A/N: This is the first fic I've ever bothered to post.

-Pauses and waits for fanfare-

As such, I welcome any and all reviews (those with constructive criticism even more so).

About the story: Naruto is not going to be OMGSUPERPOWEREDOVERNIGHT! He's older, he's better trained, and yes, that makes him incredibly powerful, but he worked for it, and he's not a god or anything. I haven't put much thought into the future of this story...over the next few days I'll probably sit down and really start plotting it out, but the idea for this prologue just hit me and I had to write it down.

Without any further ado, I present to you:


Ascension

By TgCid24

The Prologue


It was raining. Cold, hard, and horizontally.

Konoha had seen it's fair share of rain over the years, but never like this. The first few days of it had been kind of exciting. At least, to Benka it had been kind of exciting, but a week later, it was starting to wear on his nerves. As one of the gate guards, his days were already quite boring, but with the rain driving people to shelter and preventing travel his job was even less exciting. The fourteen year old had always assumed that getting promoted to Chuunin would be exciting...boy was he wrong.

So, he found himself staring through the open gates and down a rain fogged road, his mind wandering freely.

The trees look kind of otherworldly in this light, he mused, with all the mist it's very...hmm...what's the word I'm looking for? Phantasmic? Is that even a word? Phantasm is a word, so why wouldn't phantasmic be? Yeah! That makes sense! It's phantasmic. I wonder what causes everything to look fuzzy like...

Benka's thoughts trailed off when a figure crested the hill, trudging it's way towards the Konoha gates. A hood covered it's head, and the long black cloak it clutched around itself prevented any kind of guess as to it's gender.

Long black cloak? Akatsuki?

Benka tensed, a hand unconsciously dropped to his kunai holster. The Akatsuki, as far as he knew, had been dormant for two years now. After all, the majority of them were wiped out, but that didn't mean they were all gone.

The stranger strode confidently through the gate and stopped in front of the checkpoint, peering through the rain spattered window. Benka found himself staring into a pair of deep blue eyes.

"Nice day," said the man, for the voice was definitely male...it was a comforting sort of voice, full of humor and warmth. Benka relaxed instinctively.

"Right," Benka managed to say, drawing the word out skeptically. Eventually, the stranger shifted uncomfortably and Benka realized he had been staring at him for a while. He shook himself and went about doing his job. "Name and business?" he asked.

The man pulled his hood down. A big grin split his face, framed by yellow locks of hair. "Namikaze Naruto. I'm returning from an extended information gathering mission." He rummaged through the pack he had slung over his shoulder. Benka found his eyes drawn to the large, cloth-wrapped something strapped to Naruto's back.

"Ah ha," exclaimed Naruto, pulling out a sheaf of papers, "My identification."

Benka skimmed through them. "These papers are for an Uzumaki Naruto?"

Naruto cursed lightly under his breath, "Gomen," he said with a sheepish grin, "I completely forgot that I haven't been back to Konoha since I changed my name."

Benka found the page with his picture I.D. on it and held it up for a side-by-side comparison. The twelve-year-old in the picture had a very similar grin, spiky blond hair that was exactly the same shade, the same blue eyes, and a matching set of whisker marks on his cheeks. Whisker marks? That's odd. Looking up at the man's face, Benka found himself wondering how he hadn't noticed the marks before.

"I apologize sir, but I'm going to have to assign you an escort to the Hokage's office. If she can confirm your identity, there won't be any problems. It's standard procedure when we find discrepancies in someone's papers, you understand." Benka said in his best professional voice.

"Of course," agreed Naruto, his friendly smile never faltering.

Benka picked up a telephone receiver and waited. It dialed and rang automatically...a direct line to the guard barracks.


A short few minutes later, Naruto found himself following a young nin through the deserted, drenched streets of his home village. Four years, he had been gone. Four years in which he had managed to forget so much...to push it all to the back of his mind and lock it down tight, but now that he was back, it was all starting to bubble back up to the surface.

"Make it quick, dobe. I did what I set out to do, now I don't have anything left," said Sasuke, his face oddly peaceful...

Naruto shook his head clear, clamping down hard on that train of thought and shoving it back to the recesses of his mind where it belonged. Seeking something to keep his mind occupied, he focused on the young chuunin in front of him. The boy couldn't be more than thirteen, probably fresh out of the exams. He was a good head shorter than Naruto, who was by no means tall. Naruto shook his head, a sad smile on his face. Was I ever that much of a shrimp?

He shifted the leather strap around his shoulders, partially to settle it more comfortably and partially to make sure the scroll was still there. It was probably the most precious possession he owned now, and as someone who never had a lot, he was fiercely protective of what he had.

"The streets are awfully empty," remarked Naruto. The chuunin started in surprise, it was the first thing the man had said since he had picked him up at the gates.

"You kidding?" he responded, "Don't know 'bout where you come from mister, but here in Konoha, it's pretty natural for people to stay inside when a typhoon hits."

"A typhoon? This?" Naruto chuckled, "Nah, this is just a nice shower. You haven't seen typhoons till you've been to the Water Country."

"You've been to Mizu, sir?" asked the Chuunin, curiosity piqued. Travel wasn't something gennin and chuunin experienced very often.

"Yeah. Couple'a times. Rains for weeks at a time. No wonder they use almost nothing but water jutsu in Mizugakure."

"A couple of times? Where else have you been?" the Chuunin asked.

"All over, that's all I can say, sorry." Naruto smirked when the kid seemed disappointed.

After a few minutes of silence, the chuunin spoke up again. "I'm sorry sir, I never got your name...I'm Miyamoto Hanzo,"

"Namikaze Naruto," he offered with a grin.

"Is this your first time in Konoha, Namikaze-san?" Hanzo asked politely.

Naruto chuckled, "No, Konoha is my home, but I've been gone for quite a while. I'm not surprised that a lot of the younger generation don't recognize me."

"Younger generation?" Hanzo puzzled out loud, "No offense sir, but you don't seem that much older than me."

"Heh, I guess not. I'm only nineteen," Naruto said. But you, Miyamoto Hanzo, are still just a kid, and I pray you stay that way, he added silently.

Deep in the back of his mind, he felt a stirring. Ah, finally awake I see, Kitsune-chan.

"Shut up, gaki," Kyuubi growled.

You could've at least kept me company, baka, Naruto grumbled mentally. Walking by yourself...in the rain, just sucks.

"I'm not going to apologize for napping instead of watching you walk, so drop it." A few moments of awkward silence passed between demon and container before the Kyuubi broke it. "I hate this place," he said petulantly.

Naruto's gaze fell on the Hokage Monument. Maybe, but it's home. The Kyuubi remained silent, and Naruto lost himself in thought.

"Namikaze-san?" asked Hanzo. Naruto realized that the young chuunin must of been calling his name for some time now.

"Gomen, what did you say?"

"I said, 'We're here,'" Hanzo replied.

Naruto looked up and was surprised to find himself standing in front of the doors to the Hokage's office. The ANBU guard on the left nodded to them and knocked on the door.

"Enter," replied a voice that Naruto easily recognized. The ANBU who knocked pushed the doors open and waved them in.

"Hey, Obaa-chan!" Naruto greeted loudly.


Tsunade's eyes widened in shock. She knew that voice, it was deeper than she remembered, but she still knew it. It stirred up some painful memories:

"What do you mean you want to leave?" Tsunade asked, doing her best to keep her voice even and controlled.

"I--want--to--leave," he enunciated.

"Why?" she asked through gritted teeth.

Naruto sighed wearily. "A week, Obaa-chan. It's only been a week since...it happened," Naruto's voice hitched slightly, "and I already can't stand it. The glares, the hatred...if it was just that, I might be okay, but the bastards have been tacking pictures of...him to my door every day. They all blame me! They'll never let me forget, even if I tried. It's driving me crazy!"

Tsunade's expression softened. "Look, Naruto, I know it's hard, but you can't just walk out. It's either retirement or you become a missing-nin and have to deal with all of the hunter-nin."

"B--but, you and Ero-sennin, you were gone for years!" he argued.

"I was retired, and Jiraiya was on a long term mission," she replied.

"But what about when Ero-sennin took me on a training trip?" he shot back.

"You were assigned to him as an apprentice. Master-Apprentice rights supercede most laws governing the comings and goings of a shinobi."

"Super--wha?" Naruto asked, baffled.

Tsunade sighed irritably. "Basically it means that because the old pervert was your Master, he could take you anywhere he wanted, within reason, and Konoha couldn't say jack about it."

"Oh..." Naruto said, his face scrunched up in concentration. "Well, can't you send me on a long term mission?"

She could detect just a hint of desperation in his voice. She blew out another deep breath and looked around her, as if she were searching for an answer. Her eyes fell on the framed portrait of the Yondaime and the beginnings of an idea started to form. A way to kill two birds with one stone. She'd been dreading have to tell him; she knew it would be hard for him to handle, but if she just gave it to him, sent him on a little trip--maybe as a spy, or to help gather information from the Konoha networks? Yeah! That would work--he would be gone when he found out, and he could have plenty of time to deal with it before he came back.

A sly smile quirked at the corners of her mouth. "I think I might have an idea," she said.

"Really? What is it?"

"Shut up a minute and I'll tell you," she replied, pushing herself out of her seat.

Naruto beamed at her as she made her way over to the line of portraits on her wall and pulled on the Yondaime's. It swung out on a hidden hinge, revealing a safe. With a few deft twists of a knob, the door clicked.

Tsunade paused and looked over her shoulder at him. "No one hears about this...ever, right?"

"Yeah, sure Baa-chan."

She resisted the urge to punch him through the wall masterfully and turned back to the safe. "Stupid gaki and his stupid nicknames," she muttered to herself.

With a quick motion, she punctured her thumb on a small needle under the handle, then swiped said thumb over an almost invisible kanji. The door clicked again.

She leaned in and whispered, too quiet for anyone to hear, "Will of fire."

The door clicked one last time and swung open. The only thing inside was a scroll...a really, really big scroll. It scraped against the sides of the safe when she pulled it out, and knocked Naruto over when she tossed it to him.

"What's this?" Naruto asked after he struggled back to his feet. He reached out an arm to unseal it and see for himself, but Tsunade's voice froze him.

"Wait! Don't open it here!" she hissed.

"Why?" he asked curiously.

"It's full of a lot of sensitive information. Information that we don't want anyone knowing, at least not right now."

"Cool! Is it some super secret Konoha kinjutsu scroll?" he asked eagerly, all traces of the depressed boy from moments ago had vanished.

"Um...sure," she said. "Now listen up!"

Naruto, who had been gazing almost lovingly at his "super secret Konoha kinjutsu scroll" snapped his attention back to her.

"The people who wrote that scroll wanted you to have it once you turned fifteen. Things have been kind of hectic, so I haven't been able to give it to you until now. I'm officially assigning you to a long term training mission, but your real purpose will be to read that scroll, and master it's contents--"

She was cut off by a loud shout of "YATTA!"

"Indeed," she continued, "There's no set time limit, just come back when you're ready. All long term missions are automatically B-ranked at the least, we'll bump it up to A-Rank for you, since you're carrying around an S-ranked secret--" she paused and pointed to the super secret Konoha kinjutsu scroll, "--so you should have a nice bit of pay accumulated when you return."

"Wow, thanks Obaa-chan!" Naruto exclaimed, grinning widely.

"Yeah, yeah, whatever, gaki," she said affectionately, "Now go pack, you'll leave in the morning."

In a flash, Naruto was out the door.

Tsunade stared at the door, a sad smile on her face. He may be irritating, but she was really going to miss that kid.

And miss him she did, but he was here, he was right in front of her. Without so much as thought, she was moving.


"Erk!" was all Naruto could say with Tsunade's arms cutting off most of his air supply and his face buried in her large...ahem "assets." If he could breathe it might have been kind of nice...if she wasn't the closest thing he had to a living mother that is.

Eventually, she pulled back, sniffled once, wiped away a stray tear, and then glared at him.

"What?" he asked innocently.

"Four years? When I told you to take as long as you needed, I didn't expect four years!" she said angrily.

"Yeah, eheh," he chuckled bashfully, scratching the back of his head. "Well, this sucker kind of had a lot of stuff in it--" he patted the scroll, "--and it took a long time just to learn it all. Then things kept coming up...but I'm back now." He finished with a charming grin.

She smiled in return. "That you are."

Naruto looked around curiously. Not much had changed really.

Hanzo cleared his throat. Tsunade did a double take. "Hanzo? What're you doing here?"

"Escorting Namikaze-san, Hokage-sama," Tsunade did another double take, "His given name did not match the name on his papers. I assume that you vouch for him?"

"Yes, yes, of course," she waved her hand dismissively, "Go back to the barracks and get a good night's sleep, eh Hanzo? No sake, right? We don't want to see what happens when we show up for duty late again, do we?"

Hanzo blushed, "Hokage-sama, you know I don't drink, I'm underage!"

"Of course," she smirked. "Go home, Hanzo, I wish to speak with Naruto alone."

"Hai, Hokage-sama." Hanzo bowed to her then turned to Naruto. "It was a pleasure to meet you, Namikaze-san. I look forward to seeing you around the village." Naruto nodded and Hanzo let himself out, shutting the doors gently behind him.

"Sit down, gaki," said Tsunade, motioning to the seat in front of her desk. Naruto flicked a catch on the scroll's leather strap. It thunked to the floor and he leaned it against the arm of the chair.

He settled himself comfortably beside it and said, "Oi! You can't call me 'gaki' anymore! I'm almost twenty years old, Obaa-chan."

"And technically, you can't call me Obaa-chan anymore, because I'm your Hokage," she shot back. Naruto chuckled merrily.

"Good point, Obaa-chan."

Tsunade plopped down in her chair and propped her feet up on her desk. "So, have a good trip?" she asked casually.

"Yeah! It was awesome!" he said enthusiastically, "You should think about making a training trip mandatory or something!"

"Why's that?" she asked. His enthusiasm was contagious, she felt a grin of her own spread across her face.

"I learned so much, just by passing through villages. If I ever have to fight, oh...let's say a Mist-nin, after watching a few of them spar over a couple of months, I can tell you what moves they're likely to open up with. I can tell you what type of jutsu they specialize in based on their opening moves, and how to counter it, because I saw them do it. It was like they were showing me their own weaknesses! And when I was in Iwa I saw--"

"Wait," Tsunade interrupted, "you were in Iwa? How in the hell did you survive in Iwa? They're not exactly friendly with Konoha shinobi, especially Konoha shinobi with blond hair, and most especially Konoha shinobi with blond hair who are carrying around a scroll that says 'I'm the Yondaime Hokage's son.'"

"Yeah, I got really well acquainted with Henge no jutsu while I was there." He paused, and in less than breath, was replaced by a man with dark red hair and bright green eyes. "And the scroll had taught me enough fuuinjutsu that it was a cinch to hide it."

"Impressive. No seals, no words, and almost instantaneous, and you've started to learn fuuinjutsu. It will be interesting to see how much you've improved when we test you."

With a poof, Naruto was in the seat again, smiling widely. "So, will I be fighting Kakashi-sensei again?"

"We'll see," she smirked. A comfortable silence settled between them while they beamed at each other.

A few minutes later, Tsunade's smile started to falter. "So...are you okay...with everything?" she asked tentatively.

Naruto's face fell a little. "I think so...good enough that I can take whatever the villagers throw at me at least.

"And that?" she asked, nodding towards the scroll.

"Oh yeah! That's great. Kaa-san and Tou-san explained everything to me. I know why they did what they did, why things worked out like they did, and most importantly...I know that they loved me; that they actually really wanted me. Plus, the Uzumaki and Namikaze jutsu are kick ass!"

Tsunade chuckled. "So, you're going to go by Namikaze now?"

Naruto nodded fervently. "No offense to Kaa-san's family, but I should take my father's name, don't you think?"

"Yes, you should," she looked at him nervously, "but the council won't be happy when they find out who you are. Da...I mean, some of them were happy when they Yondaime was gone, and they won't be happy to find out that his legacy is also his progeny."

Naruto looked confused. "Pro...wha?"

Tsunade chuckled again. In the past, she would have been irritated by now, but she was just too happy that he was back to care. "They won't be happy that you're his child."

"Oh. Well screw them then!" he proclaimed loudly. Tsunade's chuckle worked itself into a full belly laugh.

"You look so much like your father," she said after she calmed down, "but you're spirit is all Kushina." Naruto smiled shyly and rubbed the back of his head. "After you left, I took the liberty of assigning a weekly D-rank mission to clean your parents' house. It should be in order, if you're ready to move in."

Naruto's eyes widened comically. "I get a house?" he asked incredulously.

"Of course, didn't the scroll mention it?" Tsunade asked, her face twisted into a mask of confusion. "A house is kind of a big part of an inheritance."

"Well, yeah, but it didn't say that it was passed down to me. I really get a house?"

Tsunade's face relaxed into a smile again. "Yes, you really get a house."

"YATTA!" Naruto leapt to his feet and hugged his scroll tightly. "Thank you, Tou-san, Kaa-san," he whispered to it, too quietly for Tsunade to hear.

"Come on, gaki," said Tsunade, standing up and walking towards the door. "I'll show you to your knew house."


A/N: And thus ends the prologue

-Pauses and waits for fanfare again-

What did you think? Did it suck? Did it rock? Review and tell me!

I have a request, for anyone in the know: I'm looking for a site that can take an english phrase and translate it to romanized japanese (or the next best thing, if you know of something) for any original jutsu I might come up with. I suck at Japanese, I know almost nothing about it, so please don't make fun of me for it.

Bye for now!

P.S. Flamers, you will be ignored...harshly. You have been warned!