Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto

I honestly started "From the Ashes" because I needed something to occupy my time while everyone forgot a RK story similar to my own idea. Consequently, I was shocked when so many people read it. So here it is, due to popular demand,

"Rises the Flame."

Other notes:

I wrote FtA before all the stuff about Itachi and Madara came out so it didn't happen in my Saga. Likewise, the Fourth's name is Arashi Kazama instead of Minato Namikaze. It would be way too much hassle to go back and change everything at this point.

Chapter One

It was a beautiful day. The sun was shining; the birds were singing. In short, everything was perfect, or as close to it as things could be. Hiraku Kazama, once known as Naruto Uzumaki, hated it. A faint sigh escaped the jinchuuriki's lips, causing his partner to throw him a suspicious look. Whoever said there was no greater satisfaction than outliving one's enemies should be shot, the shapeshifter reflected sourly to himself.

Although, technically not all Hiraku's major enemies were dead, just Orochimaru. They were as good as though. The vast majority of the world still believed Naruto Uzumaki dead, and the Akatsuki had given up their pursuit of Kyuubi, seemingly for good. Basically, the demon vessel was right back were he had started. He couldn't even prank Sound anymore. It just wouldn't be the same without the snake around.

The violet-eyed ninja sighed again. A life of inaction did not suit him in the least. Was it too much to ask for something to happen? Anything? Hiraku opened his mouth to speak, only to be cut off.

"No," Akira's expression was resolute.

"But," the shapeshifter tried to protest.

"If you say you're bored I swear to kami I will shove one of my daggers down your throat." The quiet life suited the poison-user just fine. Days like this one had been in short supply ever since he met the other.

"You don't even know what I was going to say," Hiraku whined. "I could have been planning on commenting about the weather."

Akira looked unconvinced. "I doubt it." He knew his partner far too well.

The younger ninja actually pouted at that. It was a look not many seasoned shinobi could pull off, at least not convincingly. "Come on Akira," he huffed. "Don't you ever get bored?"

"Boredom," the former grass nin loftily announced to the world at large. "Is nothing more than the product of an unoccupied mind," several moments passed, but his companion did not respond.

Ironically, this made Akira even more nervous. It took every bit of the brunette's iron will not to fidget. It was quiet, too quiet. The poison-user didn't like it. Finally Akira couldn't take it anymore. "What are you doing now?" he asked at last.

Violet eyes grew wounded. "I'm just taking your advice." At the other's puzzled look Hiraku elaborated. "I'm occupying my mind."

Akira's expression grew panicked as he realized what he had done. The shapeshifter got into enough trouble when he wasn't thinking. Who knew what his partner would come up with if left to his own devices? Hastily the brunette rose to his feet. "On second thought, I'm up for some action." He had heard there was a troupe of bandits in the area. That should be good for a couple hours.

Hiraku didn't move. "But Akira," he playfully objected. "I thought you wanted to relax. Humor lurked in those inhuman orbs.

"I changed my mind."

The pair's light-hearted banter was interrupted when another shinobi stumbled into the clearing. He looked vaguely familiar, but neither of the two missing nin could place him.

At first the stranger appeared disoriented. That faded quickly though. His eyes grew wild as his gaze landed on the shapeshifter and he drew his sword. "Hiraku Kazama!" the newcomer screamed in rage. "You killed my Father. Prepare to die." Then he attacked, completely ignoring Akira's presence.

Ahh, the poison-user reflected. So that was why the other looked familiar. He was obviously the son of that idiot who had attacked them a few months ago for the bounty on their heads. The ninja hadn't been a match for one of them, let alone both.

After a few moments Akira relaxed. Evidently the son was as big a fool as his father had been. His partner had the situation well in hand. The former grass nin laughed softly to himself as he considered the twists and turns his life had gone through over the past few years. He never would have imagined one meeting on a dark rooftop would lead to this. Then again, who could anticipate Hiraku?

It was true, he had had more time to relax before he met the shapeshifter, and yes, his life had been a bit less dangerous. Akira had tended to stay under the radar. On the other hand, he was better equipped to deal with the danger, and it wasn't like the possibility of death was a foreign concept to any ninja. There was also another plus. If nothing else, life around Hiraku was never dull.


I can't believe it is almost the end of the term

Where has the time gone?

No offense to the characters of the Princess Bride

I love that movie, but I just couldn't resist putting that line in