New proyect. In fact, this is like a sabbatical of sorts while I try to get my muse back on with Redemption and with the next chapters of this story (Chapter 4). Note, this story WILL be slow, since I intend to launch a chapter for this once I get two of Redempion, so don't get your hopes up for speed.

Also, this is my proverbial two grains of salt in the unbelievably small beach that is NaruxYugito. Yeah, it's time I actually made a good fic about one of the best (In my opinion. I have an intense dislike for most of the canon pairings in most series) shippings Naruto has to offer. Well, that is all for now. Read on.

"Well, class, that is all for today." That was it, his cue for raising his head from the desk and waking up. A tiring day of academy had just finished and he wasn't looking forward to another day of it. But he had to endure such a painful treatment if he was going to best every Hokage in the history of Konoha. His determination sky-rocketing from that mental praise, he left the academy with his head high, blatantly ignoring the glares coming from the villagers.

The eight year old Uzumaki Naruto strutted proudly around the streets in the direction of his salvation from starvation. The ramen joint known as Ichiraku. In his short life, Naruto only had a handful of people that sincerely cared for him and the old man and daughter tending to the ramen bar counted as one of those. That was one of the main reasons he attended there as regularly as the budget his other precious person gave him could support.

His sight was soon posed upon the famed building, making his eagerness soar and his step quicken. Casting the flap aside, he let out his call and sat down on the stool in the middle. "Ojii-san! The usual!" His bright grin was contagious.

"Naruto! How was the academy today?" The aged man inquired while cooking for his best customer. It wasn't that he was forced to care for the little boy; it was that no one would do so, and in the long run, this little kid would break. And every one of the villagers knew that if that kid broke apart, so would the entire population and edifications. In a way, he was helping Naruto overcome his solitude and also saving his place of living in the long run. Even if there were no threat towards them, he would do it with a huge smile. It was the obvious thing to do for this innocent boy.

"Boring as usual." Came his reply. He placed his elbow on the board and his boredom-clad face on his hand before glancing around in case something interesting was happening. Sometimes a passersby would trip on their own feet and curse loudly, brightening (Although slightly) Naruto's day. However, on this day, his entertainment wasn't as far as the street. It was sprawled on the farthest stool on his right.

A sickly pale looking man in his mid-twenties lay there, his tongue out of his mouth. His face was dirty and dark botches covered his cheeks, even his hair that shared the same style and colour as the young boy was covered in dirt. His unconscious status prevented Naruto from further inspecting his face, or rather, his eyes. He was garbed in black long-sleeved shirt and a coat that covered his arms. Said coat was, or at least the blond youngster assumed, dark blue with a red fire on the lower and the arms' hem. His legs were covered by the same dark blue and a pair of classic black ninja sandals completed his look.

Naruto raised a brow at the disgruntled image. Even in his young age, he knew that someone had to undergo something akin to hell in order to be in that state. He could smell the stench of lack of bathing from three stools away, and it made him scrunch his nose. "Oi, Ojii-san. Who's this?" He asked pointing at the dirty man.

"No idea. He came around like seven hours ago asked for some ramen and sat to wait. Has been there all the time." Teuchi replied and emerged from the kitchen to have some social direct exchange with the blond. Sparing a look at their object of attention, he chuckled. "I don't even know if he's still alive."

After fifteen minutes of chat, the ninja-to-be paid for his meal and left to make some of the bastards at the academy pay for making a fool out of him. His latest prank included duck tape and a lot of laxatives. Or perhaps that was too light? He continued plotting his revenge while walking away from Ichiraku.

Not two seconds after the young blond left, the sickly man re-gained consciousness and colour to his face. He looked around confusedly before regaining his composure and looking straight at Teuchi. "Hey." He began in a raspy voice that was distantly familiar to the ramen bar's cook. "That kid, where'd he go?"

Raising a brow at the sudden interest in Naruto, he almost narrowed his eyes in caution at the man. However, the look in his red eyes held neither anger nor resentment. Just pure curiosity. Teuchi resolved to tell him and pointed in the direction Naruto had left not half a minute before.

"What day is it today?" The man asked rising to his feet and almost stumbling back on the stool.

"Thursday..." Teuchi replied taken aback by this man's lack of time management.

"I meant number..." Ah, at least that explained why such a dumb question. That made it a not so dumb question after all. Taking a quick check at the calendar, he noted that the day was marked with a red circle.

Oh, god. It's... THAT day again... Teuchi's face lost all colour. "It's... October 10th ..."

"Oh, shit!" The ramen cook heard the man curse and saw him disappear in Naruto's direction. The most important question on Teuchi's mind was only one. Was that man from Konoha? That was the only way he could have possibly understood the true danger that Naruto was positioned that day every year.

He shuddered when he remembered the year past when Naruto appeared the day after his birthday. He had not seen seasoned shinobi receive a punishment as thoroughly as the blond had. A black eye was the simplest of things. The worst was perhaps the gasped way he breathed, marking broken ribs. A seven year old couldn't be hated so much.

He prayed to every deity up there that the man that just left was able to defend Naruto. If not, he would not have it himself to stop from running amok. Ramen cook or not, he would show the ignorant not to pick on a defenceless boy.

Night quickly fell on Konoha and with it, the silent gathering of punishers that amalgamated every October 10th to give the much deserved punishment on the demon brat. Tonight, it would be a night of resentment. A night of punishment and a night in which emotions would be running high. The Hokage had been forced to leave the village to have a meeting with the Kazekage, leaving the village to their own devices. Tonight, it would be no-body's land and anyone had free reign with the Kyuubi brat.

Of course, said brat wasn't stupid and kept to the shadows as much as he could. But his white t-shirt wasn't of much use to cover him from the irate and blood-thirsty villagers. Thirsty for his blood. The young blond shuddered at the beating he received the past year in his own house. After that, he would no longer stay at his abode any more time than necessary. Especially on his own birthday. He had quickly learned that the glares and mistreatment he received reached a peak on that day. The reason? It escaped him fully.

However, the fact that he had to keep away from everyone hadn't escaped him. There were only a handful of places he could go at this hour where he could be safe. His apartment was a big no-no, since at least two out of ten villagers knew its location and could direct entire groups of people there. Worst case scenario? Even more people knew about his only "fortress".

Looking around at a deserted street, he took quick peeks at both sides before taking a tentative step forward. After the third one, he sprinted to the other side of the street. He mentally begged for this nightmare to end as quickly as possible with any outcome. He was sick of doing this every single year.

His luck that night resembled that of a certain Sannin. A faraway exclamation averted him to look behind and made his eyes widen. "I FOUND IT!" Hightailing as fast as his legs could, he dared to glance behind. A mob of people were after him. Around twenty or so. The more aggressive anti-Kyuubi activists.

His despairing run was ended when he misread his mental blueprint of Konoha's streets and ended in a dead-end, with had two closed shops at both sides of it. He stepped forward to correct his mistake, but the mob cut his trail off. Instead, he took two steps backwards, fear induced a mental numbness. It didn't take long before his hands touched the back wall and the panic inside him increased by at least a hundred-fold.

Realization filled his eyes. This night all would end for him. He would not see another sunrise and the ones to blame were the ones in front of him. Something inside him churned in anger but he chalked it up as his stomach reacting to the epiphany.

"Get him!" Objects flew from the assessment of Konoha villagers. Varying from bottles to rocks, some of them impacted on Naruto, leaving bruises that quickly turned a sickly purple. In spite of the huge amount of Naruto's silent prayer for it to stop, the sling of painful things did not. One ugly looking bottle smashed against his temple and he fell unconscious from the pain.

When the attackers saw their objective down for the count, they smelled blood and stepped forward to finish the job.

They never made it after one step when a blue cloaked man landed between the mob and Naruto. "If you want this kid, it will be over my dead body." He stated with such a hateful glare that after combining all the ones the villagers had thrown at the blond Jinchuuriki, it still didn't compare. Some of the villagers took a few steps back from the shock.

Only the more strong-willed, or insane, kept their footing and even advanced. Only one them retreated intact. The others received powerful blows from the blond man, some of them screaming in pain as bones were shattered mercilessly. This night was free reign, and the position of power had been taken.

Withdrawing a kunai from a pocket of the coat, the man prepared to defend the person of his ultimate interest. If this kid died... Mentally shuddering at that line of thought, he re-focused on the assailants and assumed an offensive stance. "Come on, you bastards! Why don't you play with someone your own size?!"

Some of them considered attacking; however, the confident and powerful war-cry smashed most of their resolve. Many of them ran for it and the ones who remained behind attacked. None of them managed to even scratch the red-eyed man. Instead, they were decked with cuts all over their body, three out of the five not going to make it if they didn't receive medical attention as soon as possible.

When the last one was taken care of, puffs of smoke appeared around him. Five Ninja-to shot from the clouds and assumed position to cut down the man who was calmly wiping his bloody kunai before placing it back on his pouch. He cracked his neck and cleared his throat when a final person arrived. Before the newcomer could even assess what happened, the blond man spoke.

"So the great Hokage-sama decides to grace us with his presence." Sarcasm dripping from his voice. He clapped some times, making the now-smoke-free ANBU glare at him. One of them, with a dog mask pressed his weapon enough to make blood surface from the neck. "Good job, old man." Taking a step back and pushing the ANBU's blade from his neck with a quick powered glare, he resumed speaking to the leader of Konohagakure no Sato. "If I hadn't been here in time, Naruto would have been killed. Some leader you are..."

"You dare disrespect Hokage-sama?!" This time, it was an ANBU with a hawk mask that his allegiances known.

The blond man calmly addressed the ninja. "I disrespect the ones that leave behind their comrades for a mission. The Hokage here left to Suna full knowing that the tenth of October was going to come soon and he would need to protect Naruto at all costs. No, I hold no respect for this man unless he decides to make it up to Naruto." Said speech shocked everyone present, but more importantly the ANBU squad leader and the Hokage. Sarutobi was aware that only three people had said a phrase alike. The ANBU leader next to him, a dead shinobi and the Yondaime.

"Who are you?" The aged man said narrowing his eyes at the unknown defender.

"I go by the name of Izouno Kasai." The blond man replied proudly and met the look of the Hokage step by step.

Izouno Kasai? Never heard of him. How does he know about Naruto? "Well, Izouno-san, do you mind if we continue this chat at the Hokage tower?" He proposed. The ANBU, hearing that the Hokage had deemed this man not dangerous at the moment, withdrew their weapons, picked up the wounded and disappeared. Only the Captain remained behind.

Kasai grinned in response. "I thought you'd never say that." Turning around, he picked Naruto on his arms and motioned for Sarutobi. "Lead the way."

"May I ask why are you still guarding Naruto?" Sarutobi wondered eyeing the man who was holding to Naruto as if his life depended on it. The trio were sitting at the Hokage's office, with Naruto still unconscious on Kasai's lap. The older blond glared back. He seemed to take this as a deep insult.

"Now that there are no ANBU around to joke around, you must know that I hold you in the highest of regards for protecting the kid here. I almost had a heart attack when I arrived and witnessed a bottle smashing on his temple then crumpling to the ground. Had I not kept my anger in place, many of your ANBU would be looking for me to strike me down for running amok after the villagers." He said solemnly, his eyes finally betraying his former attitude and gaining a hue of sadness seen in those who have seen various kinds of hell. This made the Hokage suspicious but assured that he was not a threat to the blond he was holding.

"Again I ask, who are you?"

Kasai chuckled shortly. "One of these days you'll find out who I am. However, I cannot tell you at the moment." He carefully placed Naruto on the couch in the office and directed towards the door. "Good night, Hokage-sama."

"Wait." He knew this decision would one day come and bite him in the back, but he could no longer protect Naruto 24/7 like he deserved. This man might just be the one he was looking for. Said blond raised a brow and looked at the aged man. "What would you say if I offered you guardianship over Naruto?"

Kasai was obviously taken aback by the proposal but quickly agreed. "Of course I'd accept. This kid means everything to me." He returned to the seat in front of the Hokage and sat down.

"That was the kind of answer I was looking for." Rummaging through the drawers of his desk, he produced a dusty folder. Blowing the dust off, the Hokage opened it. This rang bells on the blond man. Was this what he thought this was? "These are Naruto's adoption papers. As you can see, no one is keen on taking Naruto in." A long grieving look crossed the Hokage's features before he continued. "Are you sure you want to go on with this?"

"The main question is, are you sure you want me to be Naruto's adoptive father? After all, I met you an hour ago and you know nothing about me." To say that Sarutobi was surprised was an understatement, but he recovered quickly and smiled.

"Exactly for that phrase. If you had any ill ideas against Naruto, you'd never protect him nor ask that question that way. And if that fails, I saw how much you care for the blond young man." The Hokage pointed and took a long puff out of his pipe. "I know you will not fail to keep him safe as he deserves." Before he presented the papers to Kasai, there was something important to tell him.

"May I ask where are you from? I only need to know for the moment."

"I am from far away. Very far away but not enough to not know the happenings of this village." Kasai's answer satisfied the Hokage and he nodded. So he was aware of Naruto's condition and still protected him. This spoke volumes of this man, already vouching for his good deeds.

"Good, then please sign here and here." He said pointing to two lines near the end of the paper. The blond scanned the writings quickly and nodded in approval. Taking a pen from the desk, he proceeded to do as asked. "Perfect. Now, there is one thing that you must have before I let you leave with Naruto." Taking the second sheet of paper, he placed some chakra on it and a yellow scroll poof-ed into existence. "This is for your eyes only until you deem Naruto old enough to know." He said handing him the tightly closed scroll. "If you need aid in anything, be it economically or any other thing, please give me a call. I'd love to help in anything I could." Sarutobi smiled and Kasai returned it with a tenfold power up.

"If you excuse me, Hokage-sama, I have to take Naruto-kun to his abode and pray those villagers did nothing to him." He happily got to his feet and picked Naruto in his arms as carefully as one would treat a Ming pottery vase. "Or else." He said and vanished in a poof of smoke.

"Oh, dear. I'm afraid I let loose a force of destruction on the villagers." The Hokage commented looking outside the window with his pipe in his mouth. Caring somehow wasn't an issue to him, which surprised the aged man. He should be wary of what Kasai would be up to with the denizens of Konoha. "Keep an eye on him." He said to the hidden ANBU captain, who nodded and also disappeared in a cloud of smoke.

Sarutobi chuckled darkly. "However, they deserve it and much more."

Kasai slumped over in his sitting state next to the wall. It had been almost nine hours since the incident and eight and a half since he had brought Naruto back o his abode. After warily placing him on his resting place and covering him with a blanket, he placed himself against the cold concrete wall. His position was simple. Knees at the same height of his shoulders and his arms supported on his knees. His head switched from touching the surface or falling forward.

How come everything went down this way? He only wanted to keep an eye on him from afar. Getting involved in his everyday life wasn't planned, but welcomed nonetheless. Of course, the explanation that he was supposed to be his adoptive father, when Naruto hadn't even seen him before was going to be awkward. Not that it mattered too much, since orphanages had cases like that sometimes.

Sighing, he got up sluggishly. Sitting on the floor for more than seven hours still gets any joint sore. He scanned the surroundings for anything out of place and cracked his neck. Entering the "kitchen" as he called it, he checked the clock on Naruto's bed.


What in the hell am I doing up at this time? I should be in the middle of my sleep right now... He pouted at nothing while he served himself a glass of water. Possibly the only available beverage the kid had in the house. How he could leave with so little commodities didn't make him bat an eyelash. It was common to him since he had very similar growing conditions.

Perhaps he could help him get a nicer place, more secluded from the abusive hands of the villagers. If he trained him enough to learn tree walking then...

He grinned at the idea. A house on the treetops seemed like a very good idea. But no, it would be way too expensive and his economy was an at an all time low. He would have to become a Konoha ninja to pay the bills... that, or find a common job in the village. Considering his soon-to-be-known allegiance to the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki, he'd have better luck going to ask the Shinigami for a job.

Or... he could always pickpocket for a living. It wouldn't be complicated to do so with the training he had undergone. Even if some of the Konoha shinobi caught him, he could easily waltz his way out by explaining what it was for. His luck would deviate from there. If the one was compassionate with his goal, he would even help him. If not, Kasai would deck them and point them out to the Hokage.

Yeah. That seemed like the better way to pay his days. At least until he decided whether or not to become a ninja for Konoha. That was if certain events played out as he wanted them to, if not, pickpocketing would do well. Food wasn't expensive here, after all.

A groan made him re-check the clock again.


He hadn't even noticed the sun come in throw the window. Three hours musing over stuff? Man, do I ramble... When the sound repeated, he refocused and looked at the slump on the bed move. Soon enough, the young blond yawned and sat on the bed with a sleepy face.

Naruto groggily blinked the sleep out of his eyes several times and threw the covers off him. Shuffling his feet to the cold touch of the floor, he got up and directed himself towards the bathroom. A shower was in order.

He never made it past four steps when he noticed Kasai. Assuming what he had seen others as a defensive stance, his face adopted a distrustful glare. "Who the hell are you?" Briefly, he remembered him to be the man at the ramen post he had seen the day before.

Kasai raised a brow at the incredibly sloppy stance Naruto had. Oh, yeah. They'd have to work a lot on his shinobi skills. Eight year old or not. "My name is Izouno Kasai." He said smiling truthfully and respectfully bowed by the neck. "Nice to meet you, Naruto-kun."

The complete opposite response he had from the normal insults of the villagers caught him off guard and he took a step back. He had no experience dealing with people who treated him like they would their Hokage. Speaking of the Hokage, perhaps he was the only one whom he truly could speak normally.

However, he quickly became wary of Kasai again. Several attempts had been played against him and it paid off better to be paranoid than not. "And what is your business here?" The kid cracked his knuckles to show that patience was not one of his greatest pros; however, intimidation by an eight year old that barely reached your waist was something laughable.

Kasai refrained from doing so. First impressions are everything. "How to say this tactfully...?" He mused looking up with a finger beneath his chin. A light bulb suddenly went off over his head and he grinned happily. Finally he had a good alibi, and it came off the top of his head! Mentally giving himself a pat on the back, he spoke. "I saved you last night during that attack. Those bastards had crossed the line a final time."

To say that Naruto was impacted was the understatement of the millennium. Not only this man saved him and shared one of his most secrets insights about this village, he treated him with respect! Inspecting his face, he knew something was off. Even he could notice that and his social skills were severely below par. "There's something more, right?"

The man had the gall to look embarrassed and scratched the back of his neck. "Heh heh... You got me. I didn't tell you because I didn't know how you'd take it... But after I saved you, I had a conversation with the Old Man and he made a proposal to me. You see, his ANBU make a check on you from time to time, but they can't protect you 24/7. So... He kinda chose me to do the job."

Naruto's confused look stared back at him. "What are you talking about?"

"I'm something alike to your guardian or the like. In fact... Hokage-sama saw it wise to appoint me as your adoptive father." There, he said it. The truth was out. Now, he only had to defuse the obvious hateful outburst from the blond and he would be done with his introduction.

"WHAT!" Naruto's arm flew high into the air in disbelief. Mentally going over the recent discovery, his mind grasped the concept of two joint words. "Adoptive... father?" Kasai slowly nodded at the same time he closed his eyes for the whole movement.

The reaction the man was expecting sincerely wasn't that the kid would throw himself at his waist and cry like a desperate woman. In the good sense. Kasai was at a loss as to what to do for a moment before he smiled contently and place his hand caringly on Naruto's head. Only now did he understand the true wisdom that Sarutobi had in his head. An old saying goes that: 'A fox knows for being a fox, but it knows more for its age.'

When the boy had finally calmed down, he placed his hands on his shoulders and descended to his eye-level. "I suppose my real question after telling you this, is: Are you okay with it? I can leave if you want me to."

Naruto was in shock for a good 30-second lapse. This man was caring enough to ask if he was okay with it? "You'll have to sleep on the floor..." He said jokingly.

Kasai grinned in response. "Well, then. I promise I'll try to play my role as best as I can."

"Um... what's a role?"

"My part."


"Now, Naruto, I know you are in the academy, am I correct?" Kasai said a minute later when the pair was sitting in the already tidied bed.

Naruto nodded eagerly and began ranting that he was going to become Hokage and make everyone in this village respect him when he achieved that level. His adoptive father listened at his every word with interest and a smile on his lips. He had not seen such lively attitude for a good while.

"You do know that reaching the Hokage post is hard, right? It's a long way to the top." He continued when Naruto finished with a 'and I'll make a ramen festival every week!'

"Oi! Of course I know that!"

"Then, what are you doing to achieve that dream?" Kasai inquired with a raised brow.

"Well... I can't read anything at the academy since they kick me out for some reason... So..."

"Right. I forgot about that little tid-bit of information." He growled the last part neither to Naruto nor himself, but to the village in general. I'll have to clear it with Sarutobi first. Or actually warn him. "I can train you to be the best."

To this, Naruto's eyes gleamed with passion. "Really? You will train me?"

Kasai puffed out his chest in mock grandness. "Of course! I'll make you the best shinobi in the entire world!" That was stretching the truth quite a bit, but he supposed that the kid needed some good motivation to hit his training off. After all, training began with physical improvement, and that was bitchy. Quite bitchy. "For now, my first action will be to buy you a new wardrobe."

"YEAH!" Naruto's leapt off the bed and began a jig in the middle of the room. Beaming, Kasai internally was weeping. There goes the last of my savings. At least it's worth it. I wonder how much money villagers of Konoha will... invest, in their Jinchuuriki.

"Otou-san, what are you doing?" Hearing the young blond call him that so freely nearly scared him out of his skin. It was a wonder that after only five hours of being together, he had assimilated his presence as a fatherly role so quickly. Perhaps it was that he was young or, more plausible, that he was eager to find a family. And now, he had fallen from the sky and accepted Sarutobi's proposal. It was no wonder such a feat occurred.

But it just had to be when he was about to ransack a fat wallet from one of Konoha's most prominent civilians. If not for his reflexes and hand dexterity, he would have been caught. The balding man he was standing next to in the market area, his target, looked at him quizzically for a second but shrugged it off to continue with his shopping.

Kasai rounded Naruto's should and whispered in his ear. "Know this, Naruto. Until they don't respect you enough, you can get back at the abuse you received from them. More importantly, do not get caught nor even get suspicion your way. Shinobi lesson #1."

The boy understood easily and nodded grinning. The taller blond could almost see the gears turning quickly in his mind, no wonder he was as cunning as a fox. Poor the one he targeted. Of course, there was another lesson. One more important than being stealthy for a ninja. For one could be a shinobi without having too much stealth abilities.

"Shinobi Lesson #2. Know your limitations, Naruto. Don't try anything for now until I train you and deem you fit to help me." At Naruto's down-trodden face, he felt his heart churn. "Just be patient, and be happy. I'm already training you theoretically." He rubbed his hair, spiking it even more, causing the kid to pout but smile a few moments later.


"You're most welcome. Now, let me do the job. You go choose some clothes you'd like, remember, something shinobi-alike. And be promiscuous!" He warned with a finger and half-hearted frown.

"What's that?"

"Er... Something along the lines of 'not be seen'" He explained pitifully. Alright, he could use big words, but explaining them? That was a crusade all in itself. Watching him meld with the crowd, he smiled. He could already see the potential he had as a shinobi. Now, where was he? Oh, yeah. About to get the money for a whole month. Including Naruto's wardrobe.

"So, Naruto, have you decided?" Kasai said standing behind his adoptive son. He once again place his hands on his shoulders and looked at what Naruto was gaping so much. He resisted the urge to cringe in disgust. There on sale was the most horrible piece of clothing he had ever set his eyes upon. It belonged more on a circus than a shop. First of all, it was a jumpsuit, he could deal with that just fine, but the colours... They ranged from neon green to turquoise, from the yellow alike their hair to a hideous maroon. And that was just a pocket.

"For the love of all that is good in life, don't tell that you want that..." For some reason, he had expected Naruto to turn around with a hopeful puppy face, however, the way his face scrunched up at the sheer mention of that possibility made him sigh in relief.

"Nah, I picked something more simple. There." He said pointing to a small shop in the middle of the block.

"Simpler." Kasai corrected while they got to the place. Naruto nodded in acceptance and motioned for a couple of shinobi clothing on display. "I want that shirt with those pants." If not for the sheer irony, the older blond would have been rolling on the floor. Instead, he sufficed himself with sniggering. Avoiding a reply to Naruto's silent question, he returned his gaze to the clothing he had picked from two mannequins.

A mainly black t-shirt with white running down from where the arm touched the chest. The pants were similar, with a line of white on the sides. The coated blond nodded in chuckling approval. Naruto would look good in this. If it had been orange, he'd have been rolling on the floor for a very long time holding his sides in laughter.

"So, is that all?" Naruto nodded eagerly. "Okay, come with me." He said and the pair walked to the alley next to the shop. "Let me imagine it for a bit..." He concentrated closing his eyes. Making a quick ram seal, he used a fairly basic Jutsu. "Henge!" When the smoke cleared out, instead of a grown twenty-something year old man, a kid Naruto's size and height stood.

They weren't even alike. The hair was jet black and the eyes were a very bright green. "So, how do I look? We cannot have you waltzing in and make a ruckus for some clothes. Wait for me here." Naruto nodded and sat down on a nearby concrete block that seemed to be spared from a construction site. "I'll be back in a sec." He said and disappeared towards the shop.

Now that he was alone, the blond boy could finally ponder freely what was going on. Kasai said the Old Man offered him to be his adoptive father after he saved him, but that didn't make any sense. He had spoken with many of those masked men that had saved him before and they seemed quite friendly, yet, none of them were chosen. He could tell Kasai wasn't one of them because of his voice and his hair. There was only one of those masked who was blond and it was a woman. No fat chance.

All in all, he still couldn't grasp why. Yeah, he was caring enough that when they went out of the house and they glared at the pair, he glared at least thrice as strongly and laced it with something... choking. He didn't know what it was, but he found difficult to breathe. Of course, the one who began the staring contest fared no better. Yes, Kasai definitely cared about him a great deal. But the main doubt was why. He had never seen the man in his entire life, yet he felt like he had lived with him since he had memory. It was too confusing and it made his mind began to pound against his skull, so he ceased that train of thought.

"Yo." A voice interrupted his musings. Looking at the source, he found a man at the entrance to the alley, six feet away from him with an eye in the shape of a "u" upside-down. The most prominent thing of this fellow was his silver hair that rose defying the laws of gravity. Almost all of his face was covered. If it wasn't a mask, it was his Konoha Hitai Ate. "What are you doing here all alone?" He said walking next to him in a carefree manner.

"Waiting." He replied shortly with a polite smile. He was young, but not stupid. Eight years of abuse made one mature quite swiftly, Naruto was the living proof of that.

"I see. Well, why don't you wait at the street?" He offered and placed a hand on the boy's shoulder. For some reason, Naruto didn't feel like shrugging it off. Instead, he looked at the man's eye and frowned slightly, forcing his mind to remember where he had seen him before. It was difficult, but one could not see that hair and forget it. He could remember every one of those masked men that saved him when...


"You're... you're..." He stammered pointing at him. The man removed his hand and put it in his pocket, awaiting Naruto's call. "You're that guy with the dog mask!"

"Ah, I see I've been caught." He said lifting his shoulders and hands, mockingly worried.

"Make it a double." Another voice said and the pair looked at the entrance. There stood the Henge'd Kasai.

"And you are?" The masked man inquired with a careful raised brow.

"Oh, sorry about that." He said placing the shopping bags on the floor. A quick cancel and there stood the blond coated man in all his dirty glory.

He's still due to clean his face and his coat... those blotches on its back will not come off easily. Kakashi mentally commented at the sight of Naruto's appointed father. Eye-smiling, he walked to the man and offered his hand. "I'm Hat-"

"Ake Kakashi. Copy-Nin. Yes, I've heard about you quite a lot. Stole many Jutsu with that Sharingan of yours?" If Naruto hadn't been there, all hell would have broken loose. Instead, the temperature dropped several degrees between the two men. The glare Kakashi was sending Kasai was worthy of a praise by the Kyuubi. The older blond returned it, no love being lost between the two. "I still have a scar where you cut me, Kakashi-kun."

"Shame I didn't make it any deeper, Kasai-chan." Kakashi shot back just as venomously.

"For Naruto's sake, I'll let you go unscathed. However, some day we'll fight it out. Pray the day doesn't come any soon, Raikiri-shishou." Motioning for Naruto and picking the bags, he gave one last pointed glare at the off-duty ANBU and left.

"Otou-san, what was all that about?" Naruto wondered when they were easily five blocks away. Kasai had been fuming for the first two and then calmed down after a lot of mental cursing towards himself. It wasn't wise to pick a fight with possibly the second strongest man Konoha had at the moment. However, Kakashi was looking for it.

"Some unfinished business from last night. Nothing you need to worry about." Remembering the bags he carried due to their weight, he beamed. "On to brighter things, I got your clothes, and even some more thins you'll find useful for when I start your training. Here, take a look." He said and gave the three bags to Naruto.

Jumping in joy and expectance, the kid greedily took the bags and began fumbling among them. Two of them were various sets of the clothes he had picked off, sized perfectly for him; even two of them had different sizes for when he grew up. Totalling four sets.

The final bag made him grin from ear-to-ear. Packed up to the brim with shinobi objects and weapons, such as scrolls, kunais, shurikens, smoke bombs and so on. He picked up a red coloured scroll, looking at it curiously.

"Those are sealed training weights. You won't start using them until you're almost ten. If not, your body might not be able to sustain the strain and you'll barely grow in height." Kasai explained when he was about to open it. The knowledge that there was something big in something so little almost made him open it. However, something he said confused him, aside from the shock of hearing that he may not grow up at all.


"Yes. You can seal things in other things. Normally it's big stuff in small things like that scroll. But there are other kinds of seals. This is the most basic of all." He explained, his sight locked on a rather vicious looking patron. The two had been locked in a glaring contest for the last three steps. Most possibly because of his connection to the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki.

"I get it. Can you teach me?" He said excitedly, making the frowning on Kasai's face disappear. He ruffled Naruto's hair for a second and the kid pouted at the action.

"Later on. First I'll have to put you into shape. Then goes Chakra control. After that we'll see… I hope you've got plenty of determination, because those two things are boring as hell." He warned his adoptive son. He remembered how much of a pain going through those had been, not physically, but because of boredom. Knowing Naruto's eagerness to do something as he showed when they were going to buy his new stuff, he'd be after his hide half an hour into running. At least he could join him so both of them could improve and he wouldn't be bored to stop. Physical training alone can be extremely saturating.

"And Jutsus?" The light in his eyes augmented at that.

"We'll see. First you'll have to master those of the academy." He replied and grinned when Naruto made a face. Things could only get more and more interesting from now on.

"Well, class, that is all for today." His cue to get his face from the desk was given and Naruto happily complied to do so. Strolling outside, he mentally planned what he was going to do after he left the academy. After all, nobody ever came for him in the past, why would things be different now?

When the sunlight impacted on his face, the contradiction was obvious. Among the other parents, was a grinning Kasai, discussing something that required a lot of hand movement, it seemed. The same smile was copied on Naruto's face a moment after and he launched at him, stopping with a skid next to him.

The woman Kasai was talking to, raised a brow at him and sneered. There was an obvious displeasure with his presence; however, something made her sigh when he saluted eagerly at the coated man. "I can see your arguments are well founded, Izouno-san." She admitted rather reluctantly, but did so.

"What can I say? I've got a soft spot for this kid." He replied back, imitating that characteristic way Naruto has. "Say, Yamanaka-san, do you know where I can find a job around here? I already know most of their replies, so I'm asking you…"

Before the florist could reply, Naruto's shout called their attention as well as several others. "Oi, teme! Watch where you're going!" Of course, said exclamation had been launched at the younger Uchiha. Said boy raised a brow at him, grunted and left with his hands on his pockets. Kasai noted something was off with the retreating boy.

"Naruto, I don't think that was wise." The sole comment made Naruto's head turn so quickly that the Yamanaka matron wondered how he hadn't broken it. Her attention also was peaked by what Kasai had said.

"What do you mean, Izouno-san?" She wondered curiously. Obviously he couldn't be implying that he noticed…

"Kaa-san!" Again, they were interrupted. This time, it was an excited Ino. "Can Sakura go home to play?" She asked almost bouncing on her feet.

"Yes, of course." She replied smiling and turned again to Kasai. At that moment Ino realized who she was talking to. Or rather, who was accompanying the speaker. A Naruto who was absorbed listening to the older blond.

"He's lonely, Naruto. Anyone can see it in his eyes. The best thing you could do for him is become his friend, not his enemy." At Naruto's disbelieving face, he sighed and continued. "He needs someone to lean on. The last thing he needs right now is false friend-hood or mind-less adoration. I think you should look underneath his exterior and understand that he is the same as you are."

Naruto's face assumed a thinking position and remained like that, considering everything that had been noted and said. His young mind couldn't completely grasp the full idea that Kasai wanted to transmit, however, he did understood the main thing. Do not be a prick like Sasuke, in fact, try to be friendly to him. He made a face. That was as durable as a cube of ice under a scorching sun.

Analyzing the Yamanakas, you could see quite different reactions to his speech. The younger had a confused look that easily spoke of her lack of information. However, the older held a brow high. This man was intriguing. He understood the Uchiha with only a look and even tried to correct that by making Naruto his friend? What did he mean by false friend-hood and mind-less adoration, though?

"I'll give you time to think about it. For now, we have to go. Your training begins today." Kasai half-informed, half-ordered. Naruto shook his head out of his musings and nodded before following him out of the academy under the glare of many other grown-ups.

Slight Time-skip.

Two weeks later.

That day, it was a normal one. The sun rose from the west nearly four hours before and Konoha had been bustling with activity for the last two. Away from the noisy downtown market blocks he supposed his sensei-adoptive father was, Naruto exited the academy and headed towards the training spot they had almost claimed as their own, since no one dared to use it.

Training Ground 43 was a shady and grieving place. Placed a few hundred feet from the Forest of Death itself, there was no wonder people avoided this place like the plague. Exactly for that reason, Kasai had decided that this would be the perfect place to train, since no one would bother them.

Well, no one if you excluded the scarce interruptions of one Mitarashi Anko.

Every time that woman came, Kasai had to refrain from throwing her off him due to her way of showing "care", as she put it. The man would swear to anything that the purple-haired lady seriously needed some relief from the stress. It went without saying that he wasn't about to aid her in that quest. Let be another the guinea pig, perhaps he could point her out to Kakashi.

Back with the blond midget, he was tediously running around the grounds, grumbling about lazy senseis. Even so, his irritated state lasted very little when the man in question appeared in a puff of smoke next to the position he was going to be two seconds later. Of course, that display of Jutsu immediately wiped any anger the boy had in hopes that he would learn something like that.

"So, Naruto. How was your day at the academy?" He asked smiling with his eyes closed, an expression he had adopted, ironically, from Kakashi. He had to admit that the man knew how to keep appearances sometimes. This time, though, there was no need for lies.

Stopping two feet at his side, he crossed his arms and huffed, the new attire he had stretched on him. "Boring. We learned a useless jutsu…" It was strange to see Naruto of all people to be disappointed about new techniques.

Kasai, on the other hand, grinned and raised a brow in an almost sadistic way. "Bunshin?"

"Worse. Kawarimi."

This surprised the dirty man to no ends. That technique was possibly the most important of all in the academy! Even more vital than Henge! Frowning, he decided to beat some sense into this kid. "Now, why do you think it is useless?"

"I can't hit anyone with that! How can I fight?" He whined and pouted, giving his already childish looks a bratty attitude.

His sensei chuckled, confusing Naruto as to what was so funny. "The basic of Kawarimi is to create an opening to hit. It's a support Jutsu, Naruto. Offensive Jutsu aren't taught at the academy, but by the sensei after it." He explained casually with some hand movements. It seemed that this soothed the boy enough to pay him attention. "Be grateful that you have me to teach you all manners of Jutsu before you even graduate." He finished and ruffled his hair.

"Thanks, Otou-san!" Naruto's cheery mood was back.

"Now, you have to learn how to do Kawarimi without hand-seals. That's a cental skill around this Jutsu. After that, I'll teach you a modification that I created." Performing a quick dual Kawarimi, two logs appeared, twelve feet from each other. "Now, some tips. Practice with the hand-seals until you get the signature chakra flow of the Jutsu. It's easy, so you'll get it soon enough. The closer you do it, the easier it gets to understand how it works and less chakra you use. Remember the tree walking technique?"

Naruto nodded. "Yeah, but I barely can make it five or six steps!"

"It's no surprise there, Naruto. People actually begin to learn that training when they are at least twenty. I'm giving it to you sooner than half that age. Now, if you remember that technique, you need an exact amount of chakra. Try different amounts of it until you get the minimum for the Jutsu. It wastes so little that it is almost laughable according to your reserves." Letting him go with the task in hand, he proceeded to sit down under the shade of a tree, watching the progress Naruto made.

Musing over his training plans, he sighed. He would have to undergo some serious one, too. Withdrawing a scroll from an inner pocket of his coat and a short burst of chakra later, he put on his training weights and began running around, a keen eye on his adoptive son.

It wouldn't until two hours later that Naruto finally understood the mechanics of the Jutsu enough to make it with barely any chakra and without hand-seals. To say that Kasai was surprised was the understatement of the century. This eight-year old kid mastered a Jutsu in two hours! Yeah, it was an academy E-Rank, but still!

"Yeah, I did it! I'm the best!" His father allowed him some boasting. He deserved it after all that continuous work. Suddenly, he fell to the floor, incapable of keeping on his feet anymore. Kasai was at his side immediately, recognizing the signs of chakra exhaustion. "What…happened?" He asked when he was picked up in his arms and placed next to a nearby tree. The older blond also sat down next to him with every intention to explain.

"It's normal when you train a long time with a Jutsu, Naruto, especially at your age to deplete your reserves quickly. Remember that your control isn't good and you waste too much." The boy didn't know whether to smile sheepishly or frown at that. Was he insulted or good critiqued? "Until you master that and another one I've got for you, the amount of chakra you use will be considerably larger to needed. Even so, your reserves are big and let you pay up that little sacrifice."

"Oh…" It was obvious he didn't understand much of what was said, but he got the main idea.

"Now, while you recover, I'll speak to you about the variation I mentioned earlier." He said rubbing his hands in excitement. "If you remember my entrance, I appeared in a cloud of smoke. Normally, that's the tell-tale of a C-Rank Jutsu called Shunshin. It's a teleportation Jutsu that displaces your body using chakra. Now, I'm going to teach you a way more economic, chakra wise speaking, and effective way of travelling. Kaze Kawarimi." He made a dramatic pause to let the name sink into the boy's mind. Immediately, his eyes shone with that fire he had seen before.

"Basically, Kaze Kawarimi is a change of objects. With a normal Kawarimi, you switch your body with a log or other small stuff and appear where you want to. With this one, you switch your body with air. It takes even less chakra, since you only have to transport air and you can move at will. The catch is that you can't travel far with each use. The furthest I've reached with that is three hundred yards, an easy feat for a Shunshin, which you can reach a maximum amount of two miles if you've got the chakra to sustain that much of a travel." Again, letting Naruto understand what he said, he waited until he nodded. It wasn't long before he did so. "Do you understand now why I wanted you to learn it without hand-seals? Here, give it a look." He said standing up.

Immediately, he disappeared in a cloud of smoke and appeared several yards away. Continuing with a series of Kaze Kawarimi, he travelled around the Training Grounds in less than two seconds, returning to his initial position next to Naruto. "Understand the usefulness?"

Naruto nodded eagerly. "Good. I think you've rested enough to give it a few tries. Go on." He said offering him a hand, which the boy took and immediately put himself to learn the technique his father had displayed. Luckily for him, he could understand techniques far better if someone showed them to him. Several times.

It would be four hours and fifty-two minutes before he would be able to master that particular move.

The young blond Jinchuuriki sighed. This day wasn't getting any better. At least he could stare outside the windows towards the passing clouds while Iruka-sensei ranted on and on about the uses of Kawarimi. He didn't need to hear that. He got plenty of its uses from his father. Even more than it was necessary. Taking a quick look around, he found that there was an accomplice to his cloud-watching. That pineapple haired boy name Nara Shikamaru. The two shared a bored look before returning to look at a particular one that looked like a shuriken.

Even the clouds were interested in being ninja…

"Well, class, recess!" Iruka called. After a quick shout of joy, several students filed out of the place. Only a handful remained inside. A kid with shades and a coat, a girl with blue hair and a red jacket, Naruto, and lastly, the Uchiha survivor in one of those fan-girl free moments.

Naruto studied the raven-haired boy for a minute. Just what did his dad see in him that was so similar to him? The only thing he knew about him, thanks to his father, was that he was an orphan because his brother had killed his entire clan. Ok, so that wasn't so trivial. There was no wonder he was so anti-social and brooded a lot. It wasn't also a wonder that he was a perfectionist when it came to learning.

He remembered three weeks ago, when he had trudged into his home and there was nothing there to receive him but cold and darkness. Then compared it with a week ago and the laughter he entered his house when he was offered a piggyback ride by Kasai. Knowing that the man had quickly climbed in his heart, he knew that if his adoptive father disappeared, he would be even more broken than if he was left at the mercy of the whole village a tenth of October.

Was this how Sasuke felt every single day he returned home? That single insight made the opinion he had for the Uchiha change drastically. He needed someone to be there for him and help him fight the cold when he got to an empty house; the darkness that depressed him when he knew that no one would be there to ask him how was his day; The same emotion that gripped Naruto's heart every single day of his life when night fell.

Getting to his feet, he walked towards the Uchiha's seat with a set objective in his mind. Become Sasuke's friend to save him from the sadness.

Said raven-haired raised a brow when the blond stood next to him, a resolved fire burning in his eyes. He looked to be either waiting for something to be said or thinking about the exact thing to start a conversation. Well, he wasn't going to be opening it that was for sure.

"I…" Naruto's voice betrayed his confident stance. "I need to speak with you…S…Sasuke."

The usage of his name instead of an insult rang alert bells inside the Uchiha, however, he seemed sincere enough for it not to be anything bad. Grunting, he got to his feet. This better be something good, or there would be some Uzumaki ass covering the floor.

The pair walked out of the classroom door under the hawk-like gaze of the two other present that had witnessed the exchange. The boy didn't know what to make out of it. This was an occurrence without precedence. Uzumaki Naruto actually wanted to speak in civil terms with Uchiha Sasuke. The girl wasn't giving Naruto any chance and immediately ran to the fan-girl group to inform them of her discoveries. Needless to say, there was an uproar with several kunoichi-to-be thirsting for Naruto's blood.

Even more joined the queue for the Uzumaki's life essence.

Walking nervously besides a nonchalant Uchiha, he decided that again he would have to start the talking. "Look, I know that I keep insulting you in class but…"

He was stopped when Sasuke suddenly stopped in the middle of the corridor. "I don't need your pity, Uzumaki."

This made the blond frown, but surprisingly kept his cool. "It's not about pity, Sasuke." He continued walking, amazingly as well, Sasuke continued as well. "It's about joining forces against solitude. Obviously you know what it is to get to an empty house in the middle of the night. I've lived it my whole life."

The Uchiha's eyes were as wide as saucers. Uzumaki Naruto, the happy-go-lucky kid that was normally the class clown just admitted that his led a more depressing life than his own! This could only mean one thing. "Why, Naruto?"

"Because I believe that even if we treat each other like crap before, we can let that go and hopefully become friends." The way he said it, Sasuke didn't know if it was the straight truthful look he used or the incredibly un-Naruto-like serious tone that struck him to the core. A week before they insulted each other for a falling paper and now he was proposing outright publicly to become friends?

"I meant… why do you act happy, Naruto?"

"That's the million ryou question." He said, letting his head prop down with sadness etched on his face, this also alerted him of a strange behaviour, Naruto wasn't one to be sad. Still, his stance, voice and eyes spoke no lies.

By now, they had long exited the academy and were sitting on a bench on a nearby park next to the academy.

"I keep it up not because I want to, but because of the villagers. For some reason they hate me with a passion, while they love you for no reason." That made him remember a phrase that his father had said a while ago, when he suggested him befriending the Uchiha: "The last thing he needs right now is false friend-hood or mind-less adoration"

Sighing, the Uzumaki continued with his explanation. "That was because I insulted you. Because I was jealous." Sasuke's eyes were about to blow out of their sockets. Would this kid stop shocking him so much? "You have everything given to you in a silver platter while I have to work my ass off just for them not to glare at me."

"If you are like that, why try befriending me?"

Sasuke's inquiry made Naruto chuckle shortly. "You know, I would never have even considered it if my adoptive father hadn't told me what you were under. I never knew we were so alike at some things and so different in others. Two weeks ago, my dad told me that I should consider that option. You know now how I took that." Sasuke raised a confused brow at this.

"Dad? Weren't you an orphan?"

"You said it. Was. Two weeks and two days ago, someone adopted me. I still can't believe it." He replied closing his eyes in true happiness. For the first time in his life, Sasuke experienced Naruto's true smile and he noticed so many differences with the ones he was accustomed to. "I don't have to feel cold when I home anymore. That's why I wanted to become your friend. So you didn't have to be alone anymore. I can understand if you want nothing to do with me." He said getting up and giving one of those smiles Sasuke now clearly recognized as fake.

The Uchiha understood at that moment that it would disappoint the blond incredibly if he was turned down. Weighing the pros and cons, he couldn't find a reason to say no, especially after he offered an exit from solitude. However, Itachi said that he should hate to become more powerful. So far, there was no fat chance of him becoming significantly stronger than two years ago. Why would it change all of a sudden?

His musings were cut short when the Uchiha Sasuke Fanclub decided to made their presence known by surrounding the special duo. It was obvious that their intent was to "liberate" their Sasuke from the evil clutches of Uzumaki.

"Naruto-baka! Leave Sasuke alone!" That and several other similar cries littered the air. When Naruto made no signs of itching away from the raven haired boy, the girls took it as a battle starter and they launched at the blond.

Briefly giving a pointed look at Sasuke clearly meaning 'Do you see what I mean?', the boy disappeared from their sights in a small cloud of smoke very out of range from the irate girls.

What? No hand-seals? What is that technique? Sasuke's eyes gained a curious gleam. If this kid could learn techniques like that, he would have to know who taught them and ask whoever it was to teach him as well. Regardless of the sudden show Naruto had pulled from his sleeve, the proposal was still at the forefront of his mind. Was he willing to let his hate of Itachi go with his solitude to embrace a friendship with no fat chance of being alone again? Closing his eyes, he waltzed through the still confused girls and went back to the classroom just when the bell was about to ring.

It was no surprise that Naruto was already there at the back of the room. With a last goodbye to his bleak past, he walked to the end of the stairs. Iruka was sitting at his desk, casually looking his way while the rest of the classroom filled in quickly, not wanting to inquire in the wrath of their sensei. When Sasuke stood on the place next to Naruto, he extended his hand; action that brought silence to everyone in the classroom and looked in his direction.

Shrugging off the unwanted attention with ease, since both had plenty of experience doing so, the boys resumed their actions. "Naruto, I'll take you up on your offer." In years to come, Naruto would happily boast how he was the one that Sasuke's first real happy smile after the Uchiha slaughter was directed at him.

"Glad you decided on that, Waga Kaonajimi." The blond replied beaming and took his hand before giving it a significant shake. The rest of the class, sensei included, watched the scene unfold with something akin to heart-stopping shock. Uchiha Sasuke, number one proclaimed anti-social had just been called "my friend" by Uzumaki Naruto, Konohagakure no Sato's pariah.

No one of the classroom knew whether to make heads or tails out of the situation. When Sasuke finally sat down next to Naruto and both kept silent and awaiting Iruka, the scarred man cleared his throat to deviate the class's attention back to himself. Of course, this would have to be informed to the Hokage. Sarutobi was going to be quite pleased that both of them had found friendship towards each other. This could very well lead to the salvation of Sasuke's self-destructing attitude he had developed when Itachi ran amok in the Uchiha district.

No one could wipe the very small smile that covered his lips from that moment on.

The fangirls were having an internal discussion. First, Naruto had achieved in less than hour what they couldn't in more than two years. Second, the two didn't mind the other's presence anymore. Third, if they had even a remote chance at winning Sasuke's affection, they'd have to bear with the blond like it or not. Lastly, and more importantly, they would have to thank Naruto profusely for making the Uchiha smile. It was a sight that would forever be burned into their minds.

Thing they had no wish of doing.

And so, the class resumed with an awkward atmosphere that seemed to be maintained for the duration of the day. An unprecedented success had occurred in the classroom of Iruka that day.

Neither Naruto nor Sasuke cared for the attention they were getting.

They would go back to normal soon enough.

Now, if someone thought that watching Sasuke smile at Naruto was the definition of freaky to the spectators, then the sight of the pair deep engrossed in a discussion about the Jutsu Naruto used to escape the girls definitely took the cake. Of all the parents there that were present, only two took it with a smile on their faces.

Izouno Kasai and Inoichi Yamanaka, who had been told of the exchange his wife had had with the adoptive father of Naruto directly from the source.

"And then dad made me change the log for air and learn it all again!" Naruto's excited exclamation easily broke through the silence that suddenly overcame the gathering of parents and childs. Sasuke's attentive listening was something that Kasai had not missed. He was hearing every word Naruto said and made a comment every now and then.

"I take it this was a good day for you two, wasn't it?" Kasai smiled when the pair stopped in front of him due to Naruto. Said blond smiled beyond happiness.

"Of course! Sasuke, this is my dad. Dad, this is Sasuke." He introduced. To surprise the Uchiha, Kasai bowed by the waist, a clear sign of respect. The boy wasted no time in returning the action, already taking a slight liking for the coated man.

"I heard quite a lot about you, Sasuke." He said smiling from ear-to-ear. "Most of it was good stuff, but I think that Naruto stretched things quite a bit."

Naruto had the gall to look sheepish and scratched the back of his head.

"If you don't mind, I'd like to invite you to some ramen and get to know the newest friend of Naruto." He proposed, taking Sasuke aback. Now hospitality? Ok, this duo was definitely going to be death of his nervous system. Stammering to reply, Sasuke cleared his throat.

"I'd be honoured."

"No, Sasuke. The honour would be mine." Kasai replied grinning. With an exclamation of "ramen!", the unordinary trio set out towards Ichiraku ramen. Kasai remained silent while Naruto continued to relate his training schedule to an interested Sasuke. Just when the blond was about to mention tree walking, he was interrupted by Kasai's call that they had reached destination.

The raven haired boy, not used to coming to such places, hapzardly hopped on a stool and imitated the other two orders.

Three Miso ramen seemed to be dinner.

"So, Sasuke, tell me. Do you think you're strong?" Kasai asked over the cup of tea he was sipping from.

Raising his head with a finger on his chin, the Uchiha assumed a thinking position not becoming of him. "Yeah. I'm the best of my class." He said a second later with an assuring grin.

"Oh… confident, aren't we? You should try yourself with Naruto one of these days. He might give you a run for your money." The older blond proposed an idea that didn't seem unlikely.

"It'd be good." He replied. The ramen was served immediately after. With a cry of "Itadakimasu.", the three ate their meals. Sasuke tried a bit warily, since it was his first time there and liked the taste. It wasn't a god-like food like Naruto claimed it to be, but it was good.

An hour later, night had already fallen over Konoha. After several different conversations regarding various topics, the trio left the stand. Walking a few blocks away, they stopped at a cross-road.

"I go this way." The Uchiha said, pointing to a street that somehow was dark at the end.

"You sure? We'd be delighted to have you over. And it's no big deal." Kasai offered with his arms extended a bit, a clear sign of trust. Recalling the conversations they had, he noted that Sasuke spoke little, like it was difficult to do so. The event with Itachi made him close too much for too long. Somehow Naruto had been able to make him open enough to accept friendship.

"I don't want to be a burden."

"Burden? Ha! Come on!" Naruto's assuring reply once again surprised the raven haired boy. Grabbing the slightly taller's boy shoulder, the blond pushed him towards their home. "And tomorrow you'll join us for our training session." He continued. He knew that he had to clear it with Kasai, but something told him that the man wouldn't disagree. "No excuses!"

Revelling in the feeling of being pushed with his belly filled with warm noodles, the Uchiha finally could remember clearly what a friend meant. It was that strange thing that made it impossible for him to continue trying to go back to his dark, cold home where he would not find anyone to talk about his day. That same thing caused a small smile to linger on his lips for the remainder of the day, for Uchiha Sasuke had finally recovered something he had long forgotten: A true friend.

All right, first things first. I DESPISE Sasuke and think he should be killed painfully, however, him being friends with Naruto fitted too well for the story, and I must confess that my version of Sasuke won't be a pinch of what the canon is. Emo, no way. Revenge-driven but good Sasuke, yeah way. I only hate him because of his attitude and how Kishi centered the last 40 or so manga chapters on him while having Naruto help with a riddle and learn TWO moves. All that while he fought Itachi, learned the truth behind the Uchiha massacre and Madara, AND fought the Hachibi (Which should have been a Hydra and not that hideous thing). Favoritism? Noooo!

Sorry about the rant but I think I speak for many. Back to the explanations, the Hokage accepted Kasai as Naruto's adoptive father mainly because he can keep an eye on him easily and because there's a sort of resemblance with Yondaime. Not to mention that he clearly stated his care for the toddler.

Also, the rampant HATE him and Kakashi share will be explained(or will be left to the reading skills of the readers) in later chapters. One last thing about Kakashi, Raikiri-shishou Raikiri Master. Kind of a title I cooked up.

About the Kaze Kawarimi, note that the only thing different from the normal one is the finale. It DOES NOT need a wind manipulation. It's only to give off the idea of a Kage Bunshin or alike. In fact, it wastes less chakra since the ninja only has to teleport away before the damage is dealt, giving way to more distance or more chakra available.

Anything else that needs explanation besides who is Izouno Kasai (Feel free to assume what you want), give me a shout.