I take it back. Someone inspired me to love sequels all over again. But NOTE (and please, take note. I'm only saying this once because I hate having to write it slash copy paste this onto every chapter) the prologue that I put in the last chapter of CAS is the ending of CAS, but also the ending of this story, WER.
Okay that might be confusing. So I'll say it again. This story is a COMPANION FIC to Cloud Age Symphony. Meaning, it doesn't have the same PLOT, but takes place in the same ALTERNATE REALITY. World's End Rhapsody and Cloud Age Symphony will have the SAME ENDING. Sorry if that still confuses you, just bear with me, and you'll understand at the end.
Namikaze Naruto, currently sleeping in one of Konoha's prominently large trees, snored loudly in a fit of his latest dreams, swatting at the air sleepily in the haze of his mindscape.
Above him, the sky was lit in the beginnings of dawn, the sun peeling over the mountain, kissing the tops before stretching into the navy blue sky.
Some fifty-eight feet below the sleeping blonde, Haruno Sakura lips pursed into a thin line as she pondered her strange teammate, and his equally strange whereabouts (or perhaps, not so strange, considering his occupation).
Naruto had been acting strange for months now. Ever since he returned from whatever Jiraiya had him doing for such an extended period of time. He scantly visited his apartment, and had immersed himself for indefinite amounts of time in near suicide missions. Tsunade nor Sakura could stop the blonde, Tsunade because the council was delighted at this new predicament, and Sakura because Naruto near refused to see here at any given point of the day. On the meager hours he spent back in his homeland, he usually trained, slept, or ate ramen. And when Sakura tried to con him into accepting a 'date', he only politely declined.
What else could the medic-nin do?
Obviously Naruto didn't want to be found. And if it was one thing that Naruto was good at, it was blending quietly into the background.
Sakura had never even noticed the loud boisterous blonde at the academy. Key words being loud, and boisterous. Even when Naruto tried exponentially for attention, he was ignored like he wasn't even in existence. Over the years as a shinobi, Naruto only used his ease of being a nobody to his advantage.
Sakura spent almost thirty-seven hours mulling about Konoha like a bloodhound after the scent of a killer. Naruto had certainly disappeared. Honestly, for a man that loud he really could disappear.
And now she found him, almost sixty feet into the sky, sleeping in a fir tree.
Sighing, the pink-haired medic-nin brushed strands of hair out from her eyes, beginning a trek up the tree, ready to confront Naruto about whatever issues he had with her and the rest of the world. A depressed Naruto was just ridiculous. She was talking about the annoying, peppy, and most importantly all around cheerful blonde she'd been on a team with for years.
Walking up the tree, Sakura wondered if perhaps this was her being a failure teammate, not being attentive enough to a person she had believed she knew.
Maybe she didn't know Naruto at all?
"Naruto!" She yelled, making sure to hit the eardrum with such correct precision that he'd be hearing the fruits of her labor for days.
In his surprise, Naruto shot up quickly and almost fell face first to the dizzying drop below.
Sakura only placed her hands on her hips, canting them slightly. "Better?"
He only groaned in response, rolling over to the side.
Sakura frowned. "Naruto…"
Again, another groan, this one coming out like "Margghhh", which she supposed could be roughly translated to, "Get me some painkillers, woman."
Sakura pulled him over towards her, doing generic motions of checking his temperature and looking for other ailments. If the blonde was annoyed by this, the only display was the furrowing of his brows.
"Sakura-chan…I think I'm going to throw up."
No fever, no sickness. A definite lack of proper motor skills. She pried his eyes open and he yelped. Aversion to light.
"Do you have a hangover?" She asked forlornly, already knowing the answer.
As he shifted away from her, Sakura didn't know whether to be appalled or to laugh. Naruto, who never came into the hospital not to avoid her but because he simply didn't need to, Naruto, who could walk through Konoha in flu season while everyone around him dropped like flies, suffered from a hangover. The common illness that everyone faces. Or, the fact that he would rather hide up in a tree than face her to get the cure. Perhaps, they really weren't friends anymore, their friendship (or maybe there never really was one) lost in the waves of time and the life of a shinobi. With her working incredible hours on her shifts at the hospital and Naruto trying desperately to kill himself overworking missions.
Once she used her chakra to heal his hangover, she lashed out in another bout of yelling. "Where have you been, Naruto? I haven't seen you in months, and whenever I ask you to do something you just say you're busy and completely ignore me! I've tried giving you space, for almost a full year now. Whatever your problem with me is I suggest that you fix it. Now."
Naruto sighed, pulling himself up to rest his weight on his elbows. "I don't have a problem with you, Sakura-chan." He smiled sincerely.
Sakura wanted to pull her hair out. "Then what is the problem?"
"It's me." Naruto confessed, and the entire conversation made Sakura feel like he was breaking up with her or something. "Its not you, its me." He'd go on to say, "And I want full custody of our child, and most of the house. You can keep the spare bathroom if you like, the one with the faucet that leaks all the time."
Definitely a break up.
"Naruto…" She sputtered. "Are you breaking up with me? Are you breaking up our friendship?"
"What?" Naruto sat up, quickly, trying to forget the sheer vertigo which had yet to be cured, and the fact his stomach was leading a revolt against him. "No! I don't mean it like that!"
"Then what do you mean?" Sakura asked suspiciously, eying him carefully.
"I just mean that…" Naruto struggled for words. "That we…well me….I need space. What happened with Jiraiya—it really woke me up. You know I can't tell you, but I just…I'm not ready to face it, I'm not ready for this to end."
Thoroughly confused, Sakura only nodded her head.
"I just need some closure." Naruto sighed, dropping back onto the sturdy bark of the tree's limbs in a boneless heap of limbs and lemon peel hair.
Mimicking his sigh, Sakura swung her legs so that she sat on the branch with him. "Why don't we get you home, huh?"
"I guess…" The blonde rolled over until he was crouched, and grinned. "Race you to the bottom?"
Sakura smirked. "You're on!"
Sakura pushed off the branch with her expert chakra control, racing towards the incoming earth parallel to the tree's trunk. The jagged patterns on the bark flew past her into a swirl of lines, and she dropped her feet down to begin running down the trunk. She couldn't see Naruto anywhere, and grinning, she knew she would win this. The tack of her sandals echoed down the tree as she flew at break neck speed down the tree. So much for Naruto being some big-shot Junín, she was going to beat him hands down. But, she should give him some credit. He got back from a strenuous mission mere hours ago, had a hangover that was only cured for less than a minute, and had just been woken up.
Suddenly, Sakura saw his form spiraling down like a rock, gravity pulling him faster than she could run.
Shocked, Sakura sped up her pace to try to match Naruto's free fall.
What was the idiot doing? He must have pushed on the tree with chakra, before just letting himself fall with gravity. The fall would be dangerous from that height, and knowing Naruto with his unstable chakra control, he'd be dead as he hit the ground!
Of course, said blonde was half asleep as he spiraled down the drop.
Just inches before his head hit the ground, Naruto spun himself feet-first, using chakra to hit the ground with a soundless impact, not even a foot print as indication he had landed with such force.
As Sakura sprinted down the tree, running up to him seconds after he hit the ground, she looked ready to yell at him, eyes widened.
"What were you thinking, idiot?" She growled at him, combing her hair out of her eyes with her fingers.
Naruto shrugged, yawned sleepily and wedged a finger into his ear, and looked entirely too stupid. "Nothing."
Sakura groaned at his idiocy.
"Whatever," She decided that immaturity was the only correct method to handle him. "let's go."
"After your lead, my lady." He bowed with charisma, suave charm in his voice.
Sakura sent him the, "don't do that shit with me" look, before sauntering off in front of him. He wouldn't lie, the years had been good to her. But for some reason…Sakura was Sakura. It was hard to explain why exactly it felt to wrong to ever think of Sakura like that.
He followed her around Konoha without question, smiling contently at the bustling city that was sleepily beginning to awaken with the benign presence of the sun peeling over the mountains like a great peach. Sakura must be really worried, he thought, to have been looking for him for so long. He had always figured that with Sakura's long hours and his patterns of disappearance, she probably wouldn't notice his absence. It wasn't like they were even that good of friends until months after Sasuke's leaving. And even then, Naruto pondered if their friendship was simply Sakura's insecurity over losing her only teammate again, or if she had simply formed a bond with him because it was easier than forming one with an emotional invalid like Sai.
Or maybe, her intentions for friendship were simply innocent?
Sakura was about to make a left turn when Naruto stopped her. "Keep going forward."
"Huh?" Sakura blinked at him. "Naruto, I'm positive this is the way to your apartment."
"You're right." Naruto nodded.
Sakura was about to ask him what exactly he was playing then, when he explained to her.
Sakura's jaw dropped. "You what?"
Naruto shrugged. "I moved."
Sakura stared at him with both skeptical intentions, and this deep feeling of sorrow wallowing in her stomach. "You moved?" She echoed.
Naruto nodded. "Baa-chan made me. She said that I should move, and I was too lazy to say otherwise. It's not like I really liked my old apartment anyways. And this one smells nicer too."
Sakura sputtered. "Why didn't you tell me?" She mumbled, this lost look in her eyes.
"I—…" Naruto blinked at her. "I dunno…I was going to, but then I guess I just forgot to tell you."
Sakura was conflicted as to whether she should laugh at his forgetfulness or be saddened by the fact that telling her about his move was obviously not important enough to warrant remembering.
"Well, I suppose you should lead the way then." She said finally.
Naruto hummed in agreement, steering her in another direction entirely. A direction which, Sakura noted, lead to the more expensive housing zone of Konoha.
To say Sakura was surprised when she saw the towering apartment building, would be an understatement. It was massive. And not only large, but clean. The reception area actually had real chairs instead of plastic ones, with very tasteful paintings and long stretch couches with modern rugs with odd patterns on them. The floor was actually clean, and in fact, so shiny Sakura could see her reflection on them. Instead of dark peeling plaster walls, the room was enclosed with glass, letting her peer into the fashionable elevator hallway and the lounge room with stretch TV's.
"Hello, Naruto-san." The receptionist chirped from behind the desk.
Good lord, that lady must have breasts like watermelons, and, did she even remember his name?
Naruto only nodded, steering Sakura into the elevator shaft.
"Naruto…" She began slowly. "Where on Earth did you get the money for this?"
Naruto shrugged. "I get by."
Sakura blamed it mostly on the fact that he did a lot of missions, and only ate extremely dirt cheap ramen.
"I can't believe you didn't tell me." Sakura said awkwardly, as the elevator doors closed around them and Naruto pressed the button for floor eleven. The number glared back at her accusingly, mocking her, as if its stainless steel qualities were the exact embodiment of her useless ability as a friend. "I would have been gushing about this place for months if I lived here."
Naruto only smiled. "I guess. But I dunno…I don't really like it here."
"What?" Sakura gaped. "Why not? It's beautiful, its so modern and…new. People would kill to live here!"
"That's the thing though." Naruto shriveled his nose in distaste. "It doesn't fit me at all. It's a civilian building, there aren't any shinobi who live here. Konoha's becoming so…industrialized. You used to never see large skyscrapers like this one."
"It's only twenty floors." She chided him. "The hospitals almost forty!"
"But it's a hospital." Naruto emphasized. "They need the space. This," he gestured around him. "Is just a civilian with a lot of money who built an investment to make even more money."
Sakura sighed. Naruto was such a simple man. Well, if he'd rather live in a tree than live here he certainly should be. The elevator pinged softly, and slid soundlessly to reveal a sparkling, lavish hallway with doors to apartments. They passed a strange, quirky abstract statue that kind of resembled a duck and a fish with a wicker hat.
Naruto opened his, not even seemingly enthralled by the pristine carpeting, or the artwork.
Naruto's apartment, contrasting to the colorful and tasteful interior of the building, was bland, scantly furnished, and Spartan. There was only so much he could do to the interior, however, as the carpet was still lavish and plush beneath her feet, and even though his ratty couch still had its place among his living room, it was offset by the long windows and steel lining.
"I'm gonna hit the shower." He called over his shoulder. "Make yourself at home!"
"Easy for you to say." Sakura muttered, feeling out of place in his home that she'd never seen before.
She snooped around a bit, poking her head into the cupboards, noting the very blatant lack of silverware, cups, and plates, but the abundance of cup ramen noodles. For someone like Naruto, who left trash littering his floors, the apartment was strangely immaculate.
Not as if Naruto actually spent time to clean his house, but more with the air of someone who just simply didn't spend time at home, and therefore, had no mess to clean.
Sakura distractedly humored herself with outrageous reasons as to how exactly Naruto could get the money for this place.
Maybe he was a crack dealer in his spare time, and she laughed thinking of Naruto with a cigar on his lips yelling orders out to his mob, busting out a fake Italian accent and carrying himself like the leader of the mafia. Or maybe he had inherited it from his parents. Sakura knew he had found out who they were, but hadn't pressed the matter to learn their names. He could—and Sakura laughed aloud at this one—have become a strip teaser with his orioke no jutsu. In certainly sounded plausible with someone like Naruto, whose humor and ultimate lack of respect for woman had no boundaries. Sakura blamed Jiraiya for this one.
When Sakura opened a couple drawers, her dreams crashed into reality.
There was so much money—Sakura couldn't believe what she was seeing. How could Naruto even think to make this much? How on earth could he possibly even make this much money in his lifetime?
Sakura felt a rush enter her, heart beat fluttering in her chest as she pulled out several drawers, all with the same outcome.
She leaned onto the counter, pressing the faintly cool back of her hand to her heated forehead. She had to calm down. Naruto was…Naruto. There was no way he was involved in some sort of illegal business. But it was the only outcome that she could possibly think of for him to be carrying around so much money so languidly. Honestly! Had the blond heard of saving bonds? She shivered at her thoughts. What was Naruto doing…? Maybe he was involved with a shady character that reminded her sorely of Gatou from their mission to wave. Maybe her illegal-drug dealing Naruto fantasies weren't that far off from the truth.
Said blond toweled off his limp lemon colored hair with one hand, the other on shifting the loose t-shirt around his broad torso.
"What is this, Naruto?" She stepped closer. "If you're doing something illegal, you can tell me. We're friends. I understand—
"Whoa, slow down Sakura-chan." Naruto chuckled, rubbing his sunshine hair. "I'm not a mob boss or anything!"
"But Naruto," She said quietly. "There's just too much—I don't even think the Sandaime made that much money in his lifetime."
Naruto wanted to point out the Hokage's salary was shit, and it was unreasonably to compare him to a guy who was known to have refused pay for three years straight, but he refrained.
"Okay Sakura," Naruto caved, and pulled out a chair. "Sit down, this is going to be a long story."
Gulping, Sakura sat rigidly onto one of his bar stools. She looked so frightened of what she was going to hear that Naruto wanted to laugh aloud.
"Its nothing bad." Naruto smiled lightly. "Just…unbelievable."
"Well, let's hear you out then." Sakura cautiously sunk into the chair.
Naruto watched the sky line from his floor to ceiling window, smiling somberly as he did so. "As you probably know, Jiraiya has taught me everything he knew about seals. From meager things like turning leaves to grass or big things like the Shiki Fuuin." Naruto made a vague gesture to his stomach.
Sakura nodded slowly. "Right. I knew that."
"Well, of course he'd teach me some outrageous stuff. Theoretical stuff mostly. Like turning copper into gold—which a seal master can do, by the way, or you know, big things. Like time traveling."
"Those are possible?" Sakura blinked.
"Course." Naruto smiled. "Sealing is a very broad topic, Sakura-chan. And much of it is very undiscovered."
"At any rate," Naruto began again. "Jiraiya and I had discovered a way to use a worm hole to jump through small relapses in time. By doing so, I could essentially jump through time, and land in the past or future, depending on how the seal was set up."
"Naruto." Sakura began bluntly. "You don't expect me to believe that."
"Sakura." Naruto mimicked her. "If you never knew about Kyuubi, would you believe that a demon king could be sealed into a baby?"
Successfully cowed, Sakura said nothing.
"What does this have to do with the money?"
"I was getting to that!" Naruto harrumphed. "Anyways, so obviously there must be a reason why only I can travel through time. Its because I'm a Jinchuuriki. And not just any demon jailer, but the one of the Kyuubi no Kitsune. Since Kyuubi has infinite chakra, by tapping into his reserves I can create the worm hole needed to jump through time."
Sakura's eyes widened in understanding. "So, countries must be hiring you out—
"To travel back in time, yes." Naruto's gaze hardened. "But it's a very dangerous topic, Sakura. Changing the past is a powerful way to rid enemies. Think about what countries would do if they learned of Konoha's new weapon. Essentially, I could wipe out people like Akatsuki before they even reach their first birthday."
"Naruto that's amazing!" Sakura jumped up. "That means you could kill Orochimaru too—
"Its not that simple, Sakura." Naruto sighed. "I'd successfully be destroying time and space as we know it. I'm no expert, I still don't now the mechanics of what my presence even does to change the world. Just by being there, and making small changes, I can influence what happens now. Even unknowingly. Therefore, I simply can't change anything."
"Oh." She drooped. "I see."
They lapsed into a poignant silence, as Sakura soaked in the information, the reason why Naruto always disappeared. It made more sense now, and while she was partially inclined to believe in this romanticized version of the world, she held her suspicions.
"So, since you're the only one who can do this," She began slowly. "I guess your clients pay you a lot of money then?"
Naruto nodded, grinning. "Yeah but most of the time, I do work for Tsunade. The only person who had ever paid me was a Daimyo from Kumo. And even then it was just to assassinate his to-be wife's former husband."
Sakura stared at the drawers. "Just one mission for all of that—?"
"Cool, huh?" Naruto grinned. "And when I die, its all probably going to you!"
Sakura blushed. "Naruto, don't talk like that—
An ANBU appeared at the open window, effectively interrupting Sakura and Naruto's private conversation. If the ANBU had any input on the predicament he caught them in, he said nothing.
"A summon from Tsunade-sama." The man unhooked a scroll from his belt and tossed it, before leaning out the long window and disappearing.
Naruto groaned, turning to Sakura. "I'll see you later, then."
She nodded. "Ramen?"
Naruto looked uncomfortable, and for a moment, Sakura wondered if they just backtracked. "If…if I can."
Sakura only smiled helplessly, a placated, but still hopeless look on her face. Naruto certainly had adventures, that was for certain—experiences she could probably hardly believe. But he had returned…right? It was over… right?
"What's up, Baa-chan?"
"Shut up, brat." The old woman scribbled madly with her pen, onto a sheet of paper.
Naruto peered curiously. "My mission?"
"Sort of." Tsunade rubbed her temples. "Naruto…we have a problem."
Standing rigid, the blonde listened intently.
"We've received a very dire report from Suna." Tsunade began, pacing around the small spot of her office near the window. "Apparently, even with the demon gone from Gaara, his seal is still bothering him. We've received a report of the Kazekage falling gravely ill. The medics believe it to be a sever infection from a viral disease. In actuality, the seal is burning through his mindscape his body coping with its deadly properties by acting like it's a disease, eventually his body will reject the malfunctioned seal, causing a lapse from body to brain, eventually leading severing the connection entirely and resulting in coma, and then death."
"What?" Naruto slammed his hands onto the table. "Why didn't anyone inform me of this? As a certified sealer, I have a right to know—
Tsunade waved him off. "We didn't inform you because there is nothing you can do about it."
"The seal can't be fixed." Tsunade explained, knowing it was better to be frank with the boy. Naruto was very attached to Gaara, the only other Jinchuuriki that Naruto had ever known, and as such, one of his best friends. "As you probably know, there is a reason as to why demons are sealed into newborn children. The child's chakra pathways are still growing and malleable, and the demons chakra will be able to adapt the chakra ways, causing the baby to be able to successfully house the demon. The older the child becomes, the less chances of survival the child has."
"So essentially…" Naruto trailed off, gripping his hands tighter. "Your saying that I can't do anything anymore. Gaara's much too old know, and anything I do to the seal will destroy his chakra ways, and kill him too."
Naruto looked up.
"Now you can do something." The Hokage said seriously. "That's why I called you in here. Obviously it's a moot point to help Gaara…now. But, in the past…"
Naruto's eyes widened in realization. "Your saying I should travel to the day of Gaara's sealing and fix the seal myself—
The Godaime laid out a timeline on the desk—the scribbled paper actually turned out to be useful after all—that had certain days and events charted.
The first was Naruto's sealing, then Gaara's.
After were key events, but most had meant little or no value to him.
"Here," Tsunade pointed. "This is the event in which you and Gaara have your first fight, during the sound invasion."
"I remember," he crossed his arms. "What about it?"
"This is where Gaara's seal cracked." Tsunade pulled out a diagram of the Kazekage's seal, both before and after this particular event. "Obviously Gaara's seal doesn't hold a candle to the Yondaime's work, but it still worked properly before."
She showed him the second picture, this one with a brutal crack through the seal.
"After Sasuke successfully landed a hit on Gaara, his mindscape cracked, and with it a good chunk in the seal."
"If that's true," Naruto peered at the designs. "Than why hadn't anyone noticed it before? Certainly someone would have figured out when there was a gaping hole in his seal."
"Idiot!" Tsunade slapped him upside the head. "It was the Sound invasion! Suna probably was too busy wiping its ass after we backhanded them and suffering without a Kage to notice that its Jinchuuriki had a problem with its seal. According to my reports, Gaara wasn't very well liked back then. Do you think anyone would notice, let alone care?"
Naruto snapped his mouth shut, subdued.
"You can at least aim for an area when you time travel, right?"
Tsunade questioned him. "It's not like you blindly free fall…" And then she thought back on her teammate, and his considerate planning and caution he'd retained for all his life (or, lackthereof) "…. is it?"
"Well," Naruto scratched his head. "The workings are hard to explain, but the gist is that I can aim for certain windows in time, the worst I've been off by is a couple months give or take. Once I'm there I use Jiraiya's tracking seal as an anchor in time, that way, I always jump to that very same moment. Of course, I have an anchor in this time too, that way I always get back."
"Good." Tsunade slammed another round of paperwork onto her desk with a sigh. "You leave tomorrow."
"What?" Naruto sputtered. "But I just—
"Normally I'd let you have a month to get recuperated. But honestly, we're running out of time. Gaara has maybe a year, before his brain gives out and we lose him. Time is of the essence, understand?"
Naruto nodded. "I understand."
"Now out of my office! I have work to do!"
"Say what?" Uzumaki Naruto roared at his sensei.
Said sensei flipped a page in his outrageously pornographic orange book. "Well," He said conversationally, "It was your fault that the mission took so long. If you hadn't spilt all the paint onto the floor we would have been done by noon."
"Yeah, Naruto." Grumbled Haruno Sakura, fisting one hand at his face while the other tenderly combed her once styled hair turned abomination.
Sasuke, the last member of the three-man Gennin team only quickened his pace to his home, the entirety of his shirt splotched with purple paint.
Naruto, in his defense, rubbed the back of his head sheepishly.
"Accidents! Accidents!" He smiled.
"An accident won't fix my hair, dumbass!" Sakura punched the blonde square in the face, watching with cynical satisfaction as the blonde flopped onto the ground.
"Well, the peanut gallery has spoken." Sighed Kakashi sentimentally. "We'll see you tomorrow!"
With that, his enigmatic Sensei whisked his other two teammates behind a row of high picket fences, and Naruto was left alone to sulk, behind him a mass of purple paint flooded through the street like a massive slug on siege.
He turned around forlornly, bucket and mop in hand.
"That's not fair!" He frowned to himself. "Stupid Sakura-chan, Stupid Sasuke-teme, stupid Kakashi-sensei!"
The mop, in reality, didn't do much to help him. In fact, if anything, it spread the paint more and gave it a pasty watery color, and spread the purple substance around much fast than its snail-pace.
Naruto mulled the idea of creating some hundred Kage Bunshin to clean up the mess for him, but then realized that there was only one mop.
He was about to call it quits when suddenly, the ground beneath him shook uncontrollably, and he lost his balance, landing butt first in the outrageous purple paint.
With a groan, he stood up, swatting off the abnormally violet paint before realizing it was a moot point. Sakura would have laughed and called this an extreme fashion faux-pas, the young Gennin already made fun of him for wearing orange, and even Naruto knew that orange and violet were such a clash! (especially for ninja standards, where most people's wardrobes included black, black, and black) Naruto was about to whine aloud about how terrible this whole day was going—Sasuke showed him up again by painting his section first, Sakura ignored him completely, and then he spilt his paint and made a fool out of himself in front of Sakura-chan!—when he remembered the off-the-scale chakra explosion.
"I wonder what that was…" Naruto muttered to himself.
Suddenly, a man stepped out of the bushes, muttering to himself about a seal and about his aching hangover.
"Gah!" Naruto whipped out a kunai. "Enemy ninja!"
The man—a decently tall man of about six-one with a mop of sunshine yellow hair and blue eyes, dressed in the generic drab ninja clothing that consisted of black, black, and black—once noticing his presence, had a strange look in his eye.
"Yo, enemy shinobi!" Naruto roared at him. "Brandish your weapons! I won't let Konoha go down without a fight!"
The man only blinked once, twice, three times at him, this unnatural unwavering blank face not fading.
"Did you hear me, enemy?"
Whatever strange feeling the man had, he shook off. "Idiot, look at my hitai-ate!"
Naruto blinked, pulling out of his outlandish and particularly uneven taijutsu stance and dropped his hands to his sides. "Oh…oops."
"Stupid boy." The elder shinobi grumbled, looking rather frazzled and rushed as he stalked past him with hasty steps.
"Hey!" Naruto shouted behind him, anger flaring as he was reminded of all the times shinobi had brushed him off as useless in the past. "I'm not stupid, you asshole!" His face flushed, and, god dammit, he would not get emotional about this— "I'm Konoha's number one most amazing ninja!"
The man stopped short.
Naruto ran up to him, ready to challenge him to a one on one fight (mainly because he hadn't thought of the odds of him winning yet, only of the fact that if he did win he could rub it in Sasuke's face and make Sakura-chan swoon all over him!) when he noticed the glint in the man's eyes. Naruto remembered seeing it in Sandaime's eyes as he gazed upon Konoha, this sad mixture of reminiscence and somber essence. Subdued, the boy stepped back. Whenever he asked the old man what he thought about when he got that look, Sarutobi replied that he was thinking of his past mistakes.
"Number one most amazing ninja, huh?" The man grinned softly, but wasn't looking at him, fixated on Hokage Mountain as if he was recalling something from a long time ago. His bad mood was lost in translation. "Really?"
"Yeah!" Naruto grinned. "Watch this!"
"ORIOKE NO JUTSU!"
—very anticlimactically, the man had no reaction.
Stumped, Naruto frowned. "Hey…you didn't roll on the floor with a nosebleed…"
"Let's just say I have some experience with that technique." The elder man smiled. "Anyways, why don't I teach you something cool, huh?"
"Cool?" Naruto sniffed skeptically. "Who are you, anyways?"
"I'm…" The man with lemon colored hair stopped short. "Furu. …Call me Furu. I'm an elite Jounin and sealing master. And for a while, I was even ANBU!"
"No way!" The twelve-year old boy yelped, before proceeding to degrade into a sparkling heap as his susceptible young mind imagined an ultra-cool muscled guy with cute chicks hanging off of him, and a kick-ass sword and some really, really, awesome tattoos. "That's so amazing!"
"Yeah!" Furu smiled back at him, unaware of the young boy's fantasies of grandeur. "Anyways, I gotta go report to the Hokage. Meet me at Training Ground twenty-eight at seven sharp!"
"Seven? In the morning?" Naruto groaned, clearly ecstatic. "That's too early!"
As he watched the Jounin leap into the air gracefully, he frowned. "Furu? Doesn't that mean old fox? What kind of name is that?"
fanfiction killed all my scene-skip lines. so now I have to do them ALL OVER. wth. anyway, x's still mean time skips.