Shadow and Wind: New legends
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Summary: AU fanfic. In a sudden twist of events, Naruto must flee his beloved Konoha for fear of his safety. But he's not alone, as he finds an unlikely partner in the super genius with an I.Q. above 200, Shikamaru. Follow the ultimate team of brain and brawn on their path to surpass legends.
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Disclaimer: Everything that isn't Kishimoto's is mine. There's not a lot left, now is there? -_-'
Also a bit of warning: Many reviewers have told me that my writing contains errors. There are many reasons to that (but mainly, English isn't my first language), and I apologize in advance. All that I can ask is for you to bear with them, and if you want, kindly point them out. Thank you.
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1. Preparation: The stage is set
This is it, in the end there's always a new beginning. A new adventure has started.
That's how one would define the epic battle Naruto had won against Gaara and the Shukaku. Many had failed, and even two rounds of Sasuke's new jutsu, the Chidori, weren't enough; but somehow, the dead last had managed to do it. Of course using Kakashi's "One thousand years of pain" with an explosive kunai was kind of inappropriate. There was also the fact that he miserably failed to summon Gamabunta on his first try. And being bossed around by your summon is kind of pathetic…
Ok. Well, maybe that battle wasn't as brilliant as one would think. For a Genin, it was a fight against impossible odds, and Naruto had prevailed magnificently… in a way. Of course, in the end it was a team effort: Naruto would have never had a chance against the tanuki demon if it wasn't for Sasuke weakening Gaara or Sakura's bravery giving him the fire needed to fight back. And after that intense battle they all needed some well deserved rest… in intensive care.
Getting through that experience alive was as difficult as actually defeating Gaara, and so Team Seven had been rushed to a nearby hospital soon after. Sasuke had needed some of his wounds treated, but the most important matter was the curse seal acting up; Sakura had been the most injured, fortunately she would be permitted to leave the Hospital the next day; Naruto had fought with all his might, way past exhaustion, and only needed to rest; and that's about all he did two days straight. It seemed both Sakura and Sasuke wanted to do the same, but they were constantly interrupted by visits.
Though they were good-natured, the visitors had the knack of picking the wrong time to intrude. For example, Ino systematically visited Sasuke every two hours, from the start of visiting hours to the end, sometimes accompanied by her teammates, other times with some fellow fans of the Uchiha survivor, but most of the time alone. This had the effect of preventing Sasuke from getting the rest he required. When she had finished in the Uchiha's room, she would go and see her friend and rival, bedridden only a few doors down the hall. But she wasn't alone in her visits: Rock Lee popped in with his crutches from time to time, vowing his eternal love and speaking of the miracle recovery he would soon have thanks to the marvelous wonders of the "Springtime of Youth". Of course there was Kakashi, who'd go from one room to another… that is, when he wasn't sent on an urgent A class mission. They even had a team visit from team 8 at one point. Although it was short, it reflected the camaraderie of the Konoha Genin.
Though those visits were somewhat unpleasant, Sakura had welcomed them; she needed some company, and hungered for any bits of news she could get on Sasuke's condition. Even Rock Lee had to at least pass a few minutes with her teammate to be graced with permission to enter the kunoichi's room. Each of her visitors had to spend time describing Sasuke's condition and reassure her of his well being before even thinking of asking about hers. She had been so worried about her beloved that she forgot ever having a third team member while she was hospitalized.
Sasuke, however, did remember Naruto. And was troubled by the fact that during his time spent recovering, two people had secretly asked him about Naruto's whereabouts: Shikamaru had quietly raised the question while Ino was mindlessly rambling, informing him that while his room and Sakura's were only a short distance apart, Naruto's wasn't even on the same floor. As for Hinata, though she didn't seem to insist, her worried eyes told her story. Even the nurses he asked didn't know where the blond was. It seemed Naruto had been awarded some sort of special treatment. Unfortunately for Naruto and himself, Sasuke drew the wrong conclusions from those facts: He thought that since the blond had played such an essential part in the Gaara affair, he had been hailed as a hero and was being treated as such. And since an Uchiha can never be wrong, this only served to make his mood that much more bitter.
The poor fox brat would have gladly argued with him about his condition, only he wasn't even awake to realize what was happening to him. While Sakura, Sasuke and the rest of the injured Konoha shinobi were treated with much care, Naruto had been practically left for dead in the quarantine section of the building. Nobody even entered his room to see if he was alive, save for Kakashi who, using henge to move around as a doctor in the scarce time he could visit team 7, would check to see how his recovery was coming along.
He had no complaints; thanks to the demon fox, the blond had mostly recovered from his more serious wounds after a day spent resting. It amazed him that with so little treatment, Naruto would likely already be out trying to train in some way or another. Every time he thought about it, he would sigh. He wished that somehow Jiraiya had stayed in town during this whole mess; things would have been so different. But he'd quickly shrug his mood away: besides the Third, there were no major casualties. And seeing how the new recruits had behaved, he was sure that the will of fire had been passed on and that a bright future was ahead of them.
On the second day, Sakura and Sasuke were released from the hospital. Both were glad to leave: the pink head could finally see Sasuke and thank him for saving her life. As for Sasuke, he decided that he'd have a little talk with Naruto about the recent events. But they were quickly summoned to get changed in order to attend the funeral service of the Third. Both hurried to their respective homes, knowing that they would soon find the person they were looking for at the gravesite. In fact, they'd be surprised if even one person wasn't at the funeral service. Naruto himself wouldn't even dream of missing this service, not only to support his so-called pupil, but also because he had a great respect for the Third, since he was the second person to ever acknowledge him. He would be rushing there if it wasn't for the fact that he was currently sleeping in his hospital room, having no idea what was happening outside. It seemed he was bound to miss the funeral.
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While thinking about the fight between team seven versus Gaara, people seemed to forget about one major asset that aided them in their victory. If not for this person, the fox host and his teammate wouldn't have had time to save Sasuke, because they would have to deal with intensive interference. Most would think of Shino, but all had recognized his abilities when he faced Kankuro of the sand siblings. Though his performance hadn't been flawless, it was enough to ensure the puppet master couldn't fight anymore; and it had caused Shino much unwanted attention from admirers and other ninjas. Yet Naruto and Sakura wouldn't have probably reached the infamous Genin himself if they had to fight their way through the Sound Chunin in the way.
The one responsible for that part of the job was currently walking home. If possible, his usual scowl had gotten uglier. At this moment, he found his current situation more than troublesome. It was justified when he reviewed his "heroic" actions that day: He technically lost to a woman – though to everybody else, including said woman, his win was undeniable; he had somehow used a genjustu counter when he could have easily taken a peaceful, albeit forced nap; he had to accompany Naruto, Sakura and a dog that kept on biting him – he still didn't understand that "soft and bouncy" rubbish; he had played the good guy and used a mass shadow bind technique to stall some Chunin that were after them; then he finally got saved from those same shinobi by his leader, Asuma.
These were no ordinary feats, especially for a lazy guy like him, yet Shikamaru found all his accomplishments pathetic. Team seven had easily done more than he did. Sasuke acted like the genius he had always been, shocking everyone with his new-found speed and jutsu. Naruto, the dead last he had classed as hopeless idiot since the academy days had far outclassed his expectations. Even Shino outshined him that day for he had done just has much, if not more, than the Nara. But even if these people and their actions had put his own to shame, that wasn't what really made him bitter right now. In fact he couldn't have cared less what happened these last days, save the death of the honorable Third. What irked him above all else was the relation between those events and the meeting he just left.
Earlier that day, Shikamaru had been rudely woken up by his father. This was one heck of a surprise, considering his father's laziness was even more renowned than his own. The Nara heir inquired about this particular event, and received a scroll as his answer. Said scroll was a call to a special meeting discussing his recent actions in the Chunin exam. Judging by his father's stern look, this wasn't something he could easily dismiss, which was troublesome. Of course, to make the matters worse, this meeting was to be held shortly before the funeral, in about three hours, barely leaving the Genin time to get ready. He also asked his dad about the nature of the meeting, but his father pretended he didn't hear him while mumbling something about how kids growing too fast were troublesome.
The atmosphere at the house had gotten that much eerier when breakfast came. It was a calm quiet breakfast with no interruptions whatsoever. That itself meant something was up: The young Nara couldn't even remember a breakfast without his mother shouting over some poorly done chore, or his father's lateness, or the fact that the herd was acting crazy. This was usually followed by one of his father's sarcastic remarks, and before he knew it, he'd be running for his dear life, but not before his beloved mom had somehow forked over his share of daily tasks. So Shikamaru had every reason to be suspicious about his parents. "What's up?" he asked, but there was no satisfying answer. Instead, his mother couldn't stop smiling, giving him compliments here and there and talking about how he'd grown up. Now, there was definitely a reason to freak out. The sooner that meeting came, the better.
And so the time of the meeting arrived. Shikamaru was now standing in a room he never dreamed existed inside of the Hokage tower. The room was large, and circular with as many seats as there were people around him at the moment; a lot. The seat in facing him was different from all the others. It was also empty, and the Nara easily figured out why. Around him were thirty or so elderly people. Here and there were also masked shinobi he could guess were from the Anbu. So many people for just one meeting, something is definitely up. So far his conclusion was that this was the Konoha council, made of the heads of most of the clans. There were also many high politicians operating within the village, as well as ambassadors, and most of the village's S-ranked shinobi. Shikamaru quickly looked around and easily found what he was looking for, his father. Simple eye contact convinced him that his father was against this meeting for some reason. He soon understood why.
"Members of the council, we are now gathered to discuss the promotion of the Genin Nara Shikamaru."
What! What did they just say? Shikamaru looked at his father for confirmation. Shikaku simply looked away disapprovingly. The man, who seemed to be the leader of the board, continued.
"Considering the requirements of a Chunin, tactical skills, fast analysis and optimization of any situation, we consider this boy to be ready for the tasks at hand."
"Hey, wait! Don't I have any say in this?"
"Of course, as suggested, we should have waited for the next Hokage," said the man without even acknowledging Shikamaru's presence. "This particular course of action, however, is triggered by the critical lack of available Chunin at the moment."
"Oi! Don't ignore me!"
But Shikamaru quickly calmed down. Using force or rudeness was out of the question considering he'd be dead a dozen of times before even realizing what was happening.
"Let us hear the remarks of the members."
"He seems kind of young." This was said by one of the elderly which was seated not far from meeting's president."
Thank you! Shouted Shikamaru in his mind
"We had younger Chunin in time of war," said another behind him, "and he has shown the potential to surpass many of them."
"His analytical skills were perfect. He also has a sense of responsibility."
"But I lost the fight – Against a troublesome woman!"
"Considering the resources he had, choosing to give up was the best solution in the eyes of many. Coming back from every mission half dead, like most of the fighters that day, would not be profitable."
Shikamaru couldn't believe what he was hearing. People actually praised the fact that he deliberately chose to lose to the woman. Wasn't this supposed to be a test to gauge one's ability? Weren't the ninja of the upper level supposed to be cool and tackle any situation, like Kakashi or Asuma? Sasuke would be the best choice to promote to Chunin. He was a genius like himself, and actually had the skills to match his ego. Shino would have been another excellent choice as well, and unlike the Uchiha, he had more brain than brawn. Of course when he voiced his opinions, they were shunned like the rest.
"Now, I suppose the father has something to say, since it is his son we are talking about."
Shikamaru was all eyes on the man in question, hoping that his father's reluctance wasn't just a figment of his mind.
"Like I have said before, I don't think it's wise to let Nara Shikamaru become a Chunin… yet. Though the need for Chunin is increasing due to the threat of a war, I think this matter can wait until the Fifth Hokage has been found. It will also give him time to consider the importance of this event. Even if he was appointed Chunin as of now, all the teams available are complete and any new made team would be mostly made of Genin, which would render it ineffective."
Shikamaru couldn't have been more grateful than in this moment. His father's reasoning was spot on. There was no way they'd let him be a Chunin after that. At least, it seemed so until the council president spoke once again.
"As usual, Shikaku-san has quite the insight; however, this matter is much more urgent than you might think. Also, it is quite rare to have a Chunin selection exam without at least having one promotion. May I add that many have been promoted during war and most of those at a younger age than him? Surely you're only overreacting; I totally understand your concerns for the candidate. Don't worry; I assure you that like all of the other shinobi, Konoha will take care of him."
The guy had basically shot down in flames any hope the young Nara had of getting out of the room still a Genin. Since he had nothing better to do, he decided to take a closer look at the person so interested in his promotion. The man looked young, for one of the elders. Gauging by the wrinkles under his eyes and around his cheeks, the boy could give him 45, at most 50 years. The strands of silver streaking through his raven hair only confirmed his theory. His hair was long and tied behind his back in an elegant manner not unlike the Hyuuga's. He had a warm smile that could easily throw one off when trying to determine his character, but his eyes didn't lie; they were hazel colored, cold and calculating. They had nothing to do with his seemingly kind exterior. As Shikamaru burned the man's face in his memory, he felt something was odd in the way he worded that last sentence. Whatever it was would have to wait, because after that little answer, everybody started to praise him again.
"Really, a prodigy…"
"Sasuke is a better prodigy than I'll ever be."
"His skills are needed as a Chunin."
"Wait, Shino has more versatile skills than I have."
"He'll become a valuable asset."
"What about Neji! Come on! At least promote one of these guys with me!"
"Then it's settled."
"Even Naruto would be a good candidate."
At this mention, the whole room froze. It didn't take a genius to understand that the name wasn't welcomed here. He couldn't put his finger on the reason though: Naruto was too young to cause them any kind of grief. Besides, he was an orphan, so he posed no political threat of any kind. He supposed it may have had to do with his parents... Whatever it was, the tension finally became more bearable after a few seconds. The leader of the meeting made his voice heard once again:
"Before the vote, I think it would be wise to hear from one last person."
Shikamaru was only half surprised when the leader of his team appeared out of nowhere. Asuma still looked as cool as ever. But his usual mood was quite somber today. He figured it was because of the funeral. He'd have to ask him about it, if he remembered. But now wasn't the time: he was sure he would have to hear his input on the situation. Indeed, who would be better suited to give an idea of Shikamaru's state than his mentor and leader?
"He has the skills, but I personally think he is not ready yet."
It seemed that only the cool and smart people agreed with the lazy Genin.
"Thank you. Remember to consider all that has been said before voting. Now, all that are in favor of promoting Nara Shikamaru to the rank of Chunin may so declare by raising their right hand."
Of course, a short moment later Shikamaru was welcomed to the upper ranks of the Konoha shinobi. He was bitter, but he had found a way to relieve some of that resentment.
"The honor I receive today is great, but may I ask the council one more favor?" Shikamaru took the lack of response as permission and continued. "I'd like to know where Naruto is, if I may."
There was a second silence, quickly destroyed by bursts of murmurs, which were in turn halted just as quickly by the president's cough. Though he simply inquired about the reason for the request, the look he gave the boy clearly meant he had gone too far and should drop the silly question. But the now newly promoted Chunin also thought they had pushed too far in trying to promote him, and that he should at least some kind of benefit from it.
He voiced his concern for his teammate: since they had shared the same mission two days earlier, and since he was now appointed Chunin, he was by default the leader. This meant that he had to write up a report, which would be more than incomplete if the one responsible for Gaara's defeat didn't give his input. The man gave Shikamaru Naruto's room number along with a special pass and sent him on his merry way with certain indifference, but not before giving him a handshake that almost crushed his hand.
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Having carefully analyzed every detail of the past few days, Shikamaru noticed only one thing: So far, nothing good had happened. He wasn't one to believe in karma, but he still hoped the next few days would make up for it. With a "poof", the copy ninja himself stood in front of him; not quite the answer he had expected. He didn't seem in a hurry, as usual, even though the service was starting soon. The young Nara didn't like talking to Kakashi: He was jealous of him. That man could be late and fool around and still get away with it. He also almost never lost his cool, which gave him a mean poker face. The young genius turned around, expecting to find the person the Jonin in front of him was looking for, but he didn't see anyone who fit the bill.
"Fancy meeting you here", the man said casually.
Wait, wasn't he the one who told Sakura to wake me up? The boy's mood only grew worse
"What do you want?"
"My, my, aren't we impolite today."
"Sorry, what the heck do you want, Kakashi, sir?"
"Such bitterness; must be a bad day." Noticing Shikamaru's muteness, he continued: "Congratulations on your promotion."
He glared at him for what could be an instant, but Kakashi was still able to catch it.
"It seems you're not too happy about it. I guess I can't blame you: it was a little unexpected. If it were up to me or Asuma, you wouldn't have promoted today."
"Really?" It seemed the Jonin wasn't all that bad after all.
"Don't misunderstand. We disapprove the promotion now because it's a matter that should be handled exclusively by the Hokage. But, other than that, you have all the required qualifications to become a fine Chunin."
Shikamaru tried to convince himself that he had heard wrong. But when he looked at Kakashi, he noticed that the Jonin was actually serious.
"I believe in you, Shikamaru. So do your father and your captain. The only thing left is for you to believe in yourself."
Not really the kind of speech he was expecting – especially from Kakashi. It seemed like everybody was trying to make his day as bothersome as possible. He still wondered what possible advantages he would gain from this. He started to make a mental list of the positive and negative things. Positive: He'd have more prestige, more respect; he'd make Sasuke die of jealousy – not that he had anything against him, but it would be fun to knock him out of the top spot for a while… that was pretty much it actually. On to the negative : he'd have more missions, and more dangerous ones at that; for these missions he'd probably have to wake up earlier; those missions wouldn't necessarily be with his old team either, meaning no Choji; furthermore Iruka was Chunin, so he could end up teaching some troublesome brats one day or another... Seeing the direction this was going, he decided to put these thoughts aside.
The more he thought about it, the less these events appealed to him. He'd be the only Genin promoted, even though he didn't do anything special, and would only gain more troublesome responsibilities. The boy shrugged, and tried to leave. But it seemed Kakashi wasn't done with him yet because a hand reached for his shoulder as he passed by the Jonin.
"Ah… actually, I had something to ask you. You're going home, right?"
"Would you mind making a stop at the hospital and checking up on Naruto for me?"
"Huh! Me? Why don't you ask your other team members?"
"I could, but they don't have the right to know his room number, which would make things quite difficult."
"What about you then?"
"Well… you see… I shouldn't know about this myself." Shikamaru groaned.
"Besides, by the time I'd gotten there, both Naruto and I would be late for the service."
Shikamaru knew about Kakashi's lateness; it was almost as notorious as the boy's own laziness. He was determined to refuse the proposal, but when he tried to voice his refusal, his interlocutor turned into a simple puff of smoke. Such great timing; as expected of a Jonin of Kakashi's experience. The young ninja halfheartedly made his way to the hospital mumbling incoherently about Kakashi, vengeance, troublesome things and clouds. He became even more annoyed when the nurse shot him a dirty look for asking about Naruto and saying he was coming to get him out.
Now that he thought about it, this was all because of Naruto: if Naruto hadn't pushed him down the stands into the battlefield, none of these events would have happened. He was now fulminating, but only a Nara or Choji would be able to tell considering that his eternal scowl had barely changed. He finally opened the room planning to rudely wake up Naruto and to leave him be as quickly as possible, but not before giving him a piece of his mind. As meager a vengeance as it would be, that would be enough for him. After that, he'd assume his new punish – er… promotion.
His intentions changed when he stepped in the room. There was the instigator of all his troubles sleeping peacefully in a blank room. All that was there were white walls, a white bed and the boy on the bed. The way he looked appeased Shikamaru's turmoil. It wasn't peacefulness or that Naruto was cute whatsoever – the end of the world would have to come before a glimpse of that thought ever crossed his mind – but after a moment of observation he was finally able to put his finger on it: innocence. Though Naruto had just beaten one of the most terrifying monsters he had ever seen, he still had his trademark childish look. That and the pity he felt when he saw that the room was devoid of any medical equipment whatsoever. He didn't even want to wake him up anymore, but he had a mission, and he had to hurry too; he would have to run home in order to make it in time for the funeral ceremony, and he hated running.
He decided to call his name lightly. The results were unexpected: Naruto jolted awake, furiously gazing at every angle of the room shouting "Gaara" as loudly as a hyperactive 13 year old kid could do.
"Calm down. Gaara is gone. You defeated him, remember?"
Naruto took a deep breath and took a second look around. "Huh Shikamaru? What are you doing here? And where is here, anyways?"
"The hospital. What's the last thing you remember?
"Well, I remember kicking Gaara's ass with my awesomeness! You should have been there! And…" he quickly stopped, now completely serious. "Where's Sakura! Is she alright? What about Sasuke!"
"They're both fine. They left the hospital this morning."
Not even a minute and Naruto had already enough material to give the young genius a serious headache. It seemed Naruto had been sleeping all the time, which meant he had no idea what had happened during the last two days. Shikamaru took a deep breath.
"Naruto. I've been sent here on the behalf of Kakashi to get you out of here."
"Kakashi! Where is he? I need to him to teach me the chidori as fast as…"
"I don't think you'll have time for that now."
"Right now you have to head home and take out your funeral clothes, there's a service in about an hour."
"Really?" Naruto's expression saddened. "And who is it?"
"You'll know when you get there." Shikamaru made his way out of the room. "You should hurry up or you're going to be late." He really wished that another person would tell him. From what he heard, Naruto really appreciated the Third
Since Naruto already had his clothes on him they quickly left each other and headed in opposite directions in order to get ready for the upcoming service. The blond Genin dashed straight home in order to change. Luckily, under the inform mass of orange jumpsuits laid a completely black shirt. He dug out the pants he kept for serious occasions and changed before running out of his apartment as quickly as he had set foot in it. As he hurried along, he silently prayed it was only someone famous, and not any person he was close to. From what his friend had told him, it couldn't be Sasuke, Sakura or Kakashi, which was a relief, but his lack of response worried the energetic kid.
Shikamaru was almost beheaded by his mother, but since he had time to change and make it on time to the service, she ended up only scolding her son and punished him to a day of double chores. Of course, he could have argued that Kakashi and his commission prevented him from coming earlier, but one thing he learned about his mom and about women in general was the following: never argue with them; whatever you say, you're still wrong. On the way to the funeral, they met the Akimichi and the Yamanaka, and strolled along with them. The near complete team ten decided to move at their own pace, arriving at the place before most members of their respective clans.
From his spot, Shikamaru could see the whole crowd gathered around the memorial. He didn't remember seeing this many people since… ever actually. It gave him a certain sense of pride and belonging. He then thought about seeking people he knew. He found most of the teams were scattered all over the place. Though all the Jonin filled the front row, he didn't see Kakashi. After a quick scan he found him near the memorial, next to Konohamaru, Iruka and Naruto. Finally, he looked at the tomb itself. He wondered what he would be doing today if the Third were still alive. Would he be sadder if he had learned to know him more? The most annoying question by far was this one; if he, Shikamaru, had been stronger, would the results be any different than now?
From where he stood, all that Naruto could see was Sarutobi's picture, his gravestone and the Hokage figures in the background. At first his mind went blank; he couldn't understand how a Hokage could ever die. But from what he just heard, the foe he was facing wasn't an ordinary shinobi either. He wanted to be closer, so he could comfort his "pupil", but he was at loss for words. For a brief moment he felt like the burden of the village chief fell on the shoulders of everyone present. They would all have to live for his sake making sure he didn't die in vain. Yet, through all that he found the strength to smile again. Kakashi had appeared behind him, his presence enough to assure him he wasn't alone. When he left, his teammates were waiting for him. That gave him the feeling that with them he could do anything.
Naruto and Shikamaru were different in many ways. As one was behind, carefully gazing at the scene with a scowl on his face, the other was in the middle of it all, smiling at the end. The lazy genius was thinking about the past, while the energetic idiot had his eyes on the future. Where one wished he didn't have to bear his responsibilities, the other fervently wished for the day where he could be in the same position as the Third. Yet, in the midst of all their differences, they had one common thought about the Third's departure: nothing would be the same anymore.
If only they knew.
Something bad is definitely up ahead. Just what does the future hold in store for our promising duo!?
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A/N: This is a project I had in mind for a while. This one will be more action oriented… After the introduction, that is.