Welcome to another installment of Shadow of Self. Just a short comment for this chapter. In this one, the reader (The ones who are observant) may realize just why this story is so complex. Of course, you are welcome to assume what you want and comment what you want. The only promise I can make is that if you figure out the truth, I'll admit it.

Happy Hunting and Enjoy Shadow of Self Chapter 2!


"Hokage-sama. I protest against the protection Uzumaki Naruto has. That man is not fit for being a parent."

The aging man adjusted his hat slowly, reciting mentally what his ANBU captain had just requested. Of course he would be against it due to the sudden animosity that had grown in an instant among the two men. For some reason, the two hated it each other with a fiery passion. It wasn't understandable to many others as to why, since the only wronging Kakashi (Assumed culprit of the actual situation) did was give him a very shallow cut on his neck.

So much fuss over a thing so little was childish. There had to be something of more significance.

"And what is your reasoning to come up with such a conclusion?" The Hokage replied puffing at his ever-present pipe. It would be the perfect way to kill two birds with one stone. He would know why Kakashi hated Kasai so much and he could possibly understand he captain a bit more. Perhaps even possibly fix this whole mess.

Said shinobi was taken aback by that inquiry, nevertheless, he recovered quickly, a testament of his skills. "I don't think pick-pocketing is a model role for a child." He said solemnly, an invisible frown covering his eyes. The mask over his face let nothing betray his statement.

"Ah, but don't you think it is a good training?" He had to push him over the edge or there would be no chance of him learning the true reason for this meeting. Ignoring the fact of training, he was actually all approving if it came to take from the villagers and give to Naruto. It was one of his most guarded secrets and he intended to keep it that way. Konoha had taken much from the boy and if it had to be returned by force or stealing, then so be it.

"Training? With all due respect, sir, but there is a difference between training to be a ninja and training to be a filthy thief! I will not have the son of my sensei to be the latter!" The captain boomed loudly. A pair of battle-prepared ANBU shunshin-ed into the room, leaving a second later after they were assured the situation was standard. These occurrences weren't normal, but there was no danger from the two Konoha Nin yelling at each other. Kakashi's speech, on the other hand, sent the elder on a momentarily twist due to the concern he was developing towards the blonde's wellbeing.

"Tell me Kakashi, if you don't want Naruto to, as you put it, become a filthy thief, why don't you train him?" The Hokage shot back almost too sweetly. The obvious sarcasm was dripping from his voice. The silver-haired man, however, narrowed his eyes at his leader in resent, not that the other man noticed because of his mask.

"Because he is already doing so." He growled out with a vicious glare pointed behind the venerable elder. Just admitting it was a feat all in itself for the masked shinobi.

"Then you shouldn't com-"

He was interrupted by someone knocking on his door politely.

"Come in." He stated, readjusting his seat only a few millimetres. The door creaked open slowly with an annoying sound that reverberated on the men's ears. Either this newcomer was stupid enough to torture them like this, or someone was vicious enough.

"Yo!" It was the latter as Kasai appeared there with a casual smile and a raised hand in salute.

The ANBU present grinded his teeth. He dared steal his entrance? If the Hokage hadn't been here, he would've been showing a thing or two about how the floor looked from an extremely close angle. "And just exactly what are you doing here?" He snarled resisting the urge to demonstrate to him just exactly why he had been named ANBU captain.

"Ah!" Only then did Kasai seem to realize who was present besides the aging leader of Konohagakure. "Kakashi-chan! How are you doing in this fine day?" The blond man said beaming at his unofficial rival and that caused his rebuttal. The fast reaction of the coated man saved himself from being impaled by a kunai, simply by back-stepping once. Said sling of the weapon had been an obvious warning not to push it, since even Naruto with a bit more of training would have been able to dodge it effortlessly.

"HATAKE KAKASHI! I WILL NOT TOLERATE SUCH BEHAVIOUR!" Never before had either of the two men hear the old Hokage roar with such force and imperative presence. The pair wasted no time in cringing embarrassedly and scooting a quick apology towards the aged Sarutobi, staring at the tiles on the floor embarrassedly. "Now that the atmosphere has calmed down…" The two shrank under the reproachful gaze, being seriously intimidated by the power that he was radiating.

"Yes…" The vitality that Kasai held when he first entered the room was sapped instantly by an unknown force. "I… need two chakra papers. To teach elemental chakra manipulation as well as clearance to-"

"Wait, why two papers? Isn't only one needed?" Kakashi wondered in a rare moment of cooling down. Looking at Kasai quizzically, he began musing over the possible justifications. Of course, there was a forced unofficial truce between the two the Hokage imposed, if not, they would already be at each other's throats.

"Because I have two people to teach it." He replied quickly. There was no need to lie here, they would know sooner or later. Rather sooner…

"Two?" Kakashi's surprised reply was cut short by the sudden chuckle of the third person sitting.

"So you intend on teaching him as well, Izuono-san?" The Hokage asked smiling widely. This only sent Kakashi's mind on a whoop and Kasai smiling at the insight the leader had. It should have been predicted that he would know thanks to his crystal ball. It wasn't the first time this had happened.

"Of course. Naruto has been quite persistent on me teaching his friend. I cannot deny that it'll be interesting to do so. Their continuous quick learning will push the other far beyond their limits." Izuono's smile further amused Sarutobi and confused Kakashi. "I might run out of things to teach them quickly if the rate Naruto learns at is a guide to have."

"Who are you talking about?" The way the other two looked at Kakashi resembled the way one would look at someone who had said a barbarity. This only made him flinch, he was supposed to be an ANBU captain, therefore, he should know about the most important happening of the village. However, he had been just now been proven incompetent.

Wait.

Kasai had proven him incompetent for his job! The one he was best at! Frowning, he almost launched another kunai at the man. To the observant pair, it seemed as if Kakashi was staring at Kasai, waiting for a response. In truth, the silver-haired man was boiling inside in barely refrained rage.

"Uchiha Sasuke." The coated man stated, shocking Kakashi out of even the minimal intention of a coherent thought. "He has recently achieved a friendship with Naruto. Due to that and my training with Naruto, my adoptive son has seen fit that I teach them both."

"But…" Kakashi began stuttering. Composing himself, he restarted. "But I am fit to teach Sasuke because of his Sharingan." The silver haired man noted.

"Don't worry. I'll call you when Sasuke awakens his. I'll take a while, though." Kasai said, almost friendly. "If the elemental chakra goes as I think, I'll need your help with the Uchiha today." He added as an afterthought.

The ANBU captain didn't know whether to strangle the man for his cockiness or thank him for being so thoughtful and including him in his plans of teaching. He resigned on the third and wisest option. Remain silent.

"Also, I need clearance to tell Naruto about his status. His recent closeness to Sasuke has sped things up a lot. I intended on telling him when he graduated from the academy." Kasai said with a slight serious frown, his body giving the same message of importance. Needless to say, this caused uproar on the other two.

"Is it so important to you that you ask for my permission?" The Hokage inquired holding his folded hands close to his face, sharing an identical frown that crowned the blond's eyes.

"Actually, I was going to tell him and let you handle a pissed off Naruto, but I respect you enough to warn you with time. This isn't a request, rather than simply that, a warning." The coated man stated in the same imposing tone that the Hokage had used, tinged with a sense of respect that no one could miss.

Sighing, the Hokage rummaged in a drawer of his desk and produced two small paper sheets. "At least you told me what you were going to do." He said as he handed them to him in a resigning tone. There was no way he could talk the man out of his decision and both of them knew it. This was something that Naruto had earned after all the treatment by the villagers.

He deserved to know why.

Bowing by the waist, Kasai disappeared in a puff of smoke, leaving the previous discussing duo to their earlier conversation. Kasai's showing had changed drastically the reasons both men had to sustain it.

"Do you still deny Kasai's capabilities to be a role model?" Sarutobi said barely grinning at the defeated slump Kakashi was submerged into.

"I do not…" It was glaringly obvious that admitting that was harder than facing a hundred vicious Iwa Jounin. He had only faced three during the Great Shinobi War and he wasn't looking forward to a repeat of that dose. He still cringed unnoticeably when he heard someone utter a Doton Jutsu.

*****

"Sasuke-kun!" "Sasuke-kun!"

Oh, god. Don't they EVER stop? It was difficult to know whether the raven-haired or the blond gave birth to that thought. The pair groaned at the same moment in despair. This fangirls seemed to not take notice that his friend was next to him, right? The supposed dead-last was next to him. Socially, to be seen with Naruto should be the same as committing suicide. However, that didn't prevent him from suffering his two closest fan-girls' constant approaches.

Regardless of that in class, on the streets the story was completely different. The many villagers that had seen the Uzumaki and the Uchiha walking and chatting (Well, Naruto talking his throat off and Sasuke giving sparse comments every now and then.) were thrown into a loop, since they didn't know what to do. Should they glare at Sasuke for being friends with the pariah or should they salute respectfully the blonde for being close with the last of the prestigious Uchiha clan?

Of course, the latter was out of the question, and their pride wouldn't let them disrespect Sasuke. Therefore, as Kakashi wisely did, they chose the third option. Remain impassive and with a huge question mark over their heads. Thing that the blond noticed and his constant grin widened almost unnoticeably. Of course, that didn't last for long when he noted that it was because Sasuke was at his side.

"Naruto?" The Raven haired boy called. His whiskered friend looked at him as the impending doom of his fangirls approached just when they were going to go out of the academy for the day. "What was that move you used yesterday?"

Why would he want to know… Oh! Grinning in content, he nodded at him. "Kawarami." He let out only. The Uchiha gave him a pointed look two seconds before two events happened. First, Naruto disappeared in a very small cloud of smoke leaving nothing behind, it seemed that the boy left less and less smoke every time he did the Technique; second, the girls managed to glomp him by his arms. Or more accurately, where his arms had been. Instead, they were hugging a log.

The fan-girls fumed at this and looked around for their love interest, finding him several meters away with his hands in his pockets and once again discussing Jutsu with his recently-accepted friend. They considered following him, but he would just do the same and give them the cold shoulder. Reluctantly, they admitted defeat for the day and walked away with a frown and a vow to bop Naruto the first time they saw him.

"I know what you used yesterday wasn't a Kawarami, Naruto. You are supposed to leave a log." Sasuke half-glared, half-frowned at the grinning blond calmly strutting by his side.

"What? You don't trust me?" He said mockingly with a hand on his heart. "I'm hurt that you think so lowly of me…"

Rolling his onyx eyes at the blue-eyed's antics, the pair quickly approached the training area Kasai and Naruto had claimed for themselves. Strangely enough, Kasai was nowhere to be seen, which surprised Naruto, since most of his time he was either training with them or musing over scrolls with Jutsus when he wasn't spending some time with his adoptive son. Something important had to happen for him to be absent from training.

"How about a spar?" Naruto offered when two minutes and a half of silence coursed through them. Sasuke shrugged in approval and got into position adroitly. The blonde assumed a sloppy stance, trademark of his lack of taijutsu training. Running through a quick staring contest, they launched at each other at the same instant.

However, their fists never connected with each other but with something solid, belonging to another person. The red flames on black that covered the arms that halted their fight made it obvious as to whom it was.

"I can't leave you for an hour when you start fighting?" He mock-chastised. Of course he didn't mind that they continually sparred, their skills would grow enormously thanks to the other. However, one needed a certain base of training in order to improve. Something that Naruto lacked.

The young boys had the gall to look sheepish, Naruto more easily readable than Sasuke.

"Alright. I've got a surprise for the two of you. I've got my hands on this!" The older blond exclaimed excitedly withdrawing a pair of sheets of paper before presenting at them. The children sweat-dropped.

"That's...paper..." Naruto commented not impressed at all. How could someone be so emotional about a piece of paper?

"Ah, but these aren't normal papers!" He said grinning at them. Their faces adopted a curious glint and Kasai continued. "Oh, no. These are chakra papers. Meant to say what elemental affinity you have. I have deemed you worthy and also it will help me know which direction you're oriented towards, chakra-wise." He explained with simple hand movements. The papers rustled at his every move, almost telling him to shut up and let them do their job.

"So, since you already have absolutely no problems in flowing chakra, I want you to pour some into one of these." He said handing them over, leaving his hands devoid of anything except skin. Each kid took one and sent it a confused stare before shrugging the hurrying look in Kasai's eyes. Concentrating just a bit, the pair pushed some of their chakra to the sheets.

Naruto's quickly split in half while Sasuke's crumpled in lines coming from the centre. Of course, neither of the two understood what this meant and stared at Naruto's adoptive father, who was grinning. Mostly to himself and his deviousness.

"It means that Naruto is wind natured while you, Sasuke, are lightning based." Calling for a moment of silence, he put his hands in a cross seal and mumbling something under his breath. Another Kasai popped into existance next to him. The original nodded at the clone and it vanished in a poof of smoke.

"Oi, Otou-san! Which nature are you?" Naruto said excitedly. This whole prospect of being aligned to any of the elements cheered him up immensely.

Wondering if he should, he decided not to. Things could get ugly. Entering his lecture mode, he immediately got the attention of the pair. "You shouldn't go around telling your nature to everyone. Many things of a shinobi can be said from their alignment." He said wisely.

"But, what does it mean that I'm lightning natured?" Sasuke said frowning.

"Ah, that's the main question. Basically, it means that you have a certain facility in doing lightning jutsus, but it will take you more effort for you to learn basic wind jutsus. Of course, don't try to learn high-ranked wind jutsus. You'll have it impossible."

His frown deepened, mainly because of the smug look Naruto was sending him. What reason was there that he couldn't learn any jutsu he wanted? "Why?"

"Naruto, don't make that look. Fire is the same for you." This definitely shot the whiskered boy down a few notches. "The reason is a diagram among the five elements." He began withdrawing another bigger paper and ink with a brush. First, he drew the five elements in a pentagon shape. "See? Here's the main elements. Now, Fire is strong against wind but weak against water." He scribbled the directional arrows on the paper. "Wind is strong against lightning, lightning is strong against earth and earth is strong against water." He finished drawing. "And that's the elemental diagram, as it is called sometimes. It, obviously, applies to jutsu. Unless the jutsus are of nature that has no relation at all, you'll need more chakra to beat a jutsu from a nature strong against yours and viceversa."

The understanding dawned on the kids and they nodded. However, the Uchiha had his hand raised slightly, marking a doubt. "But I can control fire decently as well."

Kasai smiled. "Good point. It means that your second nature is fire. Normally, shinobi don't dwell in their second nature until they want to progress to Jounin. Naruto here has water for his second nature. I know because there's an underlying tell-tale in his chakra, marking him as that." He said motioning to his adoptive son. "Now, I have a simple excersice for Naruto to begin training in his nature, but I can't help you, Sasuke." The smallest glint of sadness crossed his eyes, thing he noticed at once. "So, I sent a call for-"

"Yo!" They heard a familiar voice. Hatake Kakashi was approaching with a hand on his pocket and another up in his usual salute.

"Just in time." Kasai grinned and continued talking to the youngest Uchiha scion. "This is Hatake Kakashi, lightning natured as you. He does have an idea on how to train your kind of element." He said motioning to the cyclops.

Said shinobi mumbled something at him. "You owe me one."

Instead of being intimidated, the blond smirked. "I'm already paying you." He replied meaning the "honour" of teaching the last Uchiha loyal to Konoha and he turned to Naruto. "Come on, Naruto. I've got another thing to tell you." He said and the two disappeared in clouds of smoke a few hundred yards away, leaving the two Sharingan wielders to their antics.

*****

"Now, Naruto. You're probably wondering why your chakra control is so horrible."

The kid showed a downtrodden face. It was a minimal thing, but the topic affected his cheerfulness only a bit and he didn't know why.

"The true reason is that it has nothing to do with you. In fact, it is the consequence of a night eight years ago. What do you know of October Tenth, eight years ago?" He continued impassively in an emotionless voice. This had to be told to him. No matter what reason Sarutobi could give him to try and deviate him from it.

"The Kyuubi's attack and the death of the Yondaime killing it." Naruto's eyes showed a type of confusion that Kasai had only seen once in his entire life. And he wasn't looking forward to seeing it a third instance if he could avoid it.

"Half truth there, Naruto. Listen carefully, for I'm going to tell you one of the most guarded secrets within Konoha and it all revolves directly around you." The attention Naruto paid him reached its peak. A secret in which he was the main thing and he knew nothing about it?

"You see, the Kyuubi couldn't be killed. It was considered a force of nature, and as such, it couldn't be slain in any way. Instead, you can contain it. Yondaime Hokage died as a part of sealing the Bijuu away. Sealing the fox in something was futile, since there was nothing capable of sustaining the strain. So, the only option was a human being. And not any human being." He made a pause to let all this get to his head.

"It had to be sealed in a baby because a baby's chakra coils aren't developed and can change to admit any type of chakra. There was only one baby born in October Tenth." He finished solemnly and stared at his surrogate son.

"Me..." He growled finally. His eyes burned with smothering anger. So that was why he was hated so much and he nearly died two weeks ago. Because of something he had nothing to do with! That was absolutely not fair!

"Yes, Naruto. You." He confirmed trying to calm down the kid who was now at the brink of running amok in the village. That would only prove the villagers right.

"So, they're right. I am a monster..." The younger blond sniffed in both sadness and fury. Kasai refrained from bopping him on the head. Instead, he shook Naruto by his shoulders.

"Listen here, young man! You are no monster! Monsters go around killing people for pleasure and are bloodthirsty all the time. In the two weeks I've known you, I've seen nothing but a young cheerful kid with a grandiose dream of being Hokage! If they believe you to be a demon, then that's their problem!" By now, the sniffling had ended and the bright azure eyes were poised on the older sapphire ones. "Instead, hold your head high and be proud of it! Fa-I mean, Yondaime had a last dying wish. And that was for you to be seen as a hero for holding back the fox every day. Don't be fooled or manipulated to believe otherwise. Be proud of being able to stop the fox every second of your day."

"Yes, Otou-san!" He declared crying again. This time, for the opposite meaning. His idol, the Yondaime, wanted him to be seen as a hero! The one true martyr Konoha ever had wanted Naruto to have the credit.

If only he knew the whole truth. Kasai thought grimly. Shaking that train of thought, he suddenly was unable to breathe correctly. Naruto was hugging him tightly around his neck. Smiling surprised at the beginning, but he was content at the end of it. "Are you alright? That was a big bomb..."

"I am." He nodded rapidly, signature that his old self was coming back quickly.

"Good. I have to tell you though, that the fox has some good points, though. You can call forth his chakra and you can do amazing things with it." The glint of excitement bubbled in the boy's pupils. "But for now, we'll have to contact him in order to help your control. His chakra and yours are in constant battle, probably because Kyuubi wants to control you." The shock in Naruto face almost caused Kasai to laugh at it. "Don't worry. While it is true that he will try harder in the future, you will also be stronger. So, if he hasn't succeeded by now, he won't in the future." He clarified and the boy sighed in relief.

"Sit like this." Kasai said and sat down cross-legged. Naruto did the same only two feet ahead of him with their knees were touching each other. "Good. Now I'll use the only mind technique I know. And no, it isn't useful in battle." He claimed seeing once again that shine in his orbs; it only relented just a bit. So he decided to explain to him what it did. "Look, this technique is a D-Rank Jutsu. I understand that a Yamanaka is your classmate, right?" Naruto nodded after recalling the bossy blonde. "Well, for them, this technique is like a very primitive version of their clan jutsu. This technique sends my mind into yours. The drawback is that you are conscious and you are in your mind. So, if I wanted to attack you, it's like attacking something that has an infinite amount of power at their disposal. In other words, it's useless against someone who isn't willing."

Understanding dawned on Naruto and he nodded slowly. "Then why are you going to use it?"

Kasai smiled at the quickness his adoptive son had. "Because it is the perfect technique for Jinchuuriki." At Naruto's raised brow, he chuckled. "That means people who have Bijuu sealed in them." Once again, the blond youngster nodded.

"Good. Calm down, close your eyes and it will be easier." Kasai ordered and he obliged in an instant.

Naruto heard an unintelligible mumble and the next thing he heard instead of the calm wind of Konoha, was the constant dripping of water close to him. Opening his eyes, he found himself in the middle of a twilit sewer, the water reaching a few inches above ground. On the walls, several pipes raced along with no seeming end.

"That represents your chakra system." Kasai explained half-scaring half-surprising him when he spoke from behind him, breaking the silence. "Come on. It's this way." He said pointing to a very faint red glow coming from behind them. Only two minutes later, they arrived at an enormous room, where at the far end of the entrance, there was a huge bar-filled gate. Resembling more a prison than a door. On a small tab high in the middle of it, a paper with the kanji for seal was proudly placed.

Kasai nodded at him and walked forward, the kid only a step behind. Soon, they were thirty yards from the gate. "Hey! Wakey wakey!" He shouted grinning viciously. Of course he would take advantage of the situation. How many times can you face a Bijuu and insult it with no possible drawback?

Slowly, they were able to peer difficultly due to the lack of light, an obscenely large shadow stirring.

"Oi! Sunshine! Visitor time has begun!" The older blond continued and his grin widened to an ear-to-ear proportion. This time, the shadow raised and a low deafening growl could be heard all over the place.

"Who dares disturb my sleep?" The over-sized kitsune let out. Its commanding and demonic tone of voice caused the small Naruto to hold Kasai's coat in fear of incurring in the Bijuu's wrath.

"Well, us. Your jailor and his adoptive father." The man replied confidently that the bars would hold back strongly. It was that, or the three would be dead in a few moments.

"So the gaki has the balls to face me?" A huge pair of eyes opened above a long line of razor-sharp teeth, which curved into a maniac smirk. "Come closer, kid."

Naruto began to act out of fear but was halted when Kasai shot his arm and held him behind him before shaking his head in a negative. "Remember it's a fox. They are known for their cunning and trickster sprees."

"So, someone has done their homework..." The Kyuubi growled, half frustrated that it was denied its chance at revenge and half impressed that this human had seen through its act. "Tell me, what does my dear jailor want from me?" The sarcasm was dripping from its voice like snake venom from a cold steel dagger.

"Does the name Madara ring any bells to you?" Kasai inquired suddenly. The reaction was instantaneous. The fox's eyes widened impossibly before narrowing in pure hatred. "So it does." The cloaked man noted.

"Yes. It does. Tell me, human. How do you know the name of the principal culprit behind my defeat?"

To say that Naruto was surprised at this was the understatement of the century. Here he was a spectator to the true workings behind the day he was born. His attention was peaked and the intention of making the fox stop screwing with his chakra seemed something not so interesting at the time.

"I've got my sources." For a second, the faint outline of something big overshadowed Kasai before it disappeared and passed as an illusion. "This is not the right moment." He said absently to a side and stared back at the fox, who had a suspicious glint in his eyes. After a few moments of silence, the eyes opened to epic proportions. His anger completely forgotten and only curiosity and shock ruled the kitsune's mind.

"Impossible! It is impossible to do it!" It let out loudly, frustrating the coated man and further increasing Naruto's lack of understanding in the situation.

"So you figured it out." Kasai frowned. Had it not been for that idiot, he would have made a huge progress. "And as you can see. It is possible. I'm right here, am I not?" He finished. "We came to discuss another matter, though. We need you to stop jumbling with the kid's chakra system. It screws his control and doesn't let him advance as quickly as I planned in his training."

The dark chuckle that followed made Kasai glare at the kitsune. "And what is it in for me?"

He feared this. "What do you want?" He asked with his eyes close. The glowering never ceased.

"Freedom!" It boomed forcefully.

"Not possible." This time, it was Naruto who replied confidently. He had seen enough of the fox's works to understand basically how it worked. Don't get caught in its mind games. Pun not intended.

"So the kid does have some backbone. Tell me, kid. What do you offer me?"

The urchin-haired kid stared for a second before looking around at the dark and lonely place he was in. The walls were not at all welcoming and the darkness was all-consuming. Analysing the fox's current status and the past it had of the most powerful Bijuu in existence, he only had to think about it for a few seconds more. If it worked for Sasuke, then it would work for the Kyuubi.

"How about friendship?" He proposed hopefully. The shock from both the fox and Kasai was a first for the two in their entire lives. It wasn't possible to distinguish which of their looks held more of it.

"Are you...sure, Naruto?" Kasai asked warily. It was unprecedented that a human offered friendship to a Bijuu of all things. Let alone the demon accepting, which the coated man knew it would never do so. It affected their social status among hell and the other Bijuus.

"You taught me to look underneath the underneath, Otou-san. You told me that lonely people need someone to lean on. Well, I can sense that the fox is lonely. Look around, Otou-san and tell me if this place is welcoming at all." Naruto's sudden moment of wisdom only augmented the feeling of surprise.

He didn't need to look around to know that he was telling the truth. However, what he said was applied to a human being. Not the Boss of all the Bijuu and the ruler of Hell. You don't attain the last title by being friendly to others.

"You said that Sasuke was the same as me because of our past. Well, I can feel that Kyuubi is the same as me." He continued impassively, his gaze fixed on the disbelieving fox. Did this idiotic human believe himself to be its equal? "Think about it. The most powerful of all has to be hated or feared. Is that different from how the villagers treat me?"

Both human and Bijuu understood his reasoning. It was impossible to admit that the kid wasn't right. However, they would sooner die rather than voicing it, at least the fox wasn't willing.

"What do you say, Kyuubi? Will you be my friend?" The time of truth had come. It was simple. A negation and continue with a jumbled chakra system to the end of his days and a new-found hatred from the fox, or a positive with his chakra flowing like everyone and giving the fox a chance at redemption.

The fox, wisely, stared at the older blond. Who sagely weaselled his way out by shrugging his shoulders. "It's your call. I suggest you think about it. He's right about some things." The glare that followed almost made Kasai flinch in terror.

"Remember this, kid. I will give you a truce for now. If you earn it, I will give you my friendship. I will hold my part and not play with your chakra system and even give you a bonus. I'll let you call my chakra for free. However, it will only be if you open a small part of the seal. Just nip a small piece." He closed his eyes and disappeared into the darkness. The only trace to know that it was there was the faint outline of its gargantuan body.

Naruto looked at Kasai for the affirmative. The man nodded. "Just a small bit. If you peel the whole thing, the fox will be out and both of you will be dead."

The boy's face drained of colour at the same time a low growl was heard. So the fox knew about that little fact. Wonder if it knows what it is asking for. Kasai deduced while looking at his adoptive son abuse the little training he had tree climbing with his chakra and reached the sheet of paper. Holding on a bar, he stripped a piece about the size of his thumb from the paper that could easily cover his entire body. Arms and Legs stretched fully.

Jumping down, he was caught by his father. His accepting smile was deviated into a full-blown grin on Naruto's face. "Our duty here is finished. Let's go back." Just as they were fading from Naruto's mindscape, they heard the rumbling voice of the Kyuubi.

"Friendship. A very good bargaining chip, Uzumaki Naruto."

*****

"So, how are you feeling?" Kasai asked looking at his son straight into his eyes. A very shallow and almost unnoticeable red glint played in his pupils.

"Same. Only a bit lighter." He replied checking around him while changing his center of balance. "Why did the fox ask for that?" He suddenly wondered.

"I can only think of one thing." He replied confidently.

So he is far more insightful than I thought. A dark voice boomed in Naruto's mind, making him clear his ears in fear that he was deaf. When he checked his hearing was perfect, he scanned around for the voice. Sensing none outside of him, it was clear who it was.

"Kyuubi?" He asked disbelievingly, his sight unfocused. Kasai's triumphant smile went completely unnoticed.

And the winner is... the urchin-haired brat! Of course it's me! Sarcasm seemed to be the norm when dealing with the fox. You'll look like an idiot if you speak out loud. Think about it and I'll hear it.

Like this? He tried.

Yes. Now let me sleep. You now know what I asked for.

Just as I thought. You're just lonely. The kid half-smirked, half-grinned. The warning growl from the fox made any intention he had at joking at the fox's expense to vanish into nothingness.

"Remember Naruto, do not grow dependant on the fox's chakra. It will be unproductive in the end and you won't grow as a shinobi. Just for you to understand, the fox's chakra works as a kind of multiplier. Imagine you have a fixed amount of power and you use the fox's chakra. Now, if the base amount was higher because you weren't dependant on it, the final level when you use it will be a far more powerful thing." The man warned and explained what he was talking about the same time.

"Yes, Otou-san." Naruto accepted the suggestion dutifully. His father hadn't failed in his insights so far, so why should he question him when he gave such a well founded warning?

"Now that that's over, let's begin with our training." Kasai announced and grabbed a leaf from the ground. "I want you to split this leaf in half using only your chakra. Don't worry if it takes you a while. Normal Jounin take at least a year to master this step." He said handing over the object.

Naruto's excitedness at being told that little fact exploded into pieces. "A year? I'm not going to spend a whole year trying to learn this crap!" He said crumbling the leaf and throwing it away. His attitude now resembling his age, not like five minutes ago.

Kasai laughed at his expense and grabbed him by the shoulder when he tried to leave. "That's why I'll teach you another Jutsu to make it quicker." Those words restored full-strength Naruto's glint of excitement.

"Alright, Naruto. This Jutsu is called Kage Bunshin. As it name implies, it creates Shadow Clones of the user. You'll be later taught in the academy how to make the prior version called simply Bunshin. The main difference is that while this one consumes more chakra, it creates solid bodies and every knowledge and experience the clone had is passed on to the user. That makes the Jutsu the perfect ally for someone who doesn't have the Sharingan and wants to learn Jutsus at lightning speed." He explained and showed him the only seal needed. Naruto noted that it was the same he used an hour ago when he started explaining the nature of chakra.

"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!" He called and as before, another Kasai popped into existance next to the original. "See? That's the whole trick. We'll resume your chakra nature manipulation after you've mastered this Jutsu." He motioned his hands in a shooing motion. "Chop chop, go on. I'll be training around in case you need me." He said unsealing extra weights from a scroll that was previously in a pocket on the inside of the coat. After putting them on, he darted off, leaving Naruto with his hands in the cross-seal and mumbling the Jutsu and the occasional burst of chakra to activate the technique.

*****

Five exhaustive hours later, the four shinobi exited the training grounds. Two with triumphant grins on their faces and the other two emotionlessly looking ahead. The tiredness was obvious in the four.

"Oi, Naruto, what was that technique you were doing?" As always, Sasuke began the conversation about Jutsu. If one didn't know, they would say the kid was Jutsu obsessive, much like the Snake Sannin.

"That was the Kage Bunshin." Kakashi's eye widened to impossible levels.

"You taught him that?!" He shouted at the dirty blond man. Kasai simply stared back at him with no hint of shame.

"So I did. And he has the chakra reserves to back it up. What's it to you?"

"That's a Jounin-level Forbidden Jutsu! What could possibly be the reason to teach him such a thing?" This was outrageous! Another thing to make the Hokage remove Kasai from his guardian/adoptive father position. Who would anyone in their sane mind teach a technique that could kill the kid if he over-used it?

The fact that Naruto had been using thirty clones for a whole hour and barely looking winded was omitted fully by the cyclops.

"I did it because these two needed to have some sort of balance. Sasuke will someday soon awake his Sharingan and he'll absorb Jutsu like a sponge. I figured that Naruto should do the same. I promised the Hokage that I'd raise Naruto to be a powerful shinobi, and I will hold on to my word." Kasai's tone left no place for questioning and Kakashi let out a defeated sigh. As much as he hated it, the coated man was right.

"Otou-san, what's that?" Naruto asked pointing at his right hand, ignorantly changing the topic of conversation. Around the finger between his middle one and his pinky, a golden band was proudly resting. Kasai smiled blissfully and darkly at the same time. Like talking about someone deeply loved and recently lost.

"This... is a wedding band, Naruto. My wife had one just like this one." He replied and his smile changed to a sour one as a flood of images that his beloved starred crossed his mind. The acrid light that illuminated his features spread to his whole visage.

"Had?" Sasuke asked more out of instinct than respect.

Kakashi raised his left brow up, the one that was thoughtfully invisible at Kasai's ultimate revelation. This contradicted the facts from before. I know he didn't it have it before today. His hands were clean this morning. His brow joined the other in a deep calculative frown.

"Yes. She passed away some two months ago..." He replied twirling the ring with the thumb and the index finger of the other hand while staring intently at it. The sadness that etched across his face could be depicted as the one Naruto had at the end of an October Tenth, only multiplied by a thousand-fold.

He mentally vowed that if he ever had a girl he loved, that he would do whatever it took to save her, just to not suffer that same sorrow his adoptive father had.

If only he knew the whole truth…

*****

"Are you sure this is wise?"

"What? You want to see Uchiha-sama with that scum every day? I think not. Two weeks and no changes. We've got to take matters on our hands."

"Don't say later I didn't tell you so." The voices shut down. The echo of a door with several pair of footsteps fading into the distance, only a vow of violence and anger remained lingering on the silent room.

*****

"So, kids. How did your training go, from your point of view?" Kasai began, serving the young boys a big pile of hard-earned rice. Strangely for outsiders, but completely predicted by Kasai, the small homey abode that was Naruto's place now served as headquarters for three people. Sasuke's faint, but obviously present smile was perhaps the biggest highlight in these two weeks.

Initially, the Uchiha had planned for staying that one night, much to Naruto's joy. However, when the next night came, the raven haired boy was again forced to stay. He didn't try too hard either to leave or turn down their offer. Said progress at persuasion by Naruto and by proxy, Kasai, was exponential and a week later, the urchin-haired boy only had to look at the other to place those imaginary golden hand-cuffs on Sasuke.

At present, the three had been sitting around the modest table which had been adapted by a Kasai Kage Bunshin to have plenty of room for the three. The work was nowhere near as good as a carpenter would do, but it would suffice for now. Kasai's forte was ninja-related exercises and moves, and it showed.

"I still don't understand how snapping my fingers will get me to learn lightning manipulation." The Uchiha began in one of those scarce moments when he started a conversation. The other two, already somewhat used to it, stifled a giggle at what he said. Now that was a strange way to learn. Watching their expressions, he made a face and continued. "Kakashi-sensei said that by snapping my fingers with chakra on the tips, it would eventually get a big spark. I can only get to this now…" He said snapping them and an almost invisible light flew off.

"Hey, don't complain. I'm supposed to be cutting leaves in half with only my chakra. I only made a dent on one of them, and that's with Kage Bunshin…" Naruto complained huffing and crossing his arms, making a pause from his eating.

Staring at the two, Kasai couldn't help but notice the changes these two had undergone when images from the past overlapped. Dark images that under the current bubbling light they had, it appeared to be only a forgotten past. Of course, he wasn't going to push it, since their friendship was still hanging by threads, steadily growing to a tight rope, but the beginning had been harsh. Wondering what Itachi would think of his supposed anger-driven brother now, he would rather die than voice that thought in front of the other Uchiha scion. The shadowy event that was the Uchiha slaughter not six months ago was still very fresh on most of the minds in Konoha.

He was worried that the villagers would not see with kind eyes the socializing of the two most solitary boys in the village.

His stomach churned for a moment and he took an instant to recognize that this wasn't coming from the spicy food they were eating. This was a feeling of a bad presage. Something disastrous would be happening tonight, he could sense it in the air.

"Perhaps next time we'll have to split a river in half and create a lightning between two kunai…" Naruto joked, eliciting an amused half-grin from his chat partner. Said atmosphere shattered in a thousand pieces, equally the same as the window the table was next to; filling the remnants of uneaten food with shards of glass, now impossibly inedible.

"What the!" The boys immediately sprung to their feet and Kasai was immediately hidden from view and peering down through the broken window, his back stuck to the wall. Mentally, he cursed. Of course this would happen, it was imminent. Although, he wished he didn't have to deal with this at the moment and continue to enjoy the meal with his adoptive son and his friend.

Outside, a small mob of about twenty people awaited and silently claiming the head of the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki. One of them grabbed a rock from below, and that was when Kasai stopped looking. Fixing his serious demeanour on the ninjas-in-training, he made a sign to wait for his call and another to direct them to run to the door in the opposite direction of the incoming villagers.

"What the hell is going on?" Sasuke whispered angrily. This was unprecedented! Who would dare attack the house he was in when they were completely at peace! He had a good mind at the moment to use those Uchiha social skills everyone feared and make them flee with their tails between their legs. The look the younger blond sent him spoke levels that this wasn't the first time he had experienced this kind of event. Or perhaps was the coolness he exuded dealing with this scenario.

When the rock flew in, Kasai leaped into action and hurled a shuriken at the only light coming from the ceiling, shading everything in a blanket of darkness. The hardly perceptible victorious grin on Kasai's face was illuminated by the weak light of the streets. "Alright, now." He said dropping to one knee and placing a hand on a shoulder of each kid. "I want you to go through the back. I'll deal with these ignorants."

"No." Naruto's frowning denial prohibited him from standing up; instead, Kasai mimicked his adoptive son's visage. "This is because of me. I won't run away while others deal with it. It's my problem and I'll face it head on. I must depend on my power and not on other's."

If the situation weren't so grim, he would have sent him the proudest smile he could muster. Once again, using his own words against him masterfully. Shaking his head with his eyes closed for a second, Kasai stared at them and grinned. "Perhaps it is. But you won't know what to do. If you go "head on" as you say, you would only prove them right. For now, make a tactical retreat and regroup at the Hokage's tower. I'll go there later."

Grudgingly, Naruto nodded and Sasuke did as well, more out of lack of Intel than interest of staying. Besides, the coated man looked most intimidating with that threatening glare and his eyes sparkling against the light, giving him an almost feral and demonic look. He knew that if he had something alike Naruto's whiskers, he would not think twice and abide by his orders. Instead, he had dark botches of dirt, which instead of demonic like Naruto's cheeks would look, gave him a vicious approach.

"Fine." The Uzumaki let out. Kasai's hands retracted to his sides and he stared at them go, taking extra care to follow their chakra signature and making sure they had the correct direction. A minute later and twelve rocks later, he shunshin-ed in front of the crowd. The boys well on their track towards the Hokage's place.

"I believe I said two weeks before that if you wanted the kid, it would be over my dead body." He refreshed the memories of a handful that he identified vaguely as being present that October Tenth. Said people shared an interesting shade of purple on their faces, slowly itching to the back. "Some of you remember." He carried on, dropping his head a bit, making his already apparent insane visage look completely mad. "And some of you need to be taught."

"You! You're the bastard that protects the demon! Let's get him!" One of them bellowed and launched at the coated man. A split second later, the others who weren't intending to leave or hadn't done so already, followed.

If only they had waited a little longer just to notice the hidden vicious smirk, they would have avoided having their ass handed to them royally. Dodging an incoming fist from his right, he twirled in place, landing a roundhouse kick to the side of one of the villager's head. The result was instantaneous, as the body was sent in a crash course towards a nearby wall at high speed.

Judging by the spectacle and how Kasai held his smirk while slowly moving his raised leg back on the floor resuming his stance, only three brave ones remained with a determined glint in their faces and very tight fists directed at the blond man in front of them.

"You'll pay for that, you bastard!" One shouted, raising their spirits a few notches, enough to gather the courage to resume their attack. This time, tactic was on their side when they silently plotted to make it a three-way approach.

Instead of feeling intimidated, Kasai reinforced his stance as they assumed the offensive. Timing their snail-speed attacks, he dropped to the floor; while falling, he slammed his fists to the entrance of the stomach of the guys at his sides, successfully evading the last one.

Of course, he didn't have much chance when the coated man disappeared from his senses and everything went black after a sharp pain on his neck.

Stretching at the light workout, he looked up in the direction of the boys. Something wasn't quite right with the developments of the night. And that was what he hated the most. The lack of information to prevent happenings like this. Sprinting after his charge and his friend, he couldn't help it but be worried to death.

*****

"Otou-san said to go to the Hokage Tower. But..." Naruto recited from his lookout hidden around the corner. Clearly in view a few blocks ahead, the red themed tower starred the street they were on. However, as a single and very present drawback, a group of very mad anti-Kyuubi activists were having a meeting of sorts in the middle of their way.

They could round them, but they would also be spotted immediately due to the position of the Hokage Tower. Never in his life was Naruto so angry at the defensive disposition of the village.

"Any ideas?" He mused to his fellow concealed partner in the alley they were hiding. Glaring at nothing, Sasuke couldn't get out of his head why all this happened to the blond. Also, that little fact of Naruto reacting impassively at all this didn't escape his musings.

"Why? Why all this?" He voiced suddenly. Naruto's reaction wasn't what he expected when he sighed in defeat.

"I'll tell you when all this is over. I can't now." He replied with his sight fixed on the onyx eyes.

"I'll hold you to that." He said with a pointed look. "What about Kawarami?"

"No... They'll see the smoke. Mh... If only we could make a diversion. Like someone else to..." A wicked grin very slowly spread on his face. "Why didn't I think of this earlier?" He chastised himself and placed his hand on a cross seal. "Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"

Instantly, another Naruto popped into existence with a dutiful salute.

"Go and distract them." The real one ordered. With a curt nod, the clone sprung into action, directing himself at the crowd with a smug smirk on his face. Both Naruto and Sasuke were looking at the clone's plan very intently. They both knew about the blond's pranking spree, so this might be remarkable.

They easily saw the clone reach the crowd and gain their attention with a shout. Of course, it wouldn't be him if he hadn't mooned at them gloriously, which elicited some very angry glares. As the last straw, the clone gave them the finger. Needless to say, the twenty-something crowd launched at the cackling retreating blond.

Noticing the idiot of a clone was coming in their direction, the two boys hid among some leftover boxes and heard the commotion pass by. Grinning confidently that his plan had worked, Naruto stepped out of his hiding place all too quick. The slower runners or the ones who had made a pause to grab some weapon of kind immediately noticed the botch of yellow crowning his head and advanced on him.

Gulping at his own idiocy, Naruto back-pedalled until his back slammed against a wall. Palming it with his hands, he knew the horrifying truth. It was a dead end. Once again, he was trapped with no possibility of escaping. Images of a bottle flying soared his mind, blocking most of his conscious. It wasn't because of the act itself that he had frozen, but because of the symbolism it held.

If he wanted to gain respect, he would have to work his ass off and then some more to be considered even neutral among this people.

Seeing his new friend in trouble and totally inactive, Sasuke bolted in front of Naruto with his arms stretched, the classic Uchiha cold glare adorning his visage. "Stop it this instant!" He growled eyeing hatefully the board and the knife two of the present had.

"Uchiha-sama. Step back and let us free you from this thing." A woman ordered without even directing a look at the one he was speaking to. Instead, her own glare was directed towards Sasuke's protégée.

"Free me? What are you talking about?" His appendages lowered only slightly.

"From that thing's spell, of course. If not, how could you spend time around that d-trash." She held her tongue before something far worse escaped from it and the truth might be revealed to the Uchiha scion. The Sandaime's law was clearly directed to not let the younger generation know about the fox held within the Uzumaki brat.

"Trash!" He roared in disgust. This was outrageous! "Are you stupid?! Naruto is my friend! I will not step back and let you hurt my first real friend!" The arms were once again raised at their former height, held with more intent than before. If he had to bleed to protect his first friendship, then so be it. He knew that Naruto would do the same, if not more.

Looking over his shoulder, he found Naruto staring at him intently with a curious but assuring frown. Showing the usual taunting smirk, he dared him to come to his side and face this together. Nodding in acceptance, the raven haired boy lowered his arms at the same time Naruto stepped forward and to his right.

"Leave me the knife guy." He whispered only for him to hear. He nodded back, accepting his terms of engagement. Instead of waiting for the attack, the impatient kids launched their own at the same time, taking the defenders by surprise.

With a freebie for an incoming, Naruto quickly decked out the knife wielder with an elbow spear tackle at the stomach. Thanks to the training he had undergone with his adoptive father and unbeknownst to him, he caused the tissue of the stomach to breach massively, letting considerable amounts of blood in. If not treated, the wound might take the life of the injured in a matter of half an hour.

On the Uchiha's side, things weren't looking so bleak for the attacked. One lost consciousness when Sasuke jumped and delivered a kick to the neck, similar to Kasai's last attack. The other held the board shakily after seeing his two companions being dispatched so easily. Fixing their gaze on the last one blocking their way to the Hokage Tower, he only had to be on the receiving end of those to drop the board like a hot potato and run off in terror.

"That was..."

"Easy." Naruto finished still not believing how their first fight there ended so quickly. Shrugging their shoulders at this whole mess, they continued with the plan. Just as they stepped into the Tower, something far from Naruto's expectances occurred. Somehow, the path the clone had used to divert the mob from their path, as well as the faces of most of the incomers was implanted into his fresh memory.

Frowning, he decided to ask Kasai for that, wondering if that was how the Kage Bunshin training speed worked.

"Naruto? What are you doing here at this hour of the night?" The familiar voice of the Sandaime Hokage sounded in the middle of the silent and void of people room. The veneered elder approached the kids with a curious look.

"They attacked. Again." He summarised grimly and frowning. "Otou-san told us to come here."

Sarutobi refrained himself from sicking his ANBU on the culprits of the night, but decided not to when the council could very well strip him of his Hokage title if he gave them a sufficient enough reason. And supporting the village's pariah was one of those. Not for the first time he hated being so impotent to rein order and peace among his subordinates.

"Come with me to my office and tell me how everything came about. If you can give me some names or faces, I'll move on to imprison them." He said as the kids followed him up the stairs, finally ending inside their destination and sitting with two teas in their hands a minute later.

After recounting the successes of the evening from their botched dinner up to their arrival at their current position, the Hokage listened intently at his every word, trying to discover any advance the boy had made towards bettering his shinobi career. The obvious one was using Kage Bunshin as a diversion, which was one of the main uses the technique had. The small proud smile never left his face until he reached the end of his tale with a few identifications of their attackers.

"I think I recognize a few of them by what you can tell me. Don't worry, by tomorrow at dawn they will be behind the bars." Sarutobi announced in an attempt to assure Naruto that the lesson would be learned by the villagers. However, they both knew that it would be to no avail.

"What was all this about?" Sasuke voiced his inquiry mostly as a reminder to Naruto of what he had promised. Sighing in dislike as he knew the friendship that he so ardently worked on would shatter after the truth was out, Naruto decided to speak.

"It is because of what happened eight years ago." The blond began reluctantly. "We won't remember, but the Kyuubi attacked this place eight years ago."

"Yeah, the Yondaime killed it." The Uchiha replied dismissively. That was a bed-time story for normal kids when the parents wanted to scare them.

"No. He couldn't kill it. He could seal it, though." He paused, struggling with the explanation his adoptive father had given him and how to transmit it to his soon-to-be enemy.

"May I?" Sarutobi offered wisely and Naruto nodded in response. Looking straight at the raven haired boy, he resumed Naruto's tale. "The Yondaime could only seal it in a human being, since a simple object couldn't hold the intent or the power of the fox. Also, he had to seal it in a newborn's body, since their chakra coils and tubes are not developed. There was only one baby born that day." He finished at the same point Kasai had in order to let Sasuke process all the information and reach the same conclusion Naruto had.

"You." He said to the blond. Inside his mind, there was a raging war. On one side, the feeling that it was completely out of Naruto's control and the other side, noticeably weaker, considered Naruto to be the same demon he held inside. The final thing that crushed the latter side was the recent activities of the villagers towards the demon container. No one should treat a human like that. Hell, from what little he heard in stories about demons, they protected their kin with their lives. And that was the catalyser for his reply. "So what?"

The blond's head snapped to the raven haired faster than any occasion before. Did he just...No.

"Just what I was expecting." Kasai's voice made the impression of acceptance his adoptive son couldn't. Striding proud of the resolution the Uchiha had, he stopped between the close chairs the boys were sitting on and place a forearm on each piece of furniture, grinning like a madman. "Aren't you happy, Naruto?"

"You knew?" Sasuke growled at the older blond. The only response he got was a deeper grin.

"Who do you think told Naruto in the first place?"

Sarutobi cleared his throat to gain their attention. "What I would like to know, Izuono-san, is how you came to know such a thing."

"Let's just say I've got my inside sources." At the elder's stern look, he continued. "They aren't traitors before you ask." The look didn't relent much to that, however.

"What is going to happen now?" Naruto asked weakly, holding himself from looking at another place than the floor.

"Now, some changes will be made. For one, an ANBU will be posted around you." Kasai raised a brow at this. "You failed to protect him as you promised, Izuono-san."

"I failed because I was held up at our place with another group. I gave them direct orders to come here while I taught those hate-mongers a lesson. Holding me responsible is hardly going to take the blame from you." He replied heatedly, crossing his arms with a stoic air surrounding him.

"What are you insinuating?" The Hokage narrowed his eyes. Insulting the Hokage was a minor crime which he decided to let it slide in the past, but with the current topic, he wouldn't be so lenient.

"I'm insinuating that the hate the villagers hold for Naruto is your fault completely. Instead of telling them the truth, you should have told them something to protect him. Something like the Kyuubi was killed and he was an orphan found nearby, or alike. Better an embellished lie than the horrible truth for that close-minded people, or rather a half-truth." The way he carried himself only tightened as the severity of his voice hardened exponentially. If Sarutobi so much as hinted to divert the attention from him after that, Konoha would have a person and possibly three against it. Kasai knew this and he knew that Sarutobi was aware of this a well.

Frown in place, he interlocked his fingers under his chin, resembling a lot his only female student. "A lie might be the easier way out, but how would they react if they found out the truth?"

The blond man didn't miss a beat. "Which is more important to you? Naruto's happiness or the opinion of the villagers of you?"

"That is hardly a question, Izuono-san." The aged leader shot back.

"You haven't answered it, though."

"This topic shouldn't have been brought in front of them." He sighed, clearly meaning the shinobis-in-training.

"But it has been. Answer the question, Hokage-sama and I won't bother you again with this." That was it. If the man got this, he would finally find out why the boy was hated so much. Even though, he actually feared Naruto's reaction at this. Giving the boy a glance, he found him looking intently at Sarutobi. The faint swirl of red in his eyes hadn't been avoided by his considerations.

"I consider Naruto's safety first. If I had been removed from my place, I wouldn't have been able to protect him. So I gave the villagers the truth, equivocally believing that they would take Yondaime's last wish to heart and honour it. I can see how much that resolve worked..." In front of them, the already ancient Hokage aged at least twenty years in a few instants. "If I could change it, I'd do it in a second."

"Ojii-san..." Naruto let out emotionally. While he was furious to know the full truth as to why he was treated like he was, it was immediately defused by how much regret the older man showed at the moment. "I understand..." He finished, closing the topic and sealing the case for a long time. Perhaps to never be brought again, but who knew? The future cannot be predicted.

That night ended with a civil talk and the promise of a change of address, much to Kasai and Naruto's joy. Only an hour later and with a quick moving thanks to an abuse of Kage Bunshin, the three were sitting around a larger table in a house only a few blocks away from the Tower. A full contrast to their former place of living that was basically on the other side of the village.

Also, this place was hidden cleverly among other houses and on top of a barricaded building. So, in order to enter the house, you had to climb it or walk on the walls, in other words, only decent shinobi could hope to get into the house effortlessly. The new abode was considerably bigger in space, giving them much more moving freedom and to their added joy, a bedroom for each and a separate kitchen and living room. Needless to say, Naruto was almost in tears of happiness when Sarutobi handed him the keys with a cryptic phrase of: "I should have given it to you before. After all, it's yours."

Kasai narrowed his eyes at the old man before blasting a full-force smile at his adoptive son. It didn't matter as long as he was safe and happy. He would some day understand, he finished shrugging it off and began musing how to improve on the training for the boys to be taken the following day.


Alright. Sasuke and Naruto are getting along quite fine and their training's is also being taken care of just nice. Things are just setting up and the next two chapters will have the inclusion of two other characters. One for each of the kids. One female and one male. And no, NO YAOI (Before you ask). I gave enough clues for now. You are welcome to try and figure it out.

If any of you flame me because I made a Good!Kyuubi, I reply this: I gave a very good reason to why Naruto made that decision and the fox's decision. Kasai's influence is the obvious explanation. Speaking of Kasai, anyone figured out what or who he is? It's subtle, but it's there. Everything is in this chapter. If you didn't get it, don't worry. Chapter 4 will have many revelations regarding the dirty blond.

Next chapter, expect a travel, fangirls (You knew they were coming), Sarutobi placing the council in place and one special negotiation. Don't know when I'll update because I have to force myself to write. It doesn't come out perfectly, but it is very close to what I want it to be.
Later,
Soulcry.