Chapter 4

A pair of figures moved quietly through the forest of Konoha as they stalked their prey. They kept their senses open, searching for their targets.

Then one of them tripped on a twig, crashing noisily into a tree.

"Sshh," the other one said quietly, "Keep it down Udon."

"Sorry, Konohamaru," the other said with a sniffle as they heard a stick snap and they rushed towards the sound.

The two continued away, not noticing the two pairs of eyes watching them leave.

"Boss, can you teach me that clone jutsu?" the black eyed girl asked.

Naruto stepped out of the bushes, "I don't think you're old enough."

"Ooohh," Moegi whined, "Please?"

Naruto smiled and shook his head. He had spent the afternoon and evening after becoming an Inuzuka member learning about the clan history and some of the rules, Tsume had even pulled him aside to tell him about the courting rituals and reiterated that he has all rights to lay claim to Hana. After dinner, he spent most of the evening with the puppies in the kennel after Tsunade had left claiming she had work to do still.

This morning he had met up with the Konohamaru Corps in the park as he had promised and immediately tackled by all three of the crying kids, Udon's nose running more than usual. After calming the kids down, they started to play to get their minds off of things, starting off with simple games like tag. Now they were not just playing, they were testing one another. Naruto had set up a game in which they were supposed to try and capture each other in a trap. They had split into teams and went in opposite directions for a few minutes before starting.

Naruto patted the girl on the head, "Sorry, but you don't have enough chakra for it, and you could get hurt trying. Now we have to get our trap set." He finished with a mischievous grin that Moegi mirrored. They moved away from the path that the boys had taken to find a good place to set a trap. As they came to a small clearing, they found it was occupied. In the center of the clearing, sitting at an easel, was a pale skinned girl with light brown hair painting. Naruto was about to approach the stranger, but he heard a growl in the back of his head.

"Kit, be careful!" Kyuubi yelled, "I sense there's something wrong here."

"What do you mean?" Naruto asked as the young woman looked to him with a slightly glazed look in her eyes.

"I think…I think I sense a demon in her, but it's not sealed like I am. I think it might be some sort of parasite."

Naruto tensed, "What do we do?"

Suddenly he locked eyes with the girl as he felt a surge of power from Kyuubi as well as a strange intruding feeling from the girl as everything around him faded.


Naruto's vision cleared and he was no longer in the forest, where ever he was, the walls and floor pulsed with life, it reminded him of the weird toad stomach jutsu Jiraiya used once.

"Kyuubi, where am I?"

"That girl attempted to catch you in a genjutsu; I followed the feel of her chakra and sent you into her mind. This is like when you visit my cage, only in her mind."


"Whatever possesses her seems impeded by something, so if you can find it, we might be able to do away with it."

"Well what the heck am I looking for?"

"Hello?" he heard a voice behind him. It was the painter girl, "Who are you? Where are we?" she sounded a bit scared.

Naruto slowly approached her, "My name's Naruto, and I guess we are in your head. I think you have been possessed by a demon and I want to help get rid of it miss..."

The girl looked a bit wary, "I'm Yakumo, and what do you mean 'possessed'?"

Naruto struggled a bit with an explanation, "Well, I sort of have something that can sometimes sense demons it seems, and when you tried to use your genjutsu on me I back tracked your chakra somehow and ended up here. If we can just find it, I'll be out of here."

"Who said you'll be leaving alive?" a voice said from nowhere.

A figure seemed to sprout from the wall, it was dressed like Yakumo and had the same hair, but the rest of it was grotesque, with a huge horn on each side of its head, grey skin, big gangly fangs and heavily bagged eyes.

Yakumo stumbled back, "W-what is that thing?!"

"Oh, Yakumo, I'm hurt. I've been with you since you were born and you don't even know me," the creature growled in fake hurt.

"Great, just great, a baku." Kyuubi sighed in Naruto's head.

Forgetting about thought, Naruto spoke out loud, "What the hell's a Baku and how do I beat it?"

The demon narrowed its eyes, "I don't know how you know me or how you got here," a kunai appeared in its hand, "But it's almost time for me to take this body fully and completely, and no one will stop me. Her parents couldn't, the red-eyed bitch couldn't, and some stupid child certainly won't."

"KIT, TACKLE IT!" Kyuubi yelled, and before Naruto could question her, "NOW!!"

The baku had already started towards Yakumo, so when Naruto grabbed onto the demon he was also knocked into the girl and all three faded from Yakumo's mind.


When the Baku's vision cleared, the two humans where in front of it, the boy staring defiantly as the girls eyes were filled with fear. In a second it could tell they weren't in the girls mind any longer, "How noble of you, but I'll just take your body instead brat!"

Naruto smirked, "No…no you won't."

"And why is that?"

Instead of saying anything, the blond just widened his grin and pointed behind the demon, who turned to see a very, very large cage door and the darkness behind it. Deep in the shadows, a giant pair of eyes opened, red, slit pupil eyes.

The Baku stumbled back as red chakra seeped from the cage, "W-what the hell!?"

The red energy wrapped around the demon and dragged it to the bars as a voice in the cage roared, "You trespass into MY territory and dare to threaten MY host!?"

The baku was quickly dragged to the cage, screaming and begging for mercy. Once it was pulled into the shadows, there were a few sickening crunches followed by a loud swallow. A few seconds later, Kyuubi stepped to the bars in her human form with a disgusted look as she scraped at her tongue with her fingernails.

"I hope you realize you owe me for that, missy," the red haired woman said before spitting, "That was horrible."

Now Yakumo was caught between fear and confusion, "What's going on?"

Naruto turned to her and smiled, now taking notice of the floor that was almost dry and the wolf statues in the corners of the room, "We're in my mind now I guess, and horn head won't bother you again."

"That was a Baku," Kyuubi explained, "Normally they're mostly harmless, incorporeal and just eat the dreams of humans, but every so often you get one that's not satisfied with that, this one seemed to have been attached to you for years, eating away at your mind until there would be so little of you left that it could have taken over and gained a physical form, and a few more months, maybe a year, and it would have succeeded. You should be fine after a while, but I would suggest a visit to a temple in the future to help the recovery."

"That-that thing was actually in me!" The Kurama heiress stammered, "And who are you!?"

Kyuubi sighed, rubbing the bridge of her nose, "You two should get back soon, I'm not exactly sure how time is moving in the physical world at the moment. Just cancel your genjutsu."

"But…" Yakumo started before she was silenced by the woman, who suddenly had nine elegant tails swaying behind her.

"I am sealed here and I do no harm to my host, unlike the Baku," the redhead growled, "and that is all you need to know. Now cancel your genjutsu or I'll force you out."

The teenage girl gulped and quickly formed a tiger seal, and soon the tunnel and cage faded around her.



Naruto shook his head, "Huh? What happened?"

"Boss," he looked down to Moegi, "Are you okay? You spaced out for a moment there."

He looked to the other person in the clearing, Yakumo's eyes seemed clearer now and where focused on him, "Yeah, Moegi, I'm fine." He said as the now demon free girl stood and moved towards him.

She quickly wrapped him in a close embrace, whispering "thank you" over and over again.

Yakumo herself felt a bit overwhelmed, upon her return she suddenly felt lighter, like a great weight had been lifted from both her body and soul, her mind seemed clearer and the world seemed a little brighter. Her eyes were still on her new hero as she moved to hug him, thanking him for helping her. Their moment, however, was cut short when a few ANBU and medics leapt into the clearing.

Naruto moved into a defensive stance, but Yakumo stopped him, "It's fine, they're here for me," she faced the masked ninja, "I'll come quietly and return to the manor, just let me collect my things." The Anbu were a little off guard, but allowed it. After she gathered her supplies, she went to Naruto and gave him one last hug and a peck on the cheek, "Thanks again, my hero." And soon she and the ANBU were gone.

Naruto was a bit confused and wondered what just happened, but soon there was a rustling nearby with a familiar snuffle, and Moegi pulled him into a bush to hide, reminding him that they were still playing.


Yakumo and the ANBU returned to the manor and a pair ninja escorted her back to her usual room. She felt the crushing depressed feeling the moment she set foot into the windowless room, decorated with the dark painted reminders of the demon that once dwelled in her mind. She turned to her escorts and spoke, first the hawk masked ninja, "Pardon, ANBU-san, could you please deliver a message, I would like to speak with Yuuhi Kurenai and my uncle as soon as is convenient for either of them."

The ANBU nodded, "I will try." And he left as the heiress turned to the other ninja, a female with a tiger-mask.

"Tora-san, are you any good with fire jutsu?"

Tora was a little worried at the question from the usually unstable girl, "I know a couple," she admitted warily.

"Good," Yakumo said with a smile, quickly grabbing a fresh canvas and her paints, "I'm going to move to the conservatory for some better light. If you wouldn't mind," she looked back into the room, "burn those paintings."


"I said burn them, they're an unpleasant reminder of a descent into madness. I don't want any of those damnable things around." She walked away, calling back as she walked, "Keep the tarps on them, some have built in genjutsu."

Tora was even more confused, usually the pale and frail young woman avoided the sun like a vampire, she never seemed this happy and before she would have never EVER had her old paintings burned. The ANBU kunoichi shook her head and made a clone to handle the paintings, she sure as hell didn't want to be personally caught in one of that girl's illusions.


In Iwagakure, behind a large desk, a woman of reasonably good looks sat bored out of her mind. She was a rather short woman, only about four foot seven, with soft brown hair braided to her shoulder blades, and with lightly tanned skin and earthy red eyes.

Qiuyue, the Tsuchikage of almost two years, sat at her desk leafing through the intelligence reports.

"I swear, I beat up on one idiot, and suddenly everyone feels the need to report on every little fucking thing." She sighed to no one in particular. True, the idiot in question has walked funny ever since, and still jumps at the word 'rock slide' but he deserved it, she told herself.

About now she had gotten to the Konoha report. Hmm, Uchiha tried to run to the snake, assisted by unknown sound ninja, one captured, others killed, yatta yatta yatta, clan heirs injured. Huh? Uchiha was only fined and put on probation? Konoha's getting way too lenient, even for the last of a clan. Qiuyue turned to the next page and, with one look at the enclosed picture, something within her awoke. After years buried in the darkest recesses of her mind, where she had hoped it would stay for the rest of her life, it roared to the forefront with a deafening…squee?


The second the thought crossed her mind she instinctively slammed her head into her desk. She had spent her chunin and jonin years, even during the war, harboring a crush on her own enemy, the legendary Yellow Flash. She had been devastated at the news of his death. During the war she had dreamt of him almost every night, hoping he would invade whatever camp she was stationed at, take her prisoner and, after tying her up and returning to his village, taking her and…

The woman shook those thoughts from her mind, she had to focus. She looked back to the picture, with a second glance, she saw the boy really did look like the fourth hokage, his hair was a bit brighter, but if not for the whisker marks, he would almost be a clone.

Wait, whisker marks? She looked over the boy's info, Born October tenth, the day of the Kyuubi attack. No clear evidence of Jinchuuriki status, but the watchers constantly overhear him called a demon, and mention of 'Sandaime's Law', Sarutobi was a bit too softhearted, thinking a law would shut people up. The boy had a close relationship with the old monkey, is very close with Tsunade…TRAINED BY JIRAIYA HIMSELF!? She looked over some of the mission reports that were public record from her watchers, including the responses from clients, Koyuki of Snow claims he saved her and her country, highly supportive and positive response from both the Wasabi clan and the daimyo of Wave, even the leader of Taki says he's a hero. Is Konoha really tossing the kid out? She looked back to the picture, Uzumaki may be the mother's name, she felt a twinge of jealousy at that thought, Sarutobi may have had the kid keep it. Most probably, he's a Jinchuuriki, nine tails, even if his resemblance to Minato is a fluke, his connections and potential would be more than welcome, and sensei should be able to help him.

Qiuyue pushed the button on her intercom, "Get Roushi in here as soon as possible." She turned back to the file, marveling at how far the leaf village had seemed to have fallen.


Unkai Kurama made his way through the forest, constantly on his guard since he had received a request for an audience from his niece. He knew it wouldn't be right to deny her this, even though she couldn't seem to control her dangerous powers, she was still his blood and the heir of the clan. As he closed in on the manor, he found a number of the same ANBU operative tossing paintings in a pile a short distance from the building. One, who Unkai assumed was the original, walked to the current clan head.

"Kurama-sama, good afternoon," Tora greeted.

"To you as well," Unkai said as he kept his eye on the pile, "What, may I ask, are you doing?"

"Yakumo-sama asked me to burn her old paintings, sir."

Unkai raised an eyebrow at this, Yakumo used her paintings as a conduit for her powers, to have the burned would be like a samurai breaking his sword over a rock, "Is she in her room right now?"

"No, sir, she has moved herself to the conservatory, she said she wanted more light."

Unkai nodded at this latest in oddities concerning his wayward niece, and headed towards the conservatory. He arrived and knocked lightly on the door.

"Just a minute," the girls voice called from inside, a good deal more chipper than the man had heard from her in a long time. After some rustling, the door opened to reveal the young Kurama with splotches of paints on her face and clothes and a small smile. "Hello, uncle, thank you for coming."

"Of course," the elder said, keeping his senses sharp for any genjutsu, noticing the tarp covered painting near a window, "did you need something from me?"

"Please, have a seat, I'll get us some tea," she motioned to a wicker chair, "Just keep that painting covered, it's not finished yet," she added with a smile as she left the room.

Unkai sat for a few minutes, pondering on the painting and what his niece may have stored in it. Soon his curiosity started to get the better of him and he moved next to it, slowly lifting the corner of the tarp. He managed to see a bit of green before his hand was slapped and he let go of the tarp.

"Uncle," Yakumo whined, "I told you it's not finished yet." She grabbed his hand and dragged him to the table she had put the tea set on. After she and her uncle sat and poured a cup each, Yakumo's expression fell a bit, "Uncle, I need to talk to you about something, I want to apologise for how I may have been acting in recent years." Ignoring the surprised and confused man, she continued, "It came to my attention that, until earlier today, I was a host to a parasitic demon, but I am happy to say that is no longer true."

"Y-Yakumo!" Unkai stammered, "What are you talking about? How did you get rid of a demon?"

"Earlier today, I somehow ended up in the forest painting; I suppose the demon lead me there. I was interrupted by a boy who was around my age. For some reason I tried to use a genjutsu on him, and when I did he was able to turn it on me and enter my mind. He confronted the beast and dragged it into his own mind where, apparently, he also has a demon, but his was sealed."

Unkai's eyebrows shot to the roof, Uzumaki?

Yakumo continued without noticing, "His demon ate the parasite, and said that I should recover, but that I should visit a temple for a cleansing to aid my recovery."

Unkai was silent for a moment before standing, "You have given me much to think about, Yakumo. I will make arrangements for a temple visit, as well as a visit to one of the Yamanaka clan for a thorough check."

Yakumo smiled as the old man headed towards the door, "Thank you, uncle," she then headed back to work on her painting, with stars in her eyes, I can't wait to see you again, my heroic maelstrom.


"AAAAAAAAND, CUT!" a director yelled, "Take five people."

Koyuki Kazehana went to her room to reapply her makeup before the next scene, very happy how well her latest project was going. With the help of a few movie friends of her, the princess/actress was shooting a film called 'Savior in the Snow' which was meant to be the story of the liberation of her own country. True, she had taken a few liberties in the writing process, such as names, places, and maybe adding the romantic end between the hero and the princess, but once the script was finished, she had producers slipping in their own drool over the chance at this flick.

At the door to her room was her guard and assistant, Fubuki Kakuyoku. The pink haired young woman had survived the explosion of her chakra armor, but not completely. Fubuki had lost her right arm and had some scars, but had managed to get her hand on a puppeteer arm and had it attached, it seemed a bit stiff in its movement, but the snow kunoichi was getting better with it.

Shortly after Naruto and his friends left, Koyuki's first act as the leader of her country was to clean out their ninja village of anyone still loyal to Doto or his ideals. Fubuki had managed to stick around and wormed her way into direct service of the princess with some helpful info from foreign contacts and her own ability, she truly wanted to help the princess and make up for what she had supported.

The women went into the secluded room and Fubuki locked the door behind her as the princess talked on about her co-stars, that she didn't think the man playing Naruto's character was quite good enough, or that maybe another actor was overplaying their part.

"Hime-sama, I have some news from a friend in Fire country," Koyuki got quiet very quickly, any news Fubuki got from Fire country would usually have to do with her blond hero. The problem was Fubuki's tone, because it certainly seemed anything but happy.

"Did something happen? Is Naruto alright?" Koyuki asked quickly, fearing for her favorite blonds' safety.

"As far as I heard, he's still breathing and alive. It seems that, a few days ago, his teammate attempted to defect to Otogakure. A retrieval team consisting of a chunin, one Naruto Uzumaki and three other genin was dispatched to capture Uchiha Sasuke. They, along with three hired Suna genin and another leaf genin, fought against five high ranking sound nin as well as Uchiha himself. Three of the retrieval team, Uzumaki included, did suffer some major injuries but are expected to make a full recovery. The mission was a success when, after suffering near mortal injuries, Uzumaki subdued the Uchiha who, along with the one surviving sound nin, is in leaf custody."

The princess sighed, "I sense a 'but' coming."

The pinkette nodded, "For reasons unknown to me, the council, against the Hokage's wish and that of the major clans, have ordered Naruto Uzumaki to be banished about five days from now, they only give the reason that he is a threat to village security."

The room seemed to get as cold as her countries name as Koyuki walked out of the door and towards the director, "Sir," the princess said in a quiet tone, "I am afraid I am going to leave for the day, I have urgent business to attend to as my countries leader."

The director nodded, "Are you sure, Koyuki-sama?"

"Yes," she said simply as she headed back to her room, stopping part way to face Fubuki, "You said five days?" Fubuki nodded, "is that enough time for you to get to fire country?" she thought for a moment before giving another nod, "Fubuki, first I want you to tell my advisors I want to meet with them now, then your mission is to travel to Fire Country, stay under the radar. Once Naruto has left the village, I want you to invite him here and provide escort." Koyuki finished her order and headed back to her room to change.

Fubuki released a breath she didn't know she was holding, "I guess that could have gone worse." She shrugged to herself, "I'd say she took it rather…"

"BASTARDS," was yelled as one of the walls of the princess's room was broken from a large vanity and a table flying through.

Fubuki sighed and got to work, not wanting to deal with the pissed princess.


Kurenai Yuuhi arrived to the Kurama manor to find a good sized pile of canvas burning in a rather impressive sized pyre, which confused the hell out of the red-eyed woman. First she hears that her former student, who before held a deep grudge against her, requested a friendly meeting, then she sees the girls various works going up in flames at the artist's order.

Kurenai came to the conservatory that the tiger ANBU had said the girl was in to find it empty. She moved to the inside of the room and towards a painting that seemed almost finished. Unlike the girls previous dark and somewhat disturbing works, this was…uplifting. It seemed to the red eyed woman that just looking at the painting gave her a warm, safe, content feeling.

The painting depicted a young man in typical r ōnin garb colored a rusty red orange sitting in a grassy prairie and leaning back against a large red furred creature that wasn't finished yet. The backdrop was of a beautiful sunset, hundreds of flowers and the edge of a large forest. The young man was facing the setting sun and most of his visible face was obscured by his blond hair, but one could just about make out the edge of a blue eye.

"Kurenai-sensei," Kurenai turned to see her old student coming in the door carrying a few new bottles of paint, "Please, it's not finished yet," she moved and pulled a tarp over the painting.

"Um, you asked me to come, Yakumo?"

"Yes, please have a seat, I'll be there in a moment," the young woman set her paints with the ones already in the room. She sat near the older woman and sipped from a glass on the table. The pair sat in a rather uncomfortable silence for several minutes before Kurenai said anything.

"Yakumo, I know you dislike me for…" she was cut off by her former student.

"I know, sensei," she sipped her tea again, "It was not your fault, you simply didn't have all the information."

"What do you mean?" Kurenai asked, confused.

"I don't know what sort of seal you used, but it was in no way meant for what I had." She took another drink, "It wasn't meant to hold a demon." She waited a moment for that to sink in.

"W-what do you mean demon?"

"From what I was told, it was a Baku and it was within me for years, slowly trying to destroy my mind and take my body for itself, so it would have a physical form. It said you weren't able to stop it," The young girl began to tear up a bit, "It said that my parents tried to stop it, I guess they found out about it somehow and it…it used me to kill them."

Kurenai put an arm around the weeping girl to comfort her. After a bit, she spoke to her former apprentice, "Yakumo, we need to see the hokage, she could find Jiraya and he can seal the demon properly."

"No, he can't sensei," she sniffled, "It's gone now. I met someone else earlier who had a demon within him, but his demon was more… friendly I guess. She ate the Baku and said I should recover after a while."

Kurenai thought back to the painting, no way, it can't be, "Yakumo, who was it you met?"

Yakumo blushed enough to partially answer the question, "I don't know his surname, but he said he was Naruto."

Kurenai almost slapped her forehead, Of course, is it just my students he does this to?

"Kurenai-sensei, I asked you to come because I wanted to ask if, after my recovery, I could start studying as a ninja again." She said with hope in her eyes.

Kurenai smiled and nodded, "I'd be happy to teach you."


Sakura limped home for lunch, nursing a number of bruises with her bō staff on her back. Her first couple sessions with Tenten had been painful but productive. While her physical strength, speed and stamina left quite a bit to be desired, she got the forms and katas quickly, and she had been given a few of Tenten's old training weights, although thankfully, they were nowhere near the level of Gai's green garbed student. She was about home when a call of 'Forehead' called her attention to an approaching Ino, who didn't exactly look happy.

"Hey, Ino, what's up?"

Ino looked at her incredulously for a moment, "Where the hell have you been, Sakura? What happened to you?"

"Oh," Sakura rubbed a bruise, "Just weapon training."

"Wha-," the blond shook her head, "Never mind, listen, why the heck didn't you visit Naruto in the hospital? He risked his life and almost died and you didn't even check on him? He has to give up on his dream because of that mission, were you just trying to sneak in with Sasuke-teme?"

"N-no, I," Sakura's eyes began to water, "I didn't want him to see me," she lied, "I-I don't think I can be around him now, I don't deserve to," that, to her, was the truth, "It was my fault, Ino. I made him promise to bring Sasuke back, it's because of me that he almost died and all I've ever really been to him is some mindlessly abusive bitch. He should blame me for getting hurt, but he won't, he'd forgive me, and I just don't deserve that right now."

"Well his injuries are the least of his problems right now."

The pinkette blinked, "What do you mean?"

"He's getting banished."


An old red haired ninja drained the last of his sake from its bottle as he climbed the stairs to the office of his leader and former student. While Rōshi did find it a bit demeaning having to take order from the same woman who he saw, only a few decades before, almost crap her pants on her first C-rank mission, but he didn't want that sort of responsibility, and it was better to have her working in the office then to have old man Ōnoki breaking a hip every other day reaching for a pen.

Without knocking, he entered the Tsuchikage's office, "Hey, brat, what do you need?" he asked before ducking a stapler, which then stuck to the wall.

"STOP CALLING ME THAT SENSEI!" Qiuyue took a moment, and a couple of deep breaths, to compose herself, "I have an important mission for you," she said as she held up a picture.

Rōshi took a quick look at the picture and smacked his own forehead, "Don't tell me you're still nursing wood for a dead man." He then narrowly avoided a flying paperweight.

"GIRLS DON'T 'NURSE WOOD' YOU ASS!" Qiuyue took a few more moments to calm herself, "Sensei, this is serious, take a closer look at the picture."

The man sighed and did as he was told, "It's not him?"

"No," the Tsuchikage said as she opened a file, "Meet Uzumaki Naruto, age thirteen, birthday October tenth, distinguished by three whisker marks on each cheek, signature jutsu is the Taijuu Kage Bunshin, which he has been known to make as many as several hundred clones," Rōshi raised an eyebrow, but kept silent, "Gennin student of 'Copycat Kakashi', student of the toad sage Jiraiya, close friend of the late Hiruzen Sarutobi, surrogate son of Tsunade Senju, has a bridge named in his honor in the land of Waves for his heroics, is credited as vital for having prevented a coup d'état in Takigakure, known in the land of Spring as 'The Knight of the Snow', and is known in his home village of Konohagakure as…'the demon brat'."

Rōshi sighed, wishing he still had his sake, "So this kid is a Jinchuuriki, but I am not abducting someone so well connected, last thing we need is two Sannin, two villages and two whole countries wanting to kick our collective ass. Did you take a boulder to the head?"

Qiuyue smiled deviously, "That's the beautiful part, sensei. Konoha doesn't care because they're banishing him in a few days."

Rōshi sighed again and shook his head, "We must have killed off the smarter side of their gene pool in the war. So what do you want me to do?"

"Just find him once he is out of the village and extend an invitation to join our village. We could probably get away making him a rookie chunin, you could help him with controlling his tenant, and most of our ninja would probably be happy just to stick it to Konoha. His political connections would probably be enough to silence any other naysayers, and who knows what sort of potential he has."

The red haired man stared at his boss for a moment, "And this isn't just because he looks like your old crush."

The woman blushed a bit and looked away, "That might be part of it." She heard her teacher groan, "Hey, listen, the kid looks almost just like Minato-ku…Minato did, he was chosen as host for the beast, Jiraya took him as a student and I'm told the old monkey Sarutobi treated him like family."


"And!? I think that means there's a pretty damn good chance…that he could be the son of Minato Namikaze! If it's true and we can find a way to prove it not only would we gain a valuable ninja, we could shove it in Konoha's face that they gave the boot to the son of their hero."

"And what about the Sannin, if he's so close to Tsunade and Jiraiya, do you really think they'll be letting this go down?"

"That's their problem, apparently between the time the old man kicked the bucket and Tsunade got into office, their council got a few things passed through a couple loopholes to fatten their wallets and increase their own power, even at the cost to the village overall. If Jiraiya and Tsunade want to do anything, they'll probably follow him after a bit, and we might just get one or two of the legendary Sannin added to our village. The loss of the kid will probably affect Konoha's business with a couple countries, but the fact that they lost the backing of the rest of the Sannin would probably cripple them so bad the entire village's infrastructure would probably fall in on itself." She explained, a trickster's smile cracked across her face as she turned and gazed out at the night sky.


The advisory council of the Land of Snow/Spring gathered in their chamber, worried about what could be the cause of the emergency meeting. Many had heard of their ruler's outburst on her movie set and almost pitied whoever had angered her so.

The council had been put together shortly after Koyuki took her throne to help care for her country. Each member worked with a couple of others to decide on things for the country, like taxes, settling major disputes, appointing law enforcement, and allocating funds to needed areas. Each change had to be passed through the princess and, to prevent problems seen in other countries; it was built into their base constitution that they any attempt to pass anything meant to restrict her own power would be met with execution for treason.

The princess soon entered in all her regal splendor, wearing an expression that quite clearly said 'Cross me and I will tear out your still beating heart'.

"I thank you all for coming on such short notice," Koyuki said in a strained voice, "As some of you may have heard, I am not in a good mood, so I will try to keep this brief. I have just been informed by my assistant, Fubuki Kakuyoku, that Konohagakure will officially banish one of their ninja in five days with no real reason given. That shinobi is Naruto Uzumaki," at that several murmured conversations started, as well as a few curses at the leaf village, but were quickly silenced when Koyuki drove a fist, loudly, into the table. Shaking the tingling pain from her hand, she continued, "Yes, yes, 'The Knight of the Snow' was banished, and now you know why I'm in a bad mood, so don't interrupt me again. Naruto's teammate attempted to defect from their village, Naruto and his team stopped him, and now Naruto is getting banished. I have already dispatched my assistant to safely escort him here, but that's not enough for me," she growled, "I want to show those leaf headed pricks what it means to mistreat our hero, my Knight and an honorary member of our land. I'm open to any suggestions that will at least make that village a little less comfortable."

The majority of the next hour was spent making decisions just to make the village hidden in the leaves miserable. The recent activation of the former rulers heat generator had caused some flooding in the few flat areas of the country, but it had also revealed lush and fertile farmland, the country had already possessed several mines in the numerous mountains, the shores had a good fishing industry, and all of them had felt a debt to Koyuki for freeing them from the heavy taxation of her uncle, and through her, Naruto, the hero who had saved the princess and defeated the evil man. Even this soon after it happened, it seemed many children liked it as a bedtime story, no matter the fact the fairy tale from their parents was different from what had really happened.

Konoha would know the wrath of the Land of Snow and Spring, and they would know it well.

That night Koyuki had retired to her bedchambers, and was lying in her bed with a framed picture. It was a picture of her and a certain bandaged and unconscious boy. Even in her current angered state, the picture, and the memory of Naruto's reaction to it, brought a smile to the princess's face. The boy had helped reveal her father's final gift to her and her country, and granted her the dream she had as a child, to be a princess and an actress. She laid the picture back on her nightstand and looked out at the full moon in her window.

Naruto, she thought, I will help you. If they think I will just let you lose your dream after granting me mine, then we will prove them wrong. I will make them pay, I swear it.


Hinata was sitting in her room thinking about her day. Earlier that day, Hinata had gone to visit the village leader only to find the female Sannin had wanted to see her as well. The young girl listened to the plans being made by the blond woman, all the while the small, devious corner of the Hyuga's mind was snickering darkly at those who had spurned her precious Naruto-kun. Hinata had been told to think over her possible part in the plan. It would certainly help her get closer to Naruto, but there was also a chance she may not see some, if any, of her friends and family again.

Her teammates would probably understand, and the same could be said for her sensei. She wasn't really close with anyone else outside of her family, though, because of her shy nature in school.

And it was only recently that she had started making any headway with her family, Neji seemed to be making an effort to rebuild bridges with her, her father seemed to have made a couple of awkward tries at being nicer to his eldest daughter, and then there was Hanabi.

Hinata sighed; things were slow going with her younger sister. The younger girl was hesitant to trust her elder sibling, they hadn't been very close their entire lives and rarely were able to interact outside of the spars that were arranged between them, and now the girl thought any move made by her elder might be a trick to get through her guard, and it would bring to her mind the near inborn fear of their family seal.

She looked to the little blond ninja plushy next to her, then out her window, Naruto-kun…


Sakura sat in her room, after she had gotten the news for Ino, she hadn't believed it, but it wasn't something the blond would lie about. It raised a lot of questions that neither girl could answer. And even more questions were raised when Ino talked about her little henge experiment. The villager reaction to the false Naruto brought a guilty feeling forth within Sakura, knowing she had been a lot like them before. Sakura had locked herself in her room after Ino left. In her room, she wept, wishing she could have stopped Sasuke herself, that she could have convinced him to stay, anything that could have kept Naruto in the village. It just wasn't fair, getting banished for his success. She felt guilt for the pain she had caused her blond teammate, and wept for his lost dream.

After all, you can't be Hokage if you aren't a leaf ninja.

Sakura looked to the sky and the great glowing orb, I'll find a way to make this right, Naruto, I swear to you.


In another part of town, the pinkette's friend was thinking along similar lines as she tended to the flowers and gazed out the window. I don't know what sort of secret you have Naruto, and I don't care, no person our age could deserve to be treated like that, Ino thought, I won't let you go through that alone anymore.


Yakumo finished the last touches on her new painting, signing in the corner of the canvas. She sighed as she thought of the news she had been given by her reinstated teacher, and hoped her uncle would have the necessary arrangements done soon, she hoped to see her hero before he was forced to leave. The young painter reached up and gently ran a finger along the cheek of the young man in the painting.

Uzumaki Naruto, she thought, as Kurenai had given her the maelstroms full name, how have you suffered, how have they hurt you? You saved me, my hero, and I will do all I can to save you. She looked out her window, I will not abandon the hope you have given me, and I will not abandon you.


Naruto sat in the warm evening air with the Inuzuka head and her daughter as each of them enjoyed melon slices while they watched some puppies chasing fireflies from the porch. Tsume had given Naruto a room of his own in her house for whenever he needed it, even if he managed to get back to the village at one point.

Naruto had spent most of his day playing around with the Konohamaru Corps. (He and Moegi had beaten the boys in their capture game). In the later afternoon, he had returned to the Inuzuka compound and Hana had taught him a few taijutsu moves of his new clan, which he was able to pickup surprisingly quickly as it seemed to work well with his already feral brawler style.

Dinner was very pleasant too, even though it was just him, Hana, Tsume and their dogs, the whole thing seemed to re-enforce the fact that he now had an official family. Unlike what one might expect from a major clan, it was a very close dinner, the women and Naruto each eager to talk about each other's day and tell stories of their past, several of which filled the room with laghter, especially the one Hana told about the time Kiba had gotten into his mothers room and dressed in her things to play ninja.

They even had a picture, and it made the blond drop to the floor, grasping his sides when he saw the photo of little Kiba, his face smeared with makeup, mouth smudged with lipstick and a bra hanging loosely outside his t-shirt, his mouth half way through the sentence, "I'm a ninja like mommy!"

The humans were shaken from their thoughts as the puppies began to bark and howl at the newly risen moon.

Tsume lay back, glancing at her newest pup, wishing she could do more to help him as she turned back to the moon. Whoever's out there, please keep an eye on the poor kid.

Hana had enjoyed the presence of the boy, at first she had thought he was just a blond version of her brother, but she was wrong. True, he was as dense and short tempered at times as Kiba was, but he was nice and seemed to pick up on things really quickly when he was given a chance. And his kindness caught her a little off guard, given what her mother had said about his life growing up. She turned her attention towards the sky; I will do my best to help you, as heiress to your new clan and…as your friend.

Naruto looked at the celestial body that had the puppy's attention. He liked the canines, and thought it was cute the way they barked at the moon, like they could scare it off. He couldn't wait to have his own partner, Kiba had always said how great it was having a companion that would be there with him, and Naruto wished for something like that. Part of Naruto was wary of getting this close to the Inuzuka family, only to lose it in a few days, but he knew he would cherish these memories. As he gazed into the moon, for some reason he couldn't understand, he felt something, a connection, no, several connections. He felt like, at that very second, he was surrounded by those who cared for him, maybe even loved him.

A.N. Well, it's shorter than usual, but I think it's pretty good. I wanted to get this ready and up a week ago, but got distracted, sorry.

And before anyone says anything, yes, I know that in cannon Yakumo's 'Id' is a side effect of her bloodline ability, like the Mangekyou sharingan's blindness, but it's my fic, so bugger off.

And as for the Tsuchikage, I had already planned for a female one before the manga introduced the real one, back when I was working on the first chapter (yes, I do plan that far ahead with a few things), so, again, bugger off.


P.S. If anyone wants to take a whack at your own version of Yakumo's painting, let me know, I'll try and mail or message you a better description and I'll put a link to it below here.