A/N: BEWARE! EXTREMELY LONG CHAPTER! Lol. :)
"Naruto! It's your turn, little man. " Smiled Mizuki sensei encouragingly. Naruto scowled as he stepped forward, his fear like a brick in his stomach.
His hands took the formation, and he let out a low, calming breath. He had been working as hard as he could for the past few weeks, and with Hinata's help he had gotten up to two clones- and they were only partially under the weather. Naruto has been outside beforehand exerting as much of his chakra as he could, so that he could have easier control over the little chakra he had.
But, of course, he ended up being called near the very end when his chakra had almost refilled back to normal. He knew it wasn't normal to have so much chakra, but he said nothing of it. After the tests were through, the results of final teams would be posted the next day- or rather announced by Iruka the next day.
"Clone Jutsu." It was barely a whisper, the soft words leaving his mouth in an unhurried breath of concentration. His chakra sluggishly, at least it seemed to him, began to circle around him, and he closed his eyes. There was a soft bang and smoke filled the room for a few moments.
"Yes!" Shouted Naruto and his friends. Three clones! Granted they were sickly looking- each of the clones was its' own pale shade of death, and the eyes were red with the watery sick they displayed. Naruto smiled to Iruka, and Mizuki smiled gleefully, though Iruka only smiled sadly.
"Naruto... They aren't good enough. I mean, sure- you exceeded exceptionally in the other aspects of the test... but... Can you at least produce me two semi useful clones?" Iruka didn't really want to give Naruto the chance- no one else had needed two produce only two clones, and it was highly unfair. He was a bit miffed that he had to give the little guy a second chance he didn't deserve, but... he couldn't be sure why. He shoved the thoughts of dislike from his mind and focused on being nice to the little brat.
"I- I can try!" Smiled Naruto nervously. He clasped his hands together, and then murmured 'Clone Jutsu'. He closed his eyes, waiting for the sounds of Iruka and Mizuki to confirm his triumph before opening his eyes. Othe than those two, the room was empty.
The clones were with good form, and were obviously as fit as Naruto. Iruka smiled, announcing proudly that Naruto had passed. Iruka smiled boldly, though Naruto thought that for just a second he saw Mizuki's face fall. But when he looked again, the smile was back, broader than ever."Go Naruto!"Cheered Mizuki.
Naruto ran out of the room, his arms high over his head. "I made it!"
Hinata and Kai high-fived him, and Sasuke gave his brother a hug. Naruto squirmed out of his grip, and then threw his arms triumphantly up into the air. "I'm going to be the best ninja you guys have ever seen!"
Naruto strolled idly along the ground of the forest, staring at nothing in particular. He could sense that someone else was there, but he couldn't be sure for certain.
Naruto wandered around, drifting back to the tree where he had hidden from his father as a child. He had run away, and in an effort to voice his feelings of being neglected. His father had in the end come and found him, and the bad feelings between them had been calmed, and all was fine again.
Naruto was deep in thought, staring at the hollowed out tree when he heard his voice called out by what sounded like Iruka."Sensei?"
"Hey, Naruto..." Iruka sensei looked at the ground for a moment, only looking up when Mizuki sensei plopped down next to him.
"Hey, little guy." Smiled Mizuki sadly."We've got some bad news..."
"You can't be a ninja..." Spoke Iruka. He cast his face downward, trying not to take in Naruto's panicked face.
"B-but I passed! You said I did!" Stuttered Naruto with disbelief, pointing angrily at Iruka.
"I know... But.. Apparently you do have to have three clones." Offered Iruka remorsefully.
"Sorry, Naruto." Mizuki rose an apologetic brow, and sank to the ground, but only after angrily punching a hole in the side of the hollowed out tree.
When he finally looked up, Iruka was gone but Mizuki was still there. "What do you want?" He asked bitterly.
"To help. Don't you want to be a ninja, Naruto?" Naruto's eyes widened, and he looked up at Mizuki with a new hope in his eyes.
"You'd do that?"
"Of course. Look, Iruka Sensei wants you to be tough, but that can never happen if he goes easy on you. The thing I can show you... well it's a secret.." Mizuki faltered. "But, this is going to be very hard- so you have to do exactly as I say, okay?"
Naruto nodded eagerly, unable to contain his excitement. If this was a chance to be a ninja, he was definitely going to go for it.
BANG BANG BANG! The frantic knocking on Iruka's door woke him from his frightful dreams, though he had no idea who it could be at such a late hour.
"I'm coming already! Hold your damn horses..." Iruka rolled out of bed, untwisting the shirt that tried to wind around his ribs and squeeze him to yanked open the door, greeting his guest with a harsh- "What the hell could you possibly need?"
"The Hokage needs to see you right now! It's Naruto- he's stolen the Sacred Scroll!" Mizuki's eyes were wide with believable panic,and Iruka immediately straightened, the fatigue leaving him.
"You mean the Scroll of Sealing? No!" Iruka's eyes widened, and his heart beat shot up."Why the hell would he need he that!? He's passed for Pete's sake!"
"I don't know. Maybe that wasn't enough for him." Later, looking back on his conversation with Mizuki, Iruka only had one thing to say: Such a good lie...
"Alright... Let's see. The first one is... Multi-Shadow Clone Jutsu." Naruto sat on the ground, one leg outstretched with the huge scroll set upon it so that he could better read it. "Gah! Not this again- it's my worst jutsu!" Naruto slapped a defeated hand to his head.
But nevertheless, he wasn't about to give up. He was going to become a ninja, afterall.
"Lord Hokage- this isn't just a prank- it's a serious crime!" A large, burly looking ninja offered, his fist clenched angrily.
"That scroll contains secrets that were sealed by the first Hokage- secrets known only to our vilage!" A thin, one eyed ninja pressed worriedly.
"If that scroll falls into the wrong hands- they could destroy our entire way of life." Another voice rang out. There was a small group clustered around Sarutobi. Sarutobi had no idea what to think of the whole situation. But the village came first, then family. And if Naruto was going to stand in the way of the village.... It would be painful but it was what had to be done.
"Alright... Bring Naruto here at once!" Sarutobi pointed, signaling for them to fetch Naruto.
'Where would he go?' Thought Iruka, panting heavily. He looked around, scouting for him from the rooftop he was on, only to find no sign of him.
Iruka scowled, and tightened his headband. 'Why would he of all people steal the scroll? So what if he's got the nine-tailed fox... That's just not something Naruto would do... is it?'
'Now that I told everyone what Naruto did, I can eliminate him- and they'll be glad he's gone!' Thought Mizuki, the wild happiness of these events showing in his eyes as he ninja ran to where he knew where Naruto was.
He had to hurry, for Sarutobi had contacted Kakashi as well, but that was good and fine. Perhaps it would do good to Kakashi- the man was slipping. He was softening up like an old fruit- he needed to harden his shell again, for he was going to go bad as a ninja if he softened so much. At least, that was Mizuki's opinion. But, then what did it matter to him what happened to the Leaf Village shinobi? He was going to be better than them all! 'Of course I'll be better... I'm going to keep the scroll for myself!'
Naruto panted heavily, the heavy burden of the large scroll strapped tightly to his back. He was sitting on the ground, leaning against the one leg that he had propped up. His breath came in heavy spurts, and his tired graze stared at the hand propping him up.
A shadow wavered over him, and he looked up to see Iruka Sensei. "It's all over!" Iruka laughed sadistically, and then cocked his head slightly at the sound of Naruto's sheepish laughter. 'What the...'
"Caught me already, huh Sensei? You're quick sensei! I only had time to learn one technique." Naruto sheepishly rubbed the back of his head, and Iruka screwed his face up in clear confusion.
'He's been out here practicing... I can tell how hard he's been working!'
"Listen, Iruka Sensei! I'm going to show you this jutsu, and you're going to let me pass, and then everything will be okay! That's how it works, isn't it?Anyone who learns a jutsu from this scroll passes?"
"Huh?! Where'd ya get that idea?" Iruka's anger was quickly diminishing.
"Mizuki Sensei told me about it! He told me where to find the scroll, and... this... place..." Naruto trailed off, seeming to begin to understand that Iruka had forgotten. Or rather, that Mizuki had not told him.
'Mizuki!?' Iruka turned, the sound of flying weapons ringing out in his ear. "Look out!" He thrust his hand into Naruto's chest, sending him flying out of harms way. A kunai stuck out of his thigh, and some were merely tangled in his clothing.
"So- you found my hideaway." Taunted Mizuki.
"So that's the way it is, huh?" Spoke Iruka, his tone even and steady, though his left eye was squinted shut with pain. "I should've known!"
Mizuki leaned against the tree, resting in a squat on the enormous branch connected to it."Naruto! Give me the scroll! Now!"
"Wait a minute..." Naruto may have been a tough little trooper, but sometimes he wasn't the brightest bulb in the light socket, if you catch the drift. He looked back and forth from Mizuki to Iruka, and then back to Mizuki. "What going on here-!?"
Iruka took a few deep breaths before wrenching the retched Kunai from his leg. "Naruto! Don't let Mizuki get the scroll! It contains forbidden jutsu that could put the Village in grave danger! Mizuki used you to get the scroll for himself- for his own power!" Mizuki watched calmly, though Naruto grunted with surprise, unsure of what to do next.
"Naruto," Spoke Mizuki as if to a young toddler, "Iruka's just trying to scare you, 'cuz he doesn't want you to have the scroll!"
"Huh?" Gasped Naruto, glancing over to Iruka, a bewildered expression adorning his features.
"Stop lying, Mizuki! Don't let him trick you, Naruto!"
Mizuki merely laughed. "I'll tell you who's really lying, Naruto."
"No, Mizuki!" Yelled Iruka, desperately hoping Mizuki would just shut up.
"They've been lying to you your whole life Naruto! Since the decree, twelve years ago..."
"... W-... What decree?" Naruto looked more shocked than anything, though his face was slightly slack with disbelief.
"Everyone knows,except you." Stated Mizuki matter-of-factly. "Iruka's trying to hide it from you- even now! He'd do anything to shut me up!" Mizuki's brows turned down, his dark smirk becoming more and more evident.
"What is this decree- why does everyone else know about it?" Naruto asked brain was reeling as he tried to comprehend. What could it possibly be!?
"Don't tell him! It's Forbidden!" Shouted Iruka, his face reddening with the effort. Mizuki smiled that unhealthy insane smile, and opened his mouth anyway.
"The decree is no one can tell you the nine-tailed fox is inside you!" Naruto's eyes widened unbelievably, and his breath left him. "The spirit who killed Iruka's parents, and destroyed our village has taken over your body! You are the nine-tailed fox"
"Stop iiittt!" Yelled Iruka through clenched teeth, but to no avail.
"They've all been sneaking around, hiding things from you your whole life! Even your precious family. Didn't you think it was strange how the people of the village hated you? They treated you like dirt for just being alive! Your father did his best- but he couldn't shield you from everything could he? Don't you remember that night you saved that worthless little Hyugga?"
"She's not worthless! She's am-"
"That doesn't matter! The point is- you only had enough strength to save her because of the nine-tailed fox! Your father probably refused to explain it to you, or told you to not to worry about it. Maybe, he never mentioned the fact that he's not your real father!"
Naruto's face fell, and his breath retracted from his body. "NO! No, no, no, no!" Naruto's arms stretched out instinctively and the blue chakra began to swirl around him.
"Naruto!..." Moaned Iruka ruefully. There was nothing he could do...
"That why you'll never be accepted in this village!" Ranted on Mizuki. "Even your beloved Sensei can't stand you!"
Iruka grabbed at his leg, remembering the Hokage's words that had chided him for over reprimanding Naruto. 'He could've been just like you... parent-less and alone. He was lucky- why on Earth would you crucify him for it?'
That had been when Naruto had first come to class, and had been a cheeky little bastard. But Sarutobi had been right, and Naruto had grown no him like the ugly mole on his thigh that he'd hated as a child, but that all his lovers had found odd and appealing- cute even. Naruto could've been just like him- and he was glad that he wasn't. But the fact that Naruto realized his father wasn't even who he'd thought made it almost the same.
"Die Naruto!" Mizuki spun the giant shurkien in his hand, then flung it. Naruto stared at it, deliberating whether or not it was worth it to move. His whole life was a lie... but he wanted to live! Naruto turned to move, tripping over a large, gnarled root of a tree. He fell on his face, hurriedly scrambling to move out the way of the shuriken.
"Naruto! Get down!" Shouted Iruka. Naruto squeezed his eyes shut and covered his head with his hands, grimacing at the metallic sound of metal striking skin. He twisted around, shocked to see Iruka kneeling protectively over him, his face sweaty and pained. Naruto could see the bulk of the shuriken over Iruka's shoulder, his brain beginning to work again. Iruka had saved him!
Mizuki gasped, bewildered as to why Iruka had saved him. He hated that little brat!
"Iruka sensei... You didn't... why?"
"When I lost my parents... Oh, Naruto! You could've been like me- sad and alone... But you were lucky. You turned out great!"
"So did you! I've been lied to... my whole life..."
"Naruto, you're a great kid-"
"Don't make me laugh! Iruka always hated you- he was orphaned because the nine-tailed fox killed his parents!And that beast is now inside you!" Naruto sadly looked away from Iruka. "He'd say anything to get the scroll from you!"
Naruto, refusing to listen anymore, shoved Iruka off of him and took off running.
"Naruto... Naruto!!!!" Shouted Iruka, his hand outstretched as if to follow him.
"You know- once he's made his mind about something- nothing can change it." Snickered Mizuki. "He's going to use the scroll to take revenge on the village. You saw that look in his eye, didn't you? Those are the eyes of a beast."
Iruka pulled the giant shuriken from his back with a low grunt, and began to stand up. "No... Naruto isn't like that!" Upon his last word, he spun around and flung the shuriken at Mizuki. Mizuki smirked and sidestepped out of the path of the shuriken.
"Ha! You're a joke-as soon as I eliminate Naruto, and get back the scroll,I'll be back for you." Mizuki disappeared, leaving Iruka half squatting on the ground, murmuring angrily- 'I'll catch you!'
Sarutobi peered into his orb, his brow creasing anxiously. "This is bad. Mizuki has a big mouth. He made Naruto feel bad... worse than he's ever felt before. If Naruto keeps tampering with the scroll, the seal that locks the spirit inside of him could be broken. Then... he could unleash the powers inside him. If that happens, and the beast comes out... I fear for us all."
Sarutobi somberly lowered his head, and began to pray.
Kakashi was checking everywhere he could think of- but Naruto just wasn't anywhere to be found! He ran a nervous hand through his hair, wondering why on Earth his son had done what he had.
Kakashi scowled, knowing that there was only one thing to do. He lowered his head, and slipped the headband down onto his neck. Naruto was so going to be grounded when he got a hold of him!
"Aha!" Gasped Iruka. "Naruto! Everything Mizuki said was a lie give me the scroll- hurry!"
Naruto continued launching himself branch to branch like a rabbit, still glancing back behind him.
"Come on! He's coming after you take it away!"
Iruka sped in front of Naruto, blocking his path, and Naruto jumped to the next branch, and rocketed off of it. He landed a powerful sucker punch to Iruka's stomach, and Iruka let out a low grunt. Iruka flew down to the ground, landing hard and sliding a far distance.
Naruto landed heavily on his feet, sliding quite a distance as well. He back up though, when he slowed down. He stepped backwards, pulling the scroll off his back, and then sliding down to the ground at the foot of a tree.
"It can't be! How'd you know?" Gasped Iruka, slowly picking himself up off the sat behind him, the scroll tightly held in his lap. "Naruto! How did you know-" There was a poof, and then Iruka turned into Mizuki. "That it was me and not Iruka?"
Naruto laughed, and then there was another poof of light. "Because I'm Iruka." Iruka smiled triumphantly, and Mizuki's face froze.
And then he stood. "You're a fool. Why are you protecting that freak!?"
Naruto sat behind another tree close by, the scroll clutched tightly to him as he listened. "He's the one that writes out your family!" Continued Mizuki.
"I don't care what you say. You're not getting your hands on that scroll." Iruka said with great determination.
"As if you could stop me! Don't you get it? Naruto's just like me!" Smiled Mizuki.
"He wants the scroll for his own power, and his own vengence- that's how beasts are! He'll poor all his rage into the scroll, and destroy everything!"
"You're right." Grunted Iruka softly.
"So he does think I'm a beast... some kind of monster!" Thought Naruto miserably.
"That is how beasts are," Continued Iruka more loudly," But that's not who Naruto is! Naruto's one of a kind. He works hard, and puts his heart into everything. Sure he messes up, and granted he is a goofball- but that's what makes him who he is- and he's stronger because of it. That's what separates him from being a beast. So you're wrong, he's nothing like the nine-tailed fox- He's Naruto Hatake, of the Village Hidden in the Leaves!"
Behind his tree, the tears flowed freely from Naruto, and he tried to keep his sounds to a minimum.
"Iruka! You really believe that dribble? I was going to save it for later, but I changed my mind." Mizuki began to pull the other of the two large shuriken from his back, and began to spin it. "You're finished!"
Iruka welcomed the death, but then his eyes widened when out of nowhere, Naruto flew into Mizuki, knocking him back with a whopper of a punch to the bottom side of Mizuki's jaw.
"Not bad- for a little punk." Spat Mizuki.
"If you ever lay a hand on my Sensei- or threaten my family-ever-again, I swear to all that I know I will kill you myself!"Naruto snarled.
"Such big words!" Mocked Mizuki. "I can destroy you with a single move!" He rose his arm to reinforce his statement, making a fist.
Naruto took a new stance, with a new hand formation, replying- "Take your best shot! I'll give it back a thousand full!"
"Let's see you try! Show me what you've got, nine-tailed fox!" Growled Mizuki.
"Shadow Clone Jutsu!" Iruka's eyes widened, and then when he blinked again, he was surrounded by hundreds of Naruto's. 'Those aren't just illusions! They're solid clones! He's mastered an extremely advanced jutsu! Go, Naruto...'
Mizuki's eyes widened, and the clones pounced when Naruto realized that Mizuki wasn't going to attack.
Kakashi was just arriving as Naruto was finishing up. He took one glance at the bloody Iruka, and the look that he gave him before he stepped between Naruto and Mizuki.
"I've got it, Naruto." Smiled Kakashi. Naruto sighed with a smile, and retracted all his clones. For once, he was completely out of his own chakra. He dazedly wobbled for a second, before passing out. Kakashi easily caught him, and cradled him close for a second before throwing him over his shoulder. He conjured up another clone to take Mizuki back to the Hokage, and Iruka explained all that happened. The clone was instructed to take the unconcious Mizuki to the Hokage, and to explain Naruto's role in the whole mess.
Iruka was then thrown over Kakashi's other shoulder, and his and Naruto's heads were near each other's when Naruto opened his eyes again.
"It's been a long day, huh?" Yawned Iruka achily.
Naruto nodded slightly before conking out again. He was tough, sure- but he wasn't superhuman! And his dad's back was so comfy....
Author's Note- So this is really long, lol. :) I had to do this some time! I've been dreading it actually- I knew it would be a pain in the ass to write! But here it is- as promised, or rather expected. :) NOW- now that this is out of the way, we can carry on, ne? :)
Do I REALLY need to do the Zabuza chapter? Can I hand that off to another team, or just recap it? :P BLURGH I hope so! COMMENTS!
THOSE OF YOU WHO GAVE CHARACTERS! You will be in probably the next chapter for the teams ceremony! :D I hope your excited! :D
Going to be some good lookin boys when they grow up.A