I Do Not Own Naruto
A/N None that I can think of. To the person I sent the PM to, you know who you are, I think I found my train of thought, took a few days of nothing but writing in my off time. Enjoy.
Naruto yawned as he started to wake up, stretching his tails out. He noticed that a warmth was gone from his side. He looked to see Haku was gone, he presumed that she had been gone for some time now, her basket was gone.
Naruto stood up, stretching his full length, "I guess I should find Kakashi," he mumbled, slowly shifting to a smaller form, "This always feels so constraining."
Quietly, he leapt off into the under brush, looking, hearing, and smelling for Kakashi and the remains of Team Seven.
He caught scent of Sakura and Sasuke, but to his puzzlement, he could barely smell Kakashi, the scent was weak, but went the same way.
Naruto soon came upon a clearing, seeing Kakashi give instruction to the two on how to apparently walk up walls. He sat back as he shifted to a human form watching them from behind the bushes.
He watched Sakura make it with nearly no problems, while Sasuke seemed to have trouble with it. Naruto chuckled a small bit, catching Kakashi's attention.
"You can come out Naruto," Kakashi called.
Naruto shook his head, slinking further back into the bushes. He would deal with Kakashi one on one, if Kakashi decided to come after him. His training was to stay out of sight, and avoid the team if possible.
"Naruto's here?" Sakura questioned, trying to see from her vantage point on the tree's branch.
Sasuke slipped and fell, hitting his head. He scrambled up, trying to see Naruto as well.
"I must have just heard something," Kakashi smiled, while internally congratulating Naruto, he was trying to bait Naruto out, "Keep trying Sasuke. Sakura, since you've seemed to master this already, I want you to go and guard Tazuna, Kage Bushin no Jutsu!"
A clone appeared in a cloud of smoke, another Kakashi standing next to the original, "You are to go with Sakura to guard Tazuna, if things get bad, disappear after telling Sakura to hide, understood?"
The clone nodded before leading Sakura off.
Kakashi limped up to another branch to watch Sasuke. After a while of little progress, Kakashi pulled out his book, leaning with the writing exposed to Naruto. He made a few hand gestures that meant, "Can you do this?"
Naruto growled lightly before returning a gesture, "No," followed by a rude gesture to Kakashi with more gestures, essentially meaning, "I'm training, don't bother me."
Kakashi nodded before turning another page, and making a few more gestures, "Meet me here later after Sasuke has left."
"Understood," Naruto returned before scooting to a higher vantage point, to watch Sasuke.
After about an hour, Naruto sent Kakashi a sign, "Following Client."
Kakashi nodded again as Naruto slipped off.
Kakashi held his hands together, flipping the book shut on his lap, "Kage Bushin no Jutsu!"
Sasuke stopped and stared at Kakashi, sliding a few feet down from his position.
"I need to send a message to my double," Kakashi said as he flipped the book back open, "Oh, Arisa-chan, you're so naughty..." Kakashi giggled as he read from his book.
Sasuke's eye twitched as he went back to trying to get up the tree, making less progress than before.
"Kakashi-sensei," Sasuke said quietly, "Teach me something else."
Kakashi gave him a hard look, "Only after you have mastered that exercise first."
Sasuke humphed before slowly trekking back up the tree, before finally resting a on branch, he was about to say something when Kakashi's voice rang out, "All the way to the top."
Sasuke snorted before getting back to it.
Naruto kept low, moving between workers and heavy machinery and the large boxes witch riddled the area. He spied upon everyone present. Sometimes testing how close he could get to someone before backing off if they got skittish.
He got close to Tazuna, listened in on him talking to a worker, "What do you mean you're quitting?"
"Gatou," the grizzled worker said, "is threatening all of our families. How long before he takes action? I won't let my family get hurt."
Tazuna bowed his head, "Fine, anyone who feels the same can leave. Now."
"But-" the man started.
"I'll finish this bridge myself if I have to," Tazuna cut him off, "I want our land to be free from that tyrant, and this bridge is key. Leave."
The man lowered his head in shame as he left.
Naruto stalked off to the shadows as the man walked his way. He saw another Kakashi double come up to the 'Kakashi' that was there, exchanging a few words before disappearing, with the latter nodding his head.
Naruto knew that 'Kakashi' knew he was here. Feeling gutsy, Naruto slipped closer to Sakura, wanting to get a trophy to show to Tsume.
Slowly he crept closer to Sakura, who was watching over the water, several crates to her back. Naruto quietly slipped a hand into her pouch, grabbing a pack of exploding tags and quickly slipped back into the shadows of the crates.
Naruto watched the proceeding with little interest, but listening in on ever conversation he could. He never knew what his Sensei was going to ask, so anything could count.
Slowly the sun dipped underneath the horizon. Naruto yawned as he finally stood up. He saw Kakashi nodded at him, before Naruto started to head back to the clearing.
Naruto arrived just in time to see Sasuke leaving with Kakashi.
"About time," Kakashi's voice sounded behind him, "I sent him off with another clone. I have to be careful with those, it took a couple of soldier pills to keep it up."
"Then you should focus on your recovery, Kakashi," Naruto stated.
"All right, Naruto," Kakashi said, looking at the darkening sky, "I wanted to ask if you can tree walk."
"No," Naruto said, eyeing Kakashi, "Why?"
"It's a good skill to know," Kakashi shrugged, "I want to try and teach you."
"Out of curiosity Kakashi," Naruto asked, "What have you taught your team so far?"
"Teamwork, and this exercise," Kakashi answered.
"Okay," Naruto filed that away, "So how should I try this?"
"Channel so Chakra to your feet, too little and you slide down, too much and you blow away," Kakashi explained.
"I won't be able to do it," Naruto said picking up a small twig.
"Here's what happens when my Chakra touches things," Naruto spoke as the twig lit into flame.
Kakashi nodded, "I know that all to well, you should try and control it, and-"
"Hatake-san," Naruto formally started, "You are not my Sensei, and anything pertaining to my bloodline is for my Sensei to decide, and not for you to know."
Kakashi nodded, a little angry, "You know I could just order you," he started.
"And face a very angry council woman," Naruto said, as both he a Kakashi both shivered at the image of an angry Tsume, "Anything I might do, as I do not know what are clan techniques, I could be compromising the secrecy of the clan."
Kakashi nodded slowly, he was less angry now, understanding Naruto's position. He himself had received training from the Inuzuka, but Naruto was different, he was an apprentice. That meant for all intent, Naruto was an Inuzuka, and had access to knowledge Kakashi should never possess unless he were an Inuzuka.
Kakashi spoke, "All right, I understand, my suggestion is for you to try and learn out of my sight."
Naruto smiled, "I can try that."
A week passed, and Naruto was still no closer to figuring out how to climb trees with his unique difficulty. Idly, Naruto sat at the edge of the forest padding his feet through the water that ran around Tazuna's home.
Hearing a sudden noise, Naruto ducked into the bushes. He saw two men enter the household, then screaming started. Naruto quickly melted into his fox form, large, but not so large as to not fight well in the confined space of a house.
Quietly, he slipped in through an open window in the top floor, and saw Inari cowering, "What's wrong with you, brat?" Naruto hoarsely whispered.
"I can't do anything I'm too little," Inari cried into his arm, "They're gonna take mom from me like they took dad."
"You do a great dishonor to your namesake," Naruto growled, "You would rather let these thugs take your mother, doing unspeakable things, without a fight?"
"But-" Inari cringed.
"It's an excuse because you are a coward," Naruto saw a small knife on the table and pushed it towards Inari with his nose, "You have two choices. The coward's way, by taking your own life before they find you after hurting your mother, or a hero's way, going down kicking and screaming so that they can't do anything to those you care about. What's it going to be?"
Inari picked up the small blade looking at it, almost seeing a glint of his father's reflection in the blade, "I know what I'm going to do," he whispered to himself, "I'm going to make you proud, dad."
Naruto smiled, as he watched Inari slip quietly towards the voices. Of course he knew the child didn't have a rat's chance, but at least he showed some backbone by doing what was right, and not that lie he'd been telling himself.
Naruto hummed to himself, listening for a small commotion, before slipping further down the stairs himself, waiting for a decent moment to strike.
"Don't touch him!" Tsunami whimpered, "I bite my tongue if you do, and then you'll have nothing."
One of the thugs laughed, as he held a struggling Inari, "Do we need bodies to prove that we have you? No, we just need to convince the old man that we have you."
He quickly drew out his blade holding it towards the small boy.
"But why not have some fun with you both first," the man licked his lips, a sadistic grin on his face.
He took a step, and found himself gurgling as a red form shot in front of him, throwing him down with a heavy weight on his chest and throwing Inari free. He couldn't breath, feeling the large beast that held him start to crush his neck. Panicking he threw his blade deep into the beast, only to hear a small grunt before his world went black.
The other man backed up, holding Tsunami tightly, hoping she would be leverage. This beast's attack had been swift and decisive, with his partner driving his blade deep into it before a sickening crunch sounded. The beast turned on him, and the man saw a large fox standing there, twin tails swinging hypnotically behind it.
"Stay back, Kitsune," the man quivered as the blade slowly fell out of the fox. The metal hissed as an acrid smell filled the room before falling completely free, scorching the floor where it landed.
"Are you okay, Inari-san?" Naruto barked, looking sideways at him.
"Yeah," Inari said shakily.
"Good," Naruto turned his attention back to the thug, "Let go of Tsunami-chan."
"How do you-?" Inari started to ask as the man slowly backed away from Naruto.
"Let me go, and I'll let the woman go," He nodded towards the door.
"I'll make you a deal," Naruto said, "On my word as a Kitsune, if you leave Tsunami-chan here, in this house, you can leave this house alive."
"Deal," the man pulled Tsunami with him, before he got to the door, and shoved her away as he started to walk at a leisurely pace away.
"Foolish demon," he muttered to himself as he walked on the catwalk, "You can't kill me now, you're bound by your oath."
The man chuckled before he felt a searing heat envelope him as he shrieked in agony.
"What a foolish mortal," Naruto mocked, "My deal was only that you could leave the house alive."
Naruto smiled as he shifted back into a human form, startling both Inari and Tsunami.
"Good job kid," Naruto smiled a toothy smile, "You keep that up. I was wrong about you."
"You're a Kitsune!" Inari pointed accusingly at Naruto.
"No I'm not," Naruto said with a smile, kneeling to Inari's height, "Simply a human being with a unique bloodline, a rare trait that some Ninja have."
Inari nodded, Tsunami spoke up, "How can that be?"
"A bloodline is a unique trait," Naruto began, "That manifests in the person's genetic structure. It's possible that I have Kitsune blood in me, as my bloodline is extremely unique, and I'm an orphan. I have no idea who my parents are, so I can't trace my lineage back anywhere."
"Go round up the villagers," Naruto said standing up, "We have a village to take back. Meet with me at the bridge. I have a feeling that Kakashi and Team Seven are in trouble."