Nindo: Way of the Twelve

Preliminary Author's Spiel: This is my first foray into the Naruto fandom, and credit where credit's due, my inspiration (and a few plot ideas) came from the incredible fic, Team 8. Hopefully this won't come off as just a poor imitation of S'TarKan's story. I also hope that you enjoy the story, and will tell me what I'm doing right and wrong.

Konoha Ninja Academy

Era of the Twelve's Peace

Start of the Academy Year

Umino Iruka was not what most would picture if they were asked to think of a jounin. He was good-natured, normally soft-spoken, very sane, and hardly looked like a man who could butcher a street full of civilians without breaking a sweat. But the headmaster of the Konoha Ninja Academy had to be a jounin, and no one was better suited for the post than the smiling man with the scar across the bridge of his nose.

His hair had just began graying a few years back, when the Fifth had appointed him to the post, but his love for teaching the youth of the hidden village the arts needed to become a shinobi had not abated, even if it had probably pushed his graying ahead of schedule. His warm eyes roved over the latest class of six-year old ninja hopefuls. It seemed like a good group, though he knew full well that over the next eight years, many of them would leave the academy for more normal lives. A head of pink hair made him smile. It seemed like the Haruno family had decided that they wished for more of their clan to follow their most famous daughter's example and become shinobi. The whine of a puppy reminded him that the Academy had yet another member of the wild Inuzuka clan to train. As he continued to look, he saw the pure white eyes of a Hyuuga. The timid looks the Hyuuga boy threw around him reminded him of yet another former student. Dark sunglasses and high collar…another Aburame. And there in the front row, a mop of blonde hair.

Iruka smiled gently. No, the child wasn't Naruto's. But he couldn't help but remember the boy he had given his hitai-ate to. He couldn't help but remember his class. Shaking off his musings, he addressed the class. "Welcome to Konoha Ninja Academy. Over the next eight years, you will learn many things. Over the next eight years you will become many things. And over the next eight years, I have no doubt, you will accomplish many things.

"Life as a shinobi is not easy," he went on, "and it is not easy to become one. Here at the academy, you will push yourself to the limits of human potential, to a level that some call supernatural and some call impossible. But for any hidden village, shinobi are the blood of society's life. We defend the weak and punish the wicked. We shinobi of Konohagakure are the ears, eyes, blades, and shields of the entire Fire Nation."

The children were paying close attention. Nothing like playing to egos. "From you academy students, to the Hokage herself, we are the proud ninja of the Fire Nation. We have changed the world for the better time and time again, in ways both small and large, and we will continue to do so. It is my honor and privilege to help you take your first steps into the great tradition of the Leaf, which stretches back to our First and Second Hokage, and includes the Third, Konoha's White Fang, the Legendary Sannin, one of who became the Fifth, Konoha's Yellow Flash also known as the Fourth, the Copycat Ninja, the Genjutsu Mistress, the Wind Dragon, Konoha's Green Beast, and most recently, The Twelve."

Iruka turned to the door at the front of the lecture hall, where a silhouette could be made out through the frosted glass. "It is now my honor and privilege to introduce you to a former student of mine, the man know as the First of the Twelve, the Wind that fans the Will of Fire, the Kyuubi's Jailor, the man who brought us together with the Sand, Konoha's Savior, and the man next in line for the office of Hokage: Uzumaki Naruto."

The door slid open to reveal a man with a shock of blonde hair, piercing blue eyes, and three whisker lines on each cheek. "Geeze Iruka-sensei," he said as he walked over to the lectern. "Don't you think you laid it on just a little bit thick?" He smiled at his old teacher, the first man that he knew had accepted him.

Iruka smiled back at Naruto. "I thought I had forgotten a few titles."

Naruto rolled his eyes. A full grown man now, it was impossible not to see his blood tie to the Fourth. Only a slightly different hairstyle and the lines on his cheeks made him look any different. "Don't make me pull out the old Oiroke no Jutsu, sensei." That got a laugh from Iruka and a few confused mutters in the crowd before Naruto turned to them as Iruka slipped out the door. "The Shinobi of the Leaf are the finest in the world. And contrary to what many of you now believe, it isn't because of our techniques, our training, or may the Kami forbid, our bloodlines. That's individual, part of what makes each of us…each of you, our own selves. No, the Shinobi of the Leaf are the finest in the world because of our Nindo, our Ninja Way." Naruto took a deep breath. Out of all the things he had done in his life, creating the Nindo that became that of the Loyal of the Twelve, and eventually, all of Konoha, was his proudest achievement. His Academy dream, becoming Hokage, seemed pale in comparison. He drew a knife from the sheath at the small of his back and stuck it into the wood of the lectern, where it stood for the class to see. It was a blade of slightly under seven inches in length, double-edged with a diamond cross-section, tapering to a vicious point. The guard was a simple flat metal oval, and the handle was distinctively shaped, almost like a vase or old-time soda bottle, made of metal with a diamond-pattern knurled grip a bit more than five inches long. A ring sat on the pommel, with a short loop of black cord threaded through it. The blade was polished to a mirror finish, showing the grain of the steel, and the handle was anodized black. The children gasped. Everyone in Konoha knew about the First of the Twelve's famed chakra knife. Whispers broke out before Naruto's clear voice broke through them.

"I may go down in history for what I accomplished with that knife with my friends at my side, but I will always be proudest of the Nindo of the Shinobi of the Leaf." He placed his hands on the side of the lectern, leaning forward and looking at each of the new students in the eye in turn. "A Shinobi of the Leaf never gives up. A Shinobi of the Leaf never breaks her word. A Shinobi of the Leaf always becomes stronger than he was the day before. A Shinobi of the Leaf looks beneath the beneath. And finally, a Shinobi of the Leaf always fights for those who are precious to them. I'm Uzumaki Naruto, and that's my ninja way. And today, it becomes your ninja way. Today you begin the road to becoming full Shinobi of the Leaf. Make me proud. Make Konoha proud. Make your precious people proud. And make yourself proud!"


Iruka smiled as Naruto exited the classroom, excited chatter following him out the open door, before he closed it. "A good bunch of kids, I think. Nice speech, Naruto."

Naruto returned his old teacher's smile, rolling his knife over in his fingers before sheathing it at the small of his back. "Thanks, Iruka-sensei. I think they'll make fine ninja." He looked back at the door wistfully. "It's hard to remember being that young."

Iruka snorted. "You might have forgotten about your time at the Academy, but let me assure you, I sure as hell haven't. I couldn't even if I wanted to." He smiled a bit ruefully. "I know that teachers aren't supposed to play favorites, and focus on one student more than another, but you just seem to break all the rules, Naruto."

Naruto smiled. "Thanks Iruka-sensei. You, graduating, the old man who taught us taijutsu, and playing hooky with the other slackers were the only good things about this place for me."

The man with the nose scar laughed out loud. "Well, you've certainly come a long way since then. Want to go get ramen at Ichiraku's for old times sake?"

The blonde shinobi laughed. "Sure thing Iruka-sensei." As the older jounin started walking off, Naruto put a hand to the window and looked across the taijutsu and weapon skills courtyard to the old Academy building, focusing on the window of his old classroom, the one he had been assigned his team in. "I've come a long way since then," he murmured, then turned to follow his old teacher.


Konoha Ninja Academy

Era of the Twelve's Testing

Team Assignment Day

"What the hell are you doing here, Naruto?" asked Nara Shikamaru. "Today's meeting is only for graduates."

Naruto just gave him a smile that made him look like a fox. "I've got a hitai-ate, don't I? I'm a genin, same as you, Shikamaru."

The Nara boy let a smirk cross his face. "Kami save us all. How troublesome."

Naruto smirked right back. He and Shikamaru got along alright, though if anyone in the class was really his friend, it was Inuzuka Kiba. Shikamaru and the last slacker, Akimichi Chouji, were just too close together. "Yeah, you just keep on complaining. I swear, you'd whine if I saved your life."

Shikamaru rolled his eyes and took a seat next to Chouji at the desk in front of Naruto. As Naruto opened his mouth to say something, a dog barked next to him and he spun around to see Kiba and Akamaru standing where Shikamaru was. "I don't be-fucking-lieve it!" crowed Kiba. "Where'd you get that hitai-ate from?" he asked as he put the blonde in a friendly headlock, sitting down next to Naruto.

As Naruto escaped the lock and started recounting the tale of his theft of scroll of sealing and the fight with Iruka and Mizuki, avoiding the part about Kyuubi, a pair of pure white eyes watched him from a few desks away. The owner of these eyes, Hinata Hyuuga, poked her forefingers together and blushed at the thought that Naruto would be graduating with the rest of their class, something which made her very happy.

As Naruto got to the point in the tale where he made his stand against Mizuki, gesticulating with one had while scratching Akamaru with the other, the door at the top of the classroom burst open with a paired shout of "GOAL!" A running argument made it's way to the desk above Naruto and Kiba's growing larger as all the kunoichi but one argued over who was going to get to sit with Uchiha Sasuke, the year's number one rookie, and class heartthrob.

Kiba growled and spun around. "Would the lot of you just shut the hell up! Naruto's telling me about how he kicked a chuunin's ass last night!"

A collective hiss from the Sasuke fan club told Kiba he might have been a little audacious. Sakura scoffed. "Right! Like Mr. Dead-last could take on a chuunin. You'd need a hundred Narutos before you equaled one genin. He can't even do the Bunshin no Jutsu right."

Hurt flashed across Naruto's face, but he had never been one to back down. "Iruka-sensei knows the truth! He gave me his hitai-ate after I beat the crap out of Mizuki." He snarled just a bit. "Who cares about some worthless Bunshin no Jutsu? I can do a Tajuu Kage Bunshin no Jutsu." He turned around in a huff and returned to telling Kiba about the events of last night. Sasuke tsked and looked out the window.

"Hey! Don't you just ignore me!" squawked Sakura, getting ready to hit Naruto in the back of the head.

The door at the front of the classroom opened and Umino Iruka strode in with only slight discomfort. The medic-nin had done their job well. In his hand was the list of the new genin training teams. "Alright everyone, settle down." When they had all gotten seated, Iruka stood in front of the class with legs apart, hands clasped behind his back. "Today you are all officially ninja. However, you are still fresh genin. So you will be put into groups of three to work with jounin instructor for a time."

This immediately set speculation about who would be on the same teams. Naruto looked over to Kiba. It would be cool to be on a team with the fellow wild child, and maybe if he was with Sakura, she'd start to actually look at him, rather than that Sasuke jerk. Heck, he'd be fine with pretty much anyone, just not that stuck-up Uchiha.

"We've arranged the groups by putting together specialties for each team, much like we do with the more fluid higher-ranked teams. It's a change from our old system of putting people together by rankings to balance the teams out. I will now announce the teams." He went through six of the groups, listing off a number of specialties, before coming to Team 7. "Team 7 will be set up for heavy combat." Naruto perked up. Heavy combat sounded like just his kind of thing. Plenty of glory, and it couldn't hurt to have a small army of yourself in heavy combat, right?

"Inuzuka Kiba." At this Kiba perked up, a bit surprised, but soon smirked. He liked to fight. It was a bit surprising that he hadn't been assigned to a tracking team, but oh well. This would be fun. He pounded fists with Naruto. Now if only the blonde was assigned to Team 7, too. "Haruno Sakura." Kiba tched at this. He didn't like the Sasuke fan girl much at all. Sure, she was cute and all, but what a bitch! And not the kind Akamaru would be looking for in the future. Naruto, however, thought this was just perfect. Heavy combat, Kiba and Sakura. He had to be the next one, he just had to. "Uchiha Sasuke." As Sakura squealed fangirlishly, Kiba gritted his teeth and Naruto cursed. That Uchiha bastard had cheated him out of his spot on the perfect team for him. Even as Naruto wallowed in obvious depression, a white-eyed girl let out a small sigh of relief. She still had a chance to be on a team with Naruto.

"Man, this is gonna suck," growled Kiba to Naruto. "I wish you got that last spot. The fan girl I could deal with, but now I've got to deal with the Uchiha genius. I better get the chance to smash a bunch of heads. I hope you draw Shikamaru." Naruto nodded in commiseration and agreement. So much for the perfect Team 7.

"Team 8," continued Iruka, "Will be set up as a long-range reconnaissance raider force. Hyuuga Hinata." The white-eyed girl started hoping against hope that the blonde ninja would draw Team 8 as well, while Naruto looked at the wall indifferently. Recon sounded boring. He wanted to be a fighting ninja. Though raiding sounded like fun. Smash, grab, harass…it was like a village-sponsored prank. Recon though…boring. Just watching and gathering information was no fun at all. "Aburame Shino." No one really had anything to say or feel about that. The sunglasses-wearing boy was smart, competent, and very taciturn. The whole bug thing also creeped most people out. "Uzumaki Naruto." Hinata nearly fainted in blushing happiness. Naruto considered his lot. At least his teammates didn't go out of their way to be mean to him or anything. He didn't really know anything about either of them, but he supposed that he could live with it. So long as it was more raiding than recon. He let himself smile. He'd make the best of it, and prove himself. He was Uzumaki Naruto, and someday, he was going to be Hokage!

"Oooh," said Kiba. "Got stuck with bug boy, huh? Bad break there. But hey, eyes might be fun."

Naruto shrugged, feeling a little flash of annoyance. He wouldn't judge his teammates without getting to know them, and he wished Kiba wouldn't either. "I'll live," he answered.

Iruka had already made through Team 9. "Team 10 will be set up as a capture and light combat team. Yamanaka Ino. Nara Shikamaru. Akimichi Chouji." That team elicited a groan and a few complaints from Ino, and a snicker from Shikamaru. Chouji just kept on snacking. "That's all the teams. All assignments are final. You'll meet your jounin sensei this afternoon. Until then, dismissed!"


Naruto slurped instant noodles as Kiba ripped hunks of meat off of some unidentified bone that he was holding, putting his clan's sharp teeth to good use. Akamaru gnawed on a smaller version of Kiba's meal on the ground at their feet. Kiba wasn't in a very good mood. "Shit man. This sucks, you know? I get assigned to a heavy combat team and I get stuck with a fangirl and the year's number one asshole." He tore another hunk of meat off the bone. "I envy you, man."

"Sakura-chan's not so bad," mumbled Naruto, looking down into his ramen. Honestly, he couldn't muster up too much enthusiasm for defending his crush right now. Two years ago, maybe even last year, he probably would have been up in arms to defend the pink-haired kunoichi, but the last year of violent contempt had started to really make an impression on the blonde. All part of growing up, he supposed, though it didn't really make him feel any better. Suddenly something struck him. He blinked and looked up at Kiba. "What do you mean, envy me? I'm on a recon team!"

Kiba looked at him in surprise. "Man, did you pay any attention in class?"

Naruto snorted. "You're one to talk, Kiba."

The brown-haired boy rolled his eyes. "Whatever. Long-range recon raider teams give the most people to ANBU's hunter nin division. It's a fast-track position."

Naruto gave him a look. "What, and heavy combat isn't?"

"Well, duh, yeah, but Uchiha's got his head stuck up his self-image's ass. And Haruno is so dead-set on getting a kiss from him that she jams her head straight up there with him." Naruto had to join in Kiba's laughs at that image. "Meanwhile, you've got Aburame and the Hyuuga girl. Lucky bastard."

"I don't get why I'm so lucky, but okay."

Kiba gave him a wide eyed look. "Are you kidding? Bug boy does a good job and doesn't go for the glory, and eyes…well I've heard rumors about Hyuuga girls, eh?" He elbowed Naruto with a raised eyebrow.

Naruto proving his incredible density, gave a little smile. "Yeah, like someone from the Hyuuga clan would bother to look at me…" For some reason beyond Naruto's comprehension, Kiba found this uproariously funny, bursting into laughter that threatened to suffocate him. "What's so damn funny, punk?" asked Naruto, narrowing his eyes.

"Nothing, nothing," said the Inuzuka boy when he finally caught his breath. "Say, you want to get in one last spar?"

Naruto's blue eyes lit up. "Is the Hokage's ass wrinkly?" he asked rhetorically, slurping down the last of his noodles and broth.

"I don't know, is it?" asked Kiba with a wicked grin, jumping to his feet and leaving the last of his meal to Akamaru.

Naruto gave him a blank look for a second before the jab caught up with him. "Hey!" He shook his head and popped up, punching Kiba in the arm. "You flea-bitten bastard! Taijutsu only. Let's get it on!"

Kiba smirked as he leapt back, bringing up his fists. "Bro, I don't swing that way. Besides, don't you prefer older men?"

Naruto's smile bared his own sharper-than-average teeth. "Oh you're dead for that," he said jokingly as he raised his hands to guard, hands still open but with fingers slightly curved into fists.

A small crowd formed around the two, creating an impromptu arena. The spars between the 'wild' children were popular spectator events…mostly because of the fact that Kiba and Naruto's personal styles of taijutsu were more vicious than those of most, and they didn't stint in spars.

Naruto and Kiba looked about them, both pleased with the idea of an audience. Looking back at each other across the ten or so feet that separated them, they shared a tooth-baring grin. "Hey, Akamaru," called out Kiba, not taking his eyes off of Naruto. "Care to start it?"

At the dog's bark, the two sprang forward to the cheers of the crowd.

Author's Ending Spiel: Well, there's the first chapter. Sorry for the cliffhanger, but I promise, if there is a next chapter, I won't punk out and skip to the fight's aftermath. No, I like writing action, and hopefully I won't disappoint too much.

I should probably mention that in this fic graduation age from the ninja academy is fourteen. So the characters are a bit older and wiser than the original series versions. They still look mostly like their counterparts in the original series, if a little more larger and more mature, but outfits are similar to the series, and Akamaru is still small.

Anyway, like I said at the beginning, this is my first time in the fandom, and I'd like to know what you guys think about my offering. So review! Tell me what's good, tell me what sucks, tell me that I should just give it up. Just tell me, though. Ja na for now.