Extended A/N: Yeah, so it was a dick move on my part to have let personal feelings make me go on a rant and end writing that fic so abruptly. I actually fully intended to go back and fix it... so I have! Although, my writing style, the concepts, and the story itself has completely changed. I honestly can't promise that any updates I do for this fanfic will be fast or if I'll even complete it since I'm more focused on completing my Persona 4 fanfic first and foremost. The main problem I have currently with this fanfic is... unlike all my other fanfics, I don't know where to conclude the story or how. I have the final battle in my mind and most, if not all, of the chuunin exam visualized but not anything after the timeskip... also, I'll admit to making these concepts because of the UTTER DISAPPOINTMENT with the abandonment of a certain Naruto fic in my favorites list that I had really, REALLY freakin' enjoyed. Good fuckin' god, it had EVERYTHING I wanted from a Naruto fic and the person just... stopped!

Anyway, I want to explain a few things first. First of all, this is an AU fanfic and will rely on a lot of concepts that were in the filler arc. Hell, filler and a few canon characters will appear in this story except that they will have different abilities, personality, and have a different age. I'm going to be adding some crossovers as well. Not characters, mind you, but concepts such as special abilities or weapons. I also admit to rushing this a LOT. This entire chapter is just a prologue-backstory to where I really want to story to begin. Note that I'll be explaining backstory moreso through dialogue than showing these events because I want to keep - you - the reader in suspense and I believe this way provides more entertainment and mystery for you.

Also, if anyone can provide me a site where it explains the japanese names for jutsus (instead of Narutopedia) it would be muuuuch appreciated. I don't like the english way of writing them out but that makes it more difficult for me because of how the japanese have those jutsu written out. It takes up too much time when I want to write down a rough draft quickly.

Lastly, to all those who read 'Naruto, the explosive change' I apologize for my demeanor and irrationality. That fic is long dead. I had some ideas for it but I probably will never take the time to really write about it. With that in mind... please enjoy this fic.

Disclaimer: I, thankfully, don't own Naruto.

"Well then, let's begin our introductions!" began Kakashi, surveying his three potential pupils, "We shall tell each other of our likes, dislikes, and dreams for the future to get to know each other better. I'll start first."

"My name is Hatake Kakashi, my likes are… my dislikes are…. I have no dreams."

Sakura sweatdropped. What kind of introduction was that? She got the impression that this guy really didn't take them seriously. Hell, he hadn't even arrived on time. He pointed at her and informed her it was her turn.

"I'm Haruno Sakura!" she exclaimed brightly, "My likes are…"

Her gaze trailed over to Sasuke and she began giggling. "My dreams for the future…"

She repeated what she did before. She then looked over at Naruto and scowled.

"I hate Ino-pig, annoying people, and Naruto-baka!"

Naruto scowled at that but his face returned to the blank stare he had maintained previously. It seemed the kid was off in his own little world.

Kakashi then motioned for Sasuke to go.

"My name is Uchiha Sasuke… my likes are training and learning my clan jutsu, my dislikes are idiots and fangirls. My dream… more like an ambition… is to kill a certain man and revive my clan."

Sakura gazed at him with hearts in her eyes. He was so cool!

"Last is you, blonde."

"My name is Uzumaki Naruto, my likes are… learning new jutsu, training, and eating ramen. My dislikes are people who are blindly prejudice and my dreams… well, I don't have any yet."

Kakashi raised his eyebrow at the demure boy. No dreams? Usually kids hollered arrogantly about how they would become tons of stuff at this age.

Naruto shrugged at the look he was begin given by his Sensei.

"What? I'm just twelve. I've got plenty of time to think about what I want to do."

…Right, well, better conclude this meeting.

Kakashi informed them of the survival test and warned them not to eat breakfast.

The next day at ten in the morning found the three waiting grumpily for their sensei who was three hours late. Naruto had brought a bento box with him that had already been half-finished and finished the rest of it during the wait for their sensei. The other two wouldn't know it but Naruto was the most irritated with their sensei. Why had the man demanded they come at seven in the morning if he wasn't going to show for another three hours? All three of them honestly had better things to do than wait around for a no-show for three hours. If not for the fact that their sensei was essentially their superior officer and they were bound to obey the word of their teacher ever since proudly taking their headbands, they would've left. Did their sensei even take his duties seriously?

"Yo!" came Kakashi's voice as he shunshined in front of the three angry students. His patented eye-smile on his face as he waved with his right hand. "Sorry for being late, I got lost on the road to life."

"You're late!" shouted Sakura, angry at having waited for their tardy sensei for three hours. Sasuke made an angry noise as well. Naruto decided to let his anger show. Forget being in trouble, so far this man was pushing the limits of his respect for his teacher. He was so use to being punctual that this change was unacceptable for him.

"Is this going to be the norm every day; you being late for three hours?" snarled Naruto, this was the second time this man had done this. He had been three hours late to pick them up from their class! "Because I swear, after I pass this test of yours, I'll be sure to train under you and learn everything you know so I can become strong enough to beat your ass for all the times you will be tardy!"

Kakashi sweatdropped as he noticed Sakura and Sasuke nod in agreement. Their angry features mirroring Naruto's own.

'Well…' thought Kakashi, observing this temporary change in dynamics. 'At least they're getting closer to work as a team… though… it's better if they don't work together for the sole purpose of beating the crap out of me in the future…'

Kakashi then had a devious thought. Perhaps he could get some fun out of this exercise at the expense of his little rugrats. Oh yes, this would be good…

"What's the matter Naruto," began Kakashi casually, Naruto looked ready to yell something else. "Upset about not being able to spend more time with your little girlfriend?"

Naruto jumped at that. His eyes widened in shock as his mouth hung agape. Sakura and even Sasuke turned to Naruto in surprise. Naruto, the deadlast, had a girlfriend?

They both wondered if this was some trick by Kakashi but the look of shock on Naruto's face said otherwise... Sakura shook her head in disbelief.

"Oh please, what girl would-" she began before she was cut off.

"How did – when did – I… I mean… uh.." Naruto scrunched up his face in anger. 'Fuck! I can't let this happen!' "I mean… um… I don't have a girlfriend."

He had said it calmly enough but the fact his words had been jumbled in the beginning proved to be his downfall. He gazed at his teammates to find their looks of disbelief and turned to his teacher to find the man grinning cheekily. Naruto scowled at him.

"That's not what I saw this morning when I spied your apartment." said Kakashi, grinning through his mask. "I see she was nice enough to make a meal for you this morning, which you have clearly eaten. Nice to see that one of my students like disobeying my instructions."

Naruto snorted and folded his arms in defiance.

"If you want me to start listening to you then you should make it here at a more prudent time."

He did not feel the least bit sorry for what he did. Not anymore. He may have felt guilty when she brought him a meal and asked to eat with him in his apartment but now he was kicking himself for being hesitant to eat it and for rushing through it quickly after telling her he had to be at training ground seven at exactly seven this morning.

"Why were you spying on me?" Naruto asked, changing the subject, gazing at Kakashi suspiciously.

"You misunderstand." said Kakashi as he shrugged. "I spied on all three of you this morning."

"Wh-what?" shouted Sakura, horrified. Sasuke was now gazing at Kakashi with suspicion as well. "Y-you pervert!"

Sakura made sure to highlight that point by pointing her finger at Kakashi rudely. Kakashi sighed in exasperation in response.

"I was making sure all three of you got here on time." clarified Kakashi. Honestly, he didn't want his new students spreading false rumors around because they got the wrong impression of him.

"Bullshit." said Sasuke simply, deciding to join the banter. "Why weren't you here at seven am then? And don't give us one of those stupid lies of yours."

They all looked at him angrily. Kakashi put his face in one of his gloved palms and began rubbing the bridge of his nose in frustration. Sarutobi-sama was right, he really shouldn't be late when training his new students. Dealing with grumpy children in the morning was a nerve-racking task and making them even more annoyed by making them wait would make convincing them to obey his instructions all the harder. Hell, his peers looked down at him for his chronic tardiness. No one liked it.

"If you must know," said Kakashi, seeing that all pairs of eyes were boring at him for a good response. "I was hoping you three would make conversation and see fit to get to know each other more. You're a team now, you must all understand the importance of teamwork to do good in the shinobi military force."

They all frowned. None of them knew how to respond to that. Sakura began thinking that she could use this as an excuse to try and get Sasuke to open up to her. Sasuke scoffed at that notion and still desired to be a one man show. Naruto didn't really know what to think of that response. He eventually concluded that Kakashi was just making more excuses up for being late.

Kakashi then went on to explain the bell test and that they would begin immediately. Sasuke and Sakura immediately went into hiding. Kakashi took out his porn and seemed to begin reading.

"Usually people hide during this part of the test and think up strategies to get one of the bells."

Naruto shrugged in response.

"No point in hiding from a jounin," replied Naruto, gazing at Kakashi intently. It seemed his anger at waiting had been mollified after his outburst. "Especially not with your tracking abilities."

Kakashi actually looked up from his porn and raised an eyebrow at that. Had Naruto done research on him? Perhaps this kid was craftier than at first glance. The orange jumpsuit really made it hard to take this kid seriously.

"Besides…." began Naruto before standing on a stiff position and formally bowing. He stood back up. Kakashi's eyebrows rose even further in confusion. "I wanted to thank you for… for… looking out for me as a kid after they… left, Kakashi-sensei."

Kakashi stared at Naruto in surprise. If not for his mask he would have been gaping. How had he known? Naruto seemed to recognize this.

"I recognized your chakra signature from one of those times when you helped me." clarified Naruto, answering the unasked question. "I actually recognized it when you walked into the classroom yesterday. And yes, when you were at my apartment too. It's why I was so tense around her earlier this morning. I thought you were coming to pick me up personally."

'That… explains the anger.' thought Kakashi, he shouldn't have been surprised when he thought more about it. Naruto was an Uzumaki. Every single one of them excelled at chakra detection. 'He's obviously been honing his skills… poor kid.'

Naruto made a fighting stance. Kakashi continued to read his book. Playing mind games on his opponent would cause them to make slip-ups more often than not. Instead of attacking, as Kakashi expected, Naruto dashed off into the forest towards Sakura and Sasuke. Kakashi subtly looked over that direction and smiled beneath his mask. Perhaps training these brats wouldn't be so bad after all?

Naruto convinced Sasuke and Sakura to help get the bells per the agreement that both of them would get one. Sasuke and Sakura were curious as to why Naruto would decide to just give-up so easily but chalked it up for their own reasons. Sasuke, frankly, didn't care. Sakura assumed it was because he lacked dreams like her and Sasuke.

Kakashi had been surprised by the immediate teamwork of the three. Sasuke had let loose his log trap which Kakashi dodged only to face an army of Naruto's shadow clones, and Sakura's kunai barrage. Sasuke soon joined them in attack Kakashi and was able to nab the two bells before tossing one to Sakura.

Kakashi eye-smiled after it was over.

"Congratulations!" bellowed Kakashi, Sakura shouted a rather girly victory cry as Sasuke just smirked. Naruto offered a smile. "Naruto, you pass the test!"

This prompted Sasuke to frown, Naruto to chuckle, and Sakura to sputter.

"Wh-what… but… we…" Sakura was confused. She furrowed her brow trying to think of why this was happening. "I… I don't understand."

Their sensei smiled widely through his mask. He gestured to Naruto and asked him to explain.

"The point of the test wasn't the bells…" said Naruto, causing both his teammates frowns to deepen. "It was teamwork. We were supposed to work as a team. The bells were just a trick to deceive us."

"A ninja's greatest art is deception." muttered Sakura, still frowning. "It… but… doesn't that mean that me and Sasuke pass too?"

Kakashi shook his head.

"You worked as a team but only to gain something out of your own selfishness." responded Kakashi, in a light tone of disappointment. "You didn't understand the true purpose of this test so technically only Naruto passes."

Sasuke scowled as Sakura looked disappointed.

"But…" as Kakashi said this, they both jerked to attention. "Seeing how you were so willing to work together so quickly, I'll pass you."

They both looked relieved at that. Kakashi then explained to all three of them the importance of teamwork and the headstone marking the death of everyone who gave their lives to the village. Perhaps this team would do well? Regardless, Kakashi decided to have them do D-rank missions to build more teamwork as obviously a lot more was needed.

After they left the field to their own separate homes, a genjutsu unveiled itself and a figure stepped out.

"Looks like you passed and finally joined the official shinobi ranks…" the figure muttered to herself. Her red tresses flowing with the wind as she looked at the spot where Squad 7 had just left from. It had been so long since then. Six years had flown by. The weight of sadness she buried deep inside of her resurfaced. "I wish… I wish… I could be there for you. Someday, someday I will be. I'll break out of this cage and then I'll be there for you."

"No matter what."

D-rank missions were such a hassle. Team Seven felt more like they were doing chores than real ninja missions. Sasuke was especially annoyed. Unlike the other two, these missions really didn't gain him anything. Sakura and Naruto got extra money to spend or pay their bills with, but Sasuke? He had literally inherited everything from the Uchiha district. It was all his. It wouldn't be exaggerating to state he was one of the wealthiest people in all of Konoha. He didn't need any of the money.

Even Sakura and Naruto detested these missions. They honestly were a poultry amount and C-rank missions would garner them both a higher paycheck. Sakura could then shop for dresses and make-up she could purchase to impress Sasuke while Naruto could buy better shinobi equipment for himself and perhaps even jutsu scrolls.

After nearly a month of non-stop D-rank missions, the entire team of students got fed-up with them and agreed to request for a higher mission the very next day. Naruto and Sasuke had both been training since their academy days to show off their skills as shinobi. They were both eager to prove themselves.

Team Seven entered the Hokage tower and looked to see Umino Iruka and their Hokage shifting through the mission scrolls.

"Let's see…" began Sarutobi, looking at the various mission scrolls. "We have capturing Tora the cat again, painting a fence at the northern walls, or-"

"Hokage-sama," interrupted Sasuke, gaining the attention of the three adults in the room, "Me and my teammates have been discussing it for a bit of time now and… we would like a higher rank mission."

Naruto and Sakura nodded their heads in affirmative as Kakashi raised an eyebrow. Why hadn't they brought this up with him? Honestly, it was nice to see they were working together but they really should've ran this by him first.

The Sandaime raised an eyebrow as he looked between the team and their jounin sensei whose face clearly had mild surprise written on it. It seems the team had come together with this request without notifying their sensei. Before he could respond, Iruka interrupted.

"Bakas! These scrolls are given to you by Hokaga-sama and if he thinks you aren't ready for a higher rank mission then you'll take the missions he does assign with dignity and honor befitting shinobi of your status!"

"Iruka-sensei, we understand that but…" began Naruto, he thought over what he wanted to say carefully. "We've been doing D-rank missions for almost a month now and we all would like to prove ourselves. I think we all more than deserve a chance."

Sarutobi puffed out his tobacco from his pipe as he surveyed the three. He sighed to himself as he lay back on his chair when he looked at Naruto and Sasuke. Both of them children that he'd continually failed in many ways throughout the years. Both had to grow-up alone because he'd failed to act at the right time and exert his authority as the Hokage of his village. He had never been able to forgive himself for not providing enough for either of his charges. He had never forgiven the council for not allowing him to provide extra care for either child when they were growing up. Their prejudice had never changed in the past twelve years regarding both of them. They had overruled his every decision regarding the caretaking of the two. Perhaps some time away from the village would be good for them? He knew they both had the thirst to prove themselves to the village due to their own trauma's growing-up.

"Very well, I actually have just the mission for you." Iruka looked in surprise at the Hokage as he chucked the mission scroll at Kakashi. "Come in Tazuna…"

A mildly drunk man came into the Hokage office.

"These are the brats who are suppose to protect me?" commented Tazuna rudely, peering at the genin assigned for his protection. "They don't look like much. Especially that short blond kid."

Tazuna emphasized his point by rudely pointing at Naruto. Naruto merely scowled and folded his arms in response. Sakura and Sasuke mirrored his visage having been insulted as well. Sarutobi raised an eyebrow.

"Now Tazuna-san, I understand that you're a visitor here and aren't familiar with our customs." said Sarutobi, puffing out some tobacco from his pipe. "But refrain from insulting my shinobi. It was me who gave them the mission and I will not tolerate you insulting them or the trust I've placed in them to complete this mission."

Team Seven proceeded to smirk at Tazuna. All three of them felt a bit of pride at their Hokage's words as well. All three decided then to do their best in completing this mission for their Hokage.

"Er, I… uh…" sputtered Tazuna, he tried shaking the drunkenness from his system. He felt every bit as stupid as he looked in front of everyone in the room now. His village was in desperate need of help and it seemed he had opened his big mouth where it really wasn't wanted. "S-sorry."

Sarutobi merely nodded in response as Kakashi informed their team to get ready tomorrow at ten am to leave the village and to get the necessary supplies.

They trekked outside the gates of Konoha sedately toward the direction of the land of waves. Kakashi had his porno in front of him, Sasuke simply walked quietly in his own little world, Naruto decided to enjoy the scenery around them as he never had been outside the village before, and Sakura was thinking over how to impress Sasuke on this mission. Tazuna was worried. He had hoped that by calling them brats yesterday, he could've got more professional and competent shinobi to help him as a guide. He'd feel immensely guilty if even one of these kids ended-up dead because he was too poor to pay for a higher ranked mission.

As they were walking, they passed by a water puddle along the path. Naruto had sensed the two chakra signatures of foreign shinobi before even passing by the puddle. He had glanced at Kakashi to find that his face hadn't left the porn. Naruto knew for a fact that Kakashi had great tracking abilities and concluded that he was simply creating a false sense of security for the enemy shinobi. He subtlety took out a kunai from his pouch and was ready to strike at a moment's notice. He was not disappointed.

The two enemy ninja erupted from their hiding place and cut down Kakashi with their chains. Sakura screamed in horror, Sasuke tensed, Tazuna looked horrified, and Naruto struck. He quickly threw the kunai right at the heart of one of the enemies. The shinobi, dislodging the chain from the gauntlet so that he could strike next, was caught by surprise and wasn't able to avoid the attack. The kunai pierced his heart as blood seeped down from the wound. He fell over dead.

"Brother!" shouted the other one in surprise, looking at his dead brother in horrified shock. He glared at Naruto and was ready to attack him. Forgetting the mission to kill the bridge builder, he ran at Naruto in a blind fit of rage.

Naruto was stunned. He hadn't expected his precise throw to actually kill his opponent. He was too shocked to prepare himself for the other member of the demon brother's attack. However…

"Katon: Gokakyu no Jutsu!" shouted Sasuke, releasing his great fireball technique on the unsuspecting ninja. The other demon brother's gaze turned to Sasuke as his eyes widened in shock.

He was too slow to avoid the giant fireball and screamed in horror as he was burned by the attack. His mangled and burned body hit a tree with heavy force as died from his injuries.

Naruto and Sasuke both stared in stunned shock. Kakashi reappeared and observed the damage with a calm air.

"Sensei!" shouted Sakura happily, forgetting the dead bodies for a moment. "You're alive! But… how?"

"It was a substitution, Sakura." replied Kakashi, not even turning away from the two corpses. He turned back to his team and fixed the other two of his charges with a look. "…Good work on defending yourselves. Considering the circumstances, you both performed amiably."

Naruto just looked down at the floor as Sasuke merely gave a frown.

"Sensei… I… I didn't expect that kunai to kill him." Said Naruto, he couldn't look up. He didn't want to see the dead bodies. "I'm sorry Kakashi-sensei, I was just trying to defend myself but…"

Was he a monster now like the villagers said? He knew shinobi killed but he hadn't expected to kill so early and on what was just suppose to be a C-rank escort mission…

"I…" began Sasuke before shaking his head. He felt the same as Naruto. He knew it was an eventuality but to think it had come so early… "I was… trying to show-up Naruto because he was the first ready to defend us… I didn't think my jutsu would kill the guy."

"Don't apologize." said Kakashi taking out a kunai and drawing blood from his fingers, "They were aiming to kill us. You both did the right thing in defending yourselves."

He summoned a few of his dogs and asked them to quietly dispose of the bodies. He turned his attention to Tazuna and glared. Tazuna began spilling the beans.

"You idiot." barked Kakashi, clearly displeased. Tazuna flinched back reflexively. "What you've done is jeopardize my students' safety! If it hadn't been for my students' quick thinking, they could've been killed. If we continue to on this path then we're sure to face even stronger shinobi."

"More likely than not, they'll be at my skill level and I cannot risk my team getting hurt. We're heading back to the village."

"Kakashi-sensei," interrupted Naruto, Kakashi turned his attention to his student. "I know it'll be even riskier but me and Sasuke killed those attackers easily enough. I'd… I'd like to continue with the mission. We shouldn't just leave this man with nothing when he clearly needs help."

Sasuke slowly nodded in agreement. Sakura seeing this, decided to nod in agreement too. She had reservations about killing and had been disgusted with the dead bodies she had just seen but she needed to get used to it. It was a kill or be killed world in the life of a shinobi. She had known this and it had only just sunk in how dangerous this lifestyle would be.

Kakashi folded his arms as he looked at all three of them. He shook his head in exasperation. Leave it to Naruto to not want to abandon someone in their time of need.

"Fine, however, the mission has now turned into an A-rank mission. Therefore, you three are to follow my instructions at all times. To the letter. Is that clear?"

They nodded their affirmatives. Tazuna looked extremely thankful as he started thanking them all for their kindness. Kakashi grunted and had them all keep pace. They made camp at night with changes in the night watch.

The next day, they met with Tazuna's helper who helped guide them across the river to Kirigakura and in the direction of the land of waves.

As they got closer to the main land they found the mist was starting to thicken around them.

"Someone's here. A jounin from what I'm sensing…" spoke Naruto, becoming rigid immediately. "The enemy's watching us…"

"Baka! How would you know?" shouted Sakura snootily, glaring at Naruto. "Don't make us on edge for no reason!"

"Sakura, shut up." responded Sasuke, surprising Sakura. He looked around as well but was frustrated that he couldn't see anything beyond the mist. "Naruto was the first besides sensei to know that those other two shinobi were going to attack us. He clearly has a better range of sensing chakra than we do."

Kakashi snapped his book close and put it away. Yes, he knew for a fact that Naruto's sensing ability could be trusted. Advanced chakra sensing was a hereditary trait that all Uzumaki took advantage of. The only thing better would be the Byakugan or advanced variations of the Sharingan yet even then, only the Byakugan could sense chakra at long distances like the Uzumaki ability.

"Trust Naruto's senses, Sakura." was all Kakashi said on the matter. Sakura looked in surprised at her sensei's words but made no comment. She chose to scowl at Naruto as if it was his fault.

He was about to say more when a sudden whizzing noise was heard.

"GET DOWN!" shouted both Kakashi and Naruto.

The all immediately hit the floor as a large broadsword flew by right where their heads would've been. It impaled on a nearby tree as a mist-ninja jumped on top of it.

"Well, well, this is a surprise…" said Zabuza, surveying the team of genin. "I was surprised to see the bridge builder alive but now I see that the demon brothers stood no chance against Copy-cat ninja Kakashi. The man who copied one-thousand jutsu and a pupil of the late Yondaime Hokage."

"Momochi Zabuza," spoke Naruto, surprising his teammates and Zabuza himself. "A-rank missing-nin, wanted for the attempted assassination of the Sandaime Mizukage, and one of the seven swordsman of the mist."

If Zabuza had eyebrows, he would've raised them. He got off of Kubikiribōchō and pulled it out of the tree it was embedded in. He stared at Naruto intently.

"Seems someone has done their homework." said Zabuza, with a nod of approval. "How do you know so much about me and my accomplishments, kid?"

"I read the bingo book quite often it's a hobby of mine…" replied Naruto, shrugging. Zabuza looked at him in disbelief. Even if that was true, how could he have memorized so much detail about Zabuza from the thousands, if not millions, recorded in the bingo book?

"My family…" Naruto said that word with a hint of bitterness in his tone. "Has been looking to recruit any and all former mist ninja or refugees to their clan. Specifically those with bloodlines, the clan leader has been looking to revive all the bloodlines lost in that abominable purge by the Sandaime Mizukage."

"Yes, I heard of that." replied Zabuza, looking at Naruto intently. A brat with a bloodline could be trouble. "The Uzumaki clan, headed by Uzumaki Kushina, unfortunately I'm not interested in joining up and becoming shinobi to another hidden village. My goal's to gain enough funds and military support to reclaim the lost glory of Kirigakura."

"Uzumaki clan?" said Sakura, in surprise. Looking at Naruto before scowling. "I thought you were an orphan and lived alone! You never told us you had a clan, Naruto!"

"Naruto?" said Zabuza in a surprised tone. "The lost heir of the Uzumaki clan? You're him? I heard you were dead. You've never been seen in any formal meetings made by the Uzumaki clan with their dealings with Kirigakura. Word has it that some prodigy child is going to inherit the title of clan leader after Uzumaki Kushina retires."

"Enough!" shouted Kakashi, knowing Naruto didn't want anyone prying into his private life. "Are we here to talk or are we here to fight?"

And so their battle began.

It was an amazing fight to behold. Zabuza and Kakashi were equally matched but unfortunately a miscalculation on Kakashi's part caused him to be trapped inside Zabuza's water prison jutsu.

"Run!" advised Kakashi, inwardly he was kicking himself for having gone on this mission at all. "His water techniques only have a close proximity range. If you run away then he shouldn't be able to reach you! Forget about me!"

Naruto shook his head.

"No way, Kakashi-sensei." replied Naruto, "We're not leaving you. We're a team and we stick together. We're not going to just abandon you."

"Besides, Zabuza seems to have an accomplice hiding not far from here in the trees. If we leave, we'll only be falling for his trap."

Kakashi mentally kicked himself once again. What had he done? His students were in danger and it was all his fault! How could he have been so stupid and careless?

"Quite arrogant of you, don't you think?" spoke Zabuza, gaining Naruto's attention. Sasuke drew out a kunai and tensed. Sakura was clearly scared shitless at the current predicament. Naruto stared stonely at Zabuza. "There is no way you can beat me in battle. Your sensei has already failed and is trapped. You kids should just surrender."

"We don't have to beat you." Said Naruto bluntly, "We just have to free Sensei. You can't fight us effectively with one hand needed to keep that prison secure. You're handicapped."

Zabuza laughed openly at that. This kid certainly had balls.

"Listen brat, I don't know what your clan has told you but there is no way you're strong enough to take on a jounin." Laughed Zabuza. Naruto scowled but not for the reasons Zabuza assumed. "You three are quite pathetic for shinobi. At your age, I had killed my entire graduating class. That was the test we of the mist had to go through to become full-fledged genin. I bet you kiddies haven't even tasted blood yet."

Sasuke snorted.

"We killed the demon brothers." said Sasuke bluntly, surprising Zabuza. "Naruto killed the first one with a kunai and the second one died from the injuries of my jutsu. So yeah, I think we're plenty ready by your standards."

"A mere accident on both accounts." snorted Zabuza, shaking his head. "None of you brats fight with the intent to kill."

"I did." replied Naruto. Zabuza snorted yet again. False bravado. Sakura was sickly from hearing all the talk about killing and Sasuke looked at Naruto in confusion. "I killed a group of villagers at the age of six when they tried to attack me. I knew what I did would lead to their deaths and I did it knowing I would become a monster."

Sakura looked horrified. Her teammate was a murderer! She needed to be careful around him. Sasuke looked a bit intimidated by what Naruto had just said.

"Show me what you can do then, kid." said Zabuza, summoning a water clone and ordering it to attack Naruto. He wanted to see just what this brat was capable of.

Naruto took out a kunai and charged at the water clone. The water clone struck downward with the replica Kubikiribōchō. Naruto shifted to the left and struck fast. He sliced the neck of the clone and destroyed it in one hit. Zabuza looked on in surprise yet again. He had hoped to divulge what bloodline this kid had with that clone but that attack hadn't used any special abilities. It was pure skill.

He whistled in approval.

"Although the water clone is only has ten percent of the user's strength and skill that should've been enough to knock any genin flat on their ass."

Zabuza then summoned three water clones and had them attack all three members of team seven.

Naruto cut down the one running towards him. The other two jumped high into the air with their swords poised to kill Sakura and Sasuke. Sasuke quickly formed the seals necessary and unleashed his trademark fireball jutsu at the oncoming clones. It destroyed them instantly.

Sasuke smirked. Subconsciously keeping a record, he now tied with Naruto on the number of clones killed.

Zabuza decided it was time to end this charade. He summoned a water dragon without seals. Team 7 and Tazuna stared n abject horror as the water dragon came barreling towards them. Naruto quickly snapped into attention.

"Suiton: Suiryūdan no Jutsu!" shouted Naruto, as he ran through the seals. He summoned a water dragon from their side of the large pond and sent it colliding with Zabuza's. Zabuza was surprised yet again. He kicked himself for underestimating this Uzumaki so much.

The water dispersed. Zabuza looked pissed. He was tired of playing around and he still didn't know what sort of bloodline this kid had. It could be anything from Kiri. He racked his brain thinking of what to do next.

Sasuke took out a Fuma shuriken. He and Naruto nodded at one another, appearing to have a silent conversation between themselves, and then Naruto summoned another water dragon and sent it barreling at Zabuza. Zabuza summoned another water dragon and had it collide with Naruto's. He growled in anger. The first water dragon should've spent-up a normal genins chakra reserves and then some but it appeared that this kid was definitely not normal. Perhaps his bloodline was endurance related? Zabuza's eyes widened as he noticed a Fuma Shuriken zip past the collision of the two dragons and towards him. The water dragon had been a distraction!

Zabuza expertly unsheathed Kubikiribōchō and slammed it onto the Fuma shuriken, sending it flying towards his left as it collided with some trees in the forest area.

"Nice try but there is no way you're-"

He was cut off from finishing his sentence as Naruto got fed-up and summoned two water dragons as Sasuke spewed out a much larger than normal grand fireball and sent it sailing toward Zabuza.

"FUCK!" shouted Zabuza, quickly letting go of Kakashi's water prison and diving into the water to avoid those three devastating jutsus. Kakashi followed suit. They both reappeared from the water and both instinctively glared at Team 7.

Tazuna was gaping openly at how powerful the two male members of the genin team were. Sakura looked rather surprised but then cheered as she realized Kakashi-sensei was free. Naruto had the humbleness to look sheepish as Sasuke just did his patented smirk.

The battle between Kakashi and Zabuza re-commenced. By the end of it, Zabuza was hit by a stray senbon and taken out. The squad tensed as a boy with a hunter-nin mask jumped out. He thanked them for fighting Zabuza before informing them he would take the body and dispose of it properly.

As the Hunter-nin reached for the body, Naruto threw a lightning-fast kunai at the shinobi who blocked the attack easily with senbon.

"Naruto-baka! What're you doing?" shouted Sakura, as Kakashi and Sasuke looked at Naruto in confusion. Tazuna just looked afraid of all of them.

"This hunter-nin is a fake!" snarled Naruto, Kakashi's eyes widened in realization. Sakura looked ready to yell some more as Sasuke still looked confused. Sasuke turned to gaze at the hunter-nin. "This guy could've killed Zabuza at any moment when he had sensei trapped! Furthermore, you're supposed to dispose of the body immediately so that there isn't some sort of trap the missing-nin sets to activate upon death! It's happened plenty of times to be turned into a basic rule for hunting down missing-nin after killing them!"

The hunter-nin quickly grabbed Zabuza and threw down a smoke bomb causing them to look away. Once the haze cleared up, the hunter-nin and Zabuza were gone. Kakashi put covered his sharingan eye with his headband before turning to his team.

"There's nothing further we can do at the moment about them." Spoke Kakashi, gaining the attention of his squad. "We must reach Tazuna's house as soon as possible. Naruto, you're in charge. Take the lead and be sure to use your abilities to avoid any further enemy shinobi if possible."

With that, Kakashi collapsed from chakra exhaustion.

After reaching Tazuna's house and being introduced to his family, squad seven agreed to wait it out until Kakashi would wake-up from his exhaustion. Naruto kept guard of the house by sending a massive amount of shadow clones around the forest area and nearby the house. They were instructed to be on guard at all times. Sasuke, initially jealous of Naruto being made leader, couldn't help but respect his comrade's plan in keeping the house safe and grudgingly agreed with Kakashi's assessment in making Naruto in charge. His chakra-sensing ability was dead useful in a situation like this and Sasuke himself had yet to unlock the power of his sharingan.

Sakura kept away from Naruto whenever she could. She felt hesitant to listen to his instructions regarding what to do but grudgingly followed along since she didn't see any alternatives. Tazuna was just thankful his home hadn't been attacked. He had been worried about his family since setting out to gain foreign shinobi aid. He was grateful that Naruto provided an army of clones to both keep guard and help with the bridge building whenever he went out to work on the bridge with his colleges.

"Tell me something." Said Naruto, one day during dinner with Tazuna's family. "Why didn't you just hire Kiri-nin for help in building the bridge? Surely that would've been easier."

Tazuna sighed. Tsunami shook her head in despair.

"Kirigakura is currently in a civil war." explained Tazuna, "There aren't any missions being dispensed to any part of the country. Gato has been paying the resistance side to keep out of his monopoly in this region. The Mizukage's side never really cared for the problems on various settlements outside of the mainland and the land of waves was no exception."

"That's terrible!" said Sakura, a Kage that didn't care for their countrymen? "Why would the Mizukage not care for his own countrymen?"

Sasuke and Naruto both frowned and gazed questioningly at Tazuna. He simply shrugged.

"Our Mizukage is, quite frankly, insane." said Tazuna bluntly, "If not for the civil war, he'd continuing his bloodline purge and committing genocide on our people. He's been doing it for more than twenty years now and the civil war in Kiri has been going on for almost a year now."

Sakura looked disgusted. That entire situation sounded abhorrent to her. This Mizukage was clearly a monster. Her two teammates shared similar looks.

A few days later Kakashi awoke, after congratulating Naruto on his fantastic performance as leader of the squad, especially under the circumstances, he ordered his team to follow him to the forest for some training. Despite not having fully recovered, he needed to train his team to be better prepared for their next inevitable encounter with the Demon of the Hidden Mist.

"Alright, we know that Zabuza and his friend will be back and we need to be prepared for it." Spoke Kakashi, as he threw down three kunai at the feet of his students.

He began his lecture on tree walking and set them to the task of trying to climb their respective trees. He watched from his own tree perch to see their progress.

Sakura went first and had managed to get to the top. Kakashi nodded in approval.

"Good job Sakura," said Kakashi. Sakura smiled brightly at the praise. "However, it seems you're able to climb the tree easily due to lack of much chakra within your system. Continue the exercise. This way, you'll build and grow your chakra reserves to become even stronger. I want you to do laps up and down the tree for the whole day."

Sakura noticeably deflated at that but did as ordered.

To Kakashi's complete surprise, Naruto walked up to his tree without difficulty and stood upside down on a large branch around the same comparative height as his and Sakura's branches.

"You've done this before…" Kakashi concluded. Naruto nodded in acknowledgement to the sort-of question. "Well then, I suppose we can start you on the next exercise."

Naruto shook his head in response. Kakashi frowned within his mask. It couldn't be…

"I've mastered that exercise too, Kakashi-sensei." answered Naruto to Kakashi's unasked question. "I made sure to because of my rather large chakra reserves while growing up. It's what made me be able to perform the water dragon jutsu as quickly as I did."

"What other jutsus do you know?" Kakashi asked curiously. He figured Naruto had studied some of the Uzumaki clans' water jutsus to have been able to perform them.

"The water clone, though it's useless ever since I learned my shadow clone jutsu," said Naruto, ticking off the jutsu he knew. "Water dragon is the only other one besides those two. I haven't mastered much else since the D-rank missions took up so much of our time during the day."

Kakashi nodded. It seemed his students would improve more by cutting back on the D-rank missions.

The two noticed Sasuke furiously trying to reach the same height as Naruto and Sakura but putting too much chakra into his feet and making large holes every time he seemed to make some progress. Kakashi quickly walked down his tree and calmed Sasuke down. Instructing him on how to perform the tree walking exercise correctly. Naruto followed him down soon after.

"Naruto, since there is nothing further I can teach you as far as chakra exercises at this point and time…" began Kakashi, before taking out a piece of blank paper and handing it to Naruto. "This is a chakra paper. It senses what element of chakra best suits you."

"Although I have a pretty good notion of what your elemental affinity is, I'd like you to put a little chakra into it to make sure we know what your element is."

Naruto nodded and channeled some of his chakra into the piece of paper. Sasuke looked on jealously as Sakura was exerting herself to do as many laps as possible up and down the tree.

The paper stayed blank. Kakashi raised an eyebrow in confusion. Naruto's face scrunched up in confusion. Sasuke hid his smirk as he started the tree climbing again.

Naruto channeled more chakra into the paper. Again, nothing occurred. Naruto channeled significantly more chakra into the paper the third time. Yet nothing happened. Naruto frowned and looked down at the grass in disappointment. Kakashi was truly baffled by this. Every single living thing that used chakra had a composition that allowed them to favor a certain element and make those jutsus easier for them. Kakashi had assumed the paper would get wet and then he could instruct Naruto into learning some water jutsu or if it was a different element then a different elemental jutsu. There had never been a case in recorded shinobi history in which a shinobi had no element. Kakashi sighed in a tone of resignation. He took the paper from Naruto, took out a pen from one of his pouches, and started writing on it.

"Here." said Kakashi, handing Naruto the piece of paper. "I've written instructions on how to perform the shunshin no jutsu. Nearly every shinobi alive desires to learn this technique since it makes moving around a lot faster either for practical or leisurely purposes. It's a relatively easy C-rank jutsu to learn. Study the theory and instructions I've written down and you should be able perform it within the month."

Naruto smiled and nodded in appreciation. Kakashi lightly ruffled his hair before using his crutches to walk back to Tazuna's house for a good meal. He hadn't eaten in nearly a week after all.

Naruto sat down by the tree he had been assigned to and started reading the theory and correct seals needed to perform the jutsu. He hoped to be proficient enough one day so that he could perform the body flicker without the need of hand seals.

As he was reading it, Sasuke had overexerted the amount of chakra necessary to climb the tree yet again and fell down rather ungracefully causing Naruto to turn his attention to him. Sasuke slumped on a tree wisely deciding to take a break despite the hurt pride he now endured. Sakura, seeing her crush take a break, decided to do so as well. She was very tired from the chakra strain of running up and down the tree. She couldn't fault her sensei for telling her to build her reserves considering the danger they had faced with Zabuza but grumbled inside her mind all the same.

"Better watch out, Uzumaki." growled Sasuke, looking at Naruto in jealousy. "Once I unlock my Sharingan, I'll just copy that technique from you and learn it easily."

Naruto shrugged in response.

"Okay, feel free."

That was not the reaction that Sasuke was expecting. He shot Naruto a confused look. Naruto looked up from his parchment and decided to clarify.

"We're shinobi and more importantly, we're a team." began Naruto, explaining his reasoning. "It's a dangerous world we live in. If there's a chance your life is saved somehow by using one of the techniques you copied from me then I won't complain."

Sasuke was stunned. Sakura looked up in surprise too. Perhaps she had incorrectly judged him? Naruto didn't seem like the murdering type… yet he had admitted to killing civilians when he was six…

"What was that talk about the Uzumaki clan that the Mist-nin mentioned?" asked Sasuke. He had to admit that he was curious. Why did Naruto live alone if he had a clan? Come to think of it, the Uzumaki's had been pretty prominent in Konoha around the time that the Uchiha's were still around. Sasuke hadn't paid attention to anything outside of his own pain of loss at the tender age of six during that time. "I thought you were an orphan?"

Naruto frowned. He sighed before looking at Sasuke. Should he tell them? They would find out eventually. It would be better if he told them now rather than finding out about his past from another source or worse, going behind his back to find out.

"I'm not an orphan. My clan-" Naruto spat that word out like it had a bad taste in his mouth. Sasuke scowled at this behavior. Ever since he lost his clan, he felt people should always cherish their family. You never know what you have until it's gone. "-abandoned me when I was six. They wanted nothing to do with me so they kicked me out and made me live on my own. They left the village and moved closer to the Daimyo's lands so that they could be further away from me."

"What?" interjected Sakura, looking horrified at that very prospect. What the hell kind of family was that? "How could they do such a thing? Why didn't your parents stopped them?"

"My father died during the Kyuubi attack on the village." explained Naruto, before his face was turned a tinge of red with anger. His palms clenched tightly. "My mother… is the Clan Head, Uzumaki Kushina. She's the one who made the decision to leave me by myself."

His teammates eyes widened at the revelation.

'What the fuck?' thought Sasuke, disgusted with this new information. He had always expected clans to unconditionally love their family. At least, that's how the Uchiha had always been from his experiences. What sort of clan abandoned a six-year old kid? Oh sure, his clan had technically abandoned him but only because they were all murdered! They hadn't all up and left him.

"Why did they do such a thing?" asked Sakura, she was horrified by what she had just learned. "How could your mother, of all people, do that to you?"

Naruto looked down. He didn't want to look at their faces of pity.

"I wasn't born with a bloodline. Uzumaki's always show signs of their bloodlines at the age of six or younger but I never did." Said Naruto, he despised reliving this terrible memories but it was good to talk about them. His comrades would've found out eventually anyway. Better to learn it from him. "Uzumaki's all have different bloodlines. The clan came about from bloodline clans that migrated from Kirigakura during the latter half of the bloodline purge. Not many other villages were willing to house the economic burden of hundreds of thousands of refugees from all across Kirigakura."

"This will be a bit long so please bear with me: Uzumaki Kushina, with the approval of the Sandaime-sama and the council, started a refugee system that eventually allowed them to come here and become Konoha citizens. They eventually decided to become one unified clan since their numbers were too few to really be influential in Konoha politics as separate clans and elected Kushina, their savior, as their clan head. It didn't hurt that during that time her husband, the Yondaime Hokage, approved these measures. None of the council, civilian or shinobi, had any problems with another clan mixed with several different bloodlines join the village. The Uzumaki clan itself has become intermixed in bloodlines due to the clan intermarriages between different bloodlines. Though, these were all out of free will. Very few marry outside the clan. This bloodline mix-up means that parents wouldn't know what bloodline their off-spring may get. A person can only be born with one bloodline naturally therefore the mix-up of bloodlines may cause some bloodlines to be more dominant than others or cause a new or maybe even different bloodline to be passed on. The two most common bloodlines noticed in the clan are the Steel skin and dead bone pulse bloodlines."

"Wait, I think I've heard of that." began Sakura, thinking back to her childhood. Sasuke nodded in agreement. He remembered them too. "They were a big thing back when I was really young. Didn't they leave Konoha?"

Naruto shook his head.

"That's not entirely correct." said Naruto. He cleared his throat ready to launch into another explanation. "They left Konoha to join the Fire Daimyo's estate as part of his elite guard. They have their own, rather large, estate as part of the Daimyo's estate and conduct many of the guarding and espionage missions he sends out. It's mostly to protect and acquire priceless antiques or merchandise respectively. They get a cut of the profits for all successful missions."

"You're hiding something." stated Sasuke, giving Naruto a skeptical look. "There is no way a clan leaves an entire village just because one member has shamed them. Usually the shame would be due to a murder or rape or some other criminal activity. There has to be something about you that they were afraid of."

Naruto looked down on the ground at that.

"Your father…" began Sakura, hesitating slightly. She gave Naruto a once over before gasping in surprise. "…was Yondaime-sama! If your Kushina's child then…"

Sasuke's eyes widened in realization.

"Uzumaki Karin, the youngest female to ever become a jounin, is your twin sister?" questioned Sasuke, before realizing that Naruto looked exactly like the Yondaime as Karin seemed to have gained a mix of her parents features and hair styles. "She became renowned as one of the strongest jounin in the village because of a rare bloodline she was born with…"

Sasuke frowned. He remembered researching strong ninja a few years back… but he couldn't recall that girl's bloodline. He shook his head before fixating Naruto with a gaze.

"So tell us, what's your secret?"

Naruto sighed in depression. He hated being put on the spot like this. Both his teammates eagerly awaited the information. He knew, because they were his teammates, that it was best to tell them sooner than later.

"Twelve years ago during the Kyuubi's attack on Konoha, the Yondaime – my father – couldn't kill it. That was a lie that the Sandaime informed the new generation." began Naruto. Sakura gave him a look that clearly said he was lying while Sasuke contemplated his words. "He did the next best thing. He sacrificed his life to seal it… inside me."

"After my clan abandoned me and left me unprotected, villagers would come out at night to beat me. This one night, it got really bad. They aimed to kill instead of just hurt me and I remember desperately wanting to stay alive. I cried, screamed, and begged but no one came to help. The last thing I recalled was the desire to hurt the people who were torturing me. I won't lie – I wanted them dead. I woke-up a few minutes later to find all my attackers were dead with no trace of damage on them. The ANBU and Sandaime-sama came after that… I don't remember the rest. I fell asleep after they arrived thinking I was safe. I know that after that, I was never attacked again because Sandaime-sama had ANBU routinely guard me 24/7 after that event. The reason I didn't react much to killing was because I occasionally dream of that night and waking up to find those dead bodies… knowing there is a demon inside of me that caused it."

He looked to see his teammates' reactions. Sasuke looked surprisingly remorse. Sakura, however, looked disgusted. Naruto held back his sadness. He had come to expect one or both his teammates would hate him after telling them the whole truth. At least one was better than nothing.

"Naruto," said Sakura softly, interrupting his musings. "Please stand-up."

Naruto frowned but hesitantly did so. Sakura got up at the same time and walked over to him. He half-expected a slap or perhaps a biting remark. Maybe even blaming him for some such thing because of the Kyuubi.

Instead, she gave him a tight hug. He froze at the contact. Nobody but his lover had ever intimately touched him like that. When she let go, he could see tears from her cheeks. He gave her a confused look.

"I'm sorry," she told him sincerely, surprising him yet again. "I had no idea… I thought you were just a bad kid which was why I listened to my parents. I had no idea you had such a rough life… or the village's blind prejudice to you. I never questioned how everyone seemed to unanimously hate you except the Sandaime. So… I'm sorry."

"I…" he didn't really know what to say. "I… forgive you."

She smiled at that before returning to sit by her tree. Sasuke looked pensive before he seemed to make a decision. Naruto sat back down by his tree.

"It must not have been easy to tell us that," began Sasuke, choosing his words carefully, he had demanded Naruto spill the beans… so it was only fair. A stray thought bothered Sasuke, what if the Kyuubi contract had been the reason that Kyuubi attacked Konoha? Even if it was only a small reason then Sasuke's clan was, in some way, responsible for Naruto's miserable childhood. The thought disturbed him. "So I'll tell you my secret as well."

"My older brother… killed my entire clan. He used our clan dojutsu to torture me into seeing their deaths repeatedly. It… I've had nightmares for years about my clan's death for six years now. Ever since then, I've been obsessed with getting revenge on him."

His teammates listened in rapt attention as he went over the Uchiha massacre perpetuated by his older brother. They listened in horrified fascination and gave the condolences once he had finished. Sasuke, surprisingly, felt the pain ease slightly. He had never before discussed it with anyone and hadn't realized how much he had bottled it up. He knew they would never fully understand his pain like he did but having talked about it did relieve the stress he felt in his heart. He had even told him of his fixation to be stronger.

"I don't have pasts as bad as both of yours…" began Sakura, after Sasuke finished. "But… but I think I understand why being a shinobi is so important to both of you now. I'm… I'm going to ask Kakashi-sensei for more training after this. I know now that you guys will push hard in being shinobi so I'll try my best too."

They didn't realize it then but Squad Seven had stopped becoming just teammates at that point. They would only realize it later; all three had just become friends.

The following weeks after that conversation, the team grew closer. Kakashi was delighted to see his team become closer and told both Naruto and Sasuke that he was proud they had chosen to share their past so early with the team. They had beamed at the praise and Kakashi went on to instruct Sakura and Sasuke on water walking. After they had mastered that, he had given them chakra papers to see what their elements were. All three were genuinely surprised to see that Sasuke's paper crumpled and burned a somewhat. Kakashi took note of that, realizing that Sasuke had the affinity of two elements. Sakura's crumbled a little indicating that her element was earth.

After the team felt they mastered the jutsus given to them well enough during their training, they ate a hearty meal of Tsunami's best cooking. She wanted to congratulate the team for periodically training so hard and for protecting her father. The fact stayed after finding out the true difficulty of the mission was a godsend to her. Afterwards, Naruto left to go train in the forest at night, explaining that he wanted to learn to do the Shunshin no jutsu without handseals and that he would practice all night. Kakashi gave him leave but told him to be back by morning and not to overdo it.

Naruto used taju Kage Bunshin once he arrived at a secluded forest area and set to work on training to master the Shunshin at a Jounin level. It wasn't as easy as it looked but he would try.

"If only you were stronger…" spoke the young Naruto, facing the older version with a condescending glare. "Then you wouldn't have been abandoned. You were useless. All they expect from you is failure."

Naruto simply stared. He had this dream for years now. The voice would mock him, insult him, and continue to degrade him unimpeded. No matter how much he had yelled, shouted, and pleaded throughout the six years he had this dream when his clan abandoned him, it never yielded. Naruto identified the voice as Kyuubi manipulating his emotions to hurt him. How or why the Kyuubi would do this, he didn't know. He assumed that it was just something the demon took pleasure in.

"You're the demon." said the miniature Naruto snidely as it sensed the boy's thoughts, Naruto stared blankly in response. Hopefully this nightmare would just end and he would be done with it. "If only you had power like mine, you could make them pay. You could even have the world at your grasp…"

"But you're stupid! You're so fucking stupid! You do not know how to wield your own power! Look at neechan, she became a famous jounin because of skill and her bloodline. She enhanced the reputation of the clan. She's seen as the pinnacle of their successes. She's a prodigy. What do you have? What have you accomplished by comparison? NOTHING! Why is that? Because you are a NOTHING!"

A memory came and jolted Naruto from his reverie of self-pity. No… he would not be an emo or act like the world owed him something… No… she had been right. He would fight this.

"You studied so diligently after they abandoned you. Studied jutsu scrolls they accidentally left behind, studied up on bloodlines to desperately see if you had signs of one so you could beg to come back, studied in school hard only for teachers to unfairly grade you, kept to yourself because you didn't want to give anyone anymore reasons to hate you, and did your best to train hard. What did any of that amount to for you in the end? You failed to get them to return. Why would that be? Because you are an absolute failure. You would be better off dead!"

"No…" said Naruto firmly, glaring at his arrogant mini-version. "I am not nothing. I'll do fine on my own. I've come this far… I may not be a jounin or a clan genius like neechan but I'm not jealous over it. I'll face life with my own strength. I can do it. She believes in me and now I have a sensei and friends who believe in me. I'm doing better now than I ever was… so you can go fuck yourself."

The mini-version grinned darkly in satisfaction.

"Prove it then." replied little Naruto before swiftly coming over to him and socking him in the face.

Naruto reeled as he actually felt that blow. He gazed at the younger version in pure shock.

How was that even possible?

The fight ensued.

Naruto awoke in a fright. He instinctively used chakra sensing and clamped his hand down on the intruder right next to him. The intruder tried to let go but he held on too tightly. His eyes roamed to face his foe. He could sense the bloodline of an Uzumaki within this one.

"Why are you here?" snapped Naruto, glaring at the gir- the boy in surprise. He nearly mistook the boy for a girl. "Did the Uzumaki clan send you here to kill me?"

The boy looked startled and managed to pull free.

"Uzumaki clan?" asked the boy startled by his question, "I'm sorry but… I have no idea what you're referring to."

Naruto squinted at the boy before his posture relaxed. The boy seemed to relax too in spite of himself.

"Sorry," mumbled Naruto, as he got up and started to stretch his body. The other boy got up as well and looked at him quizzically. "It's just… my chakra senses identify your chakra as the same as that of my… clan. It… um… it exists in Konohagakura no Sato, the clan takes in those with bloodlines from Kirigakura as refugees. My chakra sense picked-up that you had a bloodline because of your unique chakra flow. All people with bloodlines have some sort of enhanced chakra flow from where their body uses the bloodline."

The boy looked at him stunned. As the haze of sleep from Naruto's mind slowly eroded, he realized he had sensed this specific chakra signature before.

"My… that's a… quite an amazing ability that you have," spoke the boy cautiously; Naruto grinned in response at the praise. Neither could betray themselves in this farce. They didn't know how strong the other truly was. "My nameis Haku… I've come out here to pick herbs for… for an injured friend of mine."

"That's thoughtful of you," said Naruto nodding, picking-up on the possibility that it was Zabuza that this boy was helping. "Perhaps I can be of assistance?"

Haku smiled in relief upon thinking that Naruto was ignorant of whom he was.

"That won't be necessary. I'm almost finished. Thank you for the offer though."

Haku left to find the last remaining herbs needed.

"See you later, Hunter-san." muttered Naruto, so quietly that Haku barely heard it. Haku froze before turning around. Naruto hadn't attacked; he just stood there with a sad smile on his face.

"It's a shame that we're enemies. Perhaps had circumstances been different… we could've been allies or even… friends?"

Haku frowned at the unsettling feeling he gained at the pit of his stomach before quickly leaving.

Kakashi had stationed the entire team to watch over the bridge in the days that followed after Naruto reported the incident. Naruto had clones watching the outskirts of the forest in case of any attacks on Tazuna's home. Kakashi had recovered to full health in those weeks.

On one particular day, the mist had grown heavier than usual and Kakashi instructed the workers to vacate the premises because he was certain there would be an oncoming attack. Upon meeting a healthy Zabuza and the supposed Hunter-nin Haku, a battle ensued. Kakashi faced Zabuza head on as he instructed Sakura to protect the bridge builder and Naruto to back-up Sasuke.

Sasuke was matching Haku's senbon with ease. Naruto was about to interfere when Haku used water icicles to hit Sasuke dead on but Sasuke told him to stay back, citing he could handle it. Naruto was amazed by the enemy's use of half seals. For years, he had assumed that getting the seals and the right chakra levels down would mean mastering the jutsu but this discovery opened whole new avenues of which to use jutsu. He could take a page from Haku and Zabuza. He was annoyed however as he watched Sasuke still refuse his help. Naruto, somewhat frustrated, bit back a snarky comment and watched impatiently. He knew Sasuke wanted to prove himself because of his brother instilling him with an inferiority complex but Naruto preferred a live friend to a dead one. He was one step away from coming in to smash Haku with his fist. Sakura, fortunately, couldn't see the battle otherwise she would've been just as worried.

When the dome of ice formed, Naruto snapped into attention. He summoned two Kage Bunshins and left them outside the dome as he jumped high into the air, used the necessary hand seals, and blew out a grandfireball jutsu at one of the mirrors. It hit the ice mirror dead on but Naruto gaped as he noticed that the ice mirror slowly changed back to its original shape. He tried throwing fireballs again and again as his body neared the mirror. It kept fixing itself and Naruto summoned a heavy dose of his chakra to throw out the largest and strongest fireball he could at the crystal ice mirrors. He groaned in frustration as he noticed that the melted fixed themselves back-up. Sasuke was beginning to resemble a human pincushion and didn't have enough energy to get out in time. He watched helplessly as his body was ready to smack into one of the mirrors. As he closed in on it, he shut his eyes for the inevitable impact but to his shock, he felt a splash of water as he careened right through the mirror.

Naruto looked behind him to see Haku throw senbon at his back, paralyzing his movements, and making him crash down at the center near Sasuke in a heap. He got up quickly, gritting his teeth at the pain.

'I need to keep focus. Falling unconscious here will only put both of us in jeopardy.'

He got up quickly and activated Shunshin no jutsu to avoid any further oncoming projectiles. He wasn't fast enough to get out of the ice prison but he was able to protect Sasuke from any further senbon attacks by blocking them with kunai. Sasuke, quickly getting the hint, started throwing fireballs at the mirrors. Haku didn't risk coming out of the mirrors any more for fear of Naruto's speed catching up to him.

"He's toying with us…" muttered Naruto, blocking more projectiles. Sasuke listened carefully while shooting fireballs at the mirrors in succession. "He could easily have killed us by now. He's looking to incapacitate and avoid killing. He could've killed us already if he wanted to."

Suddenly Sasuke became more adept at moving out of the way of projectiles. So much so that Naruto no longer had to focus on protecting him and sent his own fireballs at the ice crystals. Naruto noted the red eyes and tomoes that Sasuke gained. Naruto simply pointed at his own cerulean eyes for Sasuke to understand the non-verbal communication. Sasuke grinned in response. He felt much more confident now and having unlocked his Sharingan of all things in mid-battle was a huge bonus.

They both set out to throw as many grandfireballs as possible at different mirrors to expend Haku's reserves. They knew a jutsu like this couldn't be kept up for too long regardless of if this shinobi was or wasn't a jounin. They were guessing but judging from the slowing movements, it seemed to be working. Suddenly, Haku, in an act of desperation, appeared on every mirror and threw senbon from all of them.

Their eyes widened as they both cursed. There was nothing they could do about the projectiles! They were both hit by the senbon full force. They fell to the floor paralyzed. Haku, within the crystal ice mirrors, breathed deeply as he tried to conserve the remainder of his chakra. He was becoming dangerously close to losing all his chakra and entering the exhaustion state. He couldn't keep this up forever but it seemed he didn't have to because they were both down for the count-

Naruto got back up to his feet slowly and Sasuke staggered forth only a few moments later. Haku cursed, he well and truly cursed, it seemed that – despite his abject desire against it – he would need to kill them. Haku's stomach twisted in a knot. He didn't want to kill these shinobi… they were barely younger than him, fresh out of the academy from the reports Zabuza had researched on Kakashi, and to Haku they were just children – very gifted children – but children none the less.

Haku took no pleasure in killing random mercenaries. Most weren't savages who plundered and raped like cartoons would have moronic children believe, they were hard-working fathers or brothers who had no other means to feed their families, or to feed themselves. Haku killed these kinds of men for a living as his master instructed for need of money. He took no pleasure in it and tried to make them as clean as possible. He didn't like his victims to suffer. This was a hypocrisy that Haku had come to acknowledge. If you believed most people to be good, then those that Haku killed would more than likely be good people. If you acknowledged them as bad, then Haku himself was really no better. And now, Haku was in a situation he had never wished – prayed to Kami even – that he would never be in. He would have to kill children. He didn't care if they had signed up for this by becoming shinobi to him they were still children. Haku made a silent prayer to whatever heaven above to have mercy on his soul for what he was about to do. He took aim… but was stopped suddenly by a vicious roar.

Haku looked up aghast as he noticed a water dragon having been summoned and quickly coming in to attack, and thereby melt, the mirrors. Haku cursed himself infuriated by his own ineptitude. His prayer for mercy had given his opponents all the time needed to summon a water dragon to kill him! Haku, in desperation due to his stil waning chakra reserves, jumped out into the air, right in front of the behemoth of a jutsu and slammed his right hand onto its nose. Haku used his Hyouton bloodline to start freezing the water dragon's face. He didn't get much further from the head as his body gave out to chakra exhaustion as the dragon's head, the mirrors, and the water behind the dragon came crashing down all at once. Haku blacked out acknowledging his own doom and his own foolishness for giving some mercy to an enemy. It had cost him his life.

The water dragon's fall had created a sonic boom at the impact point and the water from the rest of the water dragon's body flooded the bridge. Kakashi and Zabuza were forced to stop their fight as torrents of water flowed towards them at impressive speeds while the excess seeped away at the bridge's sides.

Sakura gasped in shock at the oncoming raging waves before snapping into attention. She sped through the necessary handseals with ease.

"Doton: Doroku Gaeshi!" she slammed her palms on the ground as a miniature wall sprang forth from the bridge and protected her from the front of the brutal waves. It crashed onto her wall but fortunately the wall didn't give away from the constant impact. Sakura and Tazuna both stood the other side, keeping the bodies pinned as the water rapidly moved past them. Immediately, her concern for her friends overcame her.

'Oh Kami, Oh Kami!" she thought frantically, 'Don't let them have been killed by this!'

'What the hell caused all this water anyway? Was it that Hunter-nin?"

The wind that kicked-up due to the immense crash near the ice mirrors had caused the mist to die away. Kakashi and Zabuza turned to the epicenter of the noise to see a bound Haku on the ground with a kunai poised at his throat from a rather pissed off looking Naruto. Half of the frozen dragon's head was behind the three. Sasuke, with his sharingan eyes still activated, turned to face Zabuza.

"Give-up or we kill him."

Kakashi and Zabuza both gaped for their own reasons. Zabuza because he couldn't believe two fresh out of the academy brats had bested Haku, whom by all rights could be considered a low jounin-shinobi, and Kakashi because he was surprised that Naruto and Sasuke had come-up with such a cutthroat albeit smart plan.

Zabuza put his cleaver back in his holder behind him and stared at Kakashi.

"It seems you've trained your brats well in the art of being a shinobi," snorted Zabuza, annoyed by his own misjudgment regarding Kakashi's team and not at Haku's loss. "It seems the last Uchiha of Konoha has finally unlocked his Sharingan. Small wonder that Haku lost."

"Looks like your brats won this for you."

Kakashi just stared. Of all the ways he foresaw this battle ending… this certainly wasn't it. Naruto and Sasuke had literally won the battle for him. Was there anything that these two couldn't do?

"Pitiful!" snorted Gatou, catching the attention of the occupants of the bridge. "Demon of the Mist? You've been bested by children!"

They all noticed the large band of mercenaries behind Gatou. He grinned in triumph. Kakashi and Zabuza exchanged a look. They silently came to the agreement of no longer being enemies. Gatou's intentions were so clear that he didn't have to say anything. Naruto got off Haku and restored some of his chakra before shaking him awake. Sasuke cut his ropes. Haku looked up in confusion to see Gatou and his men before his eyes hardened in understanding.

"I was planning to kill you once you had dealt with the bridge builder and his hired shinobi," snarled Gatou, scowling at them. Sakura and Tazuna both moved away from the wall and rushed toward Kakashi's side. She was silently relieved to see that Naruto and Sasuke were both alright. "But you couldn't even do that right, TWICE! It seems I'll just have to kill all of you."

"I'll handle this." said Naruto, loudly enough for everyone to here. Gatou and his mercenaries chuckled in response. His two clones left outside the crystal mirrors that had summoned the water dragon both rapidly started the handseals once more. "Suiton: Suiryūdan no Jutsu!"

Water erupted from Gatou's side of the bridge. From both sides of the bridge came two large water dragon's that merged into a single large water dragon. It roared with fury as Gatou's mercenaries started fleeing in shock and horror. Gatou himself was stunned in place by the behemoth in front of him. The water dragon smashed into the fleeing mercenaries and Gatou, killing them instantly from the impact, and causing their bodies to fall to the sides of the bridge or far away into the forest area behind them. After the jutsu was finished, there was no longer anyone left standing.

Zabuza whistled acknowledging the impressive display, Sasuke smirked satisfied that they had completed an A-rank mission so successfully, and the rest just stared in surprise at Naruto's jutsu. Naruto couldn't help but grin at the amazed looks he was getting.

"Haku, come here for a moment." spoke Zabuza after seeing Gatou taken care of. Haku gingerly made his way to Zabuza.

"The Great Lucky Seven Bridge?" asked Sarutobi, putting down the mission report and looking toward Kakashi, Sasuke, and Haku. "That's quite a mouthful."

Kakashi shrugged in response.

"Naruto was too modest to allow them to name it solely after him." responded Kakashi, "So they tried to think of a name to thank the entire squad… not the best of names though."

Sarutobi shook his head bemused. Naruto and Sakura had left to go to their respective homes as Haku followed Kakashi to register himself as an official Konoha shinobi. Sasuke trailed behind saying that he needed to speak with the Hokage on a personal matter.

"Sasuke, what brought you here?" asked the Hokage, looking at the last Uchiha curiously.

"Hokage-sama," began Sasuke respectfully, "I'd like to register and adopt Uzumaki Naruto and Haku into the Uchiha clan."

The occupants of the room gaped at that statement. It seemed events in Konoha were going to get more interesting.