Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto
"Truth in Knowledge"
by Chronos Astral
Chapter 1 – Subtle Observations
When the dull throb that signified the beginnings of a headache started pulsing, the Hokage knew that today would be one of those days.
Heaving a silent sigh, Sarutobi wasn't surprised to find the disgruntled head of the Hyuuga clan barging into his office. While doing his best to maintain decorum, Hyuuga Hiashi couldn't repress the throbbing vein and the deep scowl that gave away his irritation.
"I've recently discovered that my daughter has been fraternizing with that Uzumaki boy," Hiashi started steadily, sounding as if he'd just caught Hinata doing drugs or something to that extreme.
The Hokage didn't seem affected by the news. "I think your daughter is old enough not to have you meddle with her social life, Hiashi."
"I think you missed my point, Hokage-sama," The Hyuuga head iterated, "My main concern is that she is socializing with Uzumaki Naruto."
"And I understand these concerns, Hiashi, but I assure you that Naruto is of no danger to you or your daughter."
Hiashi coughed uncomfortably at this, recalling the boy's attempt at blackmail the day before. "If you recall, the boy has been a bizarre anomaly since his birth and you're telling me that his behavior won't influence my daughter?"
"Naruto is not a threat to anyone, in spite of his more... peculiar tendencies and talents; I thought I've made that clear to the council."
"He sifted through all of our village's libraries in less than a month at the age of five! Even the Naras find his level of intellect to be preposterous! He then requested a home to live on his own when he was seven -a request that you granted!" The conversation was starting to pick away at Hiashi's reservations as he passionately recounted the boy's phenomenal accomplishments.
"Most fathers would be delighted to have an intelligent potential son-in-law that can take care of himself," He argued jokingly, taking joy at Hiashi's look of choked horror at the idea.
Hiashi coughed again, trying his best not to think of the blond brat and Hinata in such a relationship. "This is no laughing matter, Hokage-sama! She's going back to meet him as we speak!"
This was interesting. Knowing Hiashi, Sarutobi assumed that the Hyuuga head would have simply forbidden his daughter from making contact with Naruto. "Why approach me with this matter, Hiashi? If this has set you that much at unease, why not talk to Naruto yourself?"
At this, Hiashi grew uncomfortable. "Certain... circumstances prevent me from doing so."
"Be that as it may," Sarutobi started, noting the younger man's change in demeanor. "Even if I did take your case into account, I hold no sway over the boy. Ever since he'd requested to have a house of his own -a house he, himself, paid for- his business has been his own."
"But-" Hiashi tried to argue, but was cut-off.
"This matter is over, Hiashi. Unless Naruto has done anything of actual concern, I have other issues to attend to,"
"I-" The Hyuuga head tried to press once more but conceded. "Very well. I'm sorry to have disturbed you, Hokage-sama." With a bow, Hiashi left the older man to his peace, swearing to have a (carefully thought-out, well-rehearsed, non-hostile, and not in any way influenced by threats of blackmail) talk with his daughter.
Sarutobi let out the second sigh of the day.
He did still meet with Naruto on occasion, visiting the young blond's secluded home located in one of Konoha's forest areas. They'd engage in small talk and the occasional drink, and by small talk and drink, he meant verbose philosophical discussions on life and death or important political matters and the best damn varieties of alcohol the aging ninja had never in his many years had the pleasure of imbibing.
Wondering how Naruto was relatively unaffected by the alcohol or how he'd even come to obtain such a vast and exquisite stock of it had become a futile and extraneous exercise in mental faculties, which Naruto could all but be defined as. The Sandaime had given up trying to understand the boy and how he behaved. He had originally chalked it up to a certain 'fox's' influence, but somehow, the pieces still didn't fit.
Sarutobi had to accede that the boy was, for the lack of a better word, 'special'. One would normally assume that this was because he was not only the container for the most powerful bijuu in existence, but also the son of Namikaze Minato, the famous Yellow Flash. They'd be wrong. This would be because, with the exception of Jiraiya, only Sarutobi knew of these facts and was under strict orders to keep them a closely guarded secret.
Just a few days after he was born -a memory he would never forget...
They'd 'won', so to speak.
It wasn't so much a victory as it was the least devastating defeat they could hope for. The Kyuubi had all but decimated a great fraction of their forces, taking with it the lives and homes of countless innocents. A morose veil hung in the air, weakly echoing with stifled sobs and pained groans. So much were the blood and tears that were shed this day.
And to top it all off, the great Yellow Flash died to save them all.
The recently reinstated Sandaime Hokage hopped over to the battlefield, where the massive fox had once stood its ground then vanished into the stomach of an infant. Sarutobi grieved the death of his successor, knowing that the forbidden technique had taken Minato's soul in order to seal the Kyuubi. He also took pity on the newly-orphaned blond baby that wasn't even aware of what had transpired this day.
'At the very least, Minato's legacy would live on.'
He wanted to tell the villagers what had transpired here; the sacrifice made to protect their village. They needed to know that this little boy is now the shield that would forever hold the mighty demon fox at bay, sparing all the carnage of its wrath.
As Sarutobi neared, he expected the wails of a frightened infant to fill the air. Instead, a foreboding silence prevailed and it made him uneasy.
The unmoving body of Konoha's Yellow Flash caught his eye, lying in the grass as if in peaceful slumber. Sarutobi bowed his head as he paid his silent respects and gave his heartfelt thanks to the younger man who had all but given his life for his village.
Sarutobi felt a somber relief upon finding the blond baby boy nestled into the chest of his father. On the boy's stomach was the tell-tale seal that marked both the tragedy and the sacrifice made to fell the demonic colossus that was the Kyuubi no Yoko.
That was his name.
The Sandaime approached the infant, slowly as not to alarm him. Naruto looked up inquisitively from his perch, not in the least afraid of the elderly ninja. He was still, strangely enough, not like most newborns who would flail their stubby limbs in search of their mother's teat. He was calm, almost doll-like, as if anticipating an unknown event. Sarutobi took note of the boy's strange whisker-like marks etched on each of his cheeks, deducing it to be an influence of the Kyuubi's.
Carefully, Sarutobi took the blond bundle into his arms, wondering at the physical similarities the child shared with his father.
'He looks just like you, Minato.'
Just as he resolved to give the deceased father a proper burial, his finely tuned senses caught a dreadfully familiar scent.
It was natural for a battle of this magnitude to inflict its grave share of injury and death, but what concerned him most was that it was coming from Naruto.
On the infant's hand was a fresh coat of blood, traces of it trickling down the small length of his arm. It didn't appear to be his own blood; more likely, Naruto had unknowingly covered his hand from the blood of another.
Naruto patted his bloody hand on the older man's sleeve, dragging his red-coated fingers across the fabric. At first, Sarutobi thought of it as the boy merely seeking attention, but when he spotted a distinct patter in the boy's actions, he grew alarmed.
While clumsy, the kanji script was becoming more and more legible with each stroke the blond boy made. Astounded, Sarutobi simply stared at the marvel that was a baby boy, barely a month old, that had the intellect, much more the motor skills, to write in discernible kanji.
When the infant stopped, he looked up at the old man as if expecting something. His eyes were not of a doe-like innocence present in most newborns. They were that of a being that possessed lifetimes -eons of knowledge.
And so the old village leader knew that what the boy had written was not pure coincidence, nor some childish request for attention.
The letters, in their blood-red nature, carried with it a weight of wisdom and importance that was far from the capability of a mere boy barely a week old.
And so he didn't. Besides Jiraiya, who was already aware of both the child's birth and the Yondaime's intent to seal the Kyuubi, no-one would know of what had really happened that night. He would tell them that Minato had used a forbidden jutsu to kill the beast in exchange for his life. Naruto's alibi would be that of an orphan that had lost his parents to the destruction wrought from the great fox.
From that day on, Sarutobi kept a close eye on the boy, at first believing that the sealing had an adverse effect on him. To his surprise, Naruto himself was the one that told him that the Kyuubi was not having any real effect on him.
And he was only three-years old at the time. His first words, no less.
To say that Naruto possessed an incredible level of intellect was akin to claiming that Jiraiya had a subtle interest in the fairer sex. He achieved feats years earlier than any human could at his age: reading and comprehending speech just a week after he was born, mastering writing just a few months afterward, walking and talking at the age of three – there was virtually no end to his astounding achievements.
For his insurmountable genius, however, underneath the rigid and vast understanding and comprehension of a thousand-year old still beheld the natural essence of a child: curiosity. Since the time he'd been able to talk, Naruto would always ask questions. The questions came in all natures: irrelevant, invasive, philosophical, political, biological, observational – the tiny blond had a query for every event and situation that presented itself.
This was a cause of grief for the orphanage that cared for Naruto. Many of his questions had often confused or flustered his caretakers.
He was also distant and catered only to himself, not caring to indulge in games and childish pleasures like sweets and toys. It made him hard to approach, especially amongst the other children, but the staff were grateful that he was more than capable of looking after himself and thus left no messes to clean up after.
Other children were very much wary of him. Those his age and younger would be baffled by his big words and scary mannerisms. Those older would feel inferior and attempt to seclude him from them. As a result, Naruto virtually had no friends his age.
The adults of the village were another story. Being the young prodigy that he was in a village that prided itself on its many child geniuses, he had taken the notice of some of the more prominent figures of Konoha. Surely, such potential from someone so young (and impressionable) would go to waste if not nurtured to benefit their village, some considered. Others disagreed with the notion, finding such near-limitless potential at a ripe age foreboding-- frightening even. Another Orochimaru wasn't the most ideal scenario.
The debate would have escalated had the Sandaime not taken matters into his own hands and asked the boy in question for his opinion on the matter.
The bespectacled five-year old (it was still a mystery as to where he'd gotten those glasses) regarded the older man with the eyes of a ghost a millenia-old, directing his attention away from his current textbook ("Hyperbolic Partial Differential Equations"). His answer to the question was a simple: "I have no interest in becoming a ninja."
And just like that, the matter was concluded. Sarutobi made it clear that nothing short of Naruto's willful and unswayed consent to the idea will be valid enough reason for him to attend the ninja academy. Danzo was not pleased.
It came as a small (though not unexpected) surprise that Naruto requested to have a home of his own at the age of seven. Given that the barely a decade-old boy was more knowledgable than the average adult citizen when it came to taking care of himself, Sarutobi had little qualms in letting him live by himself, if not the slightest bit concerned that the boy had no other company.
Naruto's request was very specific: an empty lot in a secluded spot deep in one of the forests of Konoha. For the life of him, Sarutobi still didn't know how Naruto came up with the amount of money to actually pay for the lot. He thought it best not to ask.
Sarutobi also didn't want to know how Naruto managed to find the funds and materials to have built a modestly large home to fill that lot in the time span of but two days. Trying to wrap one's mind around the enigma that was Naruto was about as easy as effectively finishing all his paperwork in one workload.
Since that time, Naruto was almost never seen. Though he rarely ever visited the village, many of the ninja populace were very much aware of his presence. The ANBU, especially those of the secret Root division, were given orders to monitor him and his activities. To the shock of Danzo, his own elite ninja found the assignment close to impossible.
Naruto was like a ghost; one moment there, and the next, gone. Visible only when he wanted to be. It was as if he knew that he was being watched. For a boy that was just turning eight to be able to hide from professionals whose very job description is stealth and espionage, the utter potential and skill he possessed left many ninja both impressed and at the same time, unnerved.
Then there was that black book. The Omniscientia always sparked the aging Hokage's curiosity. It was a book he'd never heard of, in a language he barely recognized and seeing as Naruto constantly had it on his person, it had to be something of great value. Sarutobi had once politely asked if he could study it. Naruto refused, giving this cryptic reply: "There are truths that must never be known to the living. I'm afraid I must deny you. Please understand."
It was at that moment that he realized that, though older by nearly half a century, compared to the vast unimaginable knowledge that lay within those brilliant blue eyes of the much younger blond boy, Sarutobi felt that he was but a child that was considered too young to know the greater intricacies of the universe.
And it was with these thoughts that the old man couldn't but feel a lingering sense of foreboding: Naruto was someone that he couldn't hope to understand. The Sandaime could pool all his knowledge and wisdom, but he knew that there was something much more extraordinary to the boy that he couldn't dare reach. While he did feel affection for Naruto, his fear of the young container's tremendous and developing unknown potential and knowledge was without compare.
'Minato... What's happening to your son...?'
"Here we are."
Hinata had to admit, while it was nowhere near as large as the Hyuuga estate, it was still a large home. A modest, two-story house, simple in it rectangular design, with an expansive front yard flanked by brown wooden fences. It looked far too modern to be sitting in the middle of the forest, though.
"Please follow me inside, Hinata-sama," said Naruto, guiding her into the yard, his favorite black book resting in his arm.
The timid girl obeyed, nervously following her newest friend to the front door. "S-so umm... Why did your parents choose to live out here?"
"Both of my parents have long since departed from the living," he announced coolly, without missing a step whilst fishing his keys from his pocket.
Hinata's face burned with shame, immediately regretting the question. "O-oh! I-I didn't know. I'm s-sorry..."
Naruto turned his head to regard her, his eyeglasses gleaming in the light, as if curious. "There is no need for an apology. As you said, you did not know." He turned his attention back to the door, disengaging the lock and stowing the key into his pocket once more.
Having lost a parent herself, Hinata felt connected in their loss. "D-do you miss them?"
"Perhaps," He faced her completely, his expression as stoic as ever. "I have never met them personally, but I was given to understand that they would have been exceptional parents."
Feeling guilty for having brought the subject up, Hinata blurted out. "I'm s-sure they would have been w-wonderful parents..." It wasn't in her place to say, but she was sincere all the same.
Naruto merely quirked a brow and added nothing more to the matter. He opened the door for her, beckoning her inside. "Please come in."
Hinata blushed at his courtesy. Truthfully, she should be used to such treatment considering her status, but this was coming from a very handsome boy her age, and that this had nothing to do with her heritage.
The interior of the home was dominantly greyish-white in color, the walls, roof, and rug melding together in its muted color; open and spacious, with no trace of personal touches or homely decoration. A lone table, a couch, and two chairs were the only furniture present in the home's otherwise spartan design.
'It feels... really empty in here...'
"Please make yourself comfortable," Naruto said, motioning at the vacant couch whilst closing the door behind him. "Would you care for some tea?"
"I-I wouldn't w-want to trouble you," she politely declined. As she sat, she noted that the couch was pleasantly soft and comfortable, despite its simple design.
His baritone made the offer sound more like a veiled demand than a polite gesture, but the intention was pure, and Hinata found it hard to reject. "O-okay then..."
The bespectacled blond excused himself, disappearing briefly behind one of the doors and returning with an exquisite tea set. It was much finer than the ones from Hinata's home and looked to be of some foreign make.
She'd realized for a moment that it had taken him a rather brief amount of time to have gathered the items after he'd entered (what she assumed was) the kitchen. In fact, it had barely been a few seconds.
As Naruto set about preparing the tea, he decided to strike up conversation. "I gather your father granted you permission to be here?"
If you count a barely repressed cringe, a sour scowl, and a stiff nod upon asking being given permission, then, "Y-yes..."
"Hyuuga-sama received the letter, then," After adding the herbs, Naruto let the tea mix and sat on the chair across from Hinata. From seemingly out of nowhere, he fished his favorite black book and trailed his eyes over the text. "I trust there were no complications?"
"N-not really..." she answered carefully, still suspicious of the letter he had sent. Shakily, she inquired: "I-if you um... d-don't mind my asking... W-what was in that letter... exactly?"
"I apologize, but I'm afraid that is a private matter between I and Hyuuga-sama," Naruto calmly removed his eyes from his book to note the subtle nuances in his guest's expression.
"I assure you, though," he continued, attempting to abate her worries. "-That the subject in question won't be harmful to any party involved."
His voice harbored no deceit in her ears, as if lulling her mind with its velvety essence.
"A-alright..." she acceded, the anxiety within her settling as she let the comfort of the boy's fluffy couch ease her back.
After giving the tea a thorough stir, Naruto poured the now brown-tinted liquid into the two cups, offering one to his guest. "Please have some, Hinata-sama."
"Y-yes, thank you..." Hinata accepted the fine cup, cradling it in her hands with care. The smell was intoxicating.
She took a tentative sip, pleasantly surprised at the rich unique flavor of exotic herbs. She indulged in another sip, the mild concoction caressing her tongue and warming her body.
"This tea is really good..." she mouthed between sips, savoring the taste with a smile.
Naruto drank from his own cup and returned his attention to his book. "It's tea specially mixed to relax the body. I've observed that you were tense in my presence and hoped to relieve that, if just a little."
"I... Thank you... Naruto-san..." she said, without a stutter. The tea did wonders for her flustered nerves.
"I should advise, though," Naruto countinued. "The effects of the tea are particularly potent to those who are new to its taste. It is best to drink at a sedate pace lest-"
He paused as he realized that Hinata had fallen asleep having partaken of a little too much of the tea. Thankfully, the cup was still secure in her hands and the hot tea hadn't spilled.
The blond boy stood, adjusting his glasses for a moment, before gently plucking the tea from the unconscious girl. He noted the girl's expression, no longer marked with a nervous frown or a fearful quiver. Instead, the most delicate of smiles seemed plastered on her lovely face, as if all of her doubts and fears have been forgotten.
He peered into the half-drained cup, musing to himself. "Perhaps, I've mixed too much of the herb..."
A quiet giggle passed through Hinata's smiling lips as she dreamt of sweet nothings. She whispered a name into the wind then settled into a tranquil silence.
Hyuuga Hiashi was no fool. His title as the head of Konoha's most elite clan was testament to that fact.
Uzumaki Naruto was no mere child. The boy's attempt at blackmail was testament to that fact.
It wasn't the utter gall of the action that surprised Hiashi as much. The boy was an enigma, to be sure, and his behaviors weren't ones that most conventional human beings commonly exhibited. For a child to blackmail Hyuuga Hiashi would have been unheard of, but for Naruto? It wouldn't be a completely far-fetched notion.
Hinata's association with the mysterious boy did serve to irk him to a great degree as well. She was distracted and very much lacking in progress as she was without that... that boy making it worse. In fact, just the day after Naruto's incursion, Hinata seemed damnably enthusiastic to see him again. It took all his strength not to deny her the chance out of sheer indignance (which he'd cruelly vented through an innocent and now thoroughly-decimated coffee mug).
Hiashi's suspicion, however, dug deeper than that. It was one thing to blackmail the head of a ninja clan. To be able to acquire the material to actually blackmail said clan head is another matter entirely.
How does one twelve-year old civilian manage to not only infiltrate the compound of a clan of elite ninja gifted with near 360 degree vision, but also procure implicit pictures of the clan head himself without said clan head so much as noticing?
Laughable. Improbable. Complete balderdash.
But not for Uzumaki Naruto, it seems.
Hiashi searched literally everywhere in his office, going as far as to temporarily deactivate the alarm seals inside so he could activate his Byakugan. He tore through every nook and cranny, gap and corner.
'How in blazes did he even get a camera here!?'
By the angle and positioning of the pictures he was given, they had to have been taken from the corner to the left of the door. That corner was empty and had no shelves or stands to support a hidden camera nor were there any traces of tampering on that section of wall.
Aside from the elders, only a handful of the Hyuuga even knew of an Uzumaki Naruto, so, unless the elders had hired the boy (which was very much unlikely), it ruled out the possibility of an inside accomplice.
Briefly, he'd recalled one of the names the ANBU had given Naruto.
'I swear, he's like a ghost. A little blond ghost that you can only see if he wants to be seen.'
Hiashi tapped impatiently at his desk, the grimace he'd sported since his meeting with the Hokage still stiffly plastered on his face.
His only hope for any information now was his daughter, who was taking an inordinate amount of time away. An inordinate amount... of... time...
He reached under his desk, feeling the familiar cover of a certain book...
'No! I'm not even sure if this place is bug-free yet!' Hiashi scolded himself, jerking his hand away from the hidden text.
Well, ten minutes wouldn't hurt...
After the better part of my conscience finally curb-stomped the lazy-ass side of my psyche, I've finally gotten around to making another chapter. Sorry if I've made some of you impatient with me, but college has proven to be more time-consuming than I'd expected.
Expect more development in the later chapters followed by what might be a few crossover concepts. Nothing solid yet, but stick around and I'll whip something up.
Leave a review and have a happy holiday!