Summary: It comes a time in life when a decision has to be made, even if it's against what you wanted. After Asuma's death from the hands of Akatsuki, Uzumaki Naruto makes a decision that will forever change his life as well as others around him. Using a mask, he leaves Konoha's quarters and start serving the hidden leaf village in a different way. (On this fic, Shikamaru's team doesn't go against Hidan and Kakuzu)

Chapter 1 – Taking the blame

It was sunny afternoon in Konoha and Uzumaki Naruto was training to perfect his new jutsu. After his training in order to master fuuton chakra, he was now trying to perfect the rasengan by incorporating fuuton chakra in it. Meanwhile, Kakashi was reading his precious and inseparable Icha Icha Tactics while watching the blonde in front of him, doing what his sensei, the fourth hokage failed to accomplish when he created the rasengan. The Forth Hokage, namely Namikaze Minato was the sole creator of the spiraling ball. However, few people knew that the rasengan was an incomplete jutsu. In order to perfect it, the ninja needed to add elemental chakra to it. Just like Kakashi's chidori which managed to fuse both chakra manipulation and lightning chakra, the rasengan, which was known to be the highest form of chakra manipulation, was created to the sole purpose of merging both chakra manipulation and elemental chakra.

Since Naruto had a fuuton affinity, he was trying to fuse his element with the rasengan with the aid of his clones, but failing miserably. Another factor that made possible for Naruto to improve on such technique was Yamato. Since the ex-Anbu has mokuton abilities, he had the ability of keeping the kyuubi's chakra from interfering with Naruto's chakra, making his control improve.

After several tries, Naruto slightly managed to add fuuton chakra at the rasengan, adding little sharp blades around the energy ball. "Kakashi-sensei, I can only go about this much yet." – Said Naruto to which Kakashi stopped reading his book and came to look at the rasengan, which now looked like a little shuriken was added to it. "Looks different, let's test it. I'll do the normal rasengan and we'll see what this new version does" – Said Kakashi, before making a normal rasengan and charge towards Naruto who in turn charged with his one. After the encounter, smoke came out of both Naruto and Kakashi's hands, however while Naruto stood still, Kakashi was holding his stomach from the deep cut caused by Naruto's technique. When Kakashi looked at Naruto's back, suddenly the figure of the Forth Hokage with his white robe appeared, making Kakashi's eyes go wide from the implication of such comparison. 'Naruto, only you can surpass the forth hokage. Keep like this and you'll be the one who finish sensei's work' – Thought Kakashi as he got up and went to congratulate Naruto on adding fuuton chakra to the rasengan, even though he knew that the technique was far from mastered, being still room for improvement.

"Congratulations, Naruto. You made it. Although you still need to improve" – Said Kakashi smiling to Naruto who in turn scratched the back of his head and laughed back at Kakashi. "Thanks, Kakashi-sensei. Just a little more and I can finally reach Sasuke's level" – Said Naruto shooting his arms high, making Kakashi smile in recognition. However, Kakashi wasn't aware of the fact that the blonde's behavior was just a mask to hide his true self. When Naruto was a little boy, he was always mistreated by Konoha's population, just because of what was kept inside his body. However, one time when Naruto was eight, he was being chased by a couple of chunnins. He was terrified at the time, since he didn't know the reason as to why he was chased all the time. Since he couldn't outrun shinobi, the chunnins managed to catch him and started kicking him, while screaming obscenities linked with the word demon. Suddenly for some reason, Naruto smiled at the chunnin, even though he was drenched in blood, Naruto genuily smiled at them, making them stop kicking him and walk away.

Because of that, Naruto chose to be this loud and obnoxious attitude of his in hopes that people started acknowledging him as a human being, other than a demon. Even now after being able to protect himself in case someone decided to attack him, Naruto still chose to behave like an idiot, hiding his true nature. Back to his training, Kakashi was talking about further developing his technique when Izumo arrived at the scene together with Yamato. Upon seeing the pair, Kakashi was suspicious that something bad happened, but he couldn't put himself to figure out. However, he was sure that something really bad happened, from the looks of sadness displayed by both Izumo and Yamato. Suddenly, Yamato broke the sudden silence and delivered the bomb.

"Sarutobi Asuma is dead" – Said Yamato, making Kakashi's eyes go wide and Naruto to lose focus on his eyes and start remembering of his interactions with the deceased bearded shinobi. Kakashi, however, demanded to hear what happened to which Izumo said that his team consisted of Shikamaru, Kotetsu, Asuma and himself faced two Akatsukis and one of them killed Asuma. Upon hearing that, Naruto paled. One of his worst nightmares was that people died because of him or rather because of what he contains. Right now, Naruto was looking down in shame from hearing about people dying because of him which didn't go unnoticed by Kakashi, but he decided to let it go, since he figured that Naruto was taking the news just now and had to come in terms with what happened before moving on. Little did Kakashi know that right now Naruto had just dropped his mask. After delivering the news, Izumo left, leaving Kakashi Yamato and Naruto hanging there looking at the ground. Before Izumo left, he said that the funeral would be at five pm.

--At Kurenai's apartment--

Heading to the red-eyed Kunoichi's apartment, Shikamaru was to carry a message to her. However, he was new at this, since he never brought news such as this before to anyone ever in his life and not knowing how Kurenai would react, Shikamaru was afraid for who she carried inside her. Asuma told him right before he closed his eyes, that he and Kurenai were expecting a baby together and depending how she took the news, the baby could be lost as a result. However, he made a promise to Asuma as well as to the hokage that he would tell Kurenai about what happened.

Upon arrival, Shikamaru rang the bell to Kurenai's door before waiting for the kunoichi to open it. A couples of minutes after and a few more bell ringing courtesy of Shikamaru, Kurenai opened the door only to see Asuma's student with a serious yet down look on his face. Kurenai for her part was having bad feelings about the bearded shinobi and while in her line of work, death was a common occurrence, she could not admit the fact that Asuma would get killed while on a mission, considering the fact that he happens to be one of Konoha's elite jounins. However, upon seeing Shikamaru looking like that and the fact that he happen to be standing near her door, it could only mean that the issue involved her to some degree.

"Yes, Shikamaru?" – Said Kurenai before seeing the chunnin raise his face up to eye contact with the brunette who caught a glimpse of a single tear running down his face, just before he dropped the news that immediately killed her from the inside. "Kurenai-sensei….Asuma-sensei is dead" – Whispered Shikamaru, making Kurenai's pupils lose their focus and suddenly open tears starts to follow down her cheeks as she throw herself to the ground, screaming for Asuma's name in hopes that the bearded man suddenly appears and envelop her in a hug. Seeing this, Shikamaru kneel down as to comfort her the best way he could.

As Shikamaru heard the girl sob on his shoulder, Shikamaru just closed his eyes, while remembering his interactions with his sensei along the way from his genin exam until the day he died. Shikamaru often beat himself because of not thinking of a way to save his sensei's life, however being the analytical genius he was, he couldn't think of any solution to it. Not that it mattered anyway, since his sensei's life was now lost. However, as Kurenai stopped crying, his ear caught glimpse of the older girl whispering something. "Shikamaru, tell me….tell me what happened to my Asuma?" – Asked Kurenai to which Shikamaru started relating the story, while looking down. "We encountered two members of Akatsuki. After that, our team engaged against them, however even though we were able to hold them back a little bit, one of the member did some sort of spell using Asuma's blood, therefore transferring all the pain of his body to Asuma's. And without even slight of hesitation, the man known as Hidan took a long dagger and pierced his heart, transferring the blow to Asuma's body, killing him in the process." – Said Shikamaru before suddenly seeing Kurenai's eyes flash with anger, which made him wonder if the girl would hunt Akatsuki.

However, Kurenai wasn't thinking about Akatsuki at all. Well, not directly any way. The reason she was angry was the reason why those S-ranked missing-nins were near Konoha in the first place and then killing her beloved Asuma. She knew who those men were after and since emotion was clouding her judgment at the moment because of the shock of losing her husband, Kurenai was actually blaming Naruto for the death of the only man she ever loved. Come to think about it, Naruto was the sole reason as to why those monsters came to Fire Country and therefore he was the cause of Asuma's death.

Shikamaru, still oblivious to what Kurenai was thinking, only managed to see her turn her back to him and walk inside her apartment, slowly closing the door and giving him an understanding look, since she knew how Asuma cared for the Nara genius. Upon seeing this, Shikamaru turned and walked away towards his home where he was supposed to get dressed to the funeral. However, he couldn't get himself to attend to the funeral. Therefore, the only place he could go, the place where his memories laid regarding his sensei was his house's porch where he played Shougi with Asuma.

--At the Nara residence--

Upon arrival, Shikamaru simply placed the pieces and began playing by himself, oblivious to the fact that his father Nara Shikaku was watching his son since he arrived home. Shikaku was aware of Asuma's death on the hands of Akatsuki and was sad that Shikamaru had to witness his sensei get killed in front of him. However, death was a part of being a shinobi and therefore Shikamaru needed to come in terms with such facts, since the boy while smart, was still young in regards to experience. Back to Shikamaru, he just kept playing shougi, while the funeral was taking place at this moment.

--At the funeral--

Naruto, upon becoming aware of someone dying because of him was deeply hurt. He had swore some time ago in silence that the Kyuubi wouldn't cause any more pain to others ever again and that he would take care of that himself. Now, however, seeing that Asuma-sensei was killed because of the Kyuubi, Naruto was at loss of what to do. Because of his training, he didn't know of Tsunade's mission assignment to all available shinobis in order to search for the Akatsuki; therefore he couldn't stop her from sending others to their death. And now Asuma was dead and for what? Akatsuki sure won't stop knocking at Konoha's door and I'm afraid they'll kill even more just to get to me. I can't let this continue.

However, before doing what he was sought out to do, Naruto began to scan the funeral for familiar faces. Upon doing this, Naruto saw Tsunade, Shizune, Sakura, of course Asuma's team however without Shikamaru, which confused the blonde for a minute, but then again Naruto somehow understood the lazy chunnin. Growing up through pain and suffering, Naruto could sympathize with the lazy chunnin. Upon more scanning, Naruto located Konohamaru crying and went there to comfort him by hugging the little genin. At last, Naruto's eyes caught glimpse of Team 8's jounin sensei carrying a bouquet of roses in memory of Asuma. Upon further look, Naruto realized that Kurenai even though obviously sad for Asuma, was looking at him as if she wanted to kill the blonde. Naruto knew that look since it pretty much appeared on his life daily. That look came from all Konoha citizens who mistook him from the Kyuubi reincarnated. Nevertheless, this time Naruto looked down, but which was once disappointment and sadness, now was filled with shame and guilt, which didn't get unnoticed by the silver haired jounin who happen to stand near him together with Yamato.

Kakashi for his part was wondering what Naruto was thinking. He saw the look of guilt clearly and was afraid to even think that Naruto would consider himself to blame for what happened with Asuma and Akatsuki. However, Kakashi saw Naruto turn and walk towards Kurenai and now was found suspicious of the blonde's intentions. Naruto for his part, upon seeing the look displayed by Kurenai, turned to walk towards her with a single intention; he knew now that what happened was because of him and if he wasn't in Konoha or either from the hidden village, no one would have to suffer again. Upon arrival next to Kurenai, he noticed that the glare was intensified, therefore taking away any doubts he had on what he was about to do.

"Kurenai-san, I feel terribly sorry for what happened to Asuma-sensei. I…" – Started Naruto, but was cut off by Kurenai who chose this time to use Naruto as a scapegoat for all her negative feelings right now. "Sorry? You are sorry? IF it wasn't for your presence here, none of this would have happened. Konoha would be fine and I'd have Asuma here with me. Now tell me what part do you say you're sorry about?" – Screamed Kurenai once again in sobs, earning everyone's attention, including the Hokage, Shizune and the Rookie 9. Upon hearing this, Naruto looked down once again in shame and started talking with a voice that no one has ever heard coming out of the blonde's mouth. "You're right Kurenai-san. It's because of me that Asuma's dead and it's because of me that Konoha is at risk of attacks." – Said Naruto, making everyone flinch to hear the once flooded with happiness, sounded like someone who did a wide list of sins throughout his existence.

The others were literally taken aback because of Naruto's statement as was Kurenai who wasn't counting on Naruto actually taking the blame for what happened to Asuma. Tsunade, Shizune and Sakura were screaming for Naruto to take it back, since he wasn't to blame for something he didn't have any control over. Kakashi looked at the blonde with sadness from seeing Naruto like this and even more saddened to see Naruto taking the blame because of what's inside of him. However, he couldn't get himself to not look something odd to Naruto's new kind of behavior. From what Kakashi was seeing, Naruto's somewhat serious expression seemed to fit him, as strangely as that sound. Naruto, I know what you're doing and while I won't dissuade you out of it, you are a grown up now and responsible for what you chose – Thought Kakashi.

"Kurenai-san, I have a last favor to ask of you. Take this kunai and shove it in my heart; end your and everyone's misery right now." – Said Naruto, now abandoning his will to live, if it meant to rid the village of Kyuubi's burden, once again scaring everyone to their very core. Kurenai for once took the kunai and started looking at it and then to Naruto who by now was with his eyes closed, waiting for the finishing blow. Upon seeing the blonde submitting himself to her wish, Kurenai was in turmoil. She blamed him for what happened to Asuma and for as most as she wanted to avenge the bearded shinobi, she just couldn't put herself to do it. Therefore, Kurenai throw the kunai on the ground and ran towards her apartment for safety, leaving Naruto to pick the kunai that was to be aimed at his heart and end all the misery.

However, Naruto didn't even see the slap that hit his face. While not even carried with chakra, the slap was channeled with sadness and disappointment. When Naruto looked up, he met the eyes of Tsunade who upon seeing Naruto's eyes, which was once was ocean blue, so full of live, now was dark blue, filled with void and dread. Tsunade couldn't bring herself to open her mouth after such interaction. She was going to teach the brat not to waste his life like that; however upon seeing Naruto's face, Tsunade suddenly couldn't see the Naruto she once knew. Naruto for his part seeing that Tsunade wouldn't talk turned away towards the Hokage Monument. He knew that what he did scared a lot of people, but he knew that when he let the mask drop, people would be shocked to see the result of Naruto's real life. Striving for affection once, Naruto put up that mask so that people could see his smile and somehow be kind to him. Now, Naruto needed to take care of some things if he wanted to achieve what he intended to become. While still loyal to Konoha, Naruto felt that his presence inside the village would only destroy it in the long run.

--At the Hokage Monument--

After arrival on top of the Yondaime's head, Naruto seat and start looking at his favorite view of the village that was doomed to extinction, in case he chose not to proceed with what he planned to do. Suddenly, a soft gust of wind blew his hair away and somehow his face expression was at ease. He thanked the heavens for blessing him with a fuuton affinity, simply because he enjoyed its nature. The wind could be calm and peaceful at times, however without any warning; it could become strong and fearful, destroying everything in its path.

However when Naruto closed his eyes, he immediately regretted since he felt the damn fox driving him inside his mindscape for a little 'chat'. When Naruto opened his eyes, he came across a wide-grinned Kyuubi, which seemed somewhat amused by the whole situation. "So, finally decided to let the mask drop, huh? Quite interesting, Naruto; although I'm quite surprised with the amount of time it took for you to do it" – Said the nine-tailed fox to which Naruto looked down and gave his answer to the fox. "I thought that if I kept the mask, people wouldn't get hurt, however after seeing what happened, there isn't any purpose anymore."

"Imbecile, your mask never had a purpose. On the contrary, it only made others look down at us. However, now that you realized that on your own, you can grow stronger now. It's time to show them what we're made of. You know what to do." – Said Kyuubi, before seeing a nod from Naruto. The blonde knew how proud was the fox and also it unnerved him to see Naruto losing on purpose all the time, simply because he didn't want others to know that he didn't need help in order to defeat his opponents. Now, Naruto knew what he had to do and that meant getting stronger. Since his ninjutsu affinity was fuuton, he decided to head to the library and copy all fuuton jutsus he could find and learn them. He hoped that as his control over wind improved, the completion of the elemental rasengan would be much easier to complete. "You only wasted your time with that mask of yours. Nevertheless, now that you realized your mistake, it's time for us to train our way. Since you're fused with me, that means you already have an affinity for fire as well. However, you must use my chakra in order to use katon attacks. In time, Naruto we'll manage to unite our affinities and then everyone will think twice before messing with us." – Said Kyuubi, earning a nod and a smile from Naruto.

Seeing that his presence was no longer required inside his mindscape, Naruto closed his eyes and open them now to see Konoha from a certain distance. However, he wasn't alone. As he turned his head, he found that a certain silver haired jounin was there waiting for him while reading his book. "I see that you're awake. Had a good night sleep?" – Asked Kakashi, hoping to light the mood a little bit but to no avail. Naruto didn't even twitch his lips which concerned Kakashi deeply, since he couldn't recognize the blonde. "I was talking to an old acquaintance of mine, Kakashi-sensei. Is there something you wish to talk about?"

"Why did you take the blame for Asuma's death?" – Asked Kakashi out of the blue, since he somehow knew that Naruto wouldn't like having small talk. Naruto for his part knew that he would have to answer the question eventually and considering that Kakashi rarely used emotion as an argument, he would be perfect to hear his reasons. "Asuma died because of me, plain and simple. My presence here made Akatsuki chase me here. So it's only logical that I'm to blame for their presence here, therefore blamed for Asuma's death" – Said Naruto with emotionless voice, only pure rationality which made Kakashi look at his eyes for a few moments, as a way to gauge any hint of emotions. However, even with his wide experience at looking at the underneath of situations, in this case he was having trouble deciphering.

"So what's next now? Are you going to leave?" – Asked Kakashi after he stopped trying to access the situation. "Yes" – Answered Naruto, making Kakashi look down again at another one of his students who chose to defect the village, however his thoughts were cut short, since Naruto wasn't quite finished. "And before you wonder if I'm doing the same thing as Sasuke, don't. I'm loyal to Konoha, however I can't stay within these walls. I…well you're a smart guy, you'll figure out." – Said Naruto, lifting and turned back to back with his sensei who by this time already knew what Naruto intended to do. "You want to become a hunter-nin, aren't you?" – Asked Kakashi, though it was more like a statement than a question. "You're not strong enough to fend for yourself" – Stated Kakashi, using his last resort to convince him to stay, however to no avail since the blonde's mind was already settled. "That's for me to worry about. Not you." – Said Naruto before vanishing within a swirl of leaves, leaving Kakashi alone on top of his sensei's head. 'Ah Minato-sensei, he is as stubborn as I was, isn't he?'

--With Naruto--

After leaving the monument, Naruto went towards the place he knew where all of the techniques would be located. Already packed with a couple of scrolls in order to copy all the fuuton ninjutsu and its theories, Naruto stopped right in front of the library. When he entered, he proceeded to look at the many shelves that happen to be packed with books and scrolls. After a while, he reached a roll with the word 'ninjutsu' in it and went along the roll in order to find the fuuton section.

Upon arrival, he came across the fuuton section, slightly disappointed to see that compared to other elements; fuuton was the least popular area of the library. Still he thought that would at least a dozen fuuton jutsus for him to use. Of course, Naruto intended to learn Katon ninjutsu as well, but since Kyuubi told him that it would teach him later on, he decided to focus entirely on fuuton. Quickly picking the scrolls, he positioned them on top of the tables near him and proceeded to copy all of them. As he passed through the named, he recognized the one called Fuuton Daitoppa (Wind Style: Great Breakthrough Jutsu) that the snake used on his team at the chunnin exams. After writing a bit, he came in contact with another familiar one called Fuuton Kaze no Yaiba (Wind Style: Wind Sword Jutsu). He remembered hearing something about Hayate's wound being cause by a sword made of wind.

After a while, he copied all of the fuuton jutsus, using the entire scrolls he had at his disposal. Wrapping it up, Naruto left the library carrying with him the scrolls with the information he gathered with fuuton ninjutsu. Calmly, he went home and went straight to bed, since he knew that tomorrow would be the day that he voiced his request to the Hokage and he was sure she would protest immensely.

--The next day--

One day later, Naruto woke up and immediately dressed up. He knew that Tsunade would begrudge him after his request, so he wanted to take care of it as soon as possible. However, he needed to do something else first. Even though he didn't quite agree with Kakashi' assessment of his abilities, Naruto knew that he would face eventually A and S ranked missing-nins, because of his chosen profession. So he needed to up his physical training as well. Being proficient in taijutsu was good enough, however the nine tailed fox told him to purchase a katana, since Kyuubi wanted to teach him some ancient kenjutsu style that was used by a strong samurai nearly five hundred years ago.

Therefore, he picked some cash that he kept inside his apartment from not trusting the bank and left his apartment towards a weapons shop he knew about that was located near his home. Upon walking, he noticed people staring at him like they were waiting for him to show his wide smile or something peculiar to his usual behavior. As people passed through him, he was more and more thinking that the damn fox was right and even cursing the fact that because of their link, the fox could hear his thoughts as well, making the beast laugh his ass off, unnerving Naruto a little bit.

--At the weapons shop--

After a while between walking and having to hear Kyuubi's way of saying 'I told you so' inside his head (more like laughing at him for being right the entire time). He gauged the place from outside a little bit and shrugged if off since he didn't care for appearance, in fact he knew that appearances were what made his life a living hell in the first place.

As he entered, he was astonished to see that the store could easily fill an army. Tons of different types of swords, kunai, exploding tags, shurikens and clothes; Naruto was at loss of words right now, however his attention was diverted when an old man made his presence known with a little throat clearance. "Welcome customer, can I get you anything?" – Asked the old man to which Naruto turned to study the man a little bit. The blonde was suspicious of the fact that the man was treating him like a normal customer, since it was clear that he knew what Naruto has inside of him. However, the old man was just looking at him like expecting a request soon so Naruto just shrugged it off for later and turned to give him the list. "Hi, uh, I'm looking for a set of training weights of 20 pounds each, two sets of kunai and shurikens and a katana." – Said Naruto, earning a surprised look from the old man.

"A katana, you say? Are you a ninja? I've never seen any shinobi wanting to purchase a katana. Not that I agree with those bastards, always preferring speed over force. However, I need to know what style do you intend to use, before I pick the right one for you." – Said the old man to which Naruto nodded and asked Kyuubi the name of the style. "Right, the name is Houka Yakushin (Fire Dash), but I don't know if you're familiar with…" – Said Naruto but stopped after seeing the man's eyes literally go out of his sockets just from hearing the name of the style. "Is there something wrong?" – Asked Naruto, making the old man recover his concentration and go to the back of the shop. "You wait right here. I have the perfect one for you" – Said the old man, getting a nod from the blonde who by now was asking questions to the fox. 'What was that all about?" – Said Naruto only for Kyuubi to hear. "The man was astonished simply because of such an ancient kenjutsu style. If I would guess, I'd say the man has a lot of knowledge regarding kenjutsu. This style will be perfect for you, since it uses the strength of the user not only offensive but defensive as well. With this style, you'll be able to defend attacks and disorient the attacker. However, before you start learning, you need to enhance your muscles, hence why you'll be using the weights at all times." – Explained Kyuubi to which Naruto nodded when suddenly the old man appeared with a katana on his hands.

Upon inspection, he realized that the sword was quite heavy, being therefore perfect for what Kyuubi intended for him to learn. "As you managed to feel, this sword is pretty heavy. Your style focus on powerful hits, so this katana will be perfect for you; however in order to be well used in battle, you have to be more bulky than you are now, but since you'll be purchasing weights, I see that you already know that. Now, I gathered everything you requested." – Said the old man before telling the price from the purchase to which Naruto gladly bought. "Thanks for everything" – Said Naruto to which the old man shrugged it off. "Don't mention it, It's rather rare for shinobi to acquire katanas, it'd my pleasure if you would bring her here once in a while for repair and treatment" – Said the old man earning a question mark from Naruto. "Her?"

"Hahaha, sorry about that; I forgot to mention the sword's name. You see every sword has a name since a sword is like an extension of the user's body. This one is called Furiseirei (free spirit)." – Said the old man, receiving a nod as well as a smile from Naruto who in turn liked such a name. "I like that."

"What's your name son? I'd like to know the name of a customer who shares the same view as I do concerning katanas." – Asked the old man to which Naruto quickly responded by saying his name and waiting for him to say his own. "Nice to meet you Uzumaki Naruto, my name is Higurashi Akido" – Said the old man. After a while, Naruto said goodbye to the old man and returned home with the things he purchased, wondering where he knew that name from (I don't know Tenten's last name, so I put this one). Once he arrived home, he quickly placed it on his couch and left again towards the Hokage's office. On the way, Naruto was thinking of what Tsunade would say to him once he came with the news. The only one he ever told was Kakashi and Naruto couldn't know if the lazy jounin reported to the Hokage or not. Still seemed odd that he would be the one to appear and demonstrate concern to the blonde.

Perhaps the old hag sent him there in order to scout for some information as to why he did what he did. As Naruto walked, he also noticed that no one of his 'friends' if Naruto could say something like that, appeared to talk to him after what he did. He however shrugged it off seeing that actually it was for the best. He knew that Akatsuki wouldn't stop for nothing to get a hold of what's inside of him and that easily meant that they would kill everyone in Konoha if that was necessary to take Naruto with them. This way, Naruto wouldn't have to worry about seeing another one being killed by Akatsuki.

--Meanwhile at Tsunade's office--

Inside Tsunade's office, she, Kakashi and Jiraya was there talking about what the blonde told to Kakashi yesterday. The idea of transforming Naruto into a hunter-nin not only seemed absurd, but also it would be like handing him on a silver platter to Akatsuki. Tsunade, however, was remembering Naruto's face expression yesterday and it shocked her to very core. The idea of someone like Naruto literally give up on life was safe to say unimaginable, however Tsunade wasn't blind to the fact that ninjas creates mask as a way to cope with all the pain and sufferings they've been through and to think that Naruto wore such a mask would break her heart.

She always adored the boy, even though he somehow always got to her nerves. Naruto was to Tsunade what Nawaki was when he was alive. Tsunade viewed Naruto as an annoying younger brother and seeing him in such a state, it hurt her chest a lot. Right now, Jiraya was finding hard to believe that Naruto would behave like this and even if he had a mask, he knew that Naruto would always be Naruto, just with a little changes that's all. He as well was against the idea of turning to hunter-nin duty away from the village, since he knew that Akatsuki had some spies here in Konoha and it would be easy to know the kyuubi's whereabouts. Kakashi for his part didn't voice an opinion on that manner; he was simply here to tell them what Naruto told him and be on his way. He wouldn't like for Naruto to know that he broke his trust and ran to tell the Godaime Hokage.

However, Kakashi's plan went down the toilet when a knock was heard on the door. Slowly getting inside with his hands inside his pockets, Naruto entered and gauged the ones present with the Hokage. He saw Kakashi there which could mean that they already know what he planned to do and there was Jiraya. Speaking of the toad hermit, he was eyeing Naruto's face expression and found it peculiarly odd that the boy so far didn't show one single smile on his face; not even a twitch from his lips. Naruto's eyes were dark blue, quite different from the deep ocean blue ones that everyone seemed to be entranced with. Another different aspect was that Naruto chose to knock on the door before coming in when before he would just barge it in and make his presence known.

Tsunade looked at him and was sad to see that Naruto was still showing that look. That look that was only present when a person comes in terms with his haunted past and no longer tries to avoid it. And suddenly a realization dwelled inside her head, Naruto had acknowledged the Kyuubi. It was the only way he would take the blame for Asuma's death like that. Nevertheless, she needed to hear how he would address her so she could see if he still had hopes of snapping out of however trance he is on that made him think he was the nine-tailed fox. "What do you want brat?" – Asked Tsunade to which Jiraya and Kakashi shifted their gaze towards what Naruto would say. "Hokage-sama, I have a request to make." – Said Naruto, making Tsunade look down once again and the others look at their hokage with sympathy, since even though she always told him to address her with respect, inside she always smiled when Naruto called her 'baachan'. Both of them knew how Naruto and Tsunade were close to each other and seeing Naruto treat her like that was one of the deepest blow she received since Dan and Nawaki's death.

"And what request would that be?" – Asked Tsunade still looking down trying to hold her tears from falling. "Even though I suspect that you're already aware, since Kakashi is here; I wish to become a hunter-nin" – Said Naruto, making the lazy jounin snap at him so quickly, Kakashi himself thought he almost broke his neck. Even though Kakashi did tell them about Naruto's request before hand, he wasn't expecting for the blonde to be suspicious of him like that. A part of him was deeply hurt that his student wouldn't trust him, however the other part sighed since Naruto was right to be suspicious of him.

Nevertheless, Tsunade lifted her face to address who was now simply one of her genin requesting for a hunter-nin position. "Why would you want to become a hunter-nin Naruto? – Asked the Hokage to which the blonde asked right away. "A couple of reasons, actually; first Akatsuki is looking for me and they will do anything to get to me, therefore with me out of the village, they wouldn't come here; second I believe Konoha would be a better place without the demon walking around." – Said Naruto, however with little to no emotion which made Jiraya flinch after hearing the boy's somewhat icy tone, even more after considering himself the demon.

Seeing Tsunade not even trying to convince Naruto to stay, Jiraya moved to the Akatsuki argument. "Naruto, think about what you want. It Akatsuki knows that you're out of the village, they'll come for you. You're not ready yet to face them on your own. Also how long do you think it'll last before they know that you became a hunter-nin?" – Asked Jiraya, using it more as a statement, than a question. However, Naruto interpreted as a question and proceeded to relate his plan. "Well, Jiraya-sama (Jiraya flinched from the sudden respect coming from the boy), if you must know I've that already covered. First of all, I would request two month training in order to perfect mine and Kyuubi's affinities and then proceed to hunter-nin duty. Now regarding the information leaking, my plan is to give me a codename and hide the file deep within the Hokage's desk or even vault if necessary. With my identity being regarded as Shi (death), no one will know that it would be me and therefore no one will know of where I am." – Said Naruto before seeing everyone gasp upon hearing Naruto's plan.

All of them were impressed of Naruto's strategy and all of them realized that if they followed Naruto's plan, no one would sneak on the Hokage's office just to see Naruto's hunter-nin identity. However, while his plan was ingenious to say the least, both Jiraya and Tsunade suddenly remembered that they have to dissuade him of what he plans to do. "Naruto, think about this. What about your friends? They would be devastated to see you leave like this." – Said Tsunade.

"What's the point of hiding my identity, if I were to tell anyone else about it? The less they know about me, the better. Asuma's death awoke me to see that the longer I stay in Konoha, more people will be killed by Akatsuki, and therefore I plan to serve Konoha outside its borders while training to exhaustion and eliminate them for good." – Said Naruto, gaining understanding nods from everyone present in the room that happen to agree that if Naruto were to be a hunter-nin and also hide his identity, the less people who knew about it, the best.

However, there still remained the fact that the rookie 9 would ask questions about him and Tsunade very well knew about that. "Very well, Naruto. I see that your mind is set up for this. I will not dissuade you out of it. I'll also grant you two months of training and then I'll be sending your mask and an updated copy of our bingo book. Now, one more thing I should ask, since you pretty much thought of everything. What should I tell in case anyone asks about you, what should I say?" – Asked Tsunade to which Naruto turned to think a little bit. He wasn't considering that situation; however he didn't have much to think about it, since he had the perfect idea. "I doubt that anyone will ask about my whereabouts, so keep throwing solo missions for me. Tell them Jiraya here is training me in information gathering and tell them I'm meeting his spying network and introducing myself to them." – Explained Naruto to which Jiraya laughed a little bit, since he would eventually send the blonde to meet his spy network in the future.

"How long have you been planning all of this, Naruto? How the hell could you believe that it would be best for you to leave, huh?" – Screamed Tsunade at loss of what she should do, since Naruto had beaten all their arguments like they weren't worth even mentioning. "What can I say, two heads think better than one, I guess. Now, that I have clearance to do what I requested, I shall leave you be, Hokage-sama" – Said Naruto before turning and leaving through the door while all the people present were staring at his back.

After he closed the door, Tsunade scowled him for deliberately betting his life like that to which Jiraya sighed seeing that in fact this Naruto wasn't the Naruto he came to know. Also Jiraya was wondering about some of Naruto's words. He mentioned about mastering his and Kyuubi's affinity which was odd considering that not only Jiraya didn't teach him elemental ninjutsu, but also nobody knew what Kyuubi's affinity was. Also he said that two minds think better than one, so that must mean that the Kyuubi is aiding him in this quest. Jiraya now was at loss on what to think of this situation, however he would be a fool if he would sit around and miss Naruto and Kyuubi's idea of training.

--With Naruto--

Now walking straight to his apartment in order to study the theory behind the jutsus, Naruto started to ponder about his interaction with Tsunade and Jiraya in regards to becoming a hunter-nin. He actually felt it went well, despite the fact that Tsunade was visibly angry at him for requesting such a thing. "Underestimation is one of the main reasons a powerful opponent loses his battle." – Said Kyuubi pretty much answering Naruto's hidden questioning. "Yeah, look what happened to you, after you underestimated the Fourth Hokage." – Said Naruto, playing the with all mighty fox who by this time stopped trying to put some sense into Naruto's head about such a lousy mistake he made fifteen years ago. "Quit trying to mock me, I'm serious. They underestimate your potential, therefore they think that we'll get killed easily" – Said Kyuubi to which Naruto nodded.

Naruto's interaction with Kyuubi improved after six months of Jiraya's training trip. The beast at the time said that since their bodies were linked to each other for life that they should work together to stay alive (on Naruto's part) and satisfy Kyuubi's bloodlust ever once in a while. Actually the hunter-nin situation pleased the beast greatly since hunter-nins were supposed to kill missing-nins and bring any sort of proof to their kill like the enemy's hand or a very rare possession of his in order to identify his death.

"Well, first phase of the plan is in action." – Said Naruto to which Kyuubi nodded. "Indeed"