Summary: After an attack, Asuma adopts Naruto and takes him with when he goes to the Fire Temple to become one of the Twelve Guardians. What adventures lie ahead of our favorite ninja? NaruTema, AsuKure, more later.

Warnings: So I don't get yelled at or something later, I'll give you the warnings now. This will contain manga spoilers at some point or another, so if you don't want the manga to be uh... spoiled, don't read it until you've caught up on the manga. :) This will also contain coarse language, so if you don't like characters saying shit, bastard, bitch, and several other words like that, don't read it. I don't mind writing in those words because it follows the character (take Tayuya for example, we all know how clean her language is ;D) and what they're doing at that moment in time. The only violence in here will be random fights throughout the story (can't think of what else would be violence. o.o). I can't think of anything else. If I do, I'll add it later.

A/N: In this fiction Asuma and Kurenai are going to start out at the age of eighteen (seventeen in Asuma's case for eight days), so when Naruto is of graduating age at the academy (like in the anime/manga he's 12 when he graduates), Asuma and Kurenai will be 28 instead of 27. I'm saying this now so I don't have people pointing out specifics in reviews later on. I have the profile book so I know all of their birthdays, ages, etc.

Don't abuse the anonymous review system, please. I've seen many authors get reviewers saying their story sucked, but had no reason for it. It seems to happen under anonymous reviews more than signed, so just don't abuse it.

I update as often as I can, which sometimes isn't more than once or twice a month. Compared to my first story, the chapters I'm updating with are about twice as long. The word count for a chapter in Wielder of the Sazeto averages to about 2000 or so. In here, I believe that it averages to 4000 or more. I only have a few chapters up so far, so I can't really tell.

I think I have about 40 stories that I'm currently reading (all over 60,000 words). You see, I love long stories but usually have a short attention span. xD They don't really go together. The funny thing is, I can remember everything that happens in them. The only stories I've been able to reread so far without getting bored are 'Neo Yondaime Hokage' by Psycho G, and 'A Mother's Love' by lord of the land of fire. So... I've talked enough. If you guys have any questions, I'll either do a reviewer response each chapter, or just respond to your review through the option. Um... on with the story!

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

Hiking Off Trail

Chapter 1: Prologue

By: Zashire

"KILL THE DEMON!!" shouted one infuriated citizen of Konoha as he led a mob of 'Kyuubi child haters' down an alley. They had been chasing a boy of only two years old throughout the village and had finally cornered him. Some were slightly surprised that a two year old could outrun them for over ten minutes, but passed it off as a trait from Kyuubi. Others didn't even care because they could tell he was already getting tired, and since they had him cornered, he wouldn't be able to get very far without them catching him.

"Pwease dun urt me! I sawwie! I sawwie!!" cried the little blonde haired boy as tears continued pouring down his face. He had three whisker marks on each cheek which indicated that he was the demon container. Currently he was wearing some crappy old clothing that he found in a garbage dump out back at the orphanage where he had lived for almost two years. Two weeks before he turned two, a new member was hired to help out there, and had been nasty to the blonde day in and day out. Finally, after a week of 'accidents' such as a cart slipping and crashing into the boy, or dropping a knife that gave him a big gash on his left arm, he was kicked out because the new caretaker couldn't find a way to kill him. The other people who helped run the orphanage had a neutral opinion, or just kept their feelings on the demon container hidden, so they didn't give a crap when they saw him literally shoved out the door.

After a week of living on the streets and trying to avoid mobs, the young blonde finally found sanctuary inside a discarded box. He slept there for a while until he felt his stomach rumble. Knowing he was hungry, he chose to risk going out in daylight to scavenge some food from a dump.

In the process of doing so, someone spotted him. That someone was the new caretaker who was now calling for his head. A mob had quickly formed after he shouted that he had spotted the demon, and thus, the chase began.

Of the people in the mob, many aged Chuunin and Genin could be seen. They were the ones who were alive when the sealing took place, and wanted to get revenge on the damn fox for killing their relatives while it was still in a weak form – a defenseless two year old boy.

A few of the ninja started hurling kunai and shuriken at the blonde as he hollered in pain as each one hit. One kunai lodged itself in his right leg, while another went straight into his left arm, reopening the knife wound from two weeks ago. Several shuriken hit him in the back, each causing more pain than the last. The two year old wouldn't dare turn around for the fear getting hit in the face, but suddenly had no choice as a hand reached out and grabbed his neck. Before he new it, he had been flipped around and slammed against the wall. Out of fear, he looked up and saw a pair of cold black eyes that were glaring at him, angrily. They belonged to an aged Chuunin who had several burn marks from the Kyuubi battle two years ago.

"We don't care if you're sorry! You took away our loved ones, and for punishment, you will get DEATH!!" shouted the Chuunin. The blonde whimpered as he saw the man's hand slip down to his kunai pouch and pull out a silver pointed weapon. "This is for my dear sister, Anya, who was killed when you crushed her at the beginning of the fight. Say hello to hell, you little bastard!"

Once the Chuunin had aimed the kunai at the boy's heart, the blonde could only watch and scream as his eyes got wide at the sight of the weapon. They were really out to kill him. It wasn't the regular treatment he got from other kid's at the orphanage. Nor was it the 'accidents' set up by the new caretaker. No. These people were actually trying to take his life away. And they're going to get away with it, he thought sadly. No one would miss him because nobody cared for him. His death wouldn't bring sadness. It would bring happiness to these people who hated him so. Figuring there was nothing he could do; he stopped screaming and let the tears silently trail down his face as he felt death coming closer to him with each passing second.

When the kunai was only inches away from his heart, he glanced up a bit and saw what looked like a pair of trench knives intercept the other weapon and shove it aside. As the kunai made a clanking noise on the ground, a man appeared in between the blonde and the Chuunin. The mysterious figure made a slashing movement with one of his trench knives across the Chuunin's torso. Suddenly, there was a large gash on the Chuunin's chest, which made him fall, in two halves, to the ground, dead. The man who had saved the blonde glanced over at the mob and made his chakra flare for a second, just long enough for everyone to feel it.

"Anyone else who wants to try and hurt this boy has to get through me first," the man said with a bit of edge to his voice.

Everyone in the mob stared in horror at the two pieces of the used-to-be caretaker at the orphanage that lied on the ground before them. After hearing the threat come from the new figure, they ran away as fast as they could. Of course, they didn't get very far with all of the ANBU teams that were surrounding the area.

"All of you are hereby placed under arrest," said who looked to be the leader of the ANBU that were present. After making a quick hand motion, everyone found themselves with a pair of handcuffs on.

"You can't do this to us! The demon must be killed! That thing is an abomination that has hurt everyone here in one way or another! You can't deny that you've lost someone to that thing!" shouted an angry member of the mob.

The blonde's savior walked over to the man and knocked him out with a punch to the back of the head and mumbled, "Shut the hell up, bastard."

An ANBU with a dog-mask landed next to the man and spoke quietly, "Was that really necessary, Asuma-sama?"

"Just trying to get the point across," Asuma grinned stupidly. "By the way, Kaka-I mean Inu-san, please take these idiots to the ANBU headquarters and throw them in holding cells. I'll take the blonde with me to otou-I mean Hokage-sama and explain what happened here."

"Hai!" the dog-masked ANBU said with a short bow and leapt away to inform his teammates. Soon, the alley was cleared of all the civilians and ninja who had participated in the mob attack.

Asuma slowly walked over to the boy he had recently saved and bent down to see him eye to eye. The blonde quickly tried to back up, but found that he was only pushing himself harder into the wall. He let out a small whimper to show his fear.

"Are you okay there?" Asuma asked quietly. Of course he's not okay! He's got two freaking kunai jammed into his leg and arm. He's also got countless shuriken in his back! Baka! Baka! Baka! Asuma shouted at himself. He would have grabbed the kid and made a break for the hospital, but he didn't want to scare the hell out of the blonde anymore before the day ended.

In return, the child just stared at him. Since when did anyone give a damn about how he felt? The man before him looked to be in his upper teens, but he couldn't quite tell. He was wearing what looked like a dark green vest of some sorts; one he hadn't seen before. He also had a dark sweatshirt on that led to his pants, which were common black sweats. What he hadn't expected to see was white taping connecting from his pant bottoms to his dark blue sandals. Why did he wear his pants like that? He did have to admit, it looked kind of cool.

Remembering the question, he responded, "I tink so...tankoo fur savin me mistuh!" He was starting to feel a bit more open towards the man after all that he had done for him, but was still a little nervous. What if he betrays me? What if he's just trying to make me lower my guard, and then kill me when I'm asleep!? The young blonde was starting to get freaked out as he pondered this topic.

Asuma noticed this when he saw the little boy's face have a look of fear pass through it and decided to speak up. "Hey, don't worry. I promise I won't hurt you." Then he remembered that he had to get to his otou-san's office to explain what happened. "I'm going to get you to the hospital now, okay? Then, I need to go tell the Hokage what happened here."

"Whas a h-hos-spi-ifuh?" the blonde asked slowly, trying desperately to figure out how to pronounce 'hospital.'

Asuma gave a short chuckle at the kid's attempt at saying the word before responding, "Well, a hospital is a place that people go to when they get hurt." After giving a short explanation, he used his hand to give a slight indication to the kunai and shuriken that were lodged in the little boy's body.

"Oh," was the short response from the blonde. He was a little embarrassed that he hadn't known what that was before. He'd heard about the Konoha Hospital when an emergency happened at the orphanage, but didn't exactly know what they were.

"Well, we should really be going now. By the way, what's your name, little guy? I'm Sarutobi Asuma," the older man said with a slight smile.

"Uzumawii Nawuto!" the blonde grinned widely. He had learned his name only a few months ago when he learned how to talk by one of the people at the orphanage. For being only two years old, he felt proud that he could make out most of his name without screwing it up.

"Uzumaki Naruto, eh? Well, nice to meet you then. It's about time we got you to the hospital," said Asuma as he reached down and brought the blonde into his arms to carry him bridal style. The blonde shifted uncomfortably in the big man's arms, feeling slightly nervous. "This is going to feel weird for a moment, but please, just relax."

Asuma then made a weird hand sign as he called out 'Shunshin no Jutsu!' Naruto quickly closed his eyes because he felt a bit dizzy as the air warped around him. When he was about to ask Asuma how long it would take, he found that they were in front of a large, white building. Before Naruto could say anything, the black haired man had started running toward the building's door.

Once inside, he ran up to the desk and asked for help saying it was an emergency. In response, the receptionist grabbed the phone and was about to make an intercom call when she spotted the boy that the Hokage's son was holding. She snarled at him and put the phone back in its place. "Sorry, but this hospital doesn't help things that aren't in need of attention. I'm sure he'll be fine in a few minutes. Please leave now; we have more important people in need of help. Good day."

Asuma felt his shirt get a little wet, and realized Naruto was crying. The blonde wasn't stupid; he knew exactly who the receptionist was talking about – him. The older man was getting impatient and annoyed at their treatment. He didn't care if the person in front of him was a woman; a child needed help, and he was going to get it. "Get some bastard doctors down here this instant. I doubt you'd like my otou-san to come here and pay a visit to you. You'll be in a world of hell if you don't help this child right now!"

The receptionist stared at him, her mouth slightly open as if she was about to respond to his comment. Without further hesitation, she reluctantly grabbed the phone once more and spoke into it, "Medic teams 1 and 5! Get down here. We have an emergency on our hands."

Within two minutes, both teams were rushing into the lobby of the hospital with a stretcher. Four out of the six medic-nin there refused their services once they saw who they were supposed to be helping. The other two ignored the fact that Naruto was the demon container and walked up to Asuma to take him into a room to work on him.

"Asuma-sama," the older of the two gave a short bow.

Asuma nodded in return. "Hai. I need you to care for Naruto-san here while I speak with Hokage-sama. He was attacked by a mob of civilians and ninja alike and suffered multiple weapon injuries."

"Hai!" the two in front of him chorused. They reached out to take Naruto when the blonde suddenly jerked away, while Asuma felt the grip of the blonde tighten.

Asuma looked down at Naruto with understanding eyes and said, "Naruto-san, you need to let these men fix you up."

"No!! Wha if tey urt me mowe!" the little blonde cried out. The two doctors in front of him watched sadly as the scene before them played out. The other four had already gone back to their posts not caring for the 'demon's' fate.

"Naruto-san, they're not going to hurt you. I need you to let them help" Asuma tried to assure him, but failed miserably. Noticing the blonde looking even more downcast, he decided to make a promise, "How about this, when they're done, I promise I'll come back to see you, okay?"

That made Naruto lighten up, if only a bit. "Okay. But promise?"

"Hai, I promise," Asuma grinned ever so slightly as he handed Naruto over to the medics.

The medics gave the child a smile as they rushed him into another section of the hospital to remove the weapons and bandage him up.

As Asuma watched them leave, he sighed inwardly. Now I have to go explain this to otou-san. I wonder how many people are going to be executed for today...Oh well; they did bring this upon themselves. I still can't believe how blind some people are. You'd have to be beyond stupid to think Naruto is the bastard fox...Sadly, some people will always think that way. With that, he concluded his thoughts and Shunshin'd away from the hospital and to the entrance of the Hokage Tower.

He suddenly had a splitting headache that lasted for several minutes. Note to self: never use Shunshin on two people at once unless you want a complete migraine. When his head felt somewhat better, he entered the tower in which his otou-san worked.

After climbing up several stair cases, he walked over to the secretary's desk. "Hi, I'd like to speak with Hokage-sama."

"Well, he-Oh! Asuma-sama! Yes, you may go in, he's free for anoth-" she was cut off with a short 'thank you' as the Hokage's son ran in the direction of his otou-san's office.

Sarutobi was currently reading one of his perverted student's newest books in his office. No one but Jiraiya, Asuma, and a few others knew about their Hokage's secret taste for the series 'Icha Icha Paradise' written but none other than the king of all pervert's, the Gama Sennin.

When he heard a knock on his door, he quickly shoved the book in the drawer for fear of ruining his reputation, and said 'enter.' He sighed when he realized it was only his son, Asuma. Deciding that it would be inappropriate to pull out the book right then as his son stepped in, he asked, "What is it that you came here for, Asuma?" He never added any honorific because Asuma was his son, and never really gave a crap if there was one or not. When they were together, they dropped all formalities for each other unless someone else was present.

"I came here to tell you about the mob that attacked Uzumaki Naruto-san earlier today," Asuma then proceeded to tell his otou-san about the events containing the mob and Naruto all the way up until the point where he left him at the hospital with the two medics. He didn't forget to include the part about over half of the doctors that were called in didn't want to help him. After that he quickly finished his report up.

"I see. I'll have to have a talk with the hospital about this. I'm just glad that Tsunade isn't here. She whoop their asses into the next century if she found out that some medics went against the first promise that they made when entering in the field. Aside from that, I would like to say my thanks for helping Naruto-san. There's no telling what would've happened if you hadn't shown up..." the Hokage trailed off thinking about all of the things that could have happened.

"Excuse me for interrupting, but why was Naruto-san on the streets anyway? Shouldn't he be at an orphanage or something?" Asuma asked, speaking a question that had been on his mind every since he had met Naruto earlier.

"He was living at an orphanage, but was kicked out for reasons unknown by myself. I have gone through and fired several workers, but I can't do much without real proof. He's been living on the streets for just about two weeks now. He was probably attacked today because it's his birthday, also known as the defeat of the Kyuubi no Kitsune," the Hokage sighed and looked at his desk before continuing, "It happened last year to, even when he was at the orphanage. Someone tried to assassinate him while be was asleep in a crib. Luckily, the ANBU caught the man before he got away with it. He was executed in secret later on. I don't know if we'll be so lucky to capture people every year they try and pull something like that, honestly. I wish that there was some way to prevent it. He's too young to get his own apartment. The orphanage will most likely kick him out again. No one wants to adopt him. I have no idea what to do right now."

Asuma thought about everything and only one thing came to mind, "I'll adopt him."

Sarutobi glanced up at his son to see if he was serious. He was.

"And just how will you take enough time off from being a ninja to care for a child? It would be too dangerous for him to look after himself all day if you went on a mission-" the Hokage started, but was cut off by Asuma.

"Hai, it would be with all of the assassins around. That's why I plan to take him with me when I leave for the Fire Temple and join the Twelve Guardians," Asuma said with confidence in his voice.

The Hokage immediately stood up and pounded on his desk and shouted, "Damn it, Asuma! I already told you that I had no intention of letting you go to the Fire Temple! Why must you persist on doing it!? And I most certainly will not allow you to go with Naruto! That's the exact place where your older brother, Tsuno, went! I told him not to, and he went against orders, and now look where he is," Sarutobi started to sadden at the memories of his oldest son.

Asuma had only half the reaction, "Hai, I know that, otou-san. He died protecting the Daimyou. He made the decision to give up his life for the protection of the leader of Hi no Kuni! It was his duty as a guard, just like it is the duty of all ninja to protect their Kage!"

The last comment made the Hokage flinch. He knew he was beat because his son did have a point. He, Sarutobi, had made countless ninja give up their lives during the Iwa-Konoha War. He was in the same position as the Daimyou. Sighing, he looked up at his son, and said, "Fine, but if you cannot handle Naruto-san and keep up your duty as a guard, Naruto-san will be sent back here immediately. Got it?"

Asuma nodded and bowed. "Hai, Hokage-sama."

Sarutobi winced. He knew that Asuma would continue to be distant even if he agreed to it because Asuma knew that his otou-san still hated his decision. After a moment of hesitation, Sarutobi responded, "The moment Naruto-san is released from the hospital, he is all yours. I expect a report on how everything is going once every six months." They then filled out several adoption forms.

"Alright then. Take good care of Uzumaki Naruto-san, Asuma," the Hokage said as they finished up.

"Uzumaki? Why not Sarutobi?" Asuma asked in confusion.

"Two reasons. One: If anyone outside of the clans were to find out that their Hokage was helping the 'demon child,' I'd be lucky to keep my position as leader. I have yet to see any worthy of taking my place, so it would not do good to select a new leader for the village quite yet. Two: Well, you'll learn that reason when the time comes. This reason is of great importance, so until then, the child will be known as Uzumaki Naruto," Sarutobi explained. Asuma had an impassive look on his face throughout the explanation, and took his leave as soon as his otou-san finished up.

Sarutobi leaned back in his chair as he heard the door close. Whatever happens, I hope they'll be alright. If only the village had treated Naruto as a hero and not a demon, none of this would have happened, and I wouldn't be in this mess. With a sigh, he pulled out his 'Icha Icha Paradise' book and continued reading.

oOoOo

A/N: Hope you liked my new AU! D Please give me some feedback or correct anything I may have made a mistake on. Thanks!

Zashire