Disclaimer: No, I don't own Naruto, believe it!...Dear god, did I just say that? NOOOOOO!!!!! (mind breaks)
Chapter 1: Colored World
The most desired genetic trait of any shinobi clan. If your clan has a bloodline limit, then your status immediately skyrockets in the eyes of all those around you. You are imperial, majestic…wanted. To have one of these beautiful and powerful abilities means that you are better than the rest, that your ancestors were better than the rest, and that your descendants will always be better than the rest. It is a symbol of might, of importance.
The odd thing is that it's only a mutation created by unstable DNA. Bloodline limits are nothing more than that – a freak accident that happened amongst genes. The only difference between them and a genetic illness is that the kekkai genkai are, well…accepted. All in all, having one did make you important, but it also labeled you as a freak.
Some may agree, while others may violently oppose that concept. But that is neither here nor there at the moment. There are more important things that need to be discussed.
Now, we must come to a point in time when things are about to become complicated, change that will have ramifications beyond anything you could possibly imagine, events that will warp the very structure and prestige that kekkai genkai are based on.
In other words, the world is about to fall into chaos.
For you, gentle readers, are about to see the creation of a brand new kekkai genkai, never once shown to the world before. It is probably the greatest and subtlest of bloodline limits, one that will change how the world will be viewed from then on.
Too bad it's also going to appear in the worst person possible.
Naruto Uzumaki was just a normal young boy. He had his teenage crushes (Sakura-chan!), ramen was his favorite food, and he enjoyed taking care of the small garden on his apartment's window still. However, things begin to take a turn for the absurd when the rest of his life is brought to light.
He was a genin, the lowest rank of ninja.
Currently, he was also fighting for his life against a rather gender-confused individual, and for the life of him couldn't figure out if Haku was actually a boy or a girl. Not that he knew this as the person was currently wearing a mask to hide his/her(?) identity.
To add to that, he was also the human container, a jinchuuriki, of the dreaded and feared Kyuubi no Kitsune, a terrible chakra construct that nearly destroyed his hometown of Konoha when he had just been born. Because of this, Naruto had spent the majority of his life hated for a crime he did not commit nor did he have any knowledge of until just recently.
Coincidentally, the person that sealed Kyuubi inside of Naruto was his late father, Minato Namikaze, the fourth Hokage and previous leader of Konoha.
It must also be mentioned that his rival and perhaps friend Sasuke, the last of Konoha's prestigious Uchiha clan and owner of the heavily desired Sharingan, was just killed by the previously mentioned gender-confused individual. And that Naruto, in reaction to this, has tapped into Kyuubi's endless yet highly aggressive, corrupted, and demonic storage of chakra, turning him into a feral beast.
Now we must step back for a moment and look at this scene.
Naruto repels Haku's senbon. Naruto breaks Haku's Makyou Hyoushou. Naruto smashes Haku in the face, cracking the faux-hunter nin's mask like a cheap nut.
At this point it becomes obvious that things are taking a turn for the better.
However, it is also at this point that things will irrevocably begin to change. Having two extremely powerful bloodlines running through him from his mother and father; having not one, but two kekkai genkai activated around him in and "humming" in resonation, one for the very first time; and then having Kyuubi's chakra flood into him like water from a high-pressure hose, it's surprising the upcoming result didn't happen before.
Then again, a little luck never hurt.
Naruto panted as he stared at Haku, running the words that the boy (or was it girl?) had said through his head. The story of pain, of hatred, of fear. He could understand the loneliness that Haku felt, the sheer emotions that ran between them.
They were the same. He was unwanted because of his association with Kyuubi. Haku was hated because of the bloodline in his veins. And yet neither of them of had asked for such a burden; it was simply forced upon them.
Zabuza had given her a reason to live. Haku could be the missing mist nin's tool. Being Hokage had given Naruto a reason to live. He could prove to those around him that he wasn't useless. They would live for their dreams and they would die for their dreams. Naruto could understand this.
He just didn't want to.
Could he kill her…really?
He jerked a kunai from his pouch, blinking as a sudden itching overcame his eyes. Was it from anger over Sasuke's death, the tears he refused to shed or even produce, or simply a by-product of Kyuubi's minor emergence into the world?
Slowly, something began to stir in his genes.
"Is this the only way?" he asked, half pleading, half frustrated.
Haku stared directly at him, never wavering from looking into his eyes. He smiled proudly, sadly. "Yes!"
Grimacing, Naruto closed his eyes, clenching his kunai tightly, so tightly his knuckles popped from the stress. His eyes were beginning to burn. Snapping them open, his mouth set into a firm, tight line. What more could he do?
A flash, and a thin line of silver began to wrap around his pupils, cutting through his irises like a knife through the sea.
"Please…fulfill your dreams!"
Naruto glanced around, catching Sasuke's body out of the corner of his eye. A dream. What was the point of this dream? If it meant killing so cruelly, sealing off your own heart…was it worth it?
The line connected with its ends, forming a ring of silver that shined and twinkled like a faraway star.
He dashed forward, waiting, hoping that was about to happen would not. Coming closer with each step, a dream about to be tainted by blood, he raised his arm, his eyes about to close to block out the killing strike.
And then the ring began its rotation.
Naruto stopped, digging his heels into the ground. His arm fell down, away from the stab he was about to perform. Haku watched in shock as the action that would end his life did not come. Naruto simply dropped his jaw, pointing at the ninja. His eyes were wide, an almost imperceptible shine emanating from them.
"What…what the hell is that?"
Ribbons of light erupted from Haku, showering her with various streams of colors. They wrapped themselves around her body, clinging like clothes, falling off at random intervals, dancing on some non-existent wind. Blotches of light appeared and disappeared, closing around her head then speeding off to parts unknown. Blue was the main color, interspersed with purple, indigo, white, and even pink.
They twirled around him, seeking something, originating from nothing, and spiraling down everywhere. It was a beautiful show, and yet Naruto couldn't help but feel some measure of sadness from the experience. He was most troubled by the ribbons' sudden appearance. Was it some kind of jutsu meant to bewilder him? Hadn't Haku already resigned to her fate?
Haku looked at Naruto, confused by his amazed stare. He looked at himself subtly. There was nothing on him as far as he could tell. So what was…Her eyes widened. She glanced at the younger boy. "Sorry, Naruto-kun!" she hissed, her hand forming a myriad of seals. "But I can't die yet!"
"What are you…?" For some reason, not known to even himself, Naruto lashed out with the hand not holding the kunai. He latched onto Haku's arm, breaking her from her attempt to shunshin away. He looked, startled, at Naruto. A flare of differing colors cascaded down Haku's body. Naruto breathed heavily, his eyes burning, the view in front of him rapidly switching color and form. What the hell was going on?
Haku's eyes narrowed and she wrenched her arm from Naruto's hold. "Let go! Zabuza-san-"
A soft, deep, and strangled cry broke his sentence. Even though it was low, almost impossible to hear, their adrenaline enhanced senses easily caught it. The fog slowly began to disperse, leaving the group to see what had happened.
Haku fell to his knees. The ribbons around her body were cycling through colors even faster than before, but they were quickly beginning to settle on a deep, dark indigo. Naruto hardly caught this, as his eyes were stuck on the scene before him.
Kakashi had his arm extended, one hand lodged in Zabuza's chest where his heart would be. The class-A missing nin was clutching the copy nin's arm with both his hands, blood bubbling out of his mouth. Though Naruto and Haku couldn't hear what the two were saying, it was obvious that it was something important by their expressions. Kakashi hesitated before nodding slowly, retracting his hand from Zabuza's chest. The man fell down into a lifeless heap, his Kubikiri Houchou clanging on the stone floor after him.
Tears slowly slid down the teenager's face as the most important person in his life refused to move from the place he had fallen.
Kakashi grabbed his arm and quickly limped his way over to where the other two were. He still had his Sharingan revealed, which could only mean one thing – he wasn't finished fighting.
From his point of view, Naruto could see it, the same thing he had seen on Haku – ribbons and splotches of light and colors revolving around Kakashi. Red, indigo, blue; the same colors as Haku but with slight variations. Once again, without thinking, without considering the consequences, he stepped out in front of Haku, blocking him from Kakashi.
The jounin sensei frowned as his student refused to budge. "Naruto, what are you-"
"No, Kakashi-sensei!" Naruto interrupted. "You can't kill him!"
Kakashi frowned. "Naruto, move out of the way."
"Let him do it. Let him kill me." Naruto craned his neck to watch as Haku continued to stare at the ground, tears freely flowing down her cheeks. "Now that Zabuza-san is no longer here, I have lost my meaning. A tool without its master is worthless. I have no reason to live."
"That's not true! You-!"
"Naruto! You're alive!" Hearing his name called, and recognizing the voice, Naruto could feel his heart clench as though it had been squeezed by a clamp.
"Sakura…" She was rushing over along with Tazuna, and he could see the colors flowing over her. Orange, purple, and yellow, matched with a lighter version for Tazuna. "Sakura…I…"
"Huh? What is it?" she questioned. She saw that he refused to meet her eyes. "What's wrong? What about Sasuke?" Silence was her only answer. "Where's Sasuke?!" And yet, he still refused to say a word. Fear gripped her. "No…"
"There's no need to worry." Sakura turned to Haku, as well as the others. A small twitch slightly turned up one corner of his lips. "He's alive."
Sakura's eyes widened with disbelief. Did that mean that…? Tazuna noticed this and gently increased his hold on her hand. Sakura turned to look at him. He smiled gently. "I'll go with you. Then you won't be disobeying orders, right?"
Sakura looked at him, sniffed once, and nodded. Rushing, she dragged the elderly man behind her.
Kakashi looked at Haku, who still refused to take her gaze from the ground. The boy was still crying, and it seemed like he would not stop anytime soon. But at least she wasn't bawling in any unseemly manner. While Kakashi all too easily understood the pain of watching a precious person die, Haku was still keeping his dignity. No sniffling, no hiccups, just a thin, steady trail of tears that flowed down her cheeks.
Kakashi's eyes crinkled, though whether it was in some sort of grim amusement or something darker even he could not tell. He then frowned, turning his neck around. "We have company."
Naruto whipped his head up, looking. His eyes widened when he saw who had arrived.
A huge number of mercenaries, numbering at least fifty, had gathered on the bridge, cutting off escape from one end. In front of them all was a short, stout man, dressed in a black business suit. His eyes were hidden from view by a small pair of heavily tinted glasses, his hands balanced on a simple walking stick. The man's face was a mix of sickening pleasure and sadistic glee, his mouth twisted up in a mocking smile.
"Well, well, what do we have here? Did the cute baby devil fail?"
"Gatou…" Haku finally looked up from the ground, her eyes focused on the man. Empty except for some flickering of light, they failed to carry whatever emotion she was attempting to show. "What are you doing here?"
Gatou sneered. "The plan's been changed. Or rather I should say the plan's going exactly as expected." He put a hand behind his neck, cracking the joints. "I was never going to pay either of you in the first place. I was just going to kill both of you when everything was said and done. Much simpler that way."
His eyes narrowed. "What?" Haku's voice had lowered to almost a whisper.
Grinning, the corrupt business man gestured at the small private army behind him. "It's quite simple, really. Usually hiring ninja from a sanctioned village is a risky and expensive job. Even with my subordinates I can't really be sure if they'll follow or just betray me." He tapped his hand on top of the cane. "But with missing nins I don't have to worry about whether they do or not. Instead I hire them and then kill them when the job is done and collect the bounty. After being weakened in battle, it doesn't take much to get rid of them with this many hired swords." Gatou's eyes narrowed, his sneer becoming more pronounced. "Ingenious, isn't it?"
"You bastard!" Naruto shouted. It was bad enough that listening to how the man treated ninja, people who were sworn to uphold the honor of their clients, made his blood boil. What made it worse was the sickening swirl of colors around Gatou. It was nauseous, a blend of black, orange, and red that created a mix that made his stomach do backflips. "How can you treat human life like that?!"
"It's not like I can expect a child like you to understand that," he shrugged. "But still…" He walked over to Zabuza's cooling body, stopping a few inches away. "What a weak demon, to be defeated by only one full-fledged ninja and a couple brats." Gatou's foot lashed out, catching Zabuza's head. It snapped to the side, a sickening crack echoing through the air.
"At least his head should be worth something. And I'm sure that that piece of scrap metal he called a sword will be worth a pretty penny to whatever idiot collector wants it." Gatou sighed dramatically, like he was suffering from some kind of horrible fate. "Ah well, at least this endeavor wasn't a complete waste of time and effort."
"Hold it, Naruto." The boy stopped when he felt Kakashi grab his shoulder. The man's face was tightly knit, but Naruto could see a great deal of red flashing around the man's body. Even the dense genin could tell that the copy nin was barely reigning in his anger. Naruto simply stood there and waited. Kakashi turned to the horde. "What are you going to do now?"
Gatou laughed. His voice grated on the ears, like a band saw on sheet metal slightly muted. He raised a hand and waved it behind him. "Isn't it obvious?"
The horde lathered themselves into a frenzy. "We're gonna kill ya easy!"
"I see." Kakashi scratched his head, closing his eyes. He sighed. "Damn, this mission has been nothing but one bad twist after another." He spoke behind him. "Naruto."
"Go to Sakura and Sasuke, and get them and Tazuna out of here."
"But what about you?!"
"I don't have the time, energy, or patience to take out this many samurai wannabes while looking after you and the others. After all the jutsus I used, especially the latest ones, my chakra levels are all but depleted."
"Then what the hell are-"
"Naruto!" The blonde bit his argument off at the tone in his sensei's voice. The colors around him were flashing and cycling like crazy. "Do I have to remind you again? You're a shinobi! Your client is your top priority and you are supposed to follow my, your leader's, orders! Now go!"
Naruto bit his lip. What was he supposed to do?! He couldn't leave Kakashi-sensei all by himself, but he also couldn't just leave his duty behind either! He was a ninja! He had to follow it through to the end! If he wanted to be Hokage, then he had to do the things that were expected of one! He had to…Naruto paused for a second. A mischievous and crooked grin slowly crept along his lips.
That's right. He had to do what was expected of the Hokage.
"Fuck that!" Kakashi's eyes widened at the sincerity and steel in the jinchuuriki's words. "You think I'm gonna run after all that crap you said about, 'ninja who don't follow the rules are trash, but those who abandon their comrades are lower than that?' I'll show ya what it means to be a true ninja. I'll show ya why I'm gonna be Hokage!
"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"
In a poof of smoke, five extras Naruto appeared behind the original one. Their hands reached into their kunai pouch, taking out the bladed weapon as one. Internally wincing at the small number of clones he had barely managed to summon, Naruto figured it was the best he could after that tough fight with Haku. Speaking of whom…He turned around to see the desolate nin staring blankly at the events that were occurring before him. He growled.
"Haku, go to where Sakura-chan and Sasuke-teme are!"
Haku just continued to stare blankly. "There's no point in bothering. Without Zabuza-san, my use in this world has come to an end." She meant to say more but was interrupted when Naruto grabbed her by the scruff of her outfit, pulling him mere inches away from the blonde's face.
"Listen you," he shouted. His emotions were already a wreck from Sasuke's near death and the short bastard that was Gatou and. The sudden change in his vision made him think he was starting to slowly go insane, and now Haku's dive into depression was making it even more frustrating. So Naruto did the first thing he always did when his mind reached the breaking point in situations like this.
He yelled exactly what he was thinking, regardless of whether it was the right, or smart, thing to do.
"Stop going on about how you 'have no use now that Zabuza's dead!' You're a lot more than that, and I'm sure that even Zabuza believed that somewhere in that eyebrowless brain of his, too. But fine, if you're so damn stuck on being useful to someone then be useful to me!"
Haku's eyes widened as the boy continued his diatribe, and even the shadow clones and Kakashi seemed surprised and slightly impressed at the impulsive yet innately kindhearted quality of Naruto's words and actions.
"If you need to be someone's tool, be my tool! If you need to follow someone, follow me! If you need someone to be your master, I'll be your master! This world isn't so shitty that it doesn't need someone like me running around doing stuff, and it definitely doesn't need someone with your skills moping around and acting like an emo bastard." He grinned widely at some personal joke. "Sasuke-teme already has that role covered."
Kakashi slapped a hand against his face. The fool had been doing so well, and then he had to ruin the whole speech with a cheap shot at his rival. He sighed. It was scary, but Naruto was actually starting to resemble Obito and himself in a lot of ways.
Naruto ignored, or more likely, didn't even notice Kakashi's reaction and continued with his rant. "You're not worthless, you're not just something to be used and thrown away, and if anyone ever says otherwise then I'll just beat the crap out of them, you included." He released his hold on Haku's clothes, allowing the boy to sink back to the ground on his knees. He felt a lot better after letting that all out, and even if he didn't know what the hell he himself was saying for half of that rant, he sure felt a whole lot more energetic anyway. "Put your skills to work, Haku. Don't let them rot. After all, if someone like me can become Hokage - and I damn sure will - I bet you can find someplace where you'll find what you're looking for."
Clapping finished him off. Naruto turned to see Gatou with a smirk on his face. "An elegant speech," he stated. "A grand weaving of words." His smile dropped. "And if killing you means that I'll never have to listen to such saccharine shit again I'll be all too happy to give the order." He tapped his fingers upon his other hand. "But I think I'll be even happier to kill you, Haku." Gatou's mouth sank into a darkened scowl. "You broke my arm. I'll break a lot more."
He raised his unbroken limb. "Boys, you can-"
"Suiton: Sensatsu Suishou."
Many, most of all Gatou, were very surprised to see the short man suddenly turned into a pincushion by the several dozen water needles that had pierced his body within the span of a couple seconds. The corrupt man fell to the ground with a splash, his face submerged in a small puddle. Looking, they could see Haku standing up, her one hand stuck in the last hand seal of the jutsu she had just performed. Naruto trembled.
"I am under your command, Naruto-sama," he said with a small bow. The colors had swirled again, revealing a soft, light blue, the darker colors being buried underneath.
"I am now and shall always be your tool until you no longer have use for me, just as you stated." She grabbed a free hand and brought it to her forehead, pressing the back gently to her scratched and bloodied skin. Even Naruto could sense the reverence the boy held from that simple action. "Please use me as you see fit."
"Ah, erm…okay?" Really, how was he supposed to react to something like this? He was just spouting whatever came to mind in an attempt to release Haku from her depression. He didn't think she would actually take it seriously! The boy had obviously never heard of co-dependency before, but he would soon find out just how awkward things would become. "Thank you?"
"Naruto!" He turned around towards where Sakura's voice was coming from. "He's okay! Sasuke-kun's alright!"
Said boy was leaning on her, one arm slung around her shoulder. He was obviously uncomfortable with the vulnerability he was showing but Naruto could still make out a small smirk. He knew that smile. Bastard Sasuke was going to be just fine. Naruto turned to Haku, who only smiled softly in affirmation. He grinned and pounded his fists together.
"Hey! Don't think this is over yet!"
"Yeah, you killed our meal ticket! What are we going to do now?!"
The ninjas turned to see the horde of mercenaries had turned restless, angered and shocked over the death of their employer. Their fury grew, until they exploded into a cacophony of insults, slurs, and death threats. Red washed over them like a tidal wave, bulging larger and larger with every passing second.
"We're gonna kill ya! Then we're gonna ransack the village and take everything they've got!"
The red wave surged.
"Shit! This isn't good!"
Everything stood still when a small arrow pierced the ground in front of the oncoming horde. They all turned to see the origin. What met them was the entirety of Wave country armed to the teeth, with small Inari standing at the forefront. A miniature crossbow was in his hands, and pots and pans were acting as armor on his tiny frame. His face was wound into a small and grim frown.
"If any of you come any further, the citizens of this country will beat you down with everything they have!"
The young boy grinned at Naruto. "The hero always comes at the end, right?" he laughed, echoing Naruto's earlier words when the ninja had saved him and his mother from the mercenaries at his home.
Naruto grinned back, emboldened by the once weak and pessimistic crybaby. He barked out a laugh in return, and turned back to the thugs. "Okay, you guys," he ordered his clones. "You ready to have some fun?"
"I am ready to serve as well, Naruto-sama." Senbons burst from Haku's fingertips, ready to pierce all that would dare stand against her or her master.
Hmm, well, I guess this is the best I can do as well. Kakashi sighed and made the ram seal. "Kage Bunshin no Jutsu! Kakashi Version!"
Kakashi clones exploded into existence, enough so that they were able to reach across the width of the bridge three times over. They seemed solid enough, but they were just Bunshins which had had a bit more chakra forced into them to look whole. But it wasn't like they were meant to attack. If the bandits were stupid enough, such a bluff would frighten them off easily. Kakashi decided to sweeten the deal.
"Well?" Every single clone asked this in unison. The synchronization of their voices had a rather creepy effect. "Are you coming or what?"
Needless to say the mercenaries decided to cut their losses and flee, piling onto a small boat and getting the hell out of there. They weren't paid enough to deal with that kind of shit.
The citizens of Wave country and the ninjas burst into cheers. It was over! Gatou was no more, and they could finally live a life without fear! As everyone quickly fell into celebration mode, Naruto grabbed hold of the closest person to him and drew them into a hug, bouncing up and down like the child he really was.
"All right, Haku! We did it! We really did it!"
Haku was startled by the younger boy's sudden movement. A small flush raced across his cheeks as a surprised look whisked into his eyes. Zabuza had never shown any affection to him. Heck, no one had shown any affection to him after the death of his parents, so it was understandable that she was unaccustomed to such actions. Still, he had to admit that they were neither unpleasant nor unwanted, just simply…startling.
This young boy, no, her master…He was sure that Naruto would make wonderful use of her. Haku looked at him. She was drawn to something immediately.
An ocean of blue with a ring of silver. It made them seem so deep…so vast.
He blinked when Naruto actually took the time to look at him. "Haku?"
He seemed embarrassed for a second. He coughed. "Can I ask you something?"
"Are you really a boy?"
Haku blinked again, but then smiled genially and opened her mouth to answer.
"What do you think?"
"Oh, I don't frickin' believe this…"
Naruto used a finger to pull the bottom part of his eyelid down, staring into the mirror he had borrowed from Tsunami. There it was – a twirling ring of silver that circled just around the outskirts of his pupils. It even grew and shrunk in accordance with his pupils adjusting to light. He had barely noticed it before; only when he had nearly slammed headfirst into a mirror during the village's celebrations did he see the mutation within his irises in his reflection.
Was it because of Kyuubi? Did the stupid fox actually have a physical effect on his body after that first emergence? He couldn't think of anything else, but he thought that it would have been red instead of silver. Haku had mentioned that his eyes had turned entirely crimson during his…well, "outbreak." Of course, Naruto hadn't told her about Kyuubi, instead poorly lying that it must have been because of all the chakra being thrown around. Naruto didn't think Haku would believe that for long.
Resisting the urge to bash his head on the table, Naruto looked around. He was currently within an unused room in Tazuna's house. Outside he could hear the party getting into full swing. He didn't know why he was moping inside when he could have been laughing it up with Inari and the others, but seeing as his eyes had suddenly "mutated" he felt he had good reason to.
At first he found what he saw to be surprising. Then he found it cool. The colors around everyone were definitely beautiful to look at, and it was interesting to see how they interacted with each person. But to be honest, his eyes were starting to burn after watching too many colors flow between too many people for too long, and he had to excuse himself, which inevitably led to him finding out about his eyes' discoloration in the first place.
Naruto fell onto his back. Why couldn't they be cool like Sasuke's? The Uchiha had been brooding over the sudden activation of his bloodline limit, Sakura cooing over how awesome the bastard was, and Kakashi praising him on the accomplishment. And Naruto had been left alone to sulk over the fact that he was probably going to go blind with the world turning into some sort of painter's acid trip.
It never occurred to him to tell them about his eyes' sudden change in perception. Truthfully, he didn't think they would notice or care. It was all about Sasuke again. Still…
Naruto chuckled evilly when the Uchiha had discovered who had beaten him. Haku was a girl. A girl! A girl had beaten the coveted last of the Uchiha! And now she saw Naruto as her one and only master! Ha!
He still found it surprising that Haku was a girl. Even though she was a couple years older than him, she had a very slender and slim figure. She didn't have many curves, and her breasts hadn't really matured that much. It was only when Kakashi noted that Haku had the distinctive lack of an Adam's apple that Naruto finally believed the girl. She was very beautiful, though, and her form of speech was rather feminine, so he supposed it shouldn't have been too hard to believe.
He wasn't surprised that none of the others had accepted Haku yet. She had been working for the villain. Even he was having a little trouble with that fact. But then again, if there was one thing that Naruto was, it was trusting. As long as someone was willing to be friends, he was more than willing to take that friendship and run with it. The boy was starved for companionship, and Haku, though the relationship was odd at best and mildly disturbing at worst, was the best bet he had.
He was so distracted by his thoughts that he didn't hear the thumping of footsteps behind him until his view was blocked by a falling body. Air hissed out of his lungs when a small child impacted with his chest, driving everything out.
"Naruto-nii-chan! What are you doing around here?! Come on out to the party! Everyone's waiting for you!"
"Grahhh…Damnit, Inari!" Naruto growled. That had really hurt! His frown faded when he saw the happy look on Inari's face. There were also the yellow and orange streams that wrapped themselves around the boy. Jeeze, how could he stay pissed when the kid was exuding his favorite color like a volcano? He sighed. "Yeah, yeah, I'm coming." He pushed the boy off him, scrabbling to his knees. Looking up, his face registered surprise. "Haku?"
The former faux-hunter nin bowed in his direction. "Naruto-sama."
"What are you doing here?"
She frowned. "A tool must always be on hand so that it can be used whenever it is needed."
The Uzumaki frowned in return. "Ah jeeze, don't start that again. Listen, you don't have to do whatever I say. You can do whatever you want. Don't just follow me."
"Are you taking back what you said about having a use for me?" Though there was no change in her facial expressions, he could see her colors shifting towards the darker end of the spectrum. Even if he had no idea what it meant, even Naruto could figure that darker meant bad things.
"No, no!" He waved his hands in a placating motion. "I meant it, I meant it!" If there was one thing Naruto understood, it was never have bad things happen to, or come from, a woman. Sakura had beaten that concept into his head enough times. He sighed mentally when Haku's colors shifted back to a soft blue. What was with the girl and the color blue? Orange was such a better color!
Glancing at her, he absently looked over what she was wearing. Since Haku's old shinobi outfit had been ripped, torn, and sufficiently bloodied during their battle with each other, Tsunami had taken it upon herself to get the girl some new clothing. What she was wearing now was reminiscent of what he had seen her in when they first met without her mask – a simple pink yukata with zori, her hair unraveled to hang down past the small of her back. Naruto had to admit that she looked pretty in it, though her deadpan expression was kind of hurting the whole look.
He groaned. "Could you at least drop the sama?"
"I'm afraid I can't do that, Naruto-sama. Naruto-sama is Naruto-sama. Thus I must call you Naruto-sama." The corner of her mouth quirked up a bit more cheekily than he had ever seen before.
"Fine…" he sighed.
"Very well, if I may escort you and Inari-kun to the party."
Inari answered with a cry of consent. Grabbing Naruto with one had, he more-or-less dragged the ninja out the house. Haku followed a short clip behind, making sure that nothing happened to the two. When Naruto emerged, he was rushed by an onslaught of cheers, lights and colors.
Holy crap, there's orange everywhere!
The color pervaded every bit of the place. It hung from the sky, crawled along the ground, winded its way across each and every person; every person was radiating the color like heat from an explosive note!
Naruto was shoved into the fray, hands clapping him on the back, shaking his hand, ruffling his hair. Words were shouted at him, ones of praise, of thanks, of amazement. He had never had that much positive attention in his life!
Grinning like a madman, he was shoved into a headlock by Tazuna. The old man was fairly drunk by this point, seeing no reason not to refrain from his personal choice of showing happiness…or sadness…or irritation…or boredom. Hell, he just liked it! He took a swig off his jug before grinning. "You did one hell of a job, midget."
"No thanks to you, ya drunk jiji!" The words lacked their spite as both Naruto and Tazuna were just joking with one another. The tension that was initially between the two was long gone by now. "Celebrating pretty heartily, huh?"
"I've good reason to!" He swung the jug of sake underneath the boy's nose. "You want a sip?"
"I'm only thirteen, ya old coot! I'm not old enough to drink yet!"
"Never a reason not to start early. Hell, I had my first drink when I was only eight years old."
"Somehow I don't find that surprising."
"Bah, you're no fun." Tazuna ribbed good-naturedly. He let go of the boy and shoved Naruto forward. "Go hang out with your squad. This old man still has a lot of partying to do." With that he turned back to the party, raising his sake into the air. "More booze!" He was answered by a loud shout from everyone as the party continued.
Naruto looked to where the others were. He saw the other three of his squad gathered together, talking with Tsunami. Well, Kakashi was attempting to flirt with her and failing horribly while Sasuke was brooding as he activated and deactivated his Sharingan, nearly his entire body wrapped in bandages, while Sakura just watched in blissful adoration.
Naruto grinned. "Sakura-chaaan…!" He yelled, running over to the pinkette. He ignored the annoyed look on her face as he reached her. "Ne, ne, Sakura-chan, ya wanna go dance? They look like they're playing some good stuff right now!" Indeed, the sound of a few string instruments and flutes floated on the breeze as the village's small band livened up the festivities.
The girl frowned. Honestly, the blonde could be so infuriating sometimes! "Naruto, can't you see we're busy right now? Sasuke-kun's trying to get his Sharingan to work!"
Naruto scowled. "So? All he's doing is making his eye blink on and off. I don't really see what's so special about that."
Sasuke's eye sunk back to black. He glanced away from the tree where leaves were falling. With his Sharingan on, each one fell at a pace twice as slow as those when the kekkai genaki was off. His reflexes had definitely increased with its activation. Even though Kakashi had told him to take it easy, he refused and escaped from his bed as soon as he could. The jounin hadn't tried to put him back since. Looking at the two, his brow furrowed. Both of them were annoying, Sakura with her idol worship and Naruto with his incompetence, and yet he could never seem to get rid of either of them. They were like barnacles that refused to let go!
Locking his gaze on the prankster, he groused, "Unlike you, I actually have innate talent. If I want to keep being the best, I have to sharpen my talent." Almost as an afterthought, he slipped out, "Dobe."
Naruto growled. "Oh, really? Well, your innate talent meant shit when Haku beat you. And I beat Haku, so that must mean I'm better than you, right?"
Sasuke suddenly stood, shoving his face into Naruto's. "What was that, dobe?"
Naruto shoved his face right back. "Exactly what I said, teme."
Sakura growled. Ugh! These boys were getting so frustrating to deal with! Already, Inner Sakura was yelling to just bash them both in the head…and then drag Sasuke off to some undisclosed location. She blushed at that notion. Had to file that away for later…She began to interrupt the two and chastise Naruto for bothering her beloved Sasuke-kun, but Haku beat her to the punch.
"Naruto-sama, please do not act in such an unbecoming manner. It does not befit one of your status."
Sakura gaped. "What do you mean 'one of his status?' Naruto's an idiot, the bottom of our class!" The boy visibly flinched at her stinging words. It still hurt whenever she said stuff like that.
Haku noticed this. Her features drew together in a frown. "Naruto-sama is my master and thus deserves my respect. As his tool, I must make sure that he is well-received among those he associates with."
Sasuke snorted. "As if dobe could ever amount to anything."
"Hey, if those eyes make you so damn special then I'm the same as you. My eyes have been freaking out all day!" he growled, the rumbling echoing from deep inside his throat.
"What are you talking…" Sasuke trailed off as he took a better look at Naruto's eyes. Even from this close of a distance he had failed to notice the change. "Naruto…" His voice had taken an unusually serious and non-sarcastic tone, especially considering that it was directed at the blonde. "What happened to your eyes?"
"What do you mean, Sasuke-kun?" Sakura moved closer and then jumped back. "Naruto! Your eyes!"
"I know that already!" Naruto waved his hands above his head in an erratic manner. "I said that they were the same as Sasuke's!"
"Naruto, what are you trying to pull?" Sasuke's voice had become dangerously low and soft.
"How the hell should I know?! They've been acting odd since the battle with Haku and I just noticed the change a little while ago."
"What's going on here?"
Kakashi ambled his way over to where his genin students were, wincing at the pain in his shin. Inari had kicked him there to stop his incessant flirting with his mother. The little brat…
He kept particular attention on Haku. He still didn't trust the girl. Why would she change her alliances to Naruto so quickly, so soon after Zabuza's death? He might not have looked like it, but Kakashi was remarkably observant and perceptive. He wouldn't have survived so long as an ANBU captain otherwise. He couldn't just think everything was okay simply because the girl said it was. Regardless of her age or gender, she was still a high-level missing nin, and a dangerous one at that.
"Kakashi-sensei! Naruto eye's are-!"
"What about Naruto's eyes?" He hadn't bothered to check over the boy, more worried over Haku and Sasuke's recovery. When he did, however, his revealed eye widened. Whipping his hand forward, he caught Naruto's chin and brought him forward, staring intensely.
"Quiet." He blinked and lazily turned his head to the side. "That really isn't necessary, you know," he drawled at the senbon needle poked against his jugular. Haku had sneaked behind him – something that was all but impossible for the even stealthiest of ninja - her face a cold mask. "I'm not going to do anything."
"It's okay, Haku," Naruto said. "Kakashi-sensei won't do anything stupid." He smirked. "Although it wouldn't be the first time."
Kakshi sighed. "You really know how to defuse a situation, kid." Naruto just shrugged. But it did the job as Haku nodded and withdrew the needle from Kakashi's artery. Kakashi frowned and went back to looking at Naruto's eyes. As far as he could tell, there was no residual Kyuubi chakra; the seal had either sucked it up or dissipated whatever was left. Perhaps it was a genjutsu? But Naruto didn't have the aptitude for genjutsu, even for a simple colorization jutsu. Kakashi's frown deepened. He couldn't think of any jutsu that Naruto could use or could be performed on the boy.
"Naruto, how long has it been like this?"
"Right after I fought Haku."
"Anything else strange?"
"Well…" He figured he might as well let it all out. Unless he got his eyes fixed soon, he would probably go crazy from all the crap he saw, or else just avoid humans for the rest of his life. As far as he could tell, it only worked on them, bypassing trees and animals completely. "I can see colors."
"Most people can see colors, dobe. Though you being colorblind would probably explain that tacky jumpsuit you always wear."
Naruto swallowed the insult that tried to escape from his mouth. The smirk on the taller boy was pissing him off, but Naruto had more important things to worry about; like the maelstrom of colors that swirled around him. "No, I mean I'm seeing…well, extra colors. Things like ribbons of light or random splotches. Things that shouldn't be there."
Kakashi nodded slowly. "Naruto, could you explain a little further?" He removed his hand from Naruto's chin and stepped back.
Naruto nodded. "Okay. It's like this. Well, it's like there are the regular colors. Like Kakashi-sensei's uniform; there's his green jounin vest and his black shirt and pants. There's also his silver hair and all the rest. But when I look at you more, there's all these other colors, too. There's blue, lots of blue, some pink, and a little bit of gold. It's kind of…it's kind of like I can see chakra around you…But I know it's not chakra…you know?"
"I see…Naruto, have your eyes been hurting lately?"
"Huh? Yeah, they started burning just as the colors showed up."
Crap. Kakashi hoped this didn't mean what he thought it did, but he was having serious doubts that it could be anything else. Suddenly seeing colors no one else could, eyes that burned, and Kakashi couldn't instantly see any kind of jutsu being performed on or by the genin? There was only one thing he could really think of off the top of his head. "Naruto, I need you to do something for me." The boy nodded. "I need you to feel your chakra. Can you do that?" Naruto closed his eyes, and Kakashi could feel the boy instinctively release his chakra while searching for the way it flowed.
"Okay, now, do you feel any of it flowing anywhere near your eyes?"
"Cut it off."
Naruto's eyes flashed. Instead of the ring simply disappearing, it erased itself little by little, making it seem like the ring was being eaten from one end to the other. When it was completely gone, Naruto grinned brightly. "Hey! I can't the colors anymore!"
"Just as I thought," Kakashi muttered. He couldn't believe it. He just couldn't believe it. Out of all the people who could possibly manifest such a thing, it just had to be Naruto. Still, he was Konoha's number one surprise ninja. Kakashi supposed something like this was bound to happen sooner or later, though not at the same time as when Sasuke grew into his clan's heritage.
Sasuke could see the emotions running through his sensei's eye. Already he was reaching the same conclusion that Kakashi had. But there was no way he could accept that. Dobe was dobe, the loser of the class, the crud scraped off the bottom of the barrel! How could he possibly have anything in common with the elite Sasuke?!
"I have no idea how it happened, but congratulations, Naruto. You are now the proud owner of a kekkai genkai, most likely a doujutsu of some sort since it's focused on your eyes."
Everything was silent. Then it all exploded with exclamations, questions, and cries of outrage.
"Ha! Take that, Sasuke-teme! You're not so special with your Sharingan after all!"
"Don't get so uppity, dobe! Your damn doujutsu will never match the perfection of the Sharingan!"
"Kakashi-sensei! What do you mean Naruto has a kekkai genkai?! How come we never heard of this before now?!"
As the conversation degenerated into nothing more than a shouting match, Kakashi groaned. What he wouldn't give for his Icha Icha books right now….But Tsunami had found them earlier when he was unconscious and recovering from his first fight with Zabuza and had…disposed of them.
He thought burning them with gasoline and then sprinkling the remains with salt was overdoing it a bit, but the look she gave him brooked no argument.
Ugh…he needed his little orange book so bad!
Two weeks had passed.
Two weeks since Zabuza had died in battle, two weeks since Gatou's reign had ended, and two weeks since Haku had joined the group.
The bridge was finished, built ahead of time with all the help that Naruto's kage bunshin had given. Even though the economy of the country would probably not get better for a while, the bridge was a symbol and promise of things to come. It was a step in the right direction, and though Wave country may not become prosperous within the current generation, it was certain it would in future ones.
Naruto had found the past few weeks both exciting and extremely tiring. It was bad enough trying to compete with Sasuke when the boy hardly acknowledged him as anything more than a bug. He thought there had been a breakthrough during the fight on the bridge, but whatever understanding gained had been lost shortly afterward and the two fell back into the old pattern of trying to one-up each other.
It wasn't helping that Sasuke was already making leaps and bounds with his doujutsu. Even though it had just recently been activated, the dark-haired teen could now easily access it at will. Kakashi had even started giving him private training sessions to try and draw out the bloodline limit's power. Under the tutelage of the copy nin, it was easy to see Sasuke's rapid increase in progress.
But Naruto had no idea what he was doing. It had taken a week just for him to get the right feeling of shoving chakra into his eyes, but he could activate his own doujutsu now. Other than that he was completely lost. Kakashi had admitted to never seeing that particular doujutsu before, so he was no help. In fact, he didn't think that such a doujutsu had ever existed before – a wild card. Somehow the idea of a completely unknown bloodline limit manifesting in Naruto made the most sense Kakashi had ever witnessed.
Sasuke, of course, had outright ignored him, his sense of superiority deteriorating under the idea that he wasn't so special anymore. Sakura had split herself between cheering Sasuke on and helping the various villagers in town with reconstruction.
Haku had been the most help of all. Though he supposed it was only because she considered Naruto to be her master, it was still nice to know that someone actually cared about him. Unfortunately, she had not been able to shed any light on his situation either. She knew enough about kekkai genkais to help explain the generalities and some of the specifics of them, but when it came to Naruto's she was as much in the dark as anyone else.
So now Naruto could see the world in 'glorious Technicolor' as he had mirthlessly joked once. Still, even though it appeared to be a relatively useless bloodline limit at the moment, at the very least it was beautiful to look at.
For each person there was a different design of colors and shapes. Some people held lighter colors, some people held darker, and some people held a healthy mixture of both. There were ribbons, dots, splotches, and everything else. It was like an extra set of clothing that people wore, and Naruto, when he wasn't busy helping with the bridge or pestering Kakashi to teach him something, wandered through the village searching for various combinations. He had decided to name the phenomenon "flow," after watching Haku practice a water jutsu that allowed her to move water around her like a cloak. The flow of colors from one place to another, turning from one shape to the next, heavily resembled the teen's movements.
Naruto had become closer to Haku, but there was still lot of hidden territory between them. She called herself Naruto's tool and there was a certain distance between the two that she never seemed comfortable to try and close. He had attempted it several times, either through light conversation or some kind of joke, but there was always something…missing in the middle. She would smile, yes; but that smile always…lacked something though. He knew a bit about her tragic past, a little about her personality, but beyond that Naruto knew squat. It was hard on him, to see someone so like himself unwilling to make the change to better themselves. But he would try.
On his promise to be Hokage, he would try.
The two weeks had also determined what was going to be done with Haku. Kakashi decided that they would bring her with them. She was obviously no longer affiliated with Zabuza, and had proven herself trustworthy enough to at least bring to Konoha. The Hokage would decide what to do with her afterward. No matter what Naruto had to say about it, though, she had tried to kill them before. That would make it a bit hard for her to get away without some sort of punishment.
But now the mission was over, and it was time to head back to Konoha. Naruto stared at the grave in front of him. Zabuza's sword was planted right behind the grave marker, signaling where one of the famous Seven Swordsman of the Mist was buried. Haku was beside him, a saddened, nearly empty look in her eyes. She still had never fully gotten over Zabuza's death, and Naruto doubted that she ever would.
Sakura looked over at the older girl. She had not gotten close to the missing nin, and barely knew her to begin with. There was still fear and resentment over the wounds Haku had placed on Sasuke's body, but now there was also empathy towards her. The sadness was there, palatable and thick. Even so, there was still something she had to ask. "Haku?" The girl turned to her. "After everything that happened, do you still believe that we shinobi are nothing but tools? That there's nothing more for us?"
Haku smiled hauntingly. "Yes."
There was no need to explain herself; it was simply what she believed.
Kakashi watched them from behind before speaking up. "A shinobi isn't supposed to pursue his own goals, only those of his country. It's the most important thing, to become a tool when needed. It's the same for all villages, even Leaf."
"That really the true way?" Naruto mumbled softly. He was still thinking about Haku, about that treatment.
Kakashi shrugged. "It's the same for all ninja, wondering where they are on that path. Even Zabuza. And even…" He let his sentence trail off, so it was vague whether he was talking about Haku, the genin, or even himself.
They were silent for a few moments. Naruto broke it by slamming a fist into his palm.
"Okay, I got it! I'm gonna be a ninja in my own way, find my own path." He turned to Haku, who was staring bewilderedly at him. "You'll see, Haku. I'll show you. Even if it takes years, I'll show you that, someday, you don't have to be a tool to find your worth. You'll be your own worth, by your own self. I promise ya that!"
The others gaped at the complete lack of tact the boy had shown towards the girl's ideals. Only Kakashi recovered easily, his eye closing into an amused look. Only Naruto…
Haku looked at Naruto, looked at the boy who was her master, at the man who had denied her will for living. And yet, she could only think to do one thing.
The world was such a colorful place.
A/N: Okay, here's the rewrite for the first chapter. Nothing much, just a few grammatical/spelling fixes and a change in the overall emotion of the story, making it a little less silly and a little more serious.
Next Chapter: Icicle Melting in the Leaves