Disclaimer: I don't know why I have to say this but, I don't own Naruto but I do own squad 13 so yay I guess?
Scene Change (Time)
Chapter one: One small choice
'Gotta run...gotta hide...where there's always a way out. Where is one?'
A young Naruto Uzumaki was running for his life. It had been a brilliant prank, if he did say so himself. Infiltrating the Inuzuka compound and dyeing all of their dogs a neon orange was not easy. Of course, actions have consequences. In this case, the entirety of the Inuzuka clan chasing him in order to return the favour was the consequence.
Looking around, the blond boy saw a dilapidated building that looked ready to be condemned. In another world, Naruto chose not to run inside instead continuing his way to the Hokage Tower. We are not talking about that world; in this one Naruto ran inside to escape and ran head first into an old man. The child found himself pushed up against a wall with a knife to his throat twenty seconds later.
"Easy Rikimaru...it's just a kid." A voice spoke from the other side of the room.
"Sorry Jin, you know how it is." The man known as Rikimaru said. He was an older man, probably in his mid 50's, bald and short, his face and arms were littered with scars.
"Right, because everyone feels threatened by a 10 year old kid." Another man said with a laugh. This man was the same age as Rikimaru, but taller with a simple gray ponytail and a large leaf tattoo coiling about his arm.
"Shut up Shin." The scarred man said good-naturedly, letting the boy down.
"Hey, kid, you want to explain yourself?" The man known as Jin asked. Huge was a good word to describe him, standing at 6'6 with a body builder's limbs, the man wore a pair of glasses and had an unruly mop of black hair that seemed to defy gravity.
"I, umm, played a prank on the Inuzuka's." The whiskered boy answered; long ignored survival instincts screaming that telling the truth was the only way to survive.
"Really, managed to prank the Inuzuka's? Mind if I ask what it was?" The huge man asked with a chuckle.
"I managed to turn all their dogs orange." Naruto said smiling at the memory of the dogs running around.
"That's pretty good for a brat in the academy. Guys we should train him, you know, create that ultimate shinobi people used to talk about when we were younger." Shin said after wiping away a tear.
"Shin, do you know how to train some one?" Rikimaru asked cynically.
"Can't be that hard." The gray haired man said with a shrug.
"Well, can't say I don't want something to do. Jin?"
"Kid's got potential, no doubt about it. But it depends on the boy. Kid, who do you think we are?" The bespectacled man asked.
"You guys...have the same look the Hokage-jiji gets sometimes. You've all been there when the wars happened. I don't know who you are, but I know you were all some of the best." The blond said after some thought.
"Good answer. We were some of the first ANBU, and yeah we've been through the mill. We learned how to fight and kill at the tail end of the first war. We killed our way to victory with Nidaime in the second war. We did it again in the Third war behind Yondaime and Sandaime. We were squad 13 and if you want it we will train you." Jin said considering the answer.
"That'd be nice. I don't really get a lot of help at the academy. But why train me? I'm the dead last." The blue-eyed boy said with a sigh.
"Kid, you managed to infiltrate one of the most difficult targets in Konoha. Only the Hyuuga compound, ANBU, and the Hokage tower are harder. So you have some talent; now why do you say you're dead last?" The scarred man said slowly warming up to the boy.
"I fail almost all of my academic tests and have trouble with the physical ones...I'm barely scraping by." Naruto said with a look that said he was pulling teeth by telling them this.
"Bullshit...academics mean nothing on the field and your physical problems comes from not having anyone to help train you. As we said, you have potential. Now Riki here is the Taijutsu specialist of the team. You and he are going to be playing for the next six months, or however long it takes to get you ready. After that, we'll start training you in other things. Be here tomorrow at 5 am." The huge leader of the group said.
"Hai, Jin-sensei!" The blond boy said happily and ran off.
Naruto didn't know what made him trust the old men and their offer of training. Just something in him, the fighter that would always come to fore later in his life, demanded it. It demanded to learn and grow. Naruto had never been one for deep thought; he trusted his instincts, as flawed as they might be.
"Jin-sensei ehh? I think I like that." The old man said with a chuckle.
"You sure we're doing the right thing?" The ever-pessimistic Rikimaru asked.
"Yeah we are. The kid is strong enough to survive this long. Strong enough that he didn't break the way most people would. It's a crime not to teach him how to use that." Shin answered.
"Something to that Shin. Not many could still know how to laugh after his kind of childhood." The Genjutsu user agreed.
"Hmm you've got a point. Now the question is...when did you get so philosophical?" The scarred man asked.
"I occasionally read the stuff Jin leaves on the table." Shin answered with a shrug.
The trio gave a slight chuckle at that.
"Alright, so I have a free hand training him?" The bald man said with a predatory smile.
"Try not to cripple the kid alright?" Jin said exasperated with his friend.
"Fine, but first things first, we have to get rid of the damn jumpsuit!" The short man intoned.
"Good idea...want to dress him up like Yondaime?" Shin asked only half jokingly.
"Are you trying to get the kid killed?" The huge man asked. Sometimes he didn't know why he put up with these two.
"No, I'm thinking tiger colouring." The scarred man said, surprising both of the others. Rikimaru hated fashion or clothes shopping.
"What?" Shin said his tone still shocked.
"Kid likes orange so we combine that and black and we can give him some decent camouflage." The bald man was nothing if not practical.
"Alright, I'll go talk to Mori." The bespectacled man said with a laugh.
The Next morning
Naruto had no idea what to expect, he'd never had someone who actively wanted to train him before. The teachers never helped so he had high hopes. Those hopes were quickly dashed when his new teacher said:
"First rule of training with us, no more of those orange jumpsuits."
Why? Why did no one understand the sheer awesomeness of orange? It was bright, it was happy and no one would ever forget you. Besides, these jumpsuits were cheap enough to afford, everything else cost too much.
"Why Rikimaru-sensei? Orange is cool!" The blond youtj shouted.
"Be that as it may, you are learning to be a ninja. Ninja's don't, or at least shouldn't, dress in bright colours that scream 'kill me'. However, you can still wear orange just not as bright...think tiger." The bald man said suppressing a groan. Damn this kid was hyper.
"Tiger?" The whiskered boy said blinking in confusion.
"Tigers are black and orange and blend into the jungle really well. So..." Rikimaru said. 'Gotta get him to start using that thing between his ears. He's not stupid, not if he can survive this long, but I don't think he's used to thinking things through...almost as if someone decided to fuck with his mind.' Stowing that idea for future consideration, Rikimaru watched as the thought process visibly took place on Naruto's face.
"So I can have the awesomeness of orange and still be stealthy?" The blond said after a moment.
"Err yes...don't worry, Jin will take you to our supply guy after training today." The bald man said shaking head. They had their work cut out for them, that's for sure.
"Umm....will he let me buy from his store?" Naruto was cautious when it came to stores...they almost never let him in and if they did they charged him so much that he couldn't even buy anything.
"Mori's been through nearly as much as we have, he knows that you're no demon." The scarred man said with a sigh. It was peacetime, why did a kid have to go through this shit?
"So you know why I'm called a demon?" The whiskered boy asked picking up on the implications. Rikimaru was of two minds; one side said tell him the truth and damn the consequences. The other side said A.) It's against the law to tell anyone the truth and B.) Naruto needed a bit more maturity before he could be told. So compromise, give the boy a place to start but don't tell him outright.
"I do...but I can't tell you. No one can, it's the law. But if you're willing to work, you can probably figure it out. Remember: what do demons and your birthday have to do with each other? And how does one kill a demon anyway? That's all I'm going to tell you." The bald man said, happy that he had managed to find a way that allowed him to keep some pride in himself and help the boy.
"That isn't a lot to go by Rikimaru-sensei." The blond said with a frown.
"Well I've got to get you to use your head as something besides a rock. Think of it as motivation." The short man said with a chuckle.
"Hai Rikimaru-sensei." Naruto said scowling; his head was more than just a rock thank you very much.
"Good, now let's see your Taijutsu." The scarred man said with a grin. Naruto, taking that as his cue, began to go through the academy Taijutsu katas. Or at least he thought he did, only to have Rikimaru stop him midway.
"That was just horrible. Who the hell taught you to fight?" The short man said with an expression somewhere between disgust and horror. The boy's stances were all off, his punches were wrong, and his kicks weren't effective.
"Mizuki-sensei said that these were special stances and moves so I'd be stronger." The blond said confused, he knew these stances were right.
"Naruto, take everything you ever learned about Taijutsu and forget it. Rather than try to fix that mess we are going to start with the basics and teach you something more suited for you. Remind me to go kick this Mizuki's ass; that was just a blasphemy against all that is good and holy about Taijutsu." Rikimaru said unconsciously clenching and unclenching his fist.
"I didn't think I sucked that bad." The whiskered boy said a bit disturbed.
"Naruto, if I give you a hammer and tell you to cut a tree down is it your fault that you can't cut the tree down? No! It's my fault for giving you a fucking hammer instead of a saw. Come on, I'm going to teach you my own personal style. Learned it from a crazy ass bastard named Cho always muttering about the Tao...whatever that is." The scarred man said. 'I am going to teach this boy everything there is to know about fighting and when I'm done he will be able to kill anyone, including that bastard teacher.'
"Where do we start Rikimaru-sensei?" The whiskered boy asked seriously, he loved training.
"At the beginning boy, like all good things. Taijutsu as we know it began before the jutsus, before the flashy techniques, before the magic sky swords. All we had was Taijutsu and our wits, using that we still managed to kill each other regularly. Taijutsu evolved, became formal, and people started practicing unique styles that require fancy blood limits and training methods. I don't need any of that and neither will you. At its core Taijutsu isn't about fairness or grace, it's about beating the living shit out of the other guy and killing him. People say it's a great honour to die for your country, that's bullshit. Honour comes from making the other guy die for their country you understand?" The short man regarded his student levelly.
"So, it's all about killing the other guy?" Naruto said in a tone usually reserved for discovering a new law of physics.
"That's right boy. Now let's begin." The scarred man said as he began showing Naruto how to move.
Four hours later and an exhausted Naruto stumbled into class. No longer wearing the bright jumpsuit he had become known for, Naruto looked changed. Mori did good work; the blond now wore a rusty orange jacket with black stripes to break it up. Combined with a black pants and a blue undershirt and Naruto looked like a serious shinobi.
"Naruto, what's up with the new clothes?" Kiba asked. He didn't like the guy, but he didn't have the hard on the village had against him either.
"Friend of a friend gave them to me." The blond said with a sad smile. Jin had been dead serious that he tell no one about Mori or his new senseis.
'Always keep your true skill secret. No one expects the average guy or dead last to be a threat. That advantage is something to hold on to.' Had been Jin's words.
"Yeah right, stop trying to look cooler then Sasuke-kun!" The pink haired girl known as Sakura screeched.
It could've been because of the training, it could've been the newfound acceptance he had gain from his Senseis and Mori, it could've been random, but for whatever reason something snapped in Naruto. He wasn't going to put up with their bullshit anymore, they were supposed to be training to be fucking ninjas and she was screaming about him trying to be cooler then Sasuke?
He, Naruto Uzumaki, was going to become Hokage; he was going to seriously train. He was training in the old school, the school that wasn't about coolness or flashy jutsus but about killing people. Suddenly his crush on Sakura seemed pointless and beneath him, it didn't help him improve as a ninja it wasn't going anywhere so it was time to cut that part out.
"Shut the hell up Sakura." The blue-eyed boy said with an ice-cold voice.
'Hearing a pin drop' was normally just an expression, but in this case it was a literal truth. No one could believe that Naruto, of all people, had told off someone, especially his long-time crush. Hope surged in one girl's heart while rage did in another.
"What did you just say to me?" The green-eyed girl said fists trembling.
"I said shut up...I don't have the patience to deal with your screeching right now." The blue-eyed boy met the angry girl's stare without a flinch.
"You're going to pay for that Naruto!" Sakura screamed and launched a punch towards the blond. Despite his exhaustion, Naruto reacted by pulling a kunai, dodging and holding the blade against the girl's throat.
"Sakura, I'm done chasing you; I'm done fighting with Sasuke, so do both of us a favour and leave me alone!" He said viciously.
Sakura froze, she had always been able to hit Naruto, and he would take it. So what changed? 'Well at least he's not chasing me anymore even if this new Naruto seems ready to kill me for some reason' The pink haired girl reasoned, never once wondering whether or not the blond boy had reason to dislike her.
"Naruto get outside!" The teacher said snapping out of her daze at the jinchuruki's antics.
"But she..." Naruto tried to defend himself.
"Now! And be glad we don't suspend you for this." The woman snarled. The class was perplexed, yes, Naruto had gone a bit far but Sakura had thrown the first punch and they were training to be ninja, and Naruto was obviously having an off day. So then why punish just Naruto? Sakura was equally at fault for provoking people for no reason and pride was a good way to get someone killed.
"Kagome-sensei... shouldn't Sakura be punished too? She did start it after all." Asked a perplexed Shikamaru.
It was so troublesome; Naruto was hated by the village for no real reason...yes he pranked people, but that didn't explain the hate his classmate experienced. Being a genius, Shikamaru was used to figuring things out with ease, but this puzzle eluded him and it was annoying.
"No. That little...monster probably provoked her in the first place. It should know its place." The teacher said after a moment.
"Yeah, thing is, that Naruto isn't an 'it' he's a boy just like the rest of them. Tell me, is Mizuki here?" A scarred man said having arrived in the doorway.
"And you are?" The teacher said raising an eyebrow.
"Call me Riki, I've taken a liking to that boy and wish to talk to his Taijutsu instructor." The bald man said reasonably. He understood that most people hated the boy...they were stupid but they did have cause, at least in their own minds, to hate Naruto.
"You know what he is?" The woman said with a hiss.
"I do, and I remind you that it is not your place to talk about the boy. Now where is Mizuki?" The short man sometimes wondered why he and the others had fought so damn hard for these people.
"Don't know why you like the boy, but Mizuki should be in room 324." The teacher said with a shrug, not her problem.
Ten minutes later an inhuman scream rocked the academy. Rikimaru had found Mizuki and both of them being alone, the old Taijutsu master had educated Mizuki about why you didn't sabotage people and ruin perfectly good Taijutsu. When the other Chuunin in the academy found Mizuki, he was rocking back and forth muttering about a 'bad man with scars' and 'that's not an in hole'. Needless to say, Mizuki never quite recovered.
6 Months later
"Alright, it took forever but you're finally ready to start learning from Jin and Shin as well as a weapon." The scarred man said. He was genuinely proud of his student and himself.
Naruto had started out with nary a clue on how to use Taijutsu and now the boy could take anyone who wasn't a Taijutsu specialist themselves, and win. Provided, of course, they didn't have some sort of super defence shield.
"Yatta! But Rikimaru-sensei aren't kunai and shuriken enough?" The blond shouted enthusiastically.
"No, and thinking like that is the reason why we lose so many ninjas. Kunai and Shuriken are all right weapons, but neither is what I'd call suited to melee combat, that's why ANBU carry swords. Once you get to a certain point, just throwing massive amounts of kunai and shuriken won't work, so I get to teach you the fine art of using a sword." The bald man said with a shake of his head. The crash course he had given Naruto had covered a lot, but not everything.
"Like a katana?" The whiskered boy said in awe. Katanas were cool!
"Hell no! Katanas are for emo wannabe Samurai. You will be learning how to use a Kodachi, short enough for concealment but long enough to give you decent range." The scarred man said with a tick on his head.
Why did everyone love an overhyped bastard sword so much? Rikimaru wondered.
"What's wrong with Katanas?" The blond asked. Everyone knew Katanas were awesome, even if they weren't as awesome as Ninjutsu. So why did sensei dislike Katanas?
"You're not this stupid boy, figure it out." The bald man said after a second to work through his frustration.
Naruto began to think, using his mind was something he had been doing a lot of over the last few months.
"Katanas can't be concealed unless you're really big and... Everyone has an idea of how to fight a Katana user right?" The blue-eyed boy said after thinking it through. Rikimaru had hammered into his head that stealth, surprise, and precision were the hallmarks of a good ninja. Katanas could be precise, but they lacked the other two qualities.
"Right, Katanas have a very good reputation, not as good as the magic sky swords some people have, but good enough that everyone assumes that they are the epitome of swords. Katanas are only as good as their forgers and their users." The scarred man said looking at his student.
"Sensei, I hear you talk about magic sky swords a lot but what are they?" Naruto had been wondering about that for a long time.
"Well, I call them magic sky swords because they all have powers that can make a rookie like you a serious threat for some Jonin. Really none of them are connected to each other more than the users are. Some of them are chakra blades, like Raijin and the White Fang, others have the ability to drain people's chakra or increase your own and a very select few can actually manipulate the elements. Thing is that the users tend to start relying on their blades special abilities and forgetting how to fight without them." Rikimaru said with a laugh.
"Alright, so if I get one learn to use it but don't rely on its abilities." The blond said in a musing tone
"Very good, you see why I started making you use that head of yours?" The bald man said to his student. Honestly, teaching Naruto had done wonders for his outlook, Rikimaru mused. He was still a cynical, pessimistic man but he could honestly say he was happier now then he had been a year ago.
"Hai sensei. So when do we start?" The whisked boy said taking his sensei's good-natured ribbing.
"I still have to get you your practice blade; we'll start today after the academy lets out. I n the mornings you'll be learning Ninjutsu from Shin and strategy from Jin. Now, go talk to Shin he should be in the complex." The old man said with a smile.
The complex was the building where Naruto had first met team 13, and it was where, more often than not, you could find them and the few other old timers in the village. Naruto nodded and took off.
"So Rikimaru, what do you think of the boy?" The old Kage said appearing behind his comrade.
"He's got talent Hiruzen; a shame the academy never saw it. Still, I'm surprised that you let arguably the most dangerous ANBU team in history take on a student." The scarred man said. Hiruzen had always been an opponent of teaching children to kill and tended to coddle them.
"The boy deserves the best, and his enemies aren't going to hold back just because he's half trained. Besides it'll piss off Danzo." The bearded Kage said with a smile.
"That guy still being a whiny bitch?" Rikimaru said shaking head. No one really like Danzo, not even his teammates had liked him.
"Unfortunately yes, and for whatever reason my teammates listen to him." The old Kage said with a sigh. Those three had been getting worse and worse over the years.
"You really should dissolve the council and get new guys." The short man commented as he and his friend walked into the complex.
"Like you three?" Hiruzen said with a laugh.
"Remember the last time you left us in charge?" The bald man deadpanned.
"That battle won the war for us." The old Kage pointed out reasonably.
True, the battle of Kirukei Pass had ended Kumo's resistance and led to the death of the Shodai Raikage. But the cost had been prohibitive.
"We got lucky." The scarred man said waving off the fact that the three of them had held out against a vastly superior force for 4 hours until Konoha had been able to reinforce them.
"As long as you and the others refuse to take up council seats, I have to work with what I have." Sandaime said with a sigh.
"You've got a point there." The bald man acknowledged.
"So, does he know?" Sarutobi asked, serious now. Rikimaru could keep a secret, but when it came to who you were, he often didn't bother.
"Of his heritage? Not a clue, I've given him the means to figure out about his burden but he hasn't figured it out yet." The scarred man returned levelly.
"There was a reason why I didn't tell him!" The old Kage said with some venom.
"I know, but it's better if he figures it out on his own or has someone he trusts tell him then have it thrown at him when one of these chuckleheads decides to try and kill him." Rikimaru pointed out.
"You really think so poorly of the village?" The Sandaime asked, saddened. If people like Rikimaru, who had bled and nearly died for this village, didn't trust it, what did that say?
"Kyuubi caused a lot of grief and pain to people, and rather than deal with it, most people just transferred their feelings about the fox to him. Most of them won't do anything but it only takes one." The scarred man said with a shrug.
"I suppose you're right, but what happens if he doesn't figure it out before someone tells him?" Sarutobi asked his old friend. You learn a lot about a person when you legitimately train them. Rikimaru was the best person to ask about Naruto's mental state and ability.
"I really can't say. The boy has an almost miraculous ability to deal with trauma, but that ability has limits and takes time to work. Hopefully there will be someone else there to calm him down and tell him the truth." The old Taijutsu specialist said with a sad smile.
"Indeed, sometimes I wonder how he copes with all the hate against him and still stay happy." The old Kage said out loud to himself.
"It's a defence mechanism from what Jin says. The boy is too stubborn to back down, and despite the lack of any formal teaching or raising managed to cobble together a working mind based on observation and sheer inability to quit. Somehow, Naruto knows that if he ever gave into the hate then he would lose himself and prove everyone right." The scarred man answered.
The trio had discussed it often, Jin because it was a miracle of human psychology, Shin because it was a puzzle and Rikimaru because he had to figure out how to push the boy.
"Really...a child shouldn't need that ability." The Professor said sadly.
"Just be glad we got to him now, a year or two later and that happy idiot persona of his would've been carved in stone and it would take an apocalypse to break it." The scarred man said trying to alleviate his friend's concerns.
"I guess, come by the tower sometime with the rest of them, it's nice to see people my age who are reasonable." Hiruzen said puffing his pipe as he walked off.
"So you're finally here kid? I thought I was going to die before you'd be ready." The tattooed man said smirking.
"Shin-sensei, that's not fair; I had to learn everything from scratch and Rikimaru-sensei's a perfectionist." The blond whined.
"Got a point there...now, you have a large chakra reserve this means that you can learn lots of high level jutsus, but we won't be doing that until you can do the basic three without fail." The ponytailed man said grinning at his new student.
"I can already do Kawarimi and Henge, but I can't make a Bunshin." The blue-eyed boy said with a grimace.
"You do know that you need to make a Bunshin to pass the genin exam right?" Shin said exasperatedly.
"What?! That's not fair!" The whiskered boy screamed. He did have more control, but unless he was actually fighting or with someone he didn't trust (this included most of Konoha) the boy didn't use it.
"What did Riki tell you?" The gray haired man said patiently.
"Life's a bitch, you have to make it your bitch." The blond said with a sigh.
"That's right. So we're going to work on chakra control until you can make a Bunshin. To start, climb up the wall using only your feet. Too much chakra and you'll be blown off the wall, too little and you'll only get a few steps." The tattooed man said.
"Hai sensei." Naruto said and began to get to work. After an hour of doing this, Shin sensed someone.
"Naruto, keep working I'm going to get some coffee." The ponytailed man said.
"Hai." The blond said not really paying attention. Shin left and appeared behind the new presence, it was a girl, the Hyuuga Heiress no less.
"Well, well, a Hyuuga, don't often see your family around here." The tattooed man said smiling as the girl jumped.
"I-I w-was just..." The heiress tried desperately to come up with a reason for being here.
"...watching my student. Look, if you really do care about him, talk to him, he won't reject you, and if you don't stop following him people are going to talk." The man said fiddling with his ponytail.
"A-ano but I'm not pretty or strong like the other girls." The shy girl said, looking down at herself. Shin wondered what the hell her clan had done to her to make this girl so full of self-loathing.
"Do you really think Naruto cares about your physical qualities? Naruto looks at people's spirits and judges them by that, not what they can do or look like." The gray haired man said gently. Naruto had improved greatly, but he needed friends his own age, not a bunch of old geezers.
"B-but what i-if h-he rejects me?" The pale-eyed girl said. That had always been her fear; if Naruto rejected her then she wouldn't be able to take it.
"If you think he'll do that then you really don't know him at all." Shin said coldly.
Hinata thought about this for a moment. Naruto never gave up and never let anyone bring him down. This was true, but now that she thought about it, Naruto had never shown hostility to anyone besides Sasuke and Sakura. Sasuke, because of the competing egos and Sakura, well no one knew why the blond had snapped that day but all concluded that Sakura had deserved it.
"H-hai." Hinata said with increasing determination. This new 'sensei' of Naruto's was right, even if Naruto didn't immediately accept her feelings for him she would have to get close to even have a chance.
"You can talk to him during class, right now he's training so run along." The tattooed man said with a chuckle, looked like the girl got it. Pairing the Heiress of Konoha's most prestigious clan with the village pariah? That was a prank of consummate skill.
"A-ano...okay." The blue haired girl stuttered out as she bowed and left. Shin shook his head at the girl. She would get confidence around Naruto or suffer a mental break down trying.
"Kuso, this is a lot harder than I thought!" Naruto shouted.
"You're still using too much chakra kid. Calm down and concentrate on the smallest amount of chakra possible." The tattooed man said with a sigh.
"I'm trying!" The blond said through clenched teeth.
"Alright, try to feel your chakra, what does it feel like?" Shin asked taking another tack.
"Raw and chaotic, there's just too much. It's like a storm." The Jinchuruki said after focusing for a moment.
"I was afraid of that...looks like we have to focus on meditation and calming that storm. Until you learn to control that storm your chakra control is always going to be sub-par compared to others your age. It doesn't matter as much with high-level jutsu, but it does mean you're going to have trouble using genjutsu, and for all of your stamina you'll lose most of your fights." The grey haired man said still fiddling with is ponytail.
"Nani?" The whiskered boy said in confusion.
"Alright, suppose we both have a barrel of water. If I use a teaspoon and you use a bucket who will run out of water first? Even if you have a bigger barrel?" Shin asked patiently.
'I really wish that someone had bothered to teach this kid logic when he was younger.' The tattooed man mused.
"I will because I'm wasting more water." The blond said in understanding.
"Exactly, so we'll have to start at the beginning with the academy exercises for first years." The ponytailed man said.
"There are academy exercises?" Naruto asked in surprise.
Shin resisted the urge to slam his head into a wall. Why, oh why, did they have to take the kid with the most potential but least training?
"Do you actually learn anything at the academy?" The older man asked only half-jokingly.
"How to pull pranks." The boy said after a moment's thought.
"Of course." Shin said in exasperation. True, the boy had potential, but to reach it you had to work through a mountain of neglect.
"So what are the exercises Shin-sensei?" Naruto asked.
"Take a kunai and make it levitate using only your chakra." The tattooed man said.
At the Academy.
'I have to talk to him today I just have to. I promised!' Hinata's thoughts were focused on one action, talking to her crush.
Others seemed to notice, but dismissed it. Hinata got like this every few days and it never came to anything. Naruto walked in looking frustrated but otherwise normal and received his daily glare from Sakura and Sasuke. Shrugging, the blond sat down by himself as he usually did. Unlike most days, where Kagome arrived at the last moment, a new man walked in with a scar across his face and warm eyes.
"Hi everybody. Kagome-san had to retire so I'm your new sensei. You can call me Iruka-sensei."
The scarred Chuunin took a moment to glare at Naruto before starting his lecture on the Hokages. Naruto paid him no mind, but causally wondered why it was only the old people seemed to like him.
'Don't worry about it. Now if only I could figure out Rikimaru's riddle. My birthday is the day of the Kyuubi attack, so the reason they hate me has to do with that but how does one kill a demon? Maybe this guy will tell me.'
"And so our greatest Hokage gave his life killing the Kyuubi no Kitsune." Iruka droned on.
"How?" The blond boy piped up. Maybe this guy would give him some answers.
"What do you mean how?" The teacher asked. The Hokage and his own sense of honour demanded that he treat everyone of his students the same. So he couldn't just ignore the question.
"Well, a man once asked me how you kill a demon and I haven't been able to figure it out." The blue-eyed boy said. The rest of class realized it was a very good question, how does one kill a demon?
"A highly classified jutsu that can destroy demons." Iruka answered quickly. It was the standard answer that he had heard given to other students who asked the same question.
"I thought that too, but that doesn't work. If we had a powerful enough jutsu to destroy a demon, we would advertise it and use it to prove our superiority to other villages." The whiskered boy said, shooting down the objection.
"The dobe has point. How did Yondaime kill the demon?" The last Uchiha spoke up. If he could find out how the demon was killed, he could learn it and use it to kill Itachi.
"....." The teacher wasn't saying anything.
"Come on Iruka-sensei how?" Kiba shouted.
"I'll find out!" Ino said bringing up her hands to start her family jutsu. She wanted to impress Sasuke, which explained why she hadn't stop to think about the consequences. But she was facing offside so Iruka didn't see her until the last second.
"Ino don't!" Chouji said, but it was too late. The mind walker had already entered Iruka's mind; a few moments later Ino came out and screamed 'demon' pointing at Naruto.
"What?" Everyone else said collectively.
"Yondaime sealed the fox into Naruto when he was baby, and now the fox controls him!" The blonde girl said.
Naruto was in a state of shock...the Kyuubi was inside him? It couldn't be true! And yet it all added up...his birthday, the hatred, the subtle campaign of torture. The blond boy began to cry; it was all true, he was the demon, he killed all of those villagers. It was all too much; the hatred had been bad enough. But to think that they were justified, that the villagers right to do that.
"Naruto is no demon. How do I know this, because despite his antics, Naruto has never been violent without cause. Think about a glass of water, does the glass become water? No, it remains a glass. Naruto is the only thing keeping the Kyuubi at bay; he is not, despite the prejudice of the village, a demon." Shino spoke calmly, further shocking everyone in the room. Shino never talked that much.
Hinata looked at her crush he seemed so defeated. 'I have to help Naruto-kun now!' The girl said to herself as she walked over to the blond and gave him a hug. It was the first time Naruto had had physical affection in six years, on instinct he wrapped his arms around her and held on to her like a drowning man. 'I will not faint, Naruto-kun needs me. Why does he always have to endure so much?' The heiress thought as she made wordless sounds of comfort to the blond.
"Shino is right. Demons can't cry can they? Ino, you will be suspended for what you did. Yes, Naruto does contain the nine-tailed fox, but he is its jailor not the fox. This is an S-class secret that you are forbidden to tell anyone else." Iruka was, if nothing else, honest with himself. He had seen the Kyuubi attack, felt its malevolent chakra, and looking at the broken, sobbing boy, Iruka was forced to conclude that he and the entire village had done a grave disservice to the boy.
"Girl, you and the bug kid take Naruto to the Hokage and tell him what happened. The rest of you are going to hear a little story." The huge man known as Jin said walking into the classroom.
"Hai." Hinata and Shino said and half-carried, half-dragged the Jinchuruki out of the classroom.
"Not that I wasn't going to recommend that anyway sir, but who are you?" The scarred teacher asked. Instantly recognizing the man as the most dangerous person in this entire building.
"Me? I am Jin Azuma, retired Jonin of Konohagakure. I am also, among other things, the closest thing that boy has to family outside of the Hokage. Now kids, I've seen a lot of action, I fought in all three of the great Shinobi wars. My story takes place in a place called Satoshi's Oasis, in the Land of Wind.
Satoshi's Oasis (40 years earlier)
It was during the closing days of the Second Great Shinobi War, my team and I had been there since the beginning and at the time Konoha and Suna were enemies. There had been rumours of a monster somewhere in Wind and the Nidaime, paranoid man that he was, sent us to check it out.
"Damn it, what the hell is this thing?" Rikimaru, one of my best friends, shouted as we dodged a massive sand-covered claw. Rikimaru was the Taijutsu specialist of the team. Hell of a fighter, just don't mention his height.
"I think it's one of the bijuu." Shin, the Ninjutsu specialist of the team, said. Great guy, funny sense of humour, and a weird obsession with his ponytail.
"How the hell are we supposed to fight a fucking demon?" Riki cursed.
"The same way we fight everything else. Shin; try to slow that damn thing down with some Suiton jutsus. Riki, kill that bastard monk, I'll keep them distracted." I said. Whom were we facing? Well we were facing Shukaku and some crazy ass monk who had evidently summoned the thing to avenge the 'motherland'.
Distracting a demon who can manipulate the sand in a desert is hard. Doable, but hard, worse, I was Genjutsu specialist, meaning that I didn't have that many elemental jutsus at the time to give the Ichibi pause. I learned from that mistake after this incident. Back to what I was doing, dodging like mad while throwing off my personalized explosive tags, which were a fair bit stronger than normal tags. A fair bit doesn't really matter when the other guy can regenerate as long as he has sand.
Shin, Kami bless him, was right beside me, throwing water jutsus around like candy. This slowed down Shukaku a lot. Wet sand becomes mud and requires a bit different chakra to manipulate the same way. Of course, this didn't mean that we weren't fighting for our lives or that we weren't incredibly lucky to survive. We had been keeping the demon at bay for several minutes before a massive chakra explosion rocked the area.
"Jin we've got a problem!" Riki shouted at me from the distance.
"What is it?" I shouted back, dodging another sand blast.
"Yeah, killing the monk? Bad idea; the crazy ass bastard fused himself with the Shukaku rather than die!" Riki said landing beside me.
"So that means..." I said trailing off. Shit, monks can't really stand up to ninja's normally because we cheat. But they usually have a lot of chakra, even for us.
"That our friendly demon has just gotten a power boost and is even more insane then he was." Shin deadpanned.
"Great. Ideas?" I asked as we all kawarimi away from another storm of sand spears.
"Pray to Kami?" Shin said trying to lighten the situation.
"Useful ones Shin, useful ones." I snapped.
"Well, if you two can buy me some time, I might be able to reverse the summoning process and send him back to where ever he came from." Shin said after a moment.
"How much time?" I asked. Half-afraid of the answer.
"Five minutes." Shin said eyes down cast.
"We'll see what we can do. Riki let's go!" I ordered and we both launched ourselves at the demon.
"Jin, remember what we did in Kumo?" Riki asked. At the fall of Kumo, we, along with a couple of others, made some creative use of the enemy lightning techniques to blow up one of the gates. The same principle could, reasonably be applied to other things.
"Yeah, but where are we going to get a thunderstorm?" I asked as I threw another explosive tag into Shukaku's face.
"Water conducts, so we don't have to use that strong a technique." Riki pointed out.
"Good, because if this doesn't work, we're screwed." I said and began flashing through hand signs.
"We're screwed anyway if Shin doesn't pull through!" Riki shouted as he started his own technique.
"Point taken. On 3 then?" I asked.
"On 3." He agreed.
"1..." We both said.
"Rairyuudan no Jutsu!" Riki called, and a lightning dragon formed behind him and rammed itself into Shukaku's stomach.
"Inazuma Arashi no Jutsu!" I shouted and sent a dozen smaller bolts of lightning strike all over the demon's body. The lightning did it job, driving Shukaku back and quite a bit of his body looks like blackened glass now. However, those attacks drained both of our chakra levels to the bone and we're barely able to stand.
Shukaku screamed in anger and pain and prepared to kill us both with one blow. We're in no condition to dodge. Only to find that the five minutes are up and the demon disappears.
"You guys look like shit." Shin said, walking up to us. He looked tired and worn out, but was in better shape than us.
"Shut up Shin, you're not looking so hot yourself." Riki growled.
"Whatever, job's done let's head home ehh?" I said making myself stand through sheer force of will. Rikimaru and Shin grinned as we dragged ourselves back to Konoha.
Konoha Academy (present)
"Kids, the reason I told you that story is so that you would understand the difference between humans and demons. Demons do have intelligence after a fashion, but all they are, all they ever can be is monsters. Monsters that want nothing more than to destroy. Humans can become monsters too, but you can tell because they've lost what makes them human." Jin finished his tale.
"Class, we will come back tomorrow, you can leave early today. If any of you have any questions feel free to ask me or Jin-sama here." Iruka said as most of the class was still in a daze at hearing Jin's story. It was amazing; three Shinobi had stood up to a demon and won.
"Just Jin, and I'd love to help, but I've got to go check on my student. Yamanaka, come with me. This village takes a dim view when it comes to telling secrets." The huge man said.
"Why are you training Naruto? Is it because of the Kyuubi?" The dark haired avenger asked. 'The dobe certainly needs help, but I could use that power more and better.' He thought. Sasuke had nothing against the blond besides the rivalry thing, but believed that his need to get stronger superseded everyone else's.
"No, it's despite that. The kid has more potential then I've seen since Yondaime. Besides, the others and I were bored. And no, Uchiha, we will not train you." The bespectacled man said with a shake of his head.
"Why not?" Sasuke almost spat. It had been a very long time since someone had refused him anything and he wasn't used to it.
"Honestly? We just don't see the need. You'll grow strong on your own, without our help. Naruto would too, but by the time he did, it wouldn't have mattered. That and the kid's grown on us." The black haired man said with a smile as he walked out.
"Naruto-kun listen to me, you are not the demon you are the container." Sarutobi had been, without much success, trying to coax Naruto out of his shock.
"N-Naruto-kun, Hokage-sama i-is r-right. You're t-too nice t-to b-be a demon." The Hyuuga heiress hated seeing him like this. It wasn't right; the sun shouldn't disappear so quickly. Naruto said nothing, but one could almost hear the immense effort he was putting forth.
'I am Uzumaki Naruto. I am the jailor of the nine-tailed fox. I will not fail the trust Yondaime gave me and I will become the Hokage to protect everyone!' The blond declared, as through sheer force of will he forced his mind back together.
"Naruto, are you okay?" The grandfatherly Kage asked.
"I think so. Thanks, Jiji and, Hinata was it?" The blond asked.
"H-hai!" The shy girl squeaked.
"Thank you so much for being there for me. You didn't have to do that, but if there's anything I could ever do for you, just let me know." Naruto said giving a formal bow to the heiress.
"A-ano, I d-don't need t-that I j-just want t-to be y-your friend." The pale-eyed girl said. She wished that he hadn't found out the truth, but a promise to do whatever she needed? That was more then she had ever hoped.
"Then you will be my best friend Hinata-chan!" The blue-eyed boy declared.
"Uzumaki, if you are well, I'll take my leave." The bug-using boy said, preparing to leave.
"No Shino, you're a friend too. If you want to be that is." Naruto said almost shyly.
"I would be honoured Naruto." The shades wearing boy said without hesitation.
"Then let's all go for Ramen." The blond haired boy said happily.
"Maybe later boy, but you have sword training with me remember?" Rikimaru said walking into the Hokage's office.
"Hai Rikimaru-sensei!" The Jinchuriki never argued when it came to training.
"You two kids did well. Come on Naruto." The bald man said as he walked out of the office.
"It appears that Naruto will only be getting stronger from this experience. You two are both forbidden to talk about Naruto's burden. Understand?" The Hokage said to the two remaining students. They both nodded and silently vowed never to reveal Naruto's burden.
"Good, stand by him if you can. He needs more friends. Now run along, I have no doubt that your teacher has let class out early today." Sandaime said with a smile and watched the two leave. 'I wonder what's in store for you Naruto.' The elderly Kage mused.
Jin soon came in, dragging along a terrified Ino. The Hokage gave a questioning look.
"Little brat told the secret." The huge man said with a scowl.
"I see, leave Ms. Yamanaka here with me. I will deal with her." The Sandaime said his eyes had become very cold.
"Alright, see you around Hiruzen." Jin said walking out of the door.
"Now, Ms. Yamanaka, at what point did you think it was okay to use your abilities to enter your teacher's mind and steal state secrets? The Kyuubi is an S-class secret young woman. If you had time to find the truth, you had time to find that out." Sarutobi said.
His voice could have cooled hydrogen.
"I...I just wanted to impress Sasuke-kun." Ino said with a shudder. Where was the kindly old man she normally saw?
"So, for a boy you would sell out your village?" The Hokage demanded. His voice had become even colder.
"No! I..." The young girl began before Hiruzen interrupted.
"Save it Ms. Yamanaka. It is only because of your father that I do not have you killed right here and now. As it stands, if you wish to live and serve the village I will have a number of rules you will follow."
"Yes Hokage-sama." The blond girl said, terrified by the Hokage.
"First, you will have your mental abilities sealed. This is non-negotiable; you have proven that you cannot be trusted with them. When, and if, you make Chuunin, the seals will be released. Second, you will disassociate yourself from Sasuke. Any attempts to talk to or connect with Sasuke outside of schoolwork are prohibited. Third, you will apologize to Iruka and Naruto publicly. Fourth, if you ever make a hostile move against any fellow Konoha citizen again I will throw you into the darkest cell I can find. If you ever reveal secrets again you will be executed." Hiruzen said.
His voice was cold and carried the same inevitably that a natural disaster did. It would happen, no matter what anyone did to stop it.
"I understand Hokage-sama." Ino said, her eyes watering.
"Good. Bear." The Sandaime called.
"Yes sir?" An ANBU appeared from the window.
"Take Ms. Yamanaka and apply the seals." The Hokage ordered.
"Understood." Bear said.
He grabbed Ino by the arm and disappeared in a swirl of leaves.
Hiruzen sat back and mused that he was really too old for this.
A/N: Alright this is the rewritten version of chapter one. Hope it's better than the last one. As always a huge thank you to DustBunnyQueen for betaing this chapter.