Chapter One: Beginnings of a Tale
Dusk barely settled as the hidden village of Konoha began its transformation. Its daylight frivolity began to darken, the streets and crowds throwing out their previous civilized disposition, and began to shoulder a baser instinct.
It was during this time that Uzumaki Naruto began to watch his every shadow. Night after night there were constant attacks, tonight would be no different. A sound here, a footstep there, and quickly, the golden-haired twelve-year-old was on the run.
"He ran into that alley over there!" Two ninja, which by Naruto's judgment of the way they ran, were probably chuunin at best. They swiftly jumped from the ground to the roof, but wobbled to stabilize themselves. Naruto smiled grimly as he sidestepped a kunai and took refuge behind a trash chute. This would not be an easy getaway.
The pursuit lasted over an hour, with Naruto finally outsmarting his would-be captors in a daring flip off the central clock tower, catching on to a balcony on the far east of the village. Hoisting himself up, he grunted in pain as he realized he had been struck with several shruiken to his left leg.
"Damn, these people never give up."
His mind raced back to what had happened two weeks ago. Naruto had attempted to join the Ninja Academy at age 12. The teachers and the students had laughed deliriously at him.
"First of all, we don't accept applicants over age 10." A white-haired ninja crowed. "Second, we don't accept demons. Get the hell out of here before I call the authorities."
As a street rat, Naruto had been living in near starvation his entire life. No form of help had ever come, except once. Once was when the Third Hokage had seen him screaming in pain on the street, after a few jounin had cornered him and stabbed him repeatedly before noticing the Hokage procession.
The Hokage had helped Naruto to a hospital, giving him food and ordering the boy to be placed in his own apartment. But that did not work out well at all. For the first few days of living at the apartment, there were nightly robberies and assaults, during which Naruto had to run for his life. After the third day Naruto had no choice, it was either to sleep on the street or die a slow and painful death. Naruto could only assume that the Hokage had more pressing issues on his mind.
Stumbling into a dark alley, Naruto felt his way around until he touched upon a small camp that he had made. Several dusty books and a battered old rag were his main possessions as the blonde boy quickly fell asleep, despite the aching pains from his leg.
The next morning, Naruto's leg had healed. A sudden thought came to his mind, as his face showed a grim determination. Maybe the academy would never accept him, but he would train himself. He decided that he would sneak up to watch the training sessions that the Konoha ninja frequently held. The nearest one was Area 17.
Gathering himself together, Naruto quickly pulled off a half-eaten power bar and finished it. The taste was horrible, but it would have to do. This would be his only food for today, but it would be worth it, if he were able to escape detection.
During the daytime, only glares were passed his way as he made through the streets. Sometimes he was bullied and roughened, but unlike nighttime, no one wanted to see blood and death during the day.
"- and to break the ice, I'd like you three to say how old you are, what you like and dislike, and what are your goals for the future." A woman's voice rang out from in front of the bushes that Naruto was hiding behind. A brief silence followed, and then a boy's voice.
"Hi! I'm Inuzuka Kiba. I'm thirteen, I like my dog Akamaru, I hate cats, and I want to become the best ninja ever!" A small giggle was heard, while Naruto barely suppressed his snort. He hoped the women, who seemed to be a Jounin, could not sense him.
"H-hi… my name is Hyuuga Hinata… I'm t-twelve… I like reading stories and eating sushi… and I dislike… v-violence. I hope to make my father… p-proud of me." A girl stuttered. Naruto rolled his eyes. "How could you be a ninja if you dislike violence?"
Then, a relatively confident and neutral voice. "My name is Aburame Shino. I'm thirteen, I like creatures, I dislike pesticides, and my desire is to start my own business one day."
The woman finished. "It's great meeting all of you. My name is Yuuhi Kurenai, I am 21 years old, I enjoy meditating and dancing, I dislike vulgarity and perversion, and my dream is to live to meet my grandchildren, of course dependent on whether I ever start a family. Now that the familiarities are finished, I would like to lay down a few ground rules…" Naruto shifted slightly. He hoped his breathing wouldn't be heard.
"First of all, you will address me as Kurenai-sensei. Second, you will always treat each other and myself professionally and with maturity. Failing to do so will earn you a private warning the first time, and if the behavior continues, I will be requesting your removal from Team Eight. No ifs, ands, or buts. Finally, if we are to encounter battle, you will follow my direction one hundred percent of the time. Any questions?"
"Good. Our session is adjourned for today. We will meet tomorrow at 6:00 for your morning training. Do not be late." Footsteps – the group had separated.
Naruto let out a soft sigh. He had gained nothing from that exchange, except perhaps a few names. He was just about to leave when a kunai slammed his sleeve into the ground.
"Who are you and what do you want?" "Crap!!"
Trapped, Naruto lifted up his face to look his captor in the eye. His voice was caught in his throat. The woman was gorgeous. Her clothes, a robe-like skirt, did nothing to hide her full figure. Her auburn hair brushed against her cheeks as she glared at him. Naruto quickly shoved all of those thoughts aside. "I'm sorry – I was hoping to watch some training so I could learn a bit." Thinking hastily, he decided to be honest. While it sounded lame, Naruto knew that the woman could maim or kill him easily if she thought him lying.
Kurenai's eyes narrowed. "Are you not in the academy? Or with a sensei?" Her eyes went to his forehead. "Oh – I'm sorry. You must be a civilian. I'm sorry, Konoha ninja usually do not allow civilians to watch our training. However, if you're looking to watch a staged fight, I would head to area 22. I believe Maito Gai and Hatake Kakashi have another public duel today."
Naruto nodded. He didn't want to trouble this woman any further. "Thank you ma'm." She nodded and began to walk away. Naruto realized she had forgotten her kunai. Picking it up, he wondered how he should call her out – it didn't seem appropriate to call out her name, especially since he wasn't supposed to know it.
"Excuse me!" Kurenai sharply turned, again fixating him with a burning gaze. Naruto shuddered. "Y-your kunai."
She snapped it out of his outstretched hands in one swift move. "Thank you." No more words were exchanged. Naruto watched her walk away as he sighed to himself. He looked at his dirty hands. He could only assume that his face was just as dirty. Must have been weird for the woman to see a random beggar-boy hiding behind a bush and claiming to have been just "watching." Naruto shook his head, laughing quietly inside. "Must have been odd for her as well. Oh well – what can you do."
A/N: Please review.