Disclaimer: I do not own NARUTO, nor Naruto Tensei, but I do own this adaption.

NARUTO belongs to Masashi Kishimoto.

Naruto Tensei belongs to Nekoni from DeviantArt. http:// www. nekoni. deviantart. Com

Follow the doujinshi at the first page of where it all began… http:// nekoni. deviantart. com/ art/ Naruto-Tensei-Chap-1-Cover-54732103

Chapter 1: I'm Kyuubi?!

Original Concept by: Nekoni

Adapted by: Blackbolt52003

They say all stories have different endings, depending on how they are told and whom they are told to and by. They also say that even though they all end differently, the basic plots that the stories are based upon, never really change.

This is a story. It may be true and yet it may not be. Remember…

…all stories have different endings, yet only one is what truly is, and what truly will be, forever.

But this isn't a story. Because, for a fact, for one who truly believes and understands everything…for the creator…it is life all over again—a cycle in itself. And it is a passing by of one of the many lives and times of his children, whom he created and knew all about before they were even born.


On this night, the full moon appeared. Full moon.

They say the full moon is an ill omen, from whence the demons come. This is not always the case, but many swear it so, because they remember that time…they remember the day their loved ones went out, and most of them never came back.

This night, the full moon glowed an eerie glow against a sky that was pitch black save for the slight twinkling of stars in the distance, some too far to be seen, a replay, if you might. It takes thousands, and hundreds of light years for the spectacle to be seen.

Yet, that night, all had been quite normal, the children rousing up their houses, absolutely refusing to go to bed—they weren't quite tired yet—their parents ready to yank out their hair from stress and frustration—if it was only one parent home, they had their hands quite full.

And, those children, they never really could face the harsh reality that one of their parents, if not both, were never coming back to their lives…

If they could, then, after all, as a future shinobi, their bonds to death would only grow.


There it was.

It was magnificent, even if deadly, dangerous and capable of ripping out your skeleton from your flesh to feast with but a single swipe of its claw, or to just rip you to shreds in a breath or… Yes, it was magnificent…and a demon. Strange, how a demon such as this, was so…so…

"I'm scared…" One would have said. This one, Hatake Kakashi, might have said so long ago. The old him might've squeaked and trembled in terror, but…Hatake Kakashi? Not now, not ever. Not since his father.

Kakashi said nothing, his eyes surveying the territory while he stood, tall, firm, with arms crossed. People ran out of the houses—shinobi mostly, the villagers were plenty weak. They couldn't even help if they had wanted to. This wasn't some terrorist that could easily be defeated by some old grandpa with martial arts. This was the Kyuubi.

Deadly.

Spoken in whispers, he knew all that was spoken behind his back. He knew. He doubted they'd stop just because he knew. He always knew. Hatake Sakumo's son? The White Fang of Konoha had a son? He always heard. The TRAITOR actually fathered a child?! Who is that wretched woman who gave birth to him? That…that traitor's child?!

Cold. Icy. He was that and more.


He didn't know what he was doing. Sure, it was stupid…

Jiraiya- Ero-sensei might have something to do with that. Maybe being trained by the 'Perverted Sannin of Konoha' was starting to get to him. Jiraiya-Ero-sensei really knew how to deflate and upturn that balloon boat of hope and respect right now.

"You're crazy, Minato." Jiraiya said, serious for once and not peeping at girls. This was not the time. This was dire, and required serious thought.

Yet Namikaze Minato defied his sense of self-preservation and put his life on the line to protect this village. Oh, how it seemed as though yesterday he was teaching a boy who interrupted his information gathering daily, demanding to be taught. Oh, how it seemed like a few hours ago, that same boy was ridiculed and laughed at, and told, 'Foolish, you are! How can one so weak such as you grow up to be Hokage? Don't even try!'

If there ever was another Minato-act-alike, Jiraiya would be sure to recognize them in an instant.

"I know I'm crazy…" Minato replied seriously, tugging his long cloak jacket firmly onto his athletic frame. His voice held no humor, though when the light from the moon shone onto his face as he turned his gaze upon his teacher for what possibly might be the last time, there was a grin on his face, one that stretched from ear to ear.

In a flash, Jiraiya remembered that same grin on a teenaged, battle-worn Namikaze Minato, and that same grin on the first disciple he had ever taken under his tutelage, always eager to learn, never giving up. He licked his dry lips subconsciously as he spoke.

"You're leaving everything behind, Minato, it's not a good thing. From the moment I met you and your two teammates, I realized that you knew as much as any one has to know about killing, even though you never showed it in your heart or face. You've grown up an orphan from the last ninja war, so, you know the hardships a shinobi can face while looking back at their past, yet you strive forward, with a strong sense of justice, stronger than ever, and never looking back. You know you're drawn onto death's path…yet…"

"What is it?" Minato's voice was such a ghost of a whisper that Jiraiya felt goose bumps. "It's nothing, right?" He tried to convince himself, that, hey, they were fine, they'd come back. Relief spread somehow onto his facial features, but then…

"You haven't changed a bit, Minato." Jiraiya sadly shook his head. "Never since the day you and I have met. You're always so optimistic and there'd have been no room in your life for anything but happiness, if you could have done anything about it."

And in some way, to Minato, the way he said it felt worse than the words alone.


"HI, Jiraiya-sensei!!" Jiraiya was startled as a blond burst of energy shot out from behind a bush. He sighed, shaking his head upon realizing who it was. "I'm going to take your bells, so watch out! Heheh!"

"You're acting just like the grade books said you would. Do you realize that if your actions are so predicable, in a shinobi battle, you'll likely the first person killed?" Jiraiya asked.

Minato rolled his eyes. "Whatever, Jiraiya-sensei!" He grinned, before pulling down on the lid under his eye and sticking out his tongue. "Bleeeeegh! Up yours, old man!" Then, he whirled around and vaulted over a fallen tree trunk, running away wildly as an angry Jiraiya followed.

Old man? Old man?! By Kami-sama, he'd teach this brat. "Hell, brat! I'm 18, damn it! 18! FIVE YEARS! ONLY FIVE YEARS OLDER! Don't call me an old man, damn it!"

Jiraiya must have chased Minato up half the hill before he lost sight of the blond who was approaching the top. "Damn it, you're not getting away that easily, brat!" Since when had this hill been so steep? He put on a burst on speed, and somehow, just barely made it to the top, breathing lightly. But when he reached it, a surprise greeted him. Minato was in a ready stance.

"Let's fight for the bells, like true men!" Then he pushed off and forward. Jiraiya easily evaded them all, blocking and using Minato's own attack against him. After all, what chance did a mere Genin have against one of the Sannin of Konoha?

But Jiraiya misjudged his own and Minato's speeds and stamina, and Minato quickly belted out a finishing punch on Jiraiya's cheek, putting as much force into it as possible. By a fluke he accidentally poured chakra into his limb, a feat that later he would try to duplicate, but never succeed.

Jiraiya crashed against a tree and moaned, a hand gingerly on his wounded cheek before the familiar jingle of bells brought him to look up. Minato grinned, jingling them in front of his face before throwing them to his teammates, and they grinned as well, jingling the bells mockingly.

"You do realize, of course, that only two of you'll pass." He said.

"Yeah, we know." Minato replied.

"You'll get killed with decisions like that on a mission." Jiraiya sighed. "However, Minato did perform the same way as the grade book said he would. That's why he out of all three of you really should go back to the academy."

"Actually, he didn't, really." Recca spoke up. "So don't speak so badly of him, even if he is a bit of an idiot. Sorry, Minato, but it's the truth." He sported an outfit true to his Uchiha status: a black shirt with what Minato had dubbed, 'The big-ass neckband'. Of course, before Academy, he would have normally practiced Taijutsu, and wore a gi so as not to dirty his clothing. One day, Minato swore to himself, ONE DAY, he would shave off all that hair. Jeez, he had a PONYTAIL. Had the dude no shame?

"No grudges!" Minato laughed, more at the thought of what Recca's head would look like bald or even buzzcut, which sounded even better. However, Jiraiya was confused.

"What?"

"Minato offered to go back. There were only two bells and three of us and all three of us wanted to go on to become true shinobi really badly. But Minato still offered to go back to the academy. It was hard, but," Yumi added. "You're sure about this, right, Minato-kun?" Yamanaka Yumi—she was naturally brown-haired and brown eyed, and her hairstyle was constantly in a messy bun that was swept neatly up to the top back of her head.

"Yup!" Minato grinned like an idiot, cushioning the back of his head with interlocked hands. "But if it's for my friends, I'll do it! Besides, sensei!" He mocked, one hand on his hip like a female teacher and the other wagging in a scolding manner. "Don't go looking at data. Don't focus too much on data. Don't believe everything will go planned from data, because you know what? If you're influenced too much, it'd be too easy for the opponent to know what you're going to do next."

"And who are you to lecture me? After all, one look at the grade book tells me all I need to know about you. It's surprising how you even managed to pass. A modern miracle."

"Again, Jiraiya-sensei, I say, don't focus too much on data." Instead of being insulted, Minato just laughed, and walked forward, offering a hand up. Jiraiya ignored it and got up on his own, then walked towards his other teammates, so Minato followed. "If you look at my data in the grade book, it says I'm a complete idiot who flunks all tests and fails in both practical and written exams. But that's not true!"

"And why's that? The practical and written exams at Academy signify the requirements for a shinobi. If you can't pass them, then why—"

"It's not that I can't pass them." That sentence made Jiraiya stop dead in his tracks and turn back to look at him. "It's just…that I can't. I can't focus on it, because, studying's bo-oring! It's all about history, dead guys and what they did and blah, blah, blah! I want to learn how to fight!"

"That…will only get you killed. Study hard, kiddo, because you'll need it. I'm not going to teach a brat that doesn't even know the basic fundamentals of being a shinobi, and who'll likely be the one who ends up getting us killed." Jiraiya turned to speak with Recca and Yumi, but Minato interrupted.

"No, it won't get me killed. Or you. Or Recca or Yumi." Minato laughed. "First of all, Jiraiya-sensei. How do you think I got the bells?"

"You just got lucky."

"Actually, we planned it all out." Yumi smiled, and uttered, "Kai."

Jiraiya blinked. They were no longer on top of that tall hill, but in the forest clearing. Genjutsu? Strange, it must have been awfully powerful for the two of them to have formed it on their own.

"Together, the kekkai and the genjutsu that Recca and I made wasn't enough; we knew that." Yumi stated. "But then, Minato offered to help us. As a distraction, he'd run around and get you to waste some of your energy, because then you'd be so tired you wouldn't realize that you were in one."

"And it's only because of Minato," Recca continued. "That we even got a chance to get the bells at all. Even if you're tired, there's no way one of us can catch you, because our speed isn't even comparable against yours. But Minato's been running away because of his pranks all this time, he's the best runner in the whole school, and he's even outran quite a few Chuunin and Jounin. His speed is the best out of all three of ours'…for now."

"For now?" Minato mock twitched.

"Sorry, Minato-kun, but it's the truth!" Yumi teased. "One day we'll beat you at your own game!"

"Oh yeah?"

"Bring it on, dead-last!" Recca grinned.

"Take that back, Recca, you bastard! Or I'll beat you up!"

"I'll wipe the ground with your ass, Minato, don't even try! You'll only hurt yourself!"

"Oh yeah? We'll see about that!"

Somehow, this scene of them all joking around and laughing reminded Jiraiya of how his team used to act. How his team was always fighting amongst themselves. Well, he and Tsunade, that was. Orochimaru only added to the mix.

The fool, the genius and the love-struck girl. It didn't play here, not at physical view points, that was, but Jiraiya knew that the description matched the three perfectly. Minato, dead-last of his class and the least likeliest to ever become Hokage; Recca of the prestigious Uchiha clan, by the gods he'd never seen such a social Uchiha; and Yumi, like every girl in her class, in love with Recca.

The only difference, however, was that all three got along quite well. This wasn't…this hadn't been in the grade books. The data had never said this. Well, maybe because all three had never really been partnered up for anything. This was a first time.

The first time…and yet they got along so well, like childhood friends.

So this was what the boy had been trying to say. Interesting…

Little did Jiraiya know, was that he was wrong. To be honest, Recca still thought of Minato as a fool and didn't hesitate to kick him as a reminder; Minato had a lot of problems when it came to girls; and Yumi was, well, to say a little lovestruck—if little meant she only hit Minato twice a day. And Minato would one day pull the prank of all pranks: Become the first to buzz cut off all of an Uchiha's hair with lawn clippers and a kunai.

"Oi, sensei!" Jiraya looked to where Minato was pointing to with an ear-to-ear grin on his own face. "Remember, data can't always be trusted! 'Expect the unexpected' and 'look underneath the underneath' are two things a shinobi should know! And so far, in my data book—" He bragged, swaggering around. "—you-" he pointed, "-fail!"

"Your point?"

"BLEGH! Old man!"

Jiraiya had several veins pop on his head as he chased Minato, who was laughing his head off, around the clearing. "I'm 18, god damn it! 18! Were you not listening when I freaking YELLED it in your ears?!"

Recca keeled over and laughed it out, pounding the ground and Yumi pointed and laughed, hand clutching her stomach because right now, Minato had used a transformation jutsu to appear like an old version of Jiraiya, only it was warped, with a hooked nose, beaver teeth and puckered lips and…basically, he looked like…quite the drag queen. "Look at me! I'm UBER drag queen, Jiraya-sensei!" He said in a high-pitched girly tone, striking a pose, before running off as Jiraiya nearly caught him, seething with anger.

"DAMN YOU BRAT, I'LL KILL YOU!!!!"

"Nyeeeeh! See if you can, old ma—I mean, foxy old man-lady!"

"WHY YOU LITTLE-! COME BACK HERE!"


Such memories of events that could never occur anymore. These memories would only be remembered, and not preformed once more. Jiraiya wished that were not the case. He missed his old team, missed the quarrels he, as an immature sensei, had, along with Minato. The bonds he held with his students…

…the strongest of all them, had been with Minato.

They were shrouded in silence, Minato's relief growing less and less as Jiraiya spoke nothing, until…

"You're going to die the same way. Let me do it for you, Minato. I've seen many die in my time. It won't matter if I do it."

"No." Minato's voice was strangely emotional, yet almost monotone. But it was hard to tell, because he had only said one word.

Jiraiya tried again. Perhaps Minato wasn't thinking right. Not that anyone could blame him, given the pressure he was under. "Minato, listen to me. A Hokage must be there to protect his village. If you're gone, well, we'll have to find another Hokage, because, frankly, Sarutobi-sensei won't last that long."

"NO." Minato angrily shook his head. "No way, sensei! I can't allow that! From the moment I…I made friends…from the moment when I had important people to protect…I had to learn. I had to learn how to protect them. If I can't…if I can't even protect ONE life of this village of people I want to protect, whether I know them or not…if I can't protect them, what's the point of being Hokage? If I can't protect you, I—"

"You sound just like a spoilt brat!" Jiraiya barked. "Do you think everything will go your way, just because you are Hokage? NO! There are times you must make sacrifices, and you, Namikaze Minato, are a disgrace as a shinobi with that attitude of yours!"

His student flinched. It reminded Jiraiya of the times that he had caught the boy—no, a man now—how he had caught him fumbling around with his latest prank. That same look of embarrassment, and slight anger and frustration mixed themselves onto Minato's face into one emotion, one emotion so intense there was no name for it.

"But…"

"What?"

"I…I don't want to see anyone die…in front of my eyes…when I could've done something to…to protect…" Though, Minato's protest seemed to grow quieter and quieter, as though unsure. "…it'll…the guilt…"

"Is Konoha not good enough for you?" Jiraiya looked away. It hurt. Just to look at Minato. He could tell the young man was crying right now. He could tell. He didn't see the tears that fell, small at first, yet growing until they were like an open tap, the handles broken. But he sensed the sadness in the room, and it suffocated him.

Jiraiya didn't want to do this, do this to someone he regarded as his own son. Someone he regarded as blood kin. Someone…he had felt close to…like Orochimaru…until that bastard had betrayed the village, just because Minato had been named successor to sensei's title as Hokage.

"It's not that. It's just…I know I have important people, and…" Minato said finally. "…you have to realize I'd do anything to protect them. Maybe you already know. I wouldn't be surprised." He laughed weakly, but his expression grew grave. "Sandaime-san's son and daughter-in-law were killed a few years ago by the Kyuubi." He flinched himself and shivered at the fox's name, hands closing angrily into fists.

This did not escape Jiraiya's notice, but he kept quiet about it. Now was not the time to dawdle onto pointless affairs of hatred and revenge. And he doubted if there ever would be. There never was time, it seemed, to have a talk, teacher to student, master to disciple…father to son.

"Family?" Jiraiya asked finally, letting some peace of mind flow into Minato. "Have you ever thought…of starting a family?"

"Whatever for?" Minato grumbled. "Kushina-chan's gone…and… Recca and…and…Yumi died because of me. You were right at the beginning. I'd get you all killed. You're all I have left of my team, of my memories so long ago, Jiraiya-sensei." Even though Minato had risen up to the rank that he no longer had to use honorifics with his former teacher, it came back, as a habit. "I don't want to lose you too." Minato's voice broke and so did Jiraiya's heart, but he continued to look away and stand firm. "…I…I…"

"No, Minato…" He said quietly. "Never assume." At Minato's confused and shocked look, he walked over to him and placed an almost fatherly hand on the man's shoulder. "If you died, Minato, would Recca and Yumi be happy? Think about it. Would…" At this, even Jiraiya couldn't hold back a slight chuckle at fond memory of the girl that had nearly given him another reason to be upset he was a man. "…Kushina?"

"No…but they'd understand. Kushina too, at least, I think so. And I can't just-"

"Like I always said, Minato, never assume. What you re-taught me, was expect the unexpected and look underneath the underneath. Do you really think you'll be able to defeat the Kyuubi no Kitsune itself, a demon that's killed countless skilled shinobi? If no-one else could defeat it, what makes you so sure that you can?"

"Who said that I was sure?" Minato asked. "I'm never really sure about my decisions. Sure, I may make them, but later, I think, 'Was it right to do this?', or, 'Should I have done that instead of this?' I have so many insecurities with myself, that…well, I dunno. I'll just…I'm only going to…defeat it the only way I can." He grinned like an idiot. "If Kushina was here, she'd box my ears and stretch out my face until I yelled that out with my soul. I need to be independent, sensei. I need to break the mold, and do what I can." He failed to remark that Kushina had met her end 'breaking the mold'. It wasn't easy, he knew that. But, somehow, he couldn't help but…

"The only way you can defeat a demon of that ranking is if…" Jiraiya's face looked solemn and angry at the same time. "If you're planning on using that Death god jutsu, it'll kill you straight out! Besides that how would you know if it's even possible to seal dark a soul and potent a chakra within your own body? You could kill yourself for nothing! The only other option is to seal it into a child whose body, mentality and chakra coils haven't fully developed yet. That is the only thing we know that can contain such a demon. You'd be sealing a fate, Minato. Ruining a life that could've gone perfectly. On the 19th of the first month, the Shukaku was sealed into a child, just like this one. His fate is cruel, I've heard, and now—if not now, then, soon--he is or will be or will become nothing more than a shell. The Shukaku is a burden that no man can carry alone, yet it was forced onto a single child that will die. Do you want to leave this child, whatever child you pick…to death, when they might not even become a shinobi willingly?"

"I know…but the village…" He protested weakly.

"The village? Why do you waste time on a village that let a traitor like Orochimaru get away? Why didn't they just kill him and get it over with?!"

"Sensei, I know you're disappointed with your teammate," Minato's voice grew more stable as his confidence rose. "Whoever…whoever the Kyuubi no Kitsune is sealed in…they'll be a hero. After all, they'll be the only reason why the King of Bijuu will no longer terrorize the citizens of this world."

Jiraiya was severely disappointed in his student. Scratch that. He was disappointed completely in the Hokage.

"Are you really that naïve?" His mouth spoke the words harshly and Minato grew startled and could only stare at his teacher as the sound of screaming, shouts and the unmistakable presence of the Nine-tails echoed into the hospital room. The Nine-tails had entered the territory of Konoha. Finally, Jiraiya spoke to his stu—the Hokage, the Yondaime. "Go and save your village. I won't stop you."

He stepped back from his student. This was the last conversation he would ever have with him, if Minato indeed chose to do this. To use that jutsu and seal a fate of one who hadn't done anything to deserve it.

Minato felt like the world had ended. He felt cold all over. Without his wanting to, his body moved backwards, to the open window ledge, leaning slightly against it and he just stared at Jiraiya. "Sensei?" Jiraiya did not speak, so he felt like he was only talking to himself. It made matters worse. "I'll…I'll think about what you said. Maybe there's a way…a way for us all to…be satisfied with—"

"Spare me your theatrical stalling. Go and save your village." Jiraiya's tone was harsher than ever. "Konoha no Kiiroi Senko, do your duty and save your god-damned village."

If Minato didn't know better he could swear Jiraiya was almost pleading him, but he was too upset to think reasonably, so he nodded numbly, his mind blanked out and his voice quiet. "I'm…sorry…sensei."

And with that, Minato left Jiraiya standing there.

Jiraiya watched as Minato left, in a blur, using his signature move. I hate you, sensei. The silence seemed to scream, the walls echoing the silent thoughts. I wish you'd die. I hate you. I hate you. I hate you. I wish you'd just die. I wish you were never even born in the first place. And I wish I was never born either. Maybe then I wouldn't have to feel this pain. I hate you. I hate you. I hate you!

"I know…" Jiraiya said softly. "I hate me too."

And it must've been fate, but the moment, Jiraiya turned and walked out of the room, out of this Konoha life, out of his ex-student's life, with only the sounds of his geta against the tile floor… That moment Minato knew, holding his memories in high regret and remembrance, a determined yet deeply upset facial expression upon him…he knew that he could not bear to leave this village…he could not bear to leave Konoha.

Though the words had not been said by his sensei, Minato knew it was true. If he died, he might as well have been born some other person, for he would not take those memories, those happy memories of him and his team…those happy memories of so long ago…

He would not take them with him, to hell or any place.

And so the story goes, yet this time, a different way. After all, like said before, all stories have different endings…

…but only one is the way that has been, and will be forever.


Kakashi wondered why he felt flustered. Why he felt so upset, so god damned upset. That stupid Kyuubi. Stupid everyone. Kami-sama KILL them all! He hated them. The scum, the ever-lasting scum of the earth.

Why had they treated his father so harshly?

Even now…even now when Kakashi felt hated because of that man—his father, and had hatred for Hatake Sakumo, he…he couldn't help but wonder… His hands still clenched into angry fists and he looked ready to kill.

Damn it, how he wanted to Chidori that stupid Kyuubi right now, but he had promised. And…killing? Oh, don't get him started on that.


Namikaze Minato had shown him how to trap rabbits. "In fear, they run and hide and lose everything but the instinct to try to escape."

"Why?" Kakashi snorted, looking down highly at the captured one. "That's just stupid. They'll die either way."

"Maybe." Minato said. "Maybe, but that's how humans are too. In fear, we lose sight of everything. But also, from fear, great strength grows and creates foundation, heroes, legends… We don't always die. But we don't always survive, either." He killed the rabbit.

Minato taught Kakashi many things, as Kakashi was his first student, and Minato was Kakashi's first Jounin sensei. Kakashi respected his sensei, but rarely showed it, and even then only slightly, because, after all, Namikaze Minato treated him too much as an equal and Kakashi was learning to feel superior.

Perhaps Minato spoiled the boy too much, or maybe, because it was his first time, he wasn't sure of how to go through it, too stubborn and prideful to ask for help, only teaching the way Jiraiya had taught him, though, with some changes here and there.

The second time on stakeout duty, ahead of his sensei, Kakashi caught a rabbit and killed it immediately, eyes flickering with the slightest enjoyment at the animal's pain and squeak before it died, only slightly knowing the pain of death before it fell limp—dead, in his grasp.

"You shouldn't do that." Minato said immediately as he made his way towards Kakashi. Not even the slightest sound on the ground. That was the trademark of a shinobi. Enter without being noticed and exit the same way. Only fools would jump in immediately. Fools die fools.

"Why not?!" Kakashi asked angrily. Minato just pissed him off. Why? Did the guy think he was so much better than Kakashi, who, sure, was way younger, but a prodigy? Did he think that Kakashi was too stupid or too young to know how to do it properly? Was Namikaze Minato just as bad as every OTHER adult in Kakashi's life?! "Why? You think I can't do it?"

"No." Minato bent down and neatly plucked the blooded kunai from the rabbit's foreleg, and Kakashi stepped back, releasing his death grip on the rabbit's neck. Minato caught the dead carcass and placed it on the ground, examining it, eyes only showing a hint of upset.

"Then what?!" Kakashi snapped harshly, though he slightly shook. This man could kill him. So why did he act so foolishly and brashly? Kakashi really didn't know. All he knew was that he loathed, hated and wanted to murder the shinobi in front of him. But he didn't. He wasn't a fool. "What are you trying to say?!"

"You shouldn't kill like that." Minato said quietly as he stood up.

"What?"

"You're enjoying it." Minato turned on his heel and walked away, leaving Kakashi to stare at his back. "You shouldn't enjoy killing. It's not natural."

"Natural for who? The god damned animals?! They're GOING to die whether you play savior or not, sensei!" Kakashi spat out, wildly gesturing to the rabbit. Minato did not stop walking away, and in frustration Kakashi dropped his arm and sulked. "WELL?!"

"It's not natural for you. Or, for anyone."

"And why's that?" Kakashi asked quietly, struggling to keep his upset under wraps. It was easy. That tone of voice…his sensei only used it when…

He looked up at his sensei as Minato turned around to look at him. Piercing blue eyes made Kakashi feel like he was the only thing in the world, just a measly speck of the universe, just an ant of a colony, just a shinobi out of thousands. He felt insignificant. Maybe that was what Minato had been aiming for. Maybe to lower down his pride. Maybe. Maybe…

"…" Minato opened his mouth to speak but a small sigh came out as he lowered his head and bent down in a crouch to brush away the tall grass on the ground. There were skeletons. Prey. "Too much killing. Soon, this entire forest will be about 'kill or be killed'." He stood up and left Kakashi in the small clearing, appearing above him on one of the tree branches of the huge trees surrounding Konoha. "I don't want you to become like that, Kakashi, because once you've started, you're there for life."

"Shinobi kill all the time." Kakashi retorted, in a stronger, harsher voice than he meant. "So what's the big deal?"

Minato did not reply as he ran on ahead.

"HEY! Wait up!" Kakashi ran back to the rabbit, grimacing slightly at the stilled look of pain and horror on the rabbit's face before grabbing it and rushing up the tree trunk and jumping from branch to branch after his sensei, the warm, dank feeling of the blood soaking through his fingers and into his palm, bringing a chill up his spine. But he still gripped it tightly.

Kakashi never really did receive an answer. But he never really did forget about that incident either.


"No matter what you kill, sensei, you can't save them all." Kakashi looked up at the monstrous fox, his eyes filled with upset and confusion. "…why is killing so bad, Minato-sensei? I don't understand."

And frankly, Kakashi never will, but he will kill, only if he needs to.

Because those were lessons taught by his sensei, ones that he will never forget.

You can't just kill without a consequence…and frankly, death isn't always so welcome, even if you're a shinobi, even if you were trained to be a human weapon, a tool, to kill, slaughter and destroy.

A ninja's life has but one path:

Death.


They had only gone out, gone out to enjoy the cool, fall night in all its glory. It had been a little family activity his parents had been planning for quite some time. And Umino Iruka had laughed and played and enjoyed it with them; his parents.

But over the years, he would forget. Yes, indeed, he might remember them, a male and a female, his parents, the only blood relatives he had in Konoha or anywhere else. But he would forget. He would forget all the things he fell asleep as a child knowing.

Umino Iruka would forget the wonderful flowery scent of his mother, who helped out often in the Yamanaka flower shop when she had time, as her line had been good friends with the Yamanaka since the days of Meiji era. Nor, would he remember the rough, metallic smell of weaponry—basically swords, katana, anything iron or made from it—from his father, who worked in a forge in his free time along with some of his old friends. His father smelled of coal, his mother of the sharpness of poisons, his father of metal weaponry, his mother of flowers. They both had many scents that Iruka would soon grow to forget.

He would forget his father's booming laugh, and his mother's tiny shy one. He would forget his mother's gentle, soft touch, her lullabies that sent him to sleep, her hugs and her warm caresses. He would forget his father's strong, yet gentle grip on him as he sat on his broad shoulders, his teachings of the forge and of shinobi common sense and his goodbye ruffling of his hair.

Iruka would forget.

But right now…it had all happened so fast. In this time, in this place, all the shouts, screams, and orders, hoarse voices and pounding of feet as people ran through the streets, terrified, as shinobi helped others, as they fought off the demonic beast from their village…

All Iruka could do was watch, watch in helplessness, people running by him, sometimes knocking him over. He'd always get back up and stare. Stare up at what he barely understood and knew.

All he could do was watch as his parents, shinobi, common enough, and average, but determined to protect their village, Konoha. He felt like he was going to die, and, tears streaming down his face, he knew he didn't want to. No, he didn't. Not at all. He wanted to live…LIVE…LIVE!!!

Suddenly, when he was gripped by the arms of a shinobi and pulled away from what might be a battle site in the future, he snapped out of his shock and tears streamed down his face as he screamed, screamed for all his worth, all his might. A child in nothing but plain fear, he screamed, "NO! Let me go! Mom and dad are still fighting!" He struggled against it, but the ninja only gripped harder which made him cry, and carried him farther and farther away.

All he could do was scream as his parents were killed—no, burnt into charred ashes before his very eyes. They weren't coming back. Not even if he cried a thousand tears, prayed a thousand prayers, screamed a thousand screams, died a thousand deaths. His parents weren't coming back. They'd never come back. And he was alone.

And all around Konoha, many ones, some old, some young, some just unsure of the future, some who had been alone from the start and some who had been with someone since the beginning of their lifetime, faced their loved ones deaths' with horror and fear.

Would they ever be rid of the Kyuubi no Kitsune?

Iruka hoped not. Because now, he hated the beast more than ever. That stupid, stupid, heartless demon! How could it?! So, at that moment, despite his fear, anger, bubbling anger grew. He hated the Kyuubi no Kitsune. And that was that.


There are many views, opinions and thoughts that accompany every story. Which would you prefer above the other?

A happy ending?

Or a scarred one…an ending of nothing but death and a promise of torture to come?

A happy ending will never exist. It never will. A happy life is impossible; a horrible one full of obstacles hated and feared is for certain. Some get harsher lives than others, but either way, the result is inevitable. Anything but is impossible and just a figment of imagination.

We are always on the path of torture, struggling and suffering, no matter how happy our lives may seem at the moment. Anything can change that in the blink of an eye. Nothing is forever, change is certain, and happiness is not. There is nothing that can change that.

Though, that is not to say, that we can not find friends along the way; others who feel our pain or can help us support it, help us forget. They can help lessen the pain in our hearts, the pains that take a long time to go away, if they ever do. They help us lessen our pain and help us go on, further, along our life's road, so that one day, ONE day, we might be able to escape…

…and soar into freedom.


The Kyuubi.

A magnificent creature; so magnificent, the term cannot be stressed quite enough. But he was still a demon, still the most feared and the most powerful. They say that every time one of those nine tails swished, and smashed against the earth, a tsunami, an earthquake or some other disaster happened.

But maybe that is just what humans blame the Bijuu for. Maybe we are to blame for all this. Or maybe we are innocent.

Stories have many turns and opinions and thoughts and facts, but this is just one or two.

No one saw him. Alone, a figure stood on top of the Kyuubi's head. He was here spiritually, though, not in this past, not in this time. A spiritual being looking back. A soul traveling through the sands of time. But he couldn't change deaths, or stop the dying and killing.

Either way, whatever that one had done to get here, or if he had done nothing at all, he had forgotten or had never known.

He moved as one with the Kyuubi, the same leering of the face, the same sneering down at those pathetic humans just waiting to be slaughtered by his might. Raising a hand forced into a claw-like position, Kyuubi raised a claw in the same manner, as though grappling for something—a skeleton he'd rather just rip out of their flesh and skins to leave all the meat.

Then, down came the nine tails of the fox, so hard that they nearly eliminated, not just destroyed the entire forest in one go. Down came the claw that thrashed, destroying people, their lives, their hopes and dreams.

You say hope? Ha!

Hope, yes, indeed, can bring you up to the clouds, can help you soar, but that is not forever. Furthermore…

…it makes the fall back to earth, back to the harsh truth of reality…a lot harder.

It was as if there was a sonic boom, or that the big bang junior was happening, as shinobi were sent flying, left and right. The ones who were truly unlucky were crushed by falling rocks, obstacles, or even their own comrades.

Smirking, both, and showing their teeth, cold blue eyes lifted in a sneer that rivaled the one—if it was not just like it—on Kyuubi's demonic red eyes. The demon's fangs dripped with saliva as his bloodlust rose.

Over kill.

It was this that sparked Kyuubi.

Just like the wild beasts, the wild wolves that venture into human territory, searching for food. Upon seeing a group of domesticated animals, all together, unable to escape…it…it…is too much, far too much for them to handle.

Seeing this large group, this settling of humans, all bunched up in one place, nowhere to run and hide…it was far too much.

Much blood was spilt that night.

OVER KILL.

He had to kill.

OVER KILL.

He had to kill, kill them all, kill them, kill them…kill them…KILL them… Kill them again and again, because for some reason, those humans, pathetic mortals that died so easily, died like pawns on a chessboard when used by a novice, they died so easily. Yet they never ran out.

How thrilling.

Leaning forward, jaws plunged open, he sought to feast upon some shinobi still standing bravely, but then was stopped by a single man. Jutsu? Yes, what a jutsu, it shone blue—a blue, such light…such light blue light…in a ball…and the man attacked. Blood spurted out from his jaw and in anger and hurt, he roared hair-raisingly.

"RASENGAN!" Minato's voice called out firmly as he thrust the damaging jutsu into the fox.

Recoiling, Kyuubi and the figure on his head both attempted to stop the bleeding, the backs of their hands pressed firmly against their mouths. Angry and slightly startled, the Kyuubi stared evilly down at the man who dared to look.

Dared to look as though he was going to kill the Kyuubi himself. Dared to look like he was going to defy the unwritten law of the Bijuu King that all humans must fear him, fear him, or die either way. Dared to attempt.

Those eyes…

Angrily and thoroughly disgusted, he thrust down his tails, one after another, down like a current, right next to the man as a warning, the back of his hands still pressed against his bleeding mouth, on both the ghostly figure on top and the Kyuubi below.

"Hokage-sama!" One of the shinobi they had sought to eat shouted, but the familiar swirl of blue chakra appeared once more in the man's hand, his cloak flowing behind him because of that great force…that great power that was now held in his hand.

Through bulging red eyes, as Kyuubi reached down to snatch him up and squish that stupid man, he vanished in a whirl of gold. Surprised, he hesitated, and that was all Minato needed. A new figure came onto the playing board, and Kyuubi gave a snarl and growl as another dared to launch into his new territory, a toad, nonetheless!

Kyuubi and the figure upon his head, the figure that had soon become one with him, both growled in contempt and anger.

This was one violation that could never be forgiven.

Death would soon be the end of them.

With an angry howl, Kyuubi dove in to attack.


In a flash of yellow once more, Minato appeared, kneeling on Gamabunta's head, one hand stretched back behind him, his cloak flowing back behind him. "Are you ready, Gamabunta?" he shouted to his companion, his hands blurring into seals as he stood up quickly. Gamabunta said nothing, noting the seriousness of this, and he summoned a huge amount of oil from his stomach before blurting it out at Kyuubi, and at that moment, Minato shouted, "Katon: Gamayu Endan!" Fire blew from his mouth and added to the oil in a powerful combo.

The powerful unending flame burst out at Kyuubi headfirst and at full power. Not even Kyuubi could have been immune to this heated pain searing around and across his demonic face. Finally, it stopped, Gamabunta prepared to fight with all his strength and Minato's heavy breathing signaling the collapse that could happen, but one he would not allow.

But Minato had taken no chances. He had not given any thought to giving up, or running away. To run away would be cowardly…and he had long since grown from the prankster he had once been.

Though it did not show in his expression, a single tear rolled down his tan face. He clasped his hands together like in the sign of the snake, of rebirth, and suddenly felt all alone in the world, as if it was only him against the Kyuubi…

But he knew he was not alone. He had a village to protect. He had his important people to protect.

His important people. People he wanted to protect, because he could.

Someone to protect, someone to fight for.


"Oi, sensei!" Kakashi called up to him.

"Hrm? Yes, Kakashi?"

"What's with all these D-rank missions? You know I can take B-rank no problem! Besides, I'm a CHUUNIN already! D-rank is for loser Genins!"

"Yes, yes, I know, Kakashi!" Minato laughed, "But you'll have to deal with it. There's no special treatment in the real world and, as a shinobi, we're building you up."

"I still don't want to do all this crap." Kakashi kicked a bucket of weeds down.

"Haha…" Minato laughed as he grinned, continuing to grasp weeds out of the ground. "Oh, Kakashi, you might not want to touch that."

"Eh?" Kakashi's hand strayed above it, twitching slightly in eagerness to just go grab it and yank it out of the ground. "Why not?"

"Those are nothing but poison weeds. Take a good long look at the leaves and the stem. See the slightly off colouring?" Kakashi peered closely at it, even going as far as to kneel down and squint. "If you touched that, it'd soak right through your work gloves and have your hands in awful swellings for at least a few days. And as a Chuunin, you've got plenty of missions requiring the use of hands, so don't forfeit yours too early." Minato teased.

"Uh…there's only green, green and more green." Kakashi's voice was droll and left no room for being teased any further.

"Some greens are more potent and brighter than the others. Those are the poisons." Minato responded, nodding towards it. "They meld in with the colouring too, so it's hard to tell. But use your common sense, Kakashi. It hasn't rained in a while and it's been cloudy for weeks. No sun, no water, it's a wonder they're still up and about."

"Weeds have a rough life." Kakashi responded, almost automatically. Finally, he sighed and wiped some sweat off his forehead with his forearm. "…say, sensei?"

"Hrm?"

"What makes a shinobi really strong?"

"…That's a hard question to answer. Why do you ask?"

"Because I want to be stronger." He replied stubbornly. "A lot stronger. I want to surpass my old man."

"I see. Is that why?"

"Obviously." Kakashi snorted. "Every guy's goal is to surpass his father."

"I see, so that's why it's harder for you to surpass your father."

"Who said it was hard?" Kakashi glared, folding his arms. "I'm a prodigy. This stuff'll be no sweat soon once I surpass the White Fang of Konoha. Eh, sensei?"

"Yes?"

"Are you going to have a son one day?"

"Why do you ask?"

"I want to see if he's as good as you. Will he be a stubborn idiot who has no common sense whatsoever? Or will he be a prodigy? Which one would you like to have, sensei?"

"Hrm, stubborn idiot, I suppose." Minato shrugged, disposing of more weeds before standing up and making his way to the other rows, checking on the work of his Kage Bunshin. Kakashi had sulked when his sensei wouldn't teach him the move until he had enough of the ' required' chakra amount, but had brightened up upon learning it was a Jounin level technique.

"Why's that?" Kakashi sounded surprised.

Minato turned and grinned at him, his trademark idiot-like grin, the one that made Kakashi wonder dearly if this was indeed Namikaze Minato, student of one of the three Sannin, Jiraiya himself.

"Why do you think?"

"Dunno." Kakashi shrugged and played around with a kunai, bored to death. The weeds had been ignored and forgotten for LIFE for all Kakashi cared. For all the Chuunin could have cared for, it didn't matter. They didn't exist if Kakashi didn't acknowledge them, simple as that. Same thing applied to humans, animals and other annoying things that were alive. "But why? Wouldn't it be better to have a prodigy? That way, you can teach him more jutsu and stuff without being too disappointed. Besides, the kid'll be able to live up to the village's expectations of the son of a wildly respected shinobi, aren't I right?"

"Maybe. But I'd like to have an idiot son, because, a prodigy wouldn't listen to me unless he wanted to get what he wanted. An idiot, ah, that sounds a little like me when I was your age." Minato joked.

"…" Kakashi looked up at his sensei in disbelief, eye twitching. "Right."

"All kidding aside, I'd still like the 'moronic son'."

"And why's that?"

"Because I'll have a son who I know'll get charged up just by me doing one of my awesome cool tricks, that's what!" Minato grinned, as he surveyed the work of his Kage Bunshin, before nodding, satisfied. Alright. Nearly done. "He'll be that simple, if he's an idiot."

"Are you for real?" Kakashi said in disbelief.

Minato blinked at the ten year old boy. "?"

"…You're weird." Kakashi rolled his eyes, making his way to the huge rock beside the whole five acre ploughed garden, where Minato was conveniently standing by with the buckets of his Kage Bunshin, who had finished and had poofed out of existance, leaving their buckets full of weeds beside the original. "Are you serious? I mean, there's no way even a HUMAN could be so simple as to get charged up from that!"

"And why not? I was like that."

"…you're kidding me."

"Nope."

"UGH!" Kakashi shook his head and sat down on the rock, eyeing his sensei warily. "Remind me to stay away from your kid when he's born. I don't want his mental disability rubbed off on me."

"When you're protecting someone," Minato smiled. "You're stronger."

"Huh?"

"That answers your question onto what makes a shinobi strong. Protecting your important people, is what makes a shinobi the strongest they can be, because it gives a purpose, a sense of justice, and a right. You want to do it, because you want to protect them, and to do that, you have to give it your all. A lot of ninja don't realize this until their deaths, or maybe they never realize it."

"I've said it once, and I'll say it again, Minato-sensei. You're CRAZY."

Minato only laughed at that.


He had someone to protect.

No, he had more than just someone. He had the whole village to protect. This village, Konoha, streaming with memories, memories both bad and good, memories of his childhood, his adolescence and now…

Minato was no longer protecting just the people of Konoha. He was protecting memories, he was protecting dreams and families and lives. He was protecting the future of all, especially…the future of the children.

His heart panged, but Minato's blue eyes hardened in determination, his mind skipping through all the possible jutsu he could use. Not that Death God one, certainly not that. He didn't…that conversation with Jiraiya had changed his views.

He couldn't possibly let someone… be…cursed. If he had chosen someone to be the container, most likely it'd be an orphan. AndMinato had raised himself on his own, an orphan, from the last Ninja War. Massacres, horrors…

It was bad enough to grow up alone…bad enough to be alone, every single day and night, unable to cry in a parent's shoulder or receive comfort when having a nightmare; unable to talk to someone about your insecurities, fears and…

No. It was bad enough to become an orphan, but to be sentenced as the vessel of Kyuubi nonetheless…

NO. No one would experience that fate.

A slight smile spread on his face. Looks like one of Jiraiya-sensei's lectures actually helped him off the road of guilt a bit further. Good old Jiraiya-ero-sensei. A look of utmost relief could be seen on his face before he narrowed his eyes, determined.

Hands clenching tighter together in that clasp, and his already jumbled up mind refocusing, he knew the jutsu he was going to use.

And Minato finally shouted,

"Izanagi no Giri!"

Light shone from his person and Kyuubi recoiled, as did the figure on top of him, screeching at the bright light, his many nine tails thrashing about wildly as he was engulfed in that bright light and then…

Naruto woke up.


Gasping, he awoke, tears streaming heavily from his eyes as he sat straight up, with a sharp yelp, a cry.

Sniffling and wailing in the dark, trying vainly to wipe away and stop those tears, Naruto's shoulders shook in terror. It scared him, that dream. Why did he always have to have that dream—no, that nightmare? It was a nightmare.

Why, did he have this nightmare?

It was becoming more and more frequent. Before, it only happened once or twice over a span of five months or so when he was still a little boy, and just last year it only happened once. So why, why, he asked himself…why did this nightmare happen more and more? 'Something must be happening,' He realized finally, his chest heaving and shoulders slightly trembling every once and a while as he struggled to reclaim himself from his crying fit. 'Something bad's going to happen! I can feel it…and I feel so cold…cold…I…I just hope it doesn't hurt when it comes…'


In the kitchen, the poster bearing the catchphrase 'Rar, Rar, Ramen!' was still posted up on the wall. Naruto remembered how when he was so little, he had put it up with thumbtacks with clumsy little fingers and how he had helped him. Dressed in his usual jumpsuit, Naruto looked up once, guiltily, at the man who wore a ninja vest and a Konoha headband with pride, before ducking his head back down.

He could feel his father's gaze upon him and then feel his gaze leave after a long while.

He looked up guiltily once more, and looked back down as blue met blue in a short gaze. Biting his lip, Naruto finally spoke, when the bright red toaster pinged, bringing out the toast, and his attention was concentrated, for the moment, reaching for a plate from the cupboard, snapping it shut with ease that spoke that he had lived in this place for so long. Naruto remembered him telling him when he was younger, that, he had lived in this very place growing up on his own in Konoha.


"The Sandaime was kind enough to allow me lodgings here." He had said. "And so, this Hokage building became my home. And now, it is yours as well."


"I…I had that nightmare again last night." Naruto finally murmured.

"The one with…?" Minato questioned casually.

"…yeah." He bowed down his head, even though he was at no fault for having a nightmare he could not control.

"Don't worry about that now, Naruto." He replied rather lazily, easily swiping the bread from the toaster. "Just eat your breakfast." Naruto had a piece of toast crammed halfway into his mouth as he continued. "The Genin exams are today, aren't they?" With shock, Naruto nearly choked on his bread, but several veins popped on the boy's head as Minato spoke again, almost mockingly. "You'll need plenty of energy…and luck!"

Angrily, Naruto snapped, bread slightly muffling his angry voice and ruining the effect a lot, "DON'T SAY STUFF LIKE THAT! It's bad luck!!"

"I'm sorry, Naruto," Was all he replied, grinning, the reflection of his eyes reflecting off the knife he was using to butter his own toast. "But it's true. You're hopeless!"

Naruto glared, before slamming his hands out flat on the table, getting up so quickly, the chair flinched back with a screech. "I'm going." He announced loudly, struggling deeply not to rush over to him and strangle him. Walking out to the doorway and slipping on his zori sandals, Naruto left, slamming the door shut behind him.

It was five minutes after Naruto's leaving that Minato remembered, the violent vibrations from the door-slam still shaking the delicate utensils; he had forgotten to tell Naruto something very important that would happen tonight.

'Ah well,' He shrugged it off, calming bringing his plate to the kitchen table, and eyeing Naruto's still half-full plate with a squirming in his heart. He felt bad about teasing Naruto, but it was just fatherly teasing. He hoped that Naruto knew that. 'He'll come home after Academy, so I can tell him then.'

So Namikaze Minato left that thought and guilt alone, as he sipped down his cup of coffee.

'Hrm…Naruto's becoming more emotional lately…I wonder why…?' He sipped down some more before splurting it out. 'Oh my god oh Kami-sama, don't tell me don't tell me that he's hit…hit…PUBERTY!' He froze like a stone statue. 'B-but I haven't even…I haven't even given him th-the talk yet!'

Yes, poor Namikaze Minato.

And so, while Naruto cursed his father all the way to school, muttering things about proving his father wrong and beating everyone at their own game, poor, poor Namikaze Minato worried about his son and puberty.

'What if he gets a girl pregnant? Fox babies? But…but…I don't want kits for grandchildren!'

Way to think ahead, Minato. Way to think ahead.

Minato would've rushed to school as fast as a speeding bullet, faster than the speed of light itself, but when he walked by his office, he took one look at the bunch of paperwork on his desk and promptly freaked out. That was how Minato spent most of the day doing paperwork and nothing but.


His father's words echoed in his head many times throughout the Academy day, but Naruto always found some way to keep calm. For instance, during shuriken practice, he threw all his shuriken angrily at the target, imagining it was his father's head. They all hit bull's-eye.

…but Naruto got yelled at for hitting another student's target, which was placed five feet away from his.

He really needed to work on that.

Nearing the end of the day, after all the stupid stuff those teachers spit out of their mouths, Minato's words echoed once more through Naruto's head. A vein popped on his forehead and he thought angrily, 'Hopeless'? I'll show him! I'll ACE this Exam, no sweat!'

"We will now start the final exam!" A teacher shouted over the loud noise filling the room. "When your name is called, please come to the classroom next door!"

Upon that teacher's absence from the room, another took its place. And this female teacher was not so forgiving. Mitarashi Anko, was a Special-Jounin, and she had to take care of MEASELY BRATS LIKE THIS?!

Ooh, someone was going to pay…but, if it…if it got her to the Yondaime… Anko started giggling uncontrollably for no reason whatsoever. When everyone in the room stared at her she snapped, and…

"Okay, ASSTARDS AND ASSWIPIC STUPIDS OF THE CENTURY!" Anko yelled. "The subject will be Bunshin no Jutsu!"

'Oh…kami-samaaaa…noooooo…noo…' Naruto pulled down the lower half of his face while cringing. 'The ONE thing I'm not good at…and they choose it THREE years in a row? …ugh…I'm screwed.'

"What's wrong, dead last?" The person sitting beside him asked, his elbows propped on the table surface and his fingers interlocked, the positioning of his hands covering over his mouth like a shield. "Surely, the son of the Hokage can pass this test!"

Oh, yes, Uchiha Sasuke got on Naruto's nerves very well. Just not in a good way.

The dreaded, 'son of the Hokage' phrase made Naruto wish he could just kill the bastard and get it over with. "DON'T CALL ME 'DEADLAST'! I'M GONNA KICK YOUR ASS, TEME!" He roared, spittle flying out of his mouth and unfortunately hitting Sasuke square on the bridge of the boy's nose.

"Ugh…" Sasuke groaned disgustedly, a vein popping on his forehead. "Don't tell me you spit while you eat, too!" Angrily, he used the back of his hand to wipe it off, flicking it back at Naruto, who ducked letting the spittle hit the other side of the room.

'Why should he care?' Naruto thought blankly, shocked speechless at the utter lameness of Sasuke's retort. Usually the teme gave a good fight, but today… "Eh?" Was the only intelligent thing that came out of Naruto's mouth at that moment.

"WHO'S NEXT?!" Anko's voice roared, as she looked down on the list before giving a gasp, and immediately dropping the clipboard and appearing at Naruto's side. Naruto instantly leaned away but she squealed and hugged him regardless. "Eeeee! Naruto-kuuuuuun! You're sooooooooo kawaiiiiiii!! Neeeee, how's your father doing? Ooo, you look soooo much like your father! Can I treat you after school? Dango? Ramen? Candy? Games? Eeeeeeeeeee!!!!!! Even your look of utmost confusion and fear is soooooooo cuuuute! Maybe you can bring your father along? I'd like to eat with the guy who fathered you, you little cute thing you! Squeeeeee! You're so cuuuuuute! What a cutie pie!"

"Anko!" Iruka found his way to the door, slightly frowning at Naruto, a little angrier. "Let him go. We need to finish his exam."

"But Irukaaaa…it's NARUTO!"

"Yes, I know it's him. Let him go. You're killing him." Anko poutingly let go and Iruka sighed, before beckoning Naruto to follow him. Though Anko had frightened him, Naruto was thankful because, even though it hurt like a million suns in hell, that it wasn't his 'area'. Anko had a nasty habit, to grip boys by their jewels and throw them right out the window when they pissed her off.

Scary lady.

The infamous Mitarashi Anko…he never wanted to get on her bad side.

But why the heck had she been so…so…sickeningly sweet? 'Women are scary. What a scary transformation.' He shivered. 'I hope not all women are like that…'

He continued to shiver as he made it into the classroom without any…ahem…'casualties' from Anko, a.k.a. assaults and kidnappings. He had only managed to efficiently escape previous encounters by paying several kids in his class to give him the heads up and helping him to hide. After all, even at a sixteenth of his allowance per rescue, it was a pretty sweet deal.

"Alright, Naruto, show us your bunshin. You must be able to create three bunshin that look like you in order to pass." Iruka told him the standard, even though both knew they had gone over this two times already.

Determined, Naruto had removed his goggles and stuffed them in his jacket pocket. Now, face determined and all, with one last glance at the headbands, he created a ram seal and closed his eyes, summoning up his chakra and energy. 'You all see me as a dead last! Well, NOT ANYMORE!' "Bunshin no Jutsu!" He shouted.

Naruto stared at the bunshin he had made. No…it was…dead.

Ugh, that tongue had touched the floor and it PLUS the whole body was DEFINITELY off color. And those eyes looked dead too, come to think of it… Like some sort of doll. Obviously, on a shinobi mission, this was not going to fool ANYONE, no matter HOW STUPID they were.

Whipping back to see Iruka's shaking head and annoyed facial expression, the word, "FAIL!" efficiently crushed his soul, and made a miniature mime go off in Naruto's head.

"Iruka-sensei," Mizuki addressed Iruka politely. "This is his third time, and technically, he did create a clone…we could let him pass…"

Naruto lit up, but Iruka shook his head. "No, Mizuki-sensei, I'm afraid that's not possible. Each student has to be able to create three clones—three well done clones—in order to pass. Even though Naruto created one, it was useless and won't help him out in the shinobi world. I'm afraid that Naruto has failed this time around. There's next year, Naruto, try harder next time."

"Iruka, why don't you reconsider?"

"And why should I?!" Iruka barked. "Damn it, he failed! I can't pass a failure and you know that! It's against the rules!"

Naruto only glowered, before grabbing his goggles and stomping off out of the room. 'Against the rules, MY ASS!'

Iruka didn't like to push down the boy, but it was standards calling, so—even to him, it sounded like a lame excuse, especially after Mizuki asked, "Wasn't that harsh? You should be ashamed!"

'He sounds exactly like a mother,' Iruka thought wistfully, but he turned to Mizuki, looking him straight in the eye, and replying, "There's no choice. Out in the shinobi world, it's a dog-eat-dog-world." 'Besides…he's…the Kyuubi's inside him... Why the hell? I don't want to have to hate a student, but then…but Kyuubi…'

"And what's to say it isn't already a harsh enough 'dog-eat-dog-world' in Konoha as a non-shinobi?" Mizuki quipped. "Stop making excuses, Iruka. You're a failure as a shinobi. Besides, wasn't he like you when you were around his age? Karma; what goes around, comes around. This'll come back to haunt you, Iruka. And, you'd better apologize to him."

Shame-faced and head lowered, Iruka didn't answer.


Laughing.

They were laughing, those students, wearing their hitai-ate proudly, joking amongst themselves. He could see their parents pick them up and his heart panged. Yes, he had a parent, but he was a good-for-nothing parent that rarely had any time for his own son.

Despite the fact that Minato had told him while he was still young that he had stayed alive for him only, to raise him so that he wouldn't grow up to be an orphan, Naruto still felt as if he was one. All his father, the Fourth, the Yondaime, the Hokage, did, all Namikaze Minato did was push him down and ridicule and discipline him. There was no joking, no laughing, and almost always arguing and yelling in the house.

Naruto hated it.

Sitting on the swing he had begun to claim as his for the third time around, sitting on it sideways, the plank between his legs and his hands gripping the rope in front of him, head lowered and eyes flickering with sadness, he was forced to listen to those happy parents. You weren't allowed back in the school once the graduation had finished, that was Konoha Academy's rule, unless you were a teacher or a non-Academy student.

"Great job, that's my son!"

"Now, you're a man! I hope you can help me protect the home, son!"

"I'm so proud of you! My little boy, passing on his first try, too! I'm going to cook up your favorite dinner JUST for this occasion!"

Naruto wanted to cry. Why did Kami-sama hate him so much? What did he do?!


Far away, two women noticed the lone boy sitting on the swing, feet dangling and watching the bugs that flew his way, his eyes only following, and his head never moving. In fact, Naruto's own body never moved, his head was still lowered and eyes were still full of shame and disappointment.

"Hey, that kid…" A woman sporting a high ponytail asked, her tone rising up. "…isn't he…?"

"Yeah, that's 'the' kid. And he's the only one that failed."

"Well, that's good." The first one glared at Naruto's figure. "Can't have him passing."

"Of course. Having 'that' as a shinobi would be a mistake. A foolish mistake to make. I can't understand why the Sandaime and the Yondaime wouldn't allow—"

"The children, Yukinoko," She reminded her friend. "If the Hokage heard you, you'll be sentenced to death in an instant!"

"Who cares about that scrawny runt?" Yukinoko sneered. "I don't care if he's the Yondaime's own son. He's 'that' and 'that' killed off your husband and your first and second son, did it not?"

"Yes, well, but I don't want to lose you too…"

"Forget it, Mitsuki." Yukinoko rolled her eyes. "Let's go. 'That' doesn't even deserve respect of us looking at it while we're talking about it."

"Of course, my friend, but since he is…"

"We can't talk about that, remember?" Yukinoko contradicted. "You forgot your own words?"

"Oh dear, we'd better go before we slip up again."

"Yes, no use dying over a useless fox."

"Shh!"

"It's alright, no one heard. They'll just think we're talking about wildlife. Besides, the kid's too far away to hear us."

Naruto pushed up his goggles, before pushing them back down. He didn't like it, his eyes filling with tears. Why was he the only one that didn't pass?! WHY HIM?! What did he do in a past life to offend someone? A god? Kami-sama himself? A crying sound rose in his throat, but he swallowed it awkwardly down.

"Yes, but all the same…"

"Hai…" She sighed. "I understand." Yukinoko and Mitsuki picked up their children and left, spouting praises that abstracted the stinging remains of what they said. Naruto couldn't take it anymore, even though they were gone. The words echoed in his mind, again and again. His hearing was fairly acute, as he had tuned it up during the years that the villagers had chased him down, learning where they were coming from and how soon they would be coming and learning to hide from them to avoid abuse.

Why were they always talking about a fox…? Was it because the kitsune was known to be a stealthy creature, and greatly hated? He didn't know, but either way, Naruto didn't really like it…

Slipping off the swing, the old wooden plank of wood attached to rope attached to a tree branch above swung back and forth in the absence of its previous rider, searching, before coming to a stop.

Only after those present on school grounds left out of sight, did Naruto return back to his seat. After all, he had nowhere else to go… His head sunk down lower as he wondered… 'If anyone was to suffer…if it could've been anyone random…why did it have to be me?'

That dream…his dream to become Hokage by his own means, and not because his father was Hokage…that dream seemed…just…seemed so far away right then…

…but not for long.


Mizuki stared emptily at the boy's back, before asking, "Naruto?" Surprised and startled, Naruto whirled around.

"M-Mizuki-sensei?!" He asked, bewildered. "I-if it's about Hokage Mountain, I SWEAR I didn't do it—!"

"I just want to have a talk with you, Naruto." Mizuki said, softly. "After all, you've failed three times in a row." Naruto flinched. He didn't need to be reminded. "So I think you should understand why Iruka-sensei's so tough on you." Naruto kicked a pebble around with his zori sandal. "I hear the sunset's great at this time. Do you want to watch? I know a great place with a great view. It's high enough, so I think it'll be all right. Plus, it's not to far from here. What do you say?"

Reluctantly, Naruto nodded. It wasn't as if he was waiting for him. Stupid father never was home when he was. Always working in his stupid office…


"You see, Iruka-sensei is a very serious person, Naruto. His parents were killed when he was young so he had to do everything for himself." Mizuki was explaining to him, before Naruto interrupted with a burning question that had pestered him ever since Iruka had failed him for the third time.

"But why does he only pick on me?"

Mizuki tilted his head to the side, just so that he could see Naruto better. "I guess, it's like …from one hated clown to another, I guess." Slightly shocked to find out that Iruka-sensei had ALSO been a prankster, Naruto was even MORE shocked to hear the man comment, "…I guess he sees himself in you." A breeze lifted up from the town below and played with Mizuki's long silver hair before brushing past Naruto's spiky blond locks. "He probably wants you to grow up, and live, and learn… He probably wants you to become strong in the real way, so that you'll be prepared for the harsh future."

"But…" Naruto protested feebly, but Mizuki held up a hand in gesture that he should be quiet and let him continue. Naruto shut up, and listened, staring at his feet instead of the sunset in front of the both of them.

"Try to understand Iruka's feelings, Naruto. Since in your life you also have no real friends and you're always being yelled at—I'm guessing Yondaime-sama isn't really home, all that much, is he?" Wordlessly, Naruto confirmed that with a single motion of his head.

Finally, softly, almost hopefully and tearfully, Naruto whispered, "………but I really wanted to pass…"

Mizuki eyed him for a second, before taking a breath and saying, "Well, then, I'll let you in on a little secret, Naruto."

"Huh?"

"Even Genin aren't supposed to know this, but, for you, I think I'll make an exception." He smiled so warmly that it made Naruto feel like he was dunked in a nice warm bath and he smiled brightly back, eagerly listening. "It's like this…"


'I'll just go home and drop off my stuff!' Naruto decided, his mind whirling with eagerness. 'And, then, when my old man comes home, I'll proudly show him my official Konoha ninja hitai-ate!' Then, he stopped dead in his tracks, remembering, before continuing to sneak in. 'Oh YEAH! I forgot my HOME is the Hokage building! Geez, how could I forget? The Hokage building is RIGHT in front of the Hokage Mountain! I'll just sneak into my man's office, and just take it, and return it. He won't miss it…I hope. Wait. Dad's office is way apart from where we eat, sleep, shower…what if he's still there? I'd better go through the dining roo—'

"…Naruto!!"

He froze, and turned his head to the side. "Eh?" He asked, shocked. 'A-A dinner party?! Th-that's—DAMN! So that's what Sasuke-teme meant!'

At the square table, straight across from him, sat his father in the seiza position, to his left sat Hatake Kakashi and Sasuke-teme, and on his right sat Hyuuga Hiashi, Neji-I've-got-a-stick-up-my-ass-deal-with-it, and Hinata.

Naruto knew Neji, Sasuke and Hinata very well, mostly because Hatake Kakashi and Hyuuga Hiashi were old friends of his dad. He liked Hinata, she was nice, but then Neji and Sasuke needed someone to kick their butt once in a while. Naruto longed to be the one to do it, but…as the 'son of the Hokage' he had to exercise 'reasonable and responsible self-control'.

Minato wore a mostly maroon and red kimono like garb, the outer and inner collar of it white as it ran down thefront panel below the collar, the red of it surrounding outside and the maroon taking up the rest of the front main section. The cuffs of this were white and the maroon became the sleeves. Two swirls, identical in both look and color to the one on Naruto's left jacket shoulder, though smaller in size, were on his front.

Hatake Kakashi, wore, like always, his hitai-ate slanted, covering his left eye, and a mask covering the lower half of his face. However, he sported a simple kimono garb, dark blue in color, with a light blue wrapping around his waist. On his front, in the same positioning as Minato's were two symbols depicting canine fangs. These were the Hatake symbols.

Uchiha Sasuke, like Kakashi, wore a dark blue kimono over a white undergarment, and in the same places of Kakashi were symbols, though, they had the Uchiha fan on them. His hitai-ate was displayed on his forehead, almost mocking Naruto.

Naruto stared angrily at the boy. The guy was so freaking lucky! He had HATAKE KAKASHI, the copy-eye ninja HIMSELF as his foster father. 'Jeez, he's so frickin' lucky! I bet he learns cool jutsu EVERYDAY, whereas I go to school and learn nothing.' He thought moodily, looking at the bad side of things and completely ignoring the fact that, hey, he knew strong shinobi, why couldn't he ask for guidance? Then, he turned to see the room's other occupants.

Hyuuga Hiashi wore a red undergarment, a deep brown kimono over top it, emphasizing his down-to-earth personality and strictness. Hinata, and Neji, wore theirs in the same style as their clan leader's, however, Hinata's was the same color as her normal jacket, her undergarment slightly dark purple. Neji's kimono was the same color as Hiashi's, though the undergarment was a light brown. Neji wore his hitai-ate on his forehead and looked almost smug.

This was one of the many reasons why Naruto didn't like him. The guy was a freaking prodigy! Hey, give some slack to those who AREN'T!

"Naruto, why are you so late?" Minato asked, almost calmly and uncaringly. In reality however, inside his mind, Minato was freaking out, worrying about HOW exactly to give 'the talk' and other such things to his son. But on the outside, he kept a regal expression on his face just because of the company.

Naruto's insides burned with rage. His father chose NOW of all times to ask? And his father looked so uncaring while he asked it! Damn bastard! Oh, how he hated and loathed his father! Naruto would give anything to kill his father right now!

"That's none of your business, DAD!" Naruto yelled angrily.

Minato coolly saw through Naruto's tough act. "You failed the Genin exam again, didn't you?" Minato was as sensitive to Naruto's thoughts and feelings as Naruto wasn't dense at times. For some reason, the one person Minato really couldn't understand was his own son, despite the fact that he could understand everyone else perfectly well.

"…" Naruto bit his lip and his hands clenched his hands into fists. "I—"

"It's true." Sasuke taunted, shifting his head so that the light caught on his headband. "…DEADLAST!"

Naruto bristled at the insult that even his father could not see for all he was worth as a Hokage. The whole damn world was against him!!! "I won't fail!" He burst out. What he'd give to kill Sasuke and get away with it! Damn him! Damn Sasuke! "Mizuki-sensei told me another way to become a Genin! I just need the scroll of sealing and—"

'That scroll?' Kakashi thought, fearfully. 'Oh no…'

'So that means…' Hiashi thought, horrified at where this conversation was leading to. If the children found out…

No, the children weren't at the top of their minds at all. Right now, their minds were imagining what would happen if the Kyuubi were to be…be restored. The horrors it would unleash. They had been lucky not to lose their Hokage the first time, but if there came a second time, it was very unlikely that Namikaze Minato would survive the fight.

Minato slammed his fists on the table and got up, his head lowered. "Naruto, shut up." His tone was non-hesitant, sharp and ready to yell. Naruto flinched, and did as he was told, still glowering, yet, still confused. "Sasuke, Neji, Hinata, leave the room."

"Yes, Hokage-sama." Both Hyuuga bowed respectfully before departing, Hinata's head lowered for some reason.

"NO." Sasuke snarled, pride getting the better of him. "I don't see what's so se—" He was standing outside the dining room instead of sitting outside, a few flashes of yellow clinging to his body. "—cret?" Fazed and a little bewildered, he wondered, 'How'd I get here?'

'Poor Sasuke.' Hinata thought timidly as she walked away with her cousin, as her father had 'requested' her to do if she and Neji were ever dismissed. 'He's so curious, but there won't be any answers. For no one but Naruto-kun…'

'Pointless.' Neji rolled his eyes. 'The Uchiha is even weaker than I thought, letting his emotions cloud his judgment. What fool talks back to the Yondaime? Except for that idiot, Naruto… Perhaps his stupidity is contagious? Thank Kami-sama, I'm not in the Academy anymore.'

As all three left, Kakashi placed a chakra kekkai around the door way and the walls. He had picked up that trick from his sensei, and had learned how to perform it through trial and error. Though Minato hadn't been happy at first that Kakashi copied a jutsu without permission, he gradually let the grudge go. However Kakashi still hadn't forgotten how bad and awful it felt to see his sensei…a Jounin cry.

He didn't like seeing grown men cry. But, Kakashi knew that the jutsu he copied would always come in handy. That's why he did it. That's what he had argued to his sensei. But he still didn't know whether or not his sensei still disapproved.

And, judging from that annoyed spike of chakra from behind him, he guessed that was still the case.

'Sasuke…' Kakashi wondered what he should do about the boy. 'He'll probably pester me about this when I get home. Aww…great, another 'father-son' talk. Yeah, I just love those, especially when I never wanted to be a father in the first place. Nice job on blackmail, sensei.' Kakashi still felt bitter about that, but, other than that, well, he was okay, he guessed. 'Sasuke's actually not too bad. Reminds me of myself when I was his age.'

Finally, once he had rechecked the kekkai and it was deemed impossible for someone to eavesdrop, Kakashi spoke, sitting back on his mat. "I've had my eye on Mizuki for quite some time…" He reported. "But so far, I've only come across circumstantial evidence that he's with them…" Upon emphasizing the word, Naruto felt an immediate heavy aura in the air. He felt like he was sinking…sinking…

"Naruto, what did Mizuki tell you to do?" Naruto flinched at his father's concerned question, and felt horrible. He had assumed his father hadn't cared for him. Though even now it could have been true that his father didn't care much about him. Naruto felt suffocated, like a child being scolded for something he knew had been wrong but had done anyways. As he had heard many people say before…well… 'Puberty sucks.'

Head lowered in shame, Naruto, by habit, tugged his goggles further down his on head and murmured, "He…he told me…to…to come in here and…steal the Scroll of Sealing…and…and…"

Have you ever gotten that feeling…y'know, ever felt that…'caught' feeling? Y'know, when you haven't really done anything bad, but it either looks that way, or the person who blames you makes you feel that way. You feel shocked, scared and your heart pumps in fear.

The gods…you're scared.

Naruto made motions with his mouth but nothing came out. Hiashi and Kakashi's unblinking stares didn't make it any easier and neither did his father's stern, almost ready to reprehend gaze. His shoulders shook, and Naruto almost wanted to cry, but he kept strong, even though slight tears made their way to the corner of his eyes. Hurriedly, he rubbed it with the back of his jacket sleeve and forced himself to continue, his shaky voice showing evidence of fear, and uncertainty.

"He…he…said…he said…"

"What did he tell you, Naruto?" Minato's voice was softer now, almost quiet and inaudible. Inside the room, silence reigned more than ever, and Naruto felt even more smothered in this…this silence. He never did like being quiet. Better to talk at the top of your lungs than to be on your own with no one to speak to, to talk to, to understand and listen to.

"He said…" The volume of his voice dropped, so low that the three men present nearly had to lean forwards to listen. "He said that if I went to a secret place in the woods, I could learn a jutsu from the scroll…and…and…" His voice dropped so low then that it was barely a whisper, a small breath air, "…pass the Genin exam."

"…" Minato frowned, eyebrows furrowing at this news.

"I…I…I don't understand!" Naruto looked up, almost pleadingly. Minato felt his heart break and wondered if he should tell Naruto what…what had happened. Should he tell Naruto the…truth? The boy wouldn't be able to take it. It took all of his willpower not to tell him. "What's going on, dad?!"

Thankfully, rescue came from one of the most unlikely sources. "The jutsu on that scroll are all forbidden jutsu; kinjutsu. They were sealed for a purpose and entrusted to the Hokage. They are entirely forbidden, because, more often than not, the kinjutsu kill whoever use them." Hiashi spoke sternly, as though he was reprehending a warrior that had broken one of the sacred rules of his clan. Then, without another word, he tucked his hands into the sleeves of his kimono.

Naruto was in plain shock.

'M-Mizuki-sensei…was trying to kill me?!' It was hard to believe, yes, that much was certain. That kind, nice teacher that had…had stood up for him when he couldn't pass. He was the one that tried to convince Iruka-sensei to pass him, the one that had explained to him what happened, tried to get him to understand…

He wanted to kill him?

Naruto felt like the whole world had died.

'Is…honesty too hard to ask for in this world…?'

Yes, he supposed it was.

"Naruto!" Minato's sharp voice brought him back to his senses and Naruto squirmed inwardly, but bravely looked his father in the eye, only slightly wavering in the stone rock gaze the Yondaime held. "I have a proposal for you. Not as my son, but as a Konoha shinobi."

Konoha shinobi?

Heck, Naruto wasn't…he wasn't even…

He barely registered the rest of what his father said. "You are going to learn one of the kinjutsu—I think I know which one you'll pick—and what you're going to do is lure Mizuki out. I want you to get as much information as you can out of him, and then…" He nodded towards the man sitting at his right. "Kakashi, you take him down."

"Hai." Kakashi nodded once, firmly and sharply.

But, Naruto wasn't as sure as they were… "B…but I failed…" His head lowered again, but he kept his eyes on his dad. "…I'm…not even a ninja, remember…? I…I failed the Genin exam…AGAIN…for…the third…" His voice dropped completely and his head hung.

"But Naruto," He didn't see the grin that graced his old man's face, the same grin he'd have if he was ever completely happy. But Naruto never really had been happy, life seemed to have pushed him down too far, so, it'd be a while before he grinned like that. "Heh. You failed on the Bunshin no Jutsu, right? If that's true, then listen to me…"


Funny, he should've been nervous, but all Naruto was feeling now was bitter contempt.

"Whaaaat?! Stupid old man!" He yelped, sitting on the forest ground, the scroll of sealing wide open in front of him. "He wants me to learn, Kage Bunshin no Jutsu?! But I'm bad enough at Bunshin no Jutsu! Geez, what was he thinking?! This won't help at all! He knows I suck at this…!"

Heaving an annoyed sigh and refraining with great strength not to hurl the scroll away and then later stuff it down his old man's mouth or something like that, Naruto bitterly learned it, through trial and error.

Was it easy?

HECK NO!

Each time he ruined it, the mocking faces of the villagers piled in his mind's eye.

It was painful.

But he kept on going. Because…he was going to do this! He had a mission, and he'd complete it. There was no time for to freak out about whether he'd live through this to tell of it, but, hey! Naruto was sick of being a drama queen. Because he knew what to do…even though it really ticked him off thinking about it. He hated acting like an idiotic moron without a brain more than anything. Didn't his father know that?!

"But WHY DOES IT HAVE TO BE SO HARD?!"

The scroll was angrily tossed up into the air and hit him on the back full force with gravity's help.

Who said it was going to be easy?

"I'll murder the next guy that says he wants to learn how to clone himself." Naruto grumbled into Mother Nature's ear.


Time passed.

Naruto didn't know exactly how much has passed, but it must've, because he felt like he was going to collapse, scroll secure and tied on his back, when…Iruka-sensei?!

"Hey, Naruto!" That same feeling prickled up his spine, y'know, that feeling you get when you're caught but you didn't necessarily DO anything bad? Yeah. That one. And Naruto was feeling it pretty bad. "I've found you! What do you think you're doing?!"

"No way! I mean—Iruka-sensei! Get out of here! You're not—don't come here! I mean, you shouldn't be here! Get out! You have to trust me, please!"

'Iruka's here…hrm…this'll…be bad.' Kakashi grimly thought, hidden behind one of the trees, back pressed firmly against it. He had lowered his chakra so that he wouldn't be sensed. Not that he needed to bother. Someone at Mizuki's level needed little caution. But…he paused, only barely shifting his head so that he could see them, but they couldn't see him. He was worried about was that someone might come along with Mizuki.

Not that it'd really matter.

With Naruto, it'd be easily finished. And if not? He'd be able to step in, hey, s'up, no problem, I'll take over from here, go home, bye-bye, show's over, see ya, sayonara.

To be honest, however, he was impressed with Naruto's work. The boy…those clones… 'It's hard to believe he's labeled Academy, even with his…restrictions, to force out that many…' He peered around just as Iruka continued.

"No way!" Iruka shouted. "Mizuki told me about you stealing the scroll! The whole village will be looking for you now!"

Kakashi narrowed his eyes at that. '…that means…' He instantly stepped away from the tree, so that he could get a better view of the scene below. '…Mizuki's tailing him…!'

Snap!

Iruka pushed Naruto to the side and Kakashi watched grimly as blood splattered from Iruka's fresh kunai wounds. No one else was supposed to get involved. It was a B-rank mission for Kami-sama's sake! Another low mark on his mission report. Gee, would the Yondaime be happy or what?

"Nice job at finding him, Iruka!" Mizuki's back was to Kakashi—well, not really, as Mizuki was a few levels above him and the ground sloped diagonally where he was standing—but he could see two large shuriken tied on the Chuunin's back. "Naruto, let's not soil the scroll with that dirty blood of yours…hand it over so I can kill you!"

'Kill him?!' Kakashi nearly snorted aloud. 'Amateur.' He watched the reactions of the other two present. 'A shinobi is supposed to kill exactly. You should be able to kill the target without inflicting blood. Very beginner. We know that, at least. He won't be a problem to take care of.'

Naruto looked shocked. Very good acting on his part. But then again, Naruto always had to act. It was always like that whether the Yondaime was or wasn't around. No matter where the boy was…he…!

"Wha-what?! Wh-why're you doing this, Mizuki-sensei?!"

"Don't call me that, you freaking demon!" Naruto flinched at that tone and visibly stepped back, horrified. What? Demon…!? "I'm going to kill you! I'm going to make you pay for all those you've killed, you monster!"

'Damn it…' Kakashi swore inwardly as he slowly reached into his back pouch and extracted a kunai, taking a relaxed but ready position. 'At this rate, we won't be able to get enough information from him. Say something, Naruto!'

It seemed as though the silent prompting didn't…hadn't been…like it was futile. Naruto was already too surprised for words.

Surprised, shocked and scared.

That dream of his…! Was it…real…? Was he that figure on top of Kyuubi, being one with Kyuubi…but…not so? "…pay…for those…I've killed…?" Naruto looked like he'd seen a ghost and his hand subconsciously rose itself up in the same claw-like position it had been in…just like the Kyuubi.

"Naruto! Don't listen to him!" Iruka was shouting. "Run!"

Mizuki sneered and smirked, "Why, let me refresh your memory…twelve years ago a monster, demonic fox attacked Konoha. The story goes that the Yondaime fought and defeated the beast…"

'Crap!' Kakashi's hand gripped tighter on the kunai handle. 'If I do stop him from talking now, we won't get enough information to hold it against him and whoever he's in alliance with…and I'll fail the mission…but if I don't, he'll tell Naruto…!'

"But that's not the truth! No! The truth is an S-class secret. It's forbidden to talk about it…especially to you, Naruto! The truth is that you are the demon fox! You are Kyuubi no Kitsune, murderer many of the people of Konoha, twelve years ago!"

"No…" Naruto's voice was a disbelieving whisper. A flash of a memory…!


Kyuubi, in all its splendor. What a sight to behold. It was far bigger and grander than anything else, and just looking at it sent shivers up your spine. Whether they were of joy, eagerness, fear or anger, you felt your blood run cold at the sight either way.

Screaming.

People running, and dying left and right.

Head thrown up high in a laugh as the nine tails thumped down and killed more-!


"NO!"

It was a strangled beg, half a sob perhaps, and upset. A voice hoarse and halfway to crying.

Naruto fell to his knees, hunched over on the ground, hands gripped on his own head. It was too much. No…no…NO! Tears streamed down his face, and his eyes flickered in that familiar red glint, that familiar demonic color that Kakashi knew all too well.

It was as though Naruto was trying to claw out his eyes, or maybe his brain, as tears of anger, or was that sorrow?—slipped down his face in a furious, fiery torrent of watery salt.

Kakashi could feel a trickle of sweat run down his brow. And he felt himself shaking in fear. No…why was he shaking? Was he scared? No! Twelve years before, he hadn't been, he had looked at the Kyuubi, calm and steady…! No! He couldn't afford to be weak! Why was he scared?! No! He wasn't scared! No! NO!

'Not…Good!' Was all he could think of while he panicked, hand threatening to break the kunai in its grasp.

"Th-that can't be!" Iruka tried to make sense of this, tried to convince himself that Mizuki was wrong, but Kakashi could see he was already falling into the belief of it. "The Yondaime Hokage only sealed Kyuubi into Naruto with the Shiki Fuujin! Naruto's a hero"

Was Iruka truly as naïve as the Yondaime had been, twelve years ago, upon speaking with Jiraiya before affronting the Kyuubi?

Mizuki pointed at Naruto, his face in a snarl, "Just look at him! Since when were you so dense, Iruka?!"

Iruka's eyes unwillingly followed Mizuki's finger, and his head turned towards where Naruto was, keeled over on the ground, tears sprouting down the boy's face with the red slit eyes of a demon. Naruto's birthmarks were more pronounced, his teeth grown into fangs and his nails had morphed into claws.

"The Shiki Fuujin is a kinjutsualso in the Scroll of Sealing! To use it, the user has to die! Are you an idiot or something?! The Yondaime should've died if the beast had been sealed! But he didn't!"

'It…' Iruka's thoughts were jumbled. 'It…can't be…but the Yondaime…the Yondaime's alive…but Naruto's…the Kyuubi is…!'

Mizuki laughed mockingly at the scene before him, a little brat crying his eyes out and a sitting duck for murder, and his stupid so called 'co-worker' staring in horror. It was too much to take in all at once. He grabbed one of the shuriken off his back, "Quite tragic, I'm sure!" He roared with laughter. "Your student killed your parents! But, don't worry! The pain will ease once I've disposed of this brat and take the scroll just as Kyuusaisha has ordered!"

When Kakashi had had enough, he made it well known. When he had had enough, it meant he was sick of whatever was happening or the events were annoying or whoever was committing the events or would commit the events to come was an annoying asshole who wouldn't shut up.

"Yeah, yeah, that's enough." His voice dripped with annoyance, sarcasm and anger. He was behind Mizuki now, right hand gripping Mizuki's wrist and the other with the kunai pressed firmly against Mizuki's throat.

'It…it was a trap?' Mizuki was startled. He hadn't expected-! 'They…Kyuusaisha won't be…they won't be happy…! I've let out too much information!'

Both of them stood before Naruto who howled and shrieked to the ground like a mad fox. 'A mad fox demon…' Kakashi thought grimly. 'I'll have to get Yondaime-sama to calm him down…Kami-sama knows that only he can do it…it's his own son, damn it!'

"H-Hatake Kakashi!" Mizuki stuttered in fear, not of death, because he knew that would've come eventually with being a shinobi, but of what the man could do to him in terms of interrogation and torture. "Why are you protecting him?!" 'If I can just CONVINCE him to join us-! What an asset the copy-ninja Kakashi would be to Kyuusaisha!' "You're one of the few people that know the entire truth!"

"That'd be why I'm protecting him." Kakashi replied smoothly.

"You're dirt!" Mizuki hissed in reply, struggling. Kakashi gripped his shoulder and gripped hard. It hurt, and Mizuki hissed angrily, "Don't you want to extract revenge and purge the one who took so much from our village?! Do you even care about those who've die—AUGH!"

"No… There's more to life than revenge and killing."

"Oh, yeah?! Like what?! Kyuubi took away EVERYTHING! All that's left…is power and revenge! The second you take your eyes off that monster…" Kakashi watched Naruto, silently giving an ear to Mizuki's rants, before eyeing Mizuki once more. "Kyuusaisha will strike! And we'll kill ANYONE who gets in our way, that moronic and foolish Yondaime included! We'll take the brat, render his damned flesh from his core, have him commit seppuku, then burn him while he's still—"

Kakashi karate chopped him on the back of his neck, rendering the man unconscious, all the while sighing, "You sure go on a lot, don't you?" But, it was all the better for his mission. Now, they knew what organization Mizuki was working for… "Iruka, Naruto, we're done here." He nodded to the shaken Chuunin on the ground, but was shocked to hear no response from his charge.

'Whoo boy…don't tell me he's turned into Sasuke number two…speaking of Sasuke, I'll have to make an excuse as to what I was doing out so late…Damn, I hate being a father.' Looking grimly down at the unanswering Naruto, Kakashi wondered if he should carry him. 'It doesn't look like he has the strength to walk with all those tears…'

As Mizuki slumped to the ground, Kakashi repeated the boy's name in concern, just barely remembering in time to grasp the traitor by the back of his collar, "…Naruto? Naruto?"


His voice grew louder and louder. But to Naruto, it sounded like the rustling of the leaves on the trees around them, the slight breeze running through them; barely a whisper. In fact, it seemed more like some sort of dream, some extension of his nightmare.

It whispered in his ears, wrapping itself against his body like a snake, coiling up and forbidding him from running away.

Fear struck at the corners of his mind, and he barely knew where he was, or who he was. He was too scared, not right in his mind at the moment, but inside himself. All that was left outside, controlling his tears, was regret, sorrow, anger and upset. The voice within him whispered again, the voice he had always been hearing but assumed it might've been his crazy thoughts of lapsing insanity.

He saw the faces of them.

Memories of the Kyuubi. He remembered the faces of those he killed, just various faces, because there were all too many. And Naruto remembered the harsh faces of the villagers, combined with the dying. It was…too much for a twelve year old to take and…Naruto…Namikaze Naruto…he…he…

'…I'm…'

…broke down.

'…scared…'

Suddenly, Naruto was no longer the twelve-year old he normally was, and he felt himself feel terribly inferior, terribly scared and…just like a little kid again, waking up from a nightmare and crying his heart out until his father ran into his room and comforted him.

daddy…I'm scared…can I sleep with you, tonight?

Right now, Naruto wished he was back with his father. Sometimes…Namikaze Naruto was just a kid again.


This was…just a nightmare, wasn't it?

He shook uncontrollably, unable to stop himself, unwanted images pouring themselves into his mind's eye.

He was scared…a scared little boy again. But this time…there was no running to daddy. Because…now he knew, 'daddy' wasn't really daddy, 'my old man' wasn't his old man, 'dad' wasn't dad…and 'father'…? Hoo boy…

…there was no 'father' in this relationship. Before this incident, Naruto had thought, he'd call his old man that when: 1) he grew a mustache, shaved it off, grew a beard and shaved it AND 2) become a lawyer wearing stuffy business suits with multiple piercings under his lower lip AND 3) when his father grew a bloody sense of humour.

But now, there would never be 'father', because strictly speaking, Namikaze Naruto now realized that this was all a lie…his whole life up to now was a lie…

Lies. Was this whole world filled with it?

Yes, he supposed it was. And then, he felt a hot breath on him, oozing dankness and pure evil, and slowly looked up…


It stared down at him and Naruto felt himself shaken to the core. No…no…

"Hello. Welcome to me. I am you and you are me. As my new body, new life, we have much to speak about." The demon leered down at him before laughing maniacally and disappearing inside him. Someone screamed in the background, and it only took Naruto a few seconds to realize, after losing consciousness in his own mind, that…

There was horrible pain inside him and he was hurting very much and that was why he was blacking out, and…

Those screams were his.


"The willingness to accept responsibility for one's own life is the source from which self-respect springs." –Joan Didion

True. But to accept a life as the Kyuubi no Kitsune's reincarnation is the harshest road of them all. Can self-respect really stop the hurt? Because…pains of the heart can't stop that easily. It hurts right here because it does.

And sometimes, only one person can help.

But then again, that one person might not always know that they can. It comes naturally, but sometimes, the natural never seems to fit…


They say it all began on that night, on the night the Kyuubi no Kitsune attacked Konoha.

But I believe that it all started when Naruto found out the truth.

Because, obviously, when you discover that you're part of an S-class secret that involves one of the bloodiest battles against Bijuu kind ever, everything in your life starts to change because you know it.

And it's all harder to not just kill yourself and get rid of this horrifying feeling in you.


Kekkai- Translates as "Barrier"

Konoha no Kiiroi Senko- Translates as "The Leaf's Yellow Flash".

Katon: Gamayu Endan- translates as "Fire Release: Toad Oil Flame Bullet"

Izanagi no Giri- translates as "God of Life's Duty"

Hitai-ate - translates as "Headband"

Bunshin no Jutsu- translates as "Clone technique"

Kinjutsu- translates as "Forbidden technique"

Shiki Fuujin- translates as "Death Demon Consuming Seal"

Seppuku- translates as "Suicide"

Kyuusaisha- translates as "Savior"