again.

Naruto grinned when he caught a wave of desperation in the Uchiha's aura. He knew how the boy felt; he'd been chased by fangirls a couple of times when traveling with Rai-nii-san (who'd found it uproariously funny the bastard), and they had scared the crap out of him with their aggressive chasing. So instead of doing when a normal person would do in this situation (note: running to the hills in terror) he tipped his chair back casually and plastered a completely bored look onto his face. He smiled when he felt relief flare in Uchiha's aura.

Looking from under his lashes he considered the boy's glow, wondering about a few things in it. Naruto had had the ability to see auras for as long as he could remember; reading the colors around people, their "aura" so to speak. He had studied the four levels (Core, Physical, Mental/Emotional, and Power Level) so much that he knew them for memory now, and could easily read them like a book. It wasn't mind reading; he was reading the emotions and the intentions of the person he was looking at; their personality so to speak.

The four levels of a soul were fairly simple. The core would be with them until they died, only changing during major life events that affected the person's entire way of thinking (i.e. a loved one's death, betrayal by everyone you love, ect). It was a ball of glowing energy, often with a variety of colors that sat just at the bottom of the rib-cage. The Physical level was a small, glowy aura around the core, only changing when the physical conditions did. The mental/emotional level was constantly changing, and spread around the Core and Physical level for a meter and a half or so. It shifted with every mood, spouted every intention clearly, mostly in the form of colors. And finally the power level told of a person's power in the Ninja Arts; the lighter they were, the more skilled. This one surrounded the person's entire body.

Rai-nii-san had said that seeing auras was something like an Uzumaki bloodline. Most Uzumaki's had been Trackers with it; they could remember every Aura they had seen and easily find it within a decent distance. A person also couldn't mask their Aura, which made it easy for an Uzumaki to find them even if they were suppressing their Chakra or hiding under a Genjutsu. Since it was a bloodline from Uzu no Kuni, his mother's homeland which was now deserted and forgotten, not many people knew about it.

Naruto frowned as he stared at the Uchiha's aura, noticed the dark, heavy black-red cloud hanging over the previously royal blue, white, and purple core. Black symbolized death, darkness, and vengeance most of the time………and that heavy color of dried blood was a color normally seen for those out for revenge. 'That would explain the whole Avenger thing' Naruto thought thoughtfully. He was thrown out of his thoughts when the person next to him cleared his throat quietly, before shaking his head and smiling, holding out a hand.

"Uzumaki Naruto. Nice fangirls you have there Uchiha," he said.

Sasuke stared at the offered hand before taking it and giving a soft shake and quickly letting go. He took in Naruto's tied back blonde hair, bright blue eyes, whisker marks, and red trench coat with thoughtful eyes.

"Hn Uzumaki," he answered, turning back to face the front, although he continued to study Naruto out of the corner of his eye. "Uchiha Sasuke."

Naruto noticed the curious appraisal and grinned lightly. He remembered hearing something about an Uchiha Sasuke from Rai-nii-san and Itachi-sensei, though. Didn't Itachi-sensei say Sasuke was his little brother? He wondered at that; while the two looked a lot alike, their difference in skill was obvious, even if he wasn't able to see auras. Itachi-sensei's power level was a white-yellow color, so light it looked like pure white, while Sasuke's was a darker silvery gray. It didn't really make sense that this guy would be so much weaker than his older brother; didn't Itachi-sensei train him? Sighing, he decided to find out where the Uchiha estates were in Konoha so he could visit the older Uchiha and find out all the facts for himself. That decided, Naruto returned from his thoughts only to find a medium wave of killer intent focused at him. Slowly he turned around and winced.

So the banshees had finally noticed.

Instead of trying to kill each other like they had been doing previously, the mob stood together in a huddle, arms crossed and death glares fixed on their faces. Inwardly laughing at how possessive these girls were, he raised an eyebrow, making even more killer intent appear. The boys of Classroom 5, who had noticed the confrontation, were impressed with the blonde's show of bravery; most people would have wet their pants at the looks those bansh—girls were giving off.

When the girl's neither said anything nor stopped glaring, Naruto sighed and snapped, "What?!"

Screaming Banshee Number One, Haruno Sakura, stepped forward as the spokesperson for USRFA.

"Get out of that seat baka! Can't you see Sasuke-kun doesn't want to sit next to you, and would rather have one of us with him instead?!" she gestured at the huddle behind her.

With a mischievous look on his face that gave many of the USRFA some second thoughts about the confrontation, Naruto turned to Sasuke and asked, "Yo teme," many of the girls twitched at the disrespectful name, "would you rather have me, or one of the herd of screaming banshees sit here?"

Sasuke raised an eyebrow and Naruto grinned as a tint of amused yellow floated over the Uchiha's aura. He gestured at Naruto saying, "You'll suffice dobe. I think I'll need my ears by the end of today."

A few of the girls (including Sakura and Ino, who stood behind her ex-best friend) sputtered at the last comment. Naruto nodded, mockingly-serious, before turning back to the huddle with a smug, fox-like smirk on his face.

"Well you heard him ladies. I wish you luck on finding the other available seats in the room."

Then Naruto turned back to the front, ignoring the disgruntled murmuring and angry stares of the rapidly disappearing mob. Sasuke's respect for the blonde jumped a bit; he knew how hard it was to remain aloof and nonchalant with those kinds of stares boring into the back of your head. Eventually all of the banshees were gone, except for the Numero Uno, who slid into the empty seat on the right of Naruto, glaring at the blonde as she did so. But before the pinky could extract her revenge, the door opened to reveal what could only be their missing teacher.

Naruto eyed him with interest. So this was Umino Iruka-kun? With the plain dark topknot and brown eyes, the man didn't stand out that much. The only unusual thing about him was the thick scar covering the bridge of his nose. But Naruto was on his guard all the same; this man's power level was colored a delicate light blue, which meant he was more powerful than his station as a teacher implied.

Quickly and gracefully Naruto slipped out of his seat, sending a look towards Sasuke that said plainly 'save my seat if you value your ears at all.' Shuddering slight Sasuke agreed with a nod and sent a glare towards Sakura, who had been getting up to move with a smile on her face. She instantly froze, smile slipping, before sinking back into her chair.

Meanwhile, Naruto made his way to the front of the room, heading for Iruka. The teacher was watching him with curious and slightly wary eyes, but he kept his friendly and open smile on his face. Naruto drew to a halt in front of him, and without saying a word handed the man Sandaime's note.

Iruka eyed the new kid carefully before inwardly shrugging and taking the small slip of paper. He quickly unfolded and scanned the scribbled words.


The boy is Uzumaki Naruto. He has recently returned from a training trip, but I believe he is capable so allow him to take the Genin Exams. Please be open-minded.

Sarutobi Sandaime Hokage

Naruto watched warily as Iruka's face turned white then red and his aura flashed with fury. A sad sort of understanding came on him as angry brown eyes met his own. Iruka was one of them. One of the people who hated him because of Kyuubi.

Oh yes, he knew about his residential demon. He had known for years, ever since he had been knocked out for training too long and too hard and Kyuubi had drawn him down into the dark sewer-chamber in Naruto's mind. They had talked regularly since then, connected to the mind as well as the body, and Naruto had eventually grown fond of the fuzz ball.

Not to say the demon was a gentle, caring and misunderstood beast. Kyuubi was a gruff, tough old fox that had enjoyed taking down Konoha. He'd had his reasons, but he never regretted killing the Shinobi of Konoha. He had never been kind and gentle to Naruto; he'd been a slave driving, maniac teacher who had never held back or sugar-coated anything. Konoha had every reason to hate the fuzz ball, which Naruto acknowledged even though he knew that they still had no reason to hate him because of that.

But still, Iruka didn't have to look at him like that. He wondered what family of the teacher's Kyuubi had killed; someone close to him, for Iruka to sending him a look so dirty. A father, brother perhaps? His whole family maybe?

"You are allowed to participate Uzumaki," Iruka's strained voice interrupted his musings. Naruto nodded sharply and turned to return to his seat, never noticing the half confused, half angry look Iruka sent at his back.

Prejudice is a great timesaver. It enables you to form opinions without bothering to get facts. (Unknown)

Umino Iruka watched as the Uzumaki kid walked back to his seat with confused eyes. He had no idea why Sandaime-sama was allowing that demon to participate in his class, especially knowing what it had taken away from him, and he felt slightly betrayed that his leader would allow the brat in. However, Uzumaki hadn't even reacted to his angry tone; the brat had taken it calmly and maturely, which was making Iruka's inner conscience feel guilty, which only made him angrier. He didn't like that the Kyuubi brat was making him feel guilty.

Truthfully, Uzumaki wasn't what he had expected. True, the boy's coloring was a little exotic, but nothing about him seemed to scream 'I am an evil fox demon, kill me!' Iruka watched as the boy sat himself between the Haruno heir and the youngest Uchiha, anger fading away to be replaced with bemusement. Shaking his stray thoughts away, Iruka stood at the front of the class, gathering his student's attention quickly.

"Hello," he started, smiling at them all. "Today is the day for your Genin Exams, and the day you will be joining the world of the adults," Iruka thought he heard a snort come from Uzumaki's direction, but when he looked the brat was watching him innocently. "Your test is divided into three parts. There is a written exam, a weapon test, and a chakra test. When I call your name you will enter the room next door so we can begin."

Looking at their eager faces Iruka was struck by how young some of these teenagers seemed. Most of them held onto their innocence, remaining unaware of the harsher aspects of the Ninja life. In some ways it made him happy and sad; happy that they held onto to their childishness and sad that they would soon lose it. His eyes were drawn however to the two students who were darker than their classmates; the students that held very little naivety for what would come next.

He was already aware that Uchiha Sasuke had long since lost his innocence. The Uchiha Massacre was a well-known tragedy in Konoha. Iruka knew that Sasuke and his older brother Itachi had been out, getting groceries for their mother and returned to find most of the clan brutally murdered. The killer hadn't been identified and as of yet was still a mystery. Sasuke had changed fairly dramatically after that event changing from a cheerful child to a withdrawn one. He'd seen death and Iruka knew that that would make him less innocent than his classmates.

However he was somewhat surprised to see that the second teenager who seemed to have lost his innocence was none other than the resident demon Uzumaki Naruto. He had no idea what the brat's life was like; he didn't pay attention to demons. He, like the rest of the village, had forgotten about Uzumaki after they had found out about his disappearance. He wondered, for a second, what kind of experience had made Uzumaki lose his innocence.

Iruka shook his head to clear stray thoughts and said to his now restless class, "First up, Aburame Shino." The tall, silent boy slid out of his seat and followed Iruka into the next room.

The Genin Exams, Iruka decided after three hours of students, were tiring and frustrating. Some students did well, like Haruno Sakura, and some failed. Some even blacked out from nervousness like Hyuuga Hinata. He was so glad he only had to do this once a year. Thankfully he only had three students left; Uzumaki, Uchiha, and Yamanaka.

Uchiha Sasuke strolled into the room nonchalantly, his blank black eyes fixed on Iruka. Iruka shivered lightly and instructed his student to sit and begin his written test, all the while watching Sasuke from the corner of his eye.

Sasuke was said to be an Uchiha genius, but Iruka wasn't so sure about that. In his younger years, before the Clan's annihilation, the youngest Uchiha had been bright, happy, and talented. After the massacre however, Sasuke's light had burned out, leaving a shell of the person he used to be. His talent had become stagnant and repetitive, leaving no room for new techniques or ideas. It was sad thing to see for Iruka, as he knew unless someone became precious in Sasuke's life; he doubted the Uchiha would become a better shinobi.

He took the test from Sasuke, scanning the answers and allowing a smile to overtake his face as he saw they were all correct. Next he waved his student to the targets, telling him to aim for the vital points. Once again, Sasuke did excellently, all of his shuriken hitting the vital points dead on. Finally Iruka instructed Sasuke to make three Bunshin and smiled again as the Uchiha did so effortlessly.

Iruka handed Sasuke his headband and told him to inform Uzumaki he was up next. He sat down nervously; this was the exam that he had been dreading all day. He wasn't sure how he was supposed to deal with that demon being so close to him.

Uzumaki walked quickly into the room, his long trench coat flaring around his hips. Iruka tried to maintain his neutral expression, but some of his hatred must have leaked through because Uzumaki's blue eyes had hardened and shifted away from him. The brat sat down at his desk and started his written exam promptly.

Iruka took the paper slowly when Uzumaki was done, somewhat reluctant to touch anything already touched by a demon. He quickly scanned the answers and nodded to himself - all answers were good, dependable, and fairly accurate - nothing out of the ordinary. Iruka ushered Uzumaki to the target boards, watching keenly as the brat threw his kunai. His aim was good, although Iruka noticed a faint twitch in his muscles as he threw (2). He hit most of the marked places accurately, and those that he didn't ended up fairly close.

Finally there was the Chakra exam, which he instructed Uzumaki to make three bunishen. He could have sworn he felt the brief, heavy pressure of an incredibly powerful chakra, but in the next instance it was gone, leaving only his blonde student and the three clones. Iruka shook his head, clearing the cobwebs, and handed Uzumaki his headband. He didn't have a valid reason to fail the brat, unfortunately.

"Thanks Iruka-sensei," Uzumaki said brightly, tying the headband over his black bandana. Iruka felt his stomach twist but forced it away, glaring at the boy instead. He tried to ignore the guilt when he saw the brat's smile become fixed instead of natural. He had no reason to feel guilty.

"Tell Yamanaka she's next," he said tonelessly, and watched Uzumaki leave the room before sitting down in his seat with a sigh. He could only hope his last student would be less troublesome than the two before her. He already had enough of a headache.

"The most dangerous enemy is that which no one fears." (Angels & Demons by Dan Brown)

Naruto returned to the hotel room Jiraiya had rented and closed the door with a sigh of relief. His new mentor wasn't back yet, and the room was quiet. Naruto made his way to his bed, picking up the clothes he had discarded earlier that still had his scrolls attached to them. He hadn't wanted to attract attention by wearing the scrolls – he attracted enough with his strange eye and hair colors, not to mention his attitude in Classroom 5.

Naruto fingered the well-worn scrolls and smiled. When he was younger Raiden had introduced him to the art of sealing – something that his adopted brother had learned alongside his father. Despite the fact that Raiden had never been as good at sealing as Yondaime, he still taught Naruto quickly and efficiently, leading him to get the second highest level of his Apprenticeship in three years. However to get any higher than that, Naruto would have to find a real master – such as the Gama Sannin Jiraiya.

Still wearing a smile, Naruto unfolded the scroll quickly. Inside were lines of delicate kanji swirling around his trademark – the thick, three lined spiral. Gathering a small amount of his charka, Naruto bit his thumb and allowed the blood to leak onto the spiral, releasing the seal he had placed upon most of his possessions. When the chakra settled, there were items spread across the thin paper.

Naruto picked up the two fans first, opening them to allow the painted picture on the razor sharp metal to shine through. The first fan, which he had named Chuugi had the Konoha leaf painted on it in deep green with a black background. The second fan was named Gaman and had a detailed picture of a crimson red Kyuubi painted on it with swirls of orange and yellow as its background. He had gotten them mainly because of his wind based attacks and chakra, and had the pictures painted on them to remind him of the two things he valued most in life. Naruto admired them for a minute before allowing them to snap closed and attach them to his black shinobi belt.

Next came his three Sai, all of them named Bouei. Their handles were made from dark brown ash wood, and the long baton in the middle was made from sharp silver. The all had an octagonal shape and the Uzumaki spiral engraved on the hilts so he could recognize them easily. He spun each of them around his index finger once, smiling at the balanced weight, before slipping them onto his belt as well.

His knives came next. His first knife, the one he had gotten when he was seven, was named Seido and had a thin, straight 13 in. steel coated blade with an edge of silver with a hilt dyed a deep crimson red. His second knife, which he had gotten at 9, was named Suraisu and had a thicker, 12 in. blade made from pure steel that curved slightly to resemble a Scimitar. The hilt was colored a deep green. Naruto slide one of them into each boot for easy access whenever possible.

His final weapons were his Senbon, which had never decided to name. The slender, silver needles went into his pack until he needed them further.

Naruto sighed, feeling better now that he had all of his weapons on him. Ginkaze, his sword, was a safety blanket in Konoha, but he would never feel completely safe unless he was fully armed. He looked down at the final two items that had been in his scroll and smiled sadly. These two possessions would always well up a bittersweet feeling to him.

In Shinobi society, when there is a single heir to a clan and no head (a scenario which has become extremely possible in the last 20 years, due to Kyuubi and the Iwa wars) the heir was appointed as the head to his clan when he reached 12, the normal age for him to become a Genin. Naruto hadn't been an exception to this tradition.

He fingered his first head ring – a beaten band of silver with the Uzumaki spiral etched onto the outside. His fingers traced the inside of its round surface, feeling the faint engraving of the family motto: "Either find a way or make one". He smiled as he slipped the ring onto his right middle finger – that motto suited the Uzumaki family, a clan known for their determination and mule-like stubbornness. Naruto picked up the second ring slowly, the bittersweet feeling rising up higher in his throat. His mother's ring never evoked such a strong feeling because he never heard about what happened to her on that night. But his father's ring……holding the head ring of the man who had both condemned him and sired him brought a powerfully sad and unhappy feeling into his throat.

Naruto stared down at the onyx made ring that had golden leaved engraved along the edges. In his mind's eye he could see the family motto written out in bold kanji; "The precious make the sword sharper". With an ache in his chest, Naruto slipped the ring onto his left middle finger.

Naruto stared down his now blank seal for a few moments before sighing and rolling it back up to attach to his belt. He also attached the three other blank scrolls he had to his belt before leaving quickly and quietly through the window, with only the four missing items to show that he had been there to begin with.

"The only good is knowledge and the only evil is ignorance." (Socrates)

Sarutobi watched as Jiraiya paced in front of his desk and frowned thoughtfully. Truthfully, with all the havoc Naruto had caused with his reappearance he had forgotten Jiraiya had needed to make a report. He leaned forward in his chair, setting his pipe to the side with only a mournful glance.

"What was it you need to speak with me about Jiraiya?" he asked, his calm voice a complete opposite to Jiraiya's flustered pacing.

Jiraiya sighed and stopped in front of his desk, crossing his arms across a broad chest. He said quietly, "My sources have gotten news of Orochimaru and a new organization – Akatsuki."

Sarutobi raised a grey eyebrow and frowned thoughtfully. 'Red dawn?' he thought to himself with a mental snort. 'This Akatsuki must have a sense of drama. However the news that Orochimaru is on the move is troubling.'

"Can you tell what Orochimaru is planning?" he asked directly.

Jiraiya shook his head, obviously exasperated, "I have no idea what that crazy idiot is doing, only that whatever his plans are, they will be big. He's been gone late at night and has spoken of meetings of important value to his future schemes."

"And what of this Akatsuki? You wouldn't mention them unless they bothered you Jiraiya," Sarutobi asked quietly.

Jiraiya sighed, "They, as far as I can tell, have set their sights on the demons, which puts Naruto in obvious danger. Other than that, their actions are shadowed. I have no idea what they are doing now, only that they are powerful and sneaky, which is always a dangerous combination. The Chuunin Exams in three months would be a perfect time for anyone to attack with so many foreign shinobi coming in and out. I want you to be careful Sarutobi-sensei."

Sarutobi smiled to himself – Jiraiya, no matter how much he projected a gruff exterior, always had cared for his team's safety, especially after Orochimaru. He said aloud, "I will Jiraiya, I will."

The two fell into silence and stared out over the darkening sky of Konoha, neither knowing that the promise given that day would be broken in less than a year.

Author's Note: And that's the end of the very long chapter one! I know that Atasuki and Orochimaru aren't mention until later in canon, but I thought I'd speed it up a little. Please read the notes at the bottom – some of them are important.

Note: On the subject of Naruto's parents; I edited when the more recent chapters of the Manga came out announcing Naruto as the son of Yondaime and his wife. I changed it a bit; in my version they were secret lovers and nobody knew about their affair, not even Jiraiya as you can see. Sarutobi was the only person to know and Raiden as he was Yondaime's bodyguard. In the Manga their relationship was at least known to Tsunade and Jiraiya. Naruto's parentage will probably be the only spoilers for the current Manga I'll put in this story, as it's a large part of his history.

Uzu no Kuni: The Land of the Whirlpool. It was referred to in past-tense in the manga, which means it most probably doesn't exist any more. Uzu was the birthplace of Naruto's mother, Uzumaki Kushina.
Hi no Kuni: The Land of Fire. This is the most powerful country in Naruto, and houses Konohagakure no Sato (Village Hidden in the Leaves), one of the largest shinobi villages in the Elemental Countries.

Weapon Names: I am not an expert at Japanese names or even the language. If you wish to give me corrections, you're free to do so. However these are the rough translations for the names of Naruto's weapons.

Chuugi: Loyalty (Fan)
Gaman: Tolerance (Fan)
Bouei: Protection (Sai)
Seido: Precision (Knife)
Suraisu: Slice (Knife)
Ginkaze: Silver Wind (Sword)

(1) Think something like Tsunade's coat, except longer and without sleeves. The length is like Yondaime's flaming jacket.
(2) Naruto is much better than he shows himself to be on the Exams - he simply doesn't want to be noticed so he makes sure all of his tests have ordinary scores. His muscles are twitching because he has "muscle memory" of certain techniques he uses to make his aim so extraordinary, but he's using something different to dull it a bit and his muscles are unsure what to do (thus, the twitch).