The Will of Fire

Summary:Yondaime. The HERO, who deafeated the Kyuubi in one night... But what about another hero, who has to fight that demon day after day, throughout the whole life...

Note: in this story, Sai is the third member of team 7, beside Sasuke and Sakura. Events will take place about a month before the exams. If there'd be any spoilers, you'll be notified.

-"Speech."

"Thoughts."

Prologue

Though it was the early morning, the wide corridor leading to the Hokage office was filled with noise. The steps, short and slow, the voices, high and low. The few were bathed in gentle morning light. The one, following behind the others, was without a doubt still sleeping. It was a miracle he hadn't stumbled even once while walking with eyes closed. His steps were forced, and body language screamed 'don't want to', but even so, he followed the others quietly. Hands in pockets, head falling he dreamed. In front of him, his friend was patiently going, woken up and ready for everything. His face was peaceful, smile in place, one hand with a bag, another inside of it. To the right was moving a ticking bomb. Eyes of anger, boredom, uncertainty, promise of pain and suffering, laid on the person to the left, and the person in front of the group. If those eyes were all seeing, they would also land on the person moving behind-so fortunately, they were not. On the front was walking a laid back object. It smelled of tobacco, and seemed to be waiting. The confidant steps betrayed the person's wariness. After what seemed like eternity, the four finally stood beside the doors. And after sound 'enter', calmly walked in. The room was already filled with people. Curiosity was dancing in the eyes of everybody. Two pairs of those immediately narrowed. The first and slated one belonged to Kiba, who expected some sort of competition, and had no doubt about his own skills. The little pup on his head loudly sniffed the air. The second pair, full black, belonged to the boy named Sasuke, who also set his mind on rivalry between the teams, was sure of his superiority and kept his arms crossed in indifference. They did not notice the subtle nod that was between their jounin teachers.

-"Everyone here. Good.''-All heads turned to the man beside the window. The smoke from his pipe was floating around him carefully, his posture was straight, though he was short in height, his wrinkles were clear in the light, and his tone was serious. He slowly sat behind the desk that was hidden under the number of scrolls and documents. -"Hmm.., team 7,8 and 10 have finished the required number of D-rank missions, team 8 has had completed one C-rank, and team 7 even one A-rank, though that was unintentional.'' The slated eyes narrowed even more and were burning meeting the famous smirk of an Uchiha, somewhere close was heard quiet 'troublesome', and many had a sentence in their mind 'what now?'

-"Teams 7 and 10 will be completing one C-rank escort mission, with possibility to turn into B and A. This will be the test of your skills as a ninja, the test of your responsibility, loyalty and.. teamwork.'' The aging Hokage deeply inhailed the smoke. Here the quiet girl, that was unseen in this room wanted to say something, but before she did, the man continued. -"Team 8 will accompany you on your way from Konoha, to the destination, as an example of the teamwork that should be displayed.''-Not hiding her pride Kurenai, the beautiful ice queen of Konoha, smiled down on her charges, while Kiba shouted 'hell yeah!' high in the air. -"Your jounin sensei's will explain the details of this mission. Your captain will be Hatake Kakashi.''

At this Kakashi slightly nodded, then said-"All right teams, you have thirty minutes, gather everything you'd need on the long term mission, and meet us at the gates.'' With that genins moved out, and jounins disappeared in the swirl of leaves.

The pink haired girl in red was running through the streets, her expression was one of thoughtfulness, her gaze unfocused in the moment. "I wonder how many people are we escorting... and how far...I hope it will not turn out as in Wave.''

At the gates the senseis were already waiting, discussing the meaning of the mission. Kakashi had his face in the book, Kurenai shifted uncomfortably.

-"I'm glad my team won't have to deal with this for too long.''

-"Don't worry, it will not be that bad!''-Asuma smiled widely, which looked creepy with the single cigarette sticking out..

-"You're sure.''-single eye looked up with hidden meaning, the orange book slid down a bit, opening the half of the face. The smile widened a bit more, and Asuma quickly and repeatedly nodded. Kurenai turned her gaze from Asuma to Kakashi with a single raised brow-"Huh?''

Not knowing what her reaction would be, Kakashi simply eye'smiled with-"They'll survive! ...definitely..''

-"HUH?!''-sweatdrop..

Before she could investigate a bit deeper there was a commotion coming closer. Commotion that happened to be the members of 7th and 10th squad, it was like.. ''move away Inopig!!Sasuke's all mine!!!'' and like...''I'm a way more better for him, Forehead!!right, Sasuke-kun?'' and like... ''houph, tch, what a troublesome morning...(yeah, guess who's waking up)'' and like...'' oh, come on don't fight, why don't you just share as friends, I'm sure Sasuke-kun wouldn't mind threesome!" „WHAT!? (note: more than two voices)." And so the Singles were condemned. Yeah, that will definitely be The Long trip...


Chapter 1. The Rules

Kakashi quietly sighed , and tried to hide his face behind the smut, while he inwardly thought „can't believe this..It must be the ultimate punishment. Kurenai-chan's just lucky, Inuzuka boy is the one who wants to be the leader, the one who cries louder and the one to get away with it alive.. Hyuuga girl's too shy to say anything on that matter, and Aburame won't waste his breath just to comment his teammate. Simple as that. While team 10 has one wannabe leader, Yamanaka, she has no brains to be one, and the rest-two boys and one jounin sensei, have their asses too damn lazy to follow her orders. That breaks them. And team 7.... (-„keep your mouth shut Sai!!"-„hmm? Did I say something wrong..?"-„hnn.."-Sasuke-kun do something!"-„Don't get me involved in this.") ...sigh.."

The group's tension was rising rapidly. Ready to kill each other, they finally stopped beside the teachers. Hinata spoke nervously -„A-ano.. where is our c-client, s-sensei..?" The rest of genins in surprise looked around, then at each other, and then at the adults.

Without letting go of his precious icha, Kakashi answered-„He's not here." –silence. Genins sweatdropped.-„We'll meet an hour from Konoha. While on the walk there, I will explain the rules of this mission. Let's go." More serious than usually, Sai voiced what was on the mind of everybody

-„ ..Rules..?"

They started to walk, with three members of 7th on the front, Kakashi behind them, three members of 10th to Kakashi's left with Asuma behind them, and 8th to Kakashi's right ,Kiba the closest. It was still early and they were not in a hurry, but group impatiently waited to hear details about the mission. Eyes of Kiba were sparkling with mirth –„Ne, who are we guarding Kakashi-sensei? I bet some super rich, super important and super old politician and his servants!"

Eye'smiling, Hatake almost broke his dreams. -„No. We will be escorting one person. Very important for Konoha and the land of Fire. The monk of the shrine of Forgiveness, and adviser of Hokage-sma, Naruto-sama."

Showing just a little bit of frustration, Sasuke hmph'ed-„three teams to protect one person, that's ridiculous." Unseen to him, the 'smart' people frowned. Shikamaru supported his head with his arms behind, and turned to Asuma-„..Monk..?"

Kakashi carefully turned the page-„Hai. We'll escort him to the shrine of Fire. Now, about the rules. For one, you are to control your emotions, especially the anger. It is important."

-„Huh? Why?"-Ino tried not to notice the strange man's hair style, and not to pay attention to the fact that he had only one eye seen,(no fashion style, no symmetry) she failed." the man's unbelievable, how Forehead can stand him?"

-„Naruto-sama is very sensitive to people's chakra, that's why if you're angry, your chakra will be affected by it, and it may hurt him. So keep your negatives under control. Now two. Under no circumstances are you to touch him, unless he gives you permission.. though that's doubtful. Anyway, for three, show some respect. You're young, inexperienced and all, but remember that you are ninja, and you're on the mission, so act like this."

They walked for the rest of the time in silence, drown in their thoughts, not paying attention to surroundings of green trees much, when in the distance ,figures could be seen. Kakashi hesitantly put his book back in the pouch and hid his hands in pockets.-„Repeat the rules."-silence.

-„Kiba?"

Eyes of mentioned widened. He started to sweat under the pressure.-„Eeeh...um,...respect, don't touch and...um, chakra control?" Kurenai visibly sighed, they were supposed to be an example of team, and that was not a good start, but Shino lowered his head-„Emotions under control, Kiba." –„Eh, yeah right, that one." –he pointed with one finger, and grinned to lower the tension. Kakashi inwardly repeated „we'll survive, we'll survive, we'll survive.."

Getting closer the teams could see that figures were clad in black, and had different animal masks. There were four of them. The group stopped two meters away,and genins looked around questioningly. Kakashi nodded to black ops, and the anbu in cat mask stepped forward.-„Please wait here."The black clad person turned to the trees and left. At the meet point silence reined. While some trembled and shifted in this situation, Shikamaru tried to understand the mystery of the mission." the adults behavior is strange, the rules are strange, guarding the monk is strange, the presence of anbu is strange, I have a feeling the whole mission is going to be way too troublesome.."Choji didn't mind and kept increasing his weight. Sakura didn't know what anbu had in mind, so she smiled uncomfortably, Ino had her hands on the hips, and observed the path anbu-cat disappeared into. Asuma lit another cigarette, and stood patiently, and Kurenai discreetly observed the silent anbu. Shino was as stoic as ever, Hinata was trembling some, but didn't voice her concerns, while Kiba warily stroked Akamaru. Sai and Sasuke kept their eyes closed, but Sai had a creepy smile on his face, while Sasuke tried hard to keep his posture in indifference. Only after third lit cigarette did anbu-cat show up again. Behind her was a strange sight. All that was seen was the black cloak, long enough to cover the feet of the person, and the big hood that completely hid his face. His hands were connected on the front and hidden in the broad sleeves. There was a strange sound that was accompanying him, tsk,tsk,tsk, that sounded like a clock, or small stones falling. He slowly followed the anbu and stopped in front of the group, close to team 7. At this moment the imaginary red line appeared between them, indicating the height of the client. Or rather the lack of it.. Sasuke's brow twitched a few times "..you're kidding...is he that old..?"Sai simply had the eyes widened, and Sakura had a few dozen clues on that matter dancing in her mind. Kakashi waved his hand and smiled trying to look like he was in a good mood.

-„Morning, Naruto-sama, we're ready to go."

To this the hooded person only nodded. The anbu nodded too and disappeared in lightning speed ,leaving the new group in charge. Kakashi turned to team 8.-„Well, let's move on. Kurenai-san, your team will move in front of the group, team 7 and 10 will follow."


The red eyed woman walked behind her students with worry. It was not only because they were sweating with fear, but because they haven't spoke yet. They were fifteen meters ahead of the group, using their tracking abilities to make sure they will be prepared to face any enemy that might show up. But they will not be able to complete the mission if they will be constantly scared.

Looking at his white pup, Inuzuka gulped soundly.-„Who the hell is that, sensei? Akamaru says this guy is dangerous..He's not the monk, right?" Kurenai could only sigh and lower her head.

-„My kikaichu inform me that they are afraid of his very presence."

Hinata deactivated her doujutsu and looked down.-„I've n-never, s-seen so much chakra b-before..E-even Hokage-sama.. doesn't have that m-much.."

-„Don't worry. Though his power may scare you, Naruto-san will not hurt you."-seeing that her words had no visible effect, Kurenai tried to change their way of thinking.-„Look at it this way, if there's anyone who should be scared, it's the enemy. You can feel safe, knowing that this power will not be directed at you."- She smiled, seeing that they were relieved.

-„Demo, if he's that strong, why he needs protection..?"-the question was followed with nods from Shino and Hinata.

-„I'm not sure I have a right to answer Kiba. You may talk to Kakashi-san about this later, after all, he's our captain on this mission, and knows more about a client anyway."

Tsk,tsk,...tsk,...tsk..With his smut back in place, Kakashi walked beside the client, giggling from time to time. To his right was Sakura, who's eyebrow twitched with every tsk, and Sai, who's smile now was forced to extreme and shaking ,matching his pointed temple, together with Sasuke he walked to the left of the client, where Sasuke already had the advanced tick in his left eye, it was getting worse with every minute, and he will probably have the heart attack exactly after an hour. Guess what, girls last longer... „...must resist the urge to act, must be stronger than this, I'm a ninja, ninja damnit!..." „...what the hell is this sound?! It gets me all riled up shannaro!!" As if by unspoken command, Sakura and Sasuke looked at each others expressions, then at the person in the middle, and even though they were protected by Sai and Kakashi in between them, it didn't help them and their nerve system. tsk,..tsk,..tsk,tsk..

-„munch, munch....crunch..."-looking at Choji, acting as if nothing much was happening, Shikamaru relaxed himself. "..maybe I'm just exaggerating..he's probably more important than it looks..right, he said..."

-„Um.., Asuma-sensei, Kakashi-sensei said that this man's Hokage advisor..does it mean that he's the member of the council..?" –hearing Shikamaru asking, Ino and Choji got interested too. And not seeing a way out of this, their teacher gave up. He took out the cigarette and exhaled the smoke.

-„No. It doesn't." –after a few minutes of waiting for their sensei to continue, their faces fell.

-„You're not going to talk, are you."-the blonde narrowed her eyes pointedly.

-„Well, for now, just bear with it. Treat it as a serious mission, all right."

-„Rules, respect, anbu,I feel like we're protecting a Hokage, not the advisor. And what kind of the advisor a monk to the military leader anyway..?"-Shikamaru frowned even deeper.

-„You're too smart for your own good, you know that? I don't know if it's right to tell you now, but you'd probably figure it out sooner or later...sigh..Ever heard about the Jinjuuriki of Konoha?" –hearing this, Choji stopped eating, Ino gasped, and Shikamaru raised a brow.

-„U-huh, ..isn't it a made up story? Um, ..about a monster that Konoha ninja keep locked up in the shrine..?"

-„It's called rumors, Shikamaru. Don't believe in it.I won't tell you more, just to make sure i don't say too much. And, for that matter, I'm out of date, so Kakashi knows better."-relieved, Choji was back to eating, Shikamaru slightly shrugged, and Ino turned thoughtful.

-„I don't get it, I thought it was about some spirit protecting the whole land of Fire or something.."

After she said that, Shikamaru's eyes impossibly widened, and his thought process asked for restart. Thinking about it again, and gathering all the facts and rumors in one file, he quickly came to a conclusion, though it took him a few more seconds to form it, he knew he realized something that he possibly shouldn't.. „...it is..."

Asuma thoughtfully watched the back of the cloaked figure, remembering the past

Flashback 10 years ago

He stepped into the dark room. The only source of light were two candles in the corner. Two flames danced unsteadily, forming strange shadows on the walls. There was no window, and of furniture, only the table in the corner, with candles on. In the room were two shinobi. One stood leaning with the back to the wall, had his arms crossed, and face hidden behind the anbu mask. There was nothing as a sign to who that might be, and this had to be like this. The second, sat beside him on the floor with his legs crossed. One hand on his knee, another covering the face. Head down, this one tried to hide his emotions, but could not to. His sorrow and hopelessness could be felt and seen. The ends of his white long hair touched the floor, and his not so young form was shaking. His clothes not that of a ninja had no color in the gloom. There, in the far darkest corner, was another form, far smaller than the rest, and hidden in some sort of grey blanket. The form was trembling, and the crying was clearly heard, the cry of the child. Though the white haired man did not sound like it, he was crying too. He could not hide the tear, that slid down his chin, and fell on the floor. Anbu turned his face to the door and nodded, then he pushed himself slightly from the wall, and put his hand on the shoulder of the sitting man...

End of flashback

his eyes had the sad look, so he closed them.

Tsk,tsk,tsk,tsk Sasuke's knuckles were white, Sakura's fists were ready, Sai was not smiling. Their teacher knew and saw what was going on, but he believed they will live, or get over it eventually.. Sai wanted to avoid the war, so he decided that some distraction was in order.

-„So, Naruto-san, why are you heading to the shrine of Fire?"-he smiled broadly and closed his eyes as he trained to, believing that he did wonders. The black figure continued to walk in it's pace, not changing it's posture. –„To pray." –surprise was written all on the face of the raven Uchiha. He almost stumbled in his step hearing the voice of the monk, smooth, soft, quiet and... high? „....I was sure he was just old, but this is not that...he's actually young, maybe even younger than us, that's why he's so small... ...the monk? the Hokage advisor?...who are you trying to fool, Kakashi, that's an absurd!..." The similar thoughts had the girl in the team, and team's artist kept his surprise under control. Suddenly, the figure spoke again, in the same quiet tone.

-„Kakashi, change places with team 10 please."-the jounin nodded and closed his book. He turned behind and gave the sign to team10 to move over. Then he turned to his squad

–„Team, we move behind."

Asuma and his students after a few moments were in place of team 7,they looked behind at their friends, and then at the client. Not knowing how to react, Ino asked-„What's going on sensei."

-„One point goes to our team Ino, one taken from 7th." –here Asuma grinned happily. His students sweatdropped.

Looking back at the change in formation, Kiba frowned not understanding the situation.-„Why did they do this, eh?" Akamaru barked few times in agreement. Ever all knowing Shino answered his hotheaded teammate-„Team 7 did not pass the first test, as it seems." –Kiba looked at him, then back at 7th, and satisfied, grinned and nodded.

The sun was high in the sky, the road was still wide and dry, the trees on both sides of the path were still thick, and it probably won't change as they will be moving only on the territory of the Fire country. Yep, the landscape quickly became too boring to admire. But if just for a slight moment, that was about to change. Team 8 unexpectantly stopped, well Kiba did, and the rest followed. The rest of the group cautiously walked closer and stood behind. The dogboy sniffed the air suspiciously.-"What can you tell, Kiba."-Kurenai looked around preparing to face the enemy and fight, though she was surprised anything will happen still this close to the village. Kiba sniffed a bit more and the growl was heard from his pup-"Ne, I don't know, this scent is kind of familiar, but can't place it…Though, I can tell I don't like it."-already in her gentle fighting stance, Hinata activated her bloodline,-"A…ano.."-A bit of wind blowing by later, from the right side of their vision and from within the thickness of flora, the small and known to everybody object appeared, it fearlessly looked behind, and moved to the left side of their vision, disappearing from their sight in the same fashion. Having his face out of smut at that moment, one-eyed jounin commented-"Hmm…I'm glad Tora cat's not black…would have to change the route and that's really unnecessary.."-Not even a minute later, the three different kids came into scene, the first, with the scarf too long for his own safety, was shouting –"…need, to..save, Tora-chan!" –they were a moment later hidden in the trees. Just as they disappeared, again from the right side the flora moved, to reveal the person in furry, some juunin with a scar on his nose, that was panting heavily, without a word yet, he, along with the escort group noticed a small green blur, that quickly passed him, he ran farther in the same direction and disappeared too. From the right side of the scene again, could be heard the loud and clear

–"Yosh Lee!You'll be the FIRST to catch that unyouthful animal!!! Show them the power of your FLAMES OF YOUTH!!! I have FAITH in you my BOY!!"-that was followed by appearance of another green but bigger blur that has stopped in the middle of the road and the escort group's vision. The green object took what he believed was the 'cool guy' pose with the thumb directed in the sky, while his unnaturally white teeth had an unnatural glister. Being the witness of it, the monk mumbled –"…I was convinced it was only a nightmare…guess it must be the real thing…"-and suddenly, not a moment later, from the left side and from the above of the tops of the trees and the 'bigger green blur' figure, appeared the big version of juunins head, with madness sparkling in those eyes, it started to shout animatedly –"SHUT UP MIGHTO-SAN!!Don't encourage your student with that FLAME OF WHATEVER!!"-the eyes turned red and saliva flowed from the mouth-"I have to catch MY students first dammit!!!"-the second later the head was gone, and the 'bigger green blur' blurred out of vision in the left direction. Not knowing if it was over yet, the escort group waited. And they were not disappointed. Slowly and quietly from the right side walked out two people, one with hands behind her two buns'ed head, relaxed and smiling, and the second with his hands falling, face long, every step forced.-"Ne, Neji, I think we have the day off! Let's go eat something ,my charge!" –not even looking at the girl's happy face, the tired boy seemed to continue to suffer, but the answer actually was there,-"…agree…" –as unbelievable as it was, non of the 'cat pursuers' have noticed the presence of travelers. The group could only sweatdrop profusely.

-"..Munch…munch….munch…." tsk….tsk…..tsk…..tsk…. It was of no surprise that team 10 had less of a problem being around their client. After all, Asuma is always inhales and exhales, Shikamaru sighs and plays shogi, the sound he heard now was familiar to the sound of wood figures touching the desk, Choji rarely stops chewing, and Ino talks the most, they had to get used to each others habits, so the sound from their client wasn't anything new to them. Standing to the right of the black clad figure, Ino looked sideways and asked curiously

–"Ho-ou-uh..?What is this sound, Naruto-san..?"

-"…prayer beads.." –unseen to his students, the small smile appeared on the jounin's face. He walked close to Ino, and not giving any signs of it, waited for his students reaction, and observed their behavior, knowing that was a test not only for them as the ninja, but also for him as the teacher. After hearing the voice of the client, the genin had similar reactions, surprise on different level. Choji just shrugged a moment later, Ino stopped herself from reacting with a great deal of strength, she did remind herself the rule number 1,and from the look on her face, it was easy to tell she made a promise for herself to investigate it, after all, it's not everyday you see the kid that is more important to your country than you. ..tsk…tsk…The lazy boy's eyes filled with deep sadness, he softly smiled though and replied –"Hmm.., it's relaxing… what are they made of..?"

-"..corals.."

End of 1 chapter