The band of 4 teens and 2 jounin walked through the forest to look for a place to train. Since Zabuza and his apprentice had joined forces with the konoha Shinobi, the former mist nin had told them of the many nuke nin and deadbeats that were hired by Gato who was apparently a mob boss invading Wave. Because of this, Anko had decided her kids needed more training and had eventually convinced Zabuza to help.
"Waah, waah, my life sucks! I'm emo and slit my wrists! Waaah! What a little brat! He's not the only person in the world to have shit happen to him! GAH! I hate crybabies like that!"
"We heard you the first 20 times, Naruto," Kiba growled, annoyed. Tazuna's grandson Inari had come to dinner the other night complaining about how calm they were and how they would be killed. Most of the Shinobi had simply brushed off the child, but Naruto had yelled at the boy before storming out. No one had asked him about the little speech, but Haku had recognized the look in his eyes.
"Alright, shut up. We're starting your training now, Brats," Anko announced as the group reached a clearing. The snake user gave each genin a kunai before motioning for Zabuza to begin. The nuke-nin stepped in front of the trio and looked them over.
"Alright, more than anything I need to know what you three can do. I can't help you improve unless I have an idea of what you're lacking. The first way I'm gonna do this is by seeing how much and how well you can control your chakra. You three take those kunai and start climbing these trees." The genin stared at him and exchanged glances.
"Uh, yeah. Everyone can climb trees, y'know."
The bandages covering Zabuza's face curled up in what could only be a smirk and the man began to walk up a nearby tree. Looking down at the 3 genin with foots in their mouths, the man explained.
"You will be using your chakra to climb the trees, not your hands. First one up has the best control, last one up has the worst. Depending on the number of times you can walk up and down the tree, you will have a large or small chakra capacity. Now get to it."
As the genin walked up to their trees, Anko summoned her favorite pink and green colored snake Hebi-hime while Zabuza and Haku calmly observed the three greenhorns' progress.
Shikamaru managed to climb to the top after only 2 tries and began counting how many times he could walk the length of the tree. Kiba and Naruto didn't have nearly the amount of control as the Nara, but eventually after 27 attempts, Kiba had climbed up. By the end of the day, Zabuza determined that Shikamaru had the best chakra control, but the least amount of chakra. Kiba's control wasn't great since it took him over 10 times as long as Shikamaru, but he climbed the tree nearly 4 times more. Naruto on the other hand still hadn't made it more than halfway up the tree. Zabuza twitched again.
"Alright, we're done for today."
"What? But I'm not done!"
"That's because you have such sucky control, Naruto."
"*siiigh* Could you not start an argument now?"
"Hmph!" Haku gazed after the stubborn blonde as he sulked behind his teacher on their way back to Tazuna's home. The effeminate boy wondered if the whiskered boy's control was really that bad like everyone seemed to think. Maybe he simply had too much chakra. Haku briefly shook his head. No. No genin his age could have that much chakra…right?
The house was silent besides the light snoring of the occupants. A shadow slowly, quietly lifted itself from its bed and sneaked across the hall and out of the house, checking every now and then to make sure no one had followed.
Taking one last glance at the riverside home, the shadow leapt into the woods and would not be seen again till morning.
"He's a determined little runt, I'll give 'em that much."
"At least we know he will take training seriously, Zabuza-sama"
Zabuza and Haku had come out to the predetermined training area that morning only to find a shirtless Naruto passed out in the grass. When Haku realized that the younger boy suffered from chakra exhaustion, he threw out the idea of the boy having a large amount of chakra and carefully leaned him against a nearby tree. Shikamaru, Kiba, and a knowing Anko came to the area soon after. The snake user simply giggled at her student's behavior while her other two wards rolled their eyes.
"You hit it right on the nail, Zabu-chan. The kid is a very determined little runt."
"Hun? Who's a runt?"
"More specifically, the 'determined little runt' is you, Naruto," Kiba snickered. The dog user pulled off his coat so his friend could cover himself up. Shikamaru yawned.
"Aaa. Did you make it up the tree, Naruto?"
"You bet! Just watch," Naruto boasted and began walking up the tree. He strolled back down to the ground and grinned proudly.
"That's only 2, Kid."
Zabuza rolled his eyes. "I know your chakra control sucks already since it took you a day and night to climb a tree, but I don't know how much chakra you have. Now get back on the tree and start counting. When you're finished come back to the lake; we'll be doing the next exercise there."
Kiba and Naruto tilted their heads at the suggestion while Shikamaru rubbed his neck. "We'll be learning to walk on water now?"
"I'll explain on the way. Kid, didn't I tell you start counting? Forget it. Come on, Haku."
"Actually, I'd like to stay here to collect a few healing herbs in case we need them, Zabuza-sama." Zabuza paused before nodding, leaving Naruto and his apprentice behind as he guided the rest to the lake by Tazuna's house. Haku glanced up at his blonde companion as he grumbled about mean senseis. The ice user smiled at the rude but endearing name the blonde had given his master. He just hoped Zabuza wouldn't mind the blonde calling him "G.I. Rogue."
Haku looked at the sky through the thin leaves of the forest. He had taken off his hunter mask and over coat and simply wore a dark green turtleneck and his black pants. The boy stood and began walking to the lake to check in on everyone.
Haku stepped into the forest clearing and caught sight of Naruto sitting on the ground beside a large branch and rubbing his head.
"Naruto-san? Shouldn't you be with Zabuza-sama?" he asked, confused. It had been over 2 hours since the boy had started his tree walking exercise. Naruto stared at the girlish boy before scratching his head embarrassed. Until now, Haku had never taken off his mask and it was more than a bit surprising.
"Uh, yeah, I just finished…Are you sure that you're a boy?" Haku carefully nodded, now aware of his missing mask, and the two began walking to the lake together.
"If you don't mind me asking, how many times did you walk up the tree?"
"I don't mind. I got up let's see…217 times."
Haku froze mid step. He once again threw away his idea of the boy having a large chakra supply. The kid's chakra wasn't just large it was fucking huge! Even he could only manage 90 laps on the exercise. Naruto waved a hand in front of the older boy.
"Uh, hello? Earth to Haku? Can you read?"
Haku shook himself and gave the blonde a reassuring smile before continuing to the lake. Zabuza-sama would definitely be surprised by this.
"Alright. Took you runts long enough," Zabuza grunted. Shikamaru and Kiba stepped off the water in only their pants and soaking wet. Kiba shook himself again and put his shoes and black fishnet shirt back on; Naruto still had his jacket.
"Zabuza-san, are we done for today?" Shikamaru asked obviously tired. As he was going to nod, Anko growled.
"No. Naruto still hasn't even practiced water walking! What the hell is taking that brat so long?"
"What's taking who so long?"
Anko whipped around and glared at the newly arrived blonde.
"YOU'RE LATE!" Naruto had a brief vision of him and Sakura-chan yelling at the cyclopsed Hatake before waving it off and grinning at his sensei.
"Uh. Sorry? You didn't say there was a time limit, SG," Naruto said, slowly backing away from the woman. Anko paused.
Shikamaru rolled his eyes. "No one knows what 'SG' means, Naruto." Said blonde mouthed an "Oh" and grinned.
"Well, Crazy Sensei—Insert Anko growling—has been calling herself a goddess—"
"Amazing Sex Goddess!!"
"Yeah, whatever. So I'm calling her SG for short."
"Cool." The group fell down at Haku's sudden appearance. The ice user simply shrugged at the confused shinobi and walked up to his master. "Zabuza-sama, I believe the reason Naruto-san had such a hard time completing the chakra control exercise was due to his large chakra capacity."
Zabuza raised a non-existent brow at the statement along with the oblivious blonde himself. "My chakra capacity?"
"Haku, I trust your judgements, but Naruto, you're only what—12? It's not possible for someone his age to have that much chakra." Haku nodded his head as if expecting the response and turned to Naruto.
"Naruto-san, exactly how many times did you walk on the tree again?"
"Uh…217." Naruto began inching behind Haku when even the jounin had their jaws drop to the ground. "What? Did I do something bad?"
"Anko, does he have a bloodline or something?"
"Uh, no. Not that I know about."
Kiba walked up to Naruto and crossed his arms. "Are you lying?" Naruto tilted his head.
"Nooo." Kiba nodded and grinned once again before turning to Zabuza.
"So, Zabuza, how is this gonna effect Naruto's training?"
The missing nin twitched. Anko had given her calm obliviousness to her students in only three months. Quite a feat.
"Basically, he'll have to do a whole hell of a lot more chakra exercises than normal to have good enough control in order to use complex jutsu. Also…I don't know how it's possible, but he has about the same chakra capacity as an ANBU level shinobi."
Once again the trio of genin were silenced. Shikamaru turned to Naruto and smiled.
"Well, it looks like your chances of becoming Hokage just went up a few notches, eh, Naruto?" Naruto grinned.
"Aw, don't say that! His shouting'll turn me def, Shika," Kiba fake-whined.
"Not to burst your funny-bubbles, runts, but you did ask me to train you, so get quiet! Since Naruto obviously needs chakra control training we can hold off the water walking for the moment since he'll be doing more complex exercises later. Shikamaru's abilities are also fairly easy to see. You're not very physically strong either, but since you're a Nara, we should probably improve your stamina first. You'd be a pretty ridiculous ninja if you couldn't even last through a single battle because your chakra ran out. Hey, 'Kiba' right? What type of attacks do you use?"
"Physical. I'm an Inuzuka."
Zabuza grumbled. "Ugh, kids. Not all Inuzuka techniques involve strength, you nitwit. You also send chakra to your eyes, nose, and ears to improve your senses a lot easier than normal which ups your tracking abilities. Of course, since you only seem to be focusing on your strength, there must be some kind of stage training for you, so we'll just stick to strength and stamina training…for now."
Kiba blanched at the dark look on the nuke-nin's face. It was even creepier than Anko's. And that was saying something!
(timeskip, 3 days)song: "One Headlight" by The Wallflowers
It was midday and Anko and Zabuza had left with Tazuna to help build the bridge. There had only been one attack so far by a small band of thugs that were easily taken care of by the two jounin on guard duty at the time. Gato probably knew about Zabuza's double-crossing because of it. Haku was currently overlooking the three genin's training from his spot in a nearby tree. He had begun casually wearing a pink kimono and leaving his hair down making him really look like a girl. Kiba had to check for an adam's apple every time he saw the elder boy.
Shikamaru had been constantly walking on trees and water to increase his chakra supply and was now lying on his back gazing up at the clouds he could see through the trees. Kiba was beside him breathing heavily and wearing wrist and ankle weights as he had been for the past three days, trying to adjust to the extra weight. Naruto was sitting against the tree Haku had been observing their training from nearly asleep. Haku smiled.
"Why don't we take a lunch break?"
The three genin gladly nodded as the girly boy unsealed pack lunches from a scroll. The four teens ate their first few bites in silence, savoring the relaxing atmosphere. Kiba wiped a bit of rice from his cheek and looked at Haku.
"So, what's your story anyway? Last time I checked people don't normally willingly travel with wanted criminals." Haku put down his riceball.
"Why do you need to know?"
"Why? Well, you two are coming to Konoha once this is over with, right? We'll be putting in a good word for you, so we should know more about our new pack mates."
"…Pack?" Shikamaru gave Kiba a look.
"Like he said before, Kiba's from the Inuzuka clan. They work with dog familiars like Akamaru here so they tend to refer to things like a dog would. Their family and friends are considered to be apart of their pack."
"So…I'm apart of your pack now?"
"Yeah. I thought it sounded weird too at first," Naruto said happily sticking his tongue out at Kiba. "But it's true. If any one of us is in trouble, all of us do whatever we can to get them out of it! No matter what!"
Haku smiled again. These people would definitely become strong…and he would be there to see it.
"Alright, but since we're all apart of this…pack then all of us have to tell our stories." Kiba nodded and took another sip of his tea.
"Alright. I'll go first, then. I'm apart of a Konoha bloodline clan: the Inuzuka. We're born with larger canines than normal and have heightened senses we can use our chakra to make even more heightened though I'm not s'posed to learn it until I'm chunnin. I live with my Mother, the clan head, and older sister Hana, the next in line. My father was … chased off by Mom's…eccentric behavior. I have 4 grandmothers, 3 grandfathers, 14 uncles, 9 aunts, 3 cousins that are older than me, and 15 cousins who are younger than me. We all live in the same compound and own the village's veterinarian clinic. When I was in the ninja academy, I'd skip class and sleep through the lessons. I'm the only genin in my clan now so I've been trying to become stronger so I don't shame my clan's name."
"Geez! That many people are in your family?" Naruto asked, shocked.
"That's why it's called a clan. And technically since we're the only people who can use the Inuzuka clan techniques, that's really not a lot of people."
"*yawn* All of us are supposed to tell our stories not just one person y'know."
"…Says the guy who's about to fall asleep with food still in his mouth…"
"Whatever. I'm apart of Konoha's shadow-user Nara clan. We aren't technically a bloodline clan yet since we have to train to use our shadows, but we're close. Mm. I prefer to just relax and watch the clouds pass by, but since I'm a shinobi I want to do my best to protect my village and our troublesome pack of misfits, you and Zabuza included. My family…my mother is very loud and troublesome to reason with and my Dad is a lazy drunkard shinobi. I have some ten or so aunts and uncles, five grandparents and eight cousins, all of who are younger than me. I have a friend named Chouji from the Akimichi clan who used to be bullied because his clan needed a large build for their techniques to work. Me, Chouji, Kiba, and Naruto all used to skip class together and get into trouble because of it. I was actually amazed that I passed the genin exam at all."
"Konoha has many bloodline and specialty clans does it not?" Haku asked.
"You bet! Konoha has the most bloodline clans within its walls than any other village in the elemental nations from what I know. Why?"
Haku hesitated a moment before looking into the genin's eyes. He lifted his hand into a seal and slowly a large block of pure ice formed from nothing. Shikamaru sat up.
"Hyoton? You survived the bloodline plague?" Haku nodded slowly, keeping his eyes on his hands.
"Yes… My mother hid her abilities and married a farmer without the bloodline and had me. When I was 7, I activated my ability and began playing with water using my abilities. I showed my mother…she hit me and told me to never use my powers in front of anyone, but my father had seen us. He…he told the other village men and they came and killed my mother…I…My ice abilities activated then and killed the villagers and my father. I was the only one left. I stayed on the streets after that, barely living. That was how I met Zabuza. He was still a loyal shinobi of Mist at the time and he had only just begun to doubt the kage's will. He took me in and gave me a reason to live. I learned everything he was willing to teach me. He was my precious person who gave me strength and who I would do anything for. My 'packmate' as you call it."
The genin sat silently after Haku's story, not wanting to disrespect the boy's bravery of telling them such a secret. Naruto bit his lip and took in a deep breath. Haku had told them a secret that if anyone in Mist had known, he would have been executed…he would do the same and trust them. Balling his fists tight, Naruto barely kept himself from curling into himself.
"Haku…" The ice user lifted his eyes to the blonde, confused. "You're not…the only one here with a secret. Uh. Okay…You all know about the Kyuubi attack on Konoha 12 years ago, right? The…the story we were told that the fourth Hokage killed it wasn't completely true. You can't kill a demon as strong as the Kyuubi…only seal it away. Kyuubi is the strongest of all the demons so the only way to seal him would be to have an extremely powerful seal master, the Yondaime, and a living being without formed chakra coils…an infant…"
Haku watched as Naruto bit his lip and gripped his pants so hard that his hands bled. He slowly breathed out. "You?" Naruto nodded and leaned back against the tree, unwilling to look at them.
"I…I'm only allowed into the ramen shop and the Akimichi restaurant in the village. Anko isn't really welcomed either so she covered me that time we tried to go out to eat. She's one of the few people like Iruka-sensei who don't think I'm the demon. I was kicked out of the orphanage when I was 5…no one ever adopted me. It wasn't until I turned genin that I found out why everyone seemed to hate me…Mizuki, our sensei, was a traitor to the village who tricked me into stealing the forbidden scroll of sealing and tried to kill me. If Iruka hadn't found me…I would have died. I managed to beat Mizuki with a technique I had learned from the scroll, the shadow clone….If you don't want to say anything you don't have to, but…if you need to think about it, I'll just wait at the house."
Kiba looked at Naruto. First at his bowed head, then to his bloody hands. The Inuzuka closed his eyes and moved over to the blonde.
Naruto gripped his head where Kiba had hit him and stared wide-eyed at him.
"Idiot…Demons don't help people! They don't feel sympathy for anyone! They don't have dreams!...Geez, I know we've only really known eachother for a few months, but didn't you at least figure out that we're not stupid, you dork?"
"Yeah, no sweat. If anything we should be thanking you for keeping the demon at bay," Shikamaru said, messing up the blonde's spikey hair. Haku smiled at them. These children were definitely going to be strong.
"Hey, kiddies, time to head in for the night!" Anko called from down the pathway. Zabuza and Tazuna stood nearby waiting for them. Naruto stood and grinned at them.
"Alright, we're coming, SG!"
As the group walked home, Zabuza pulled Haku to the back, noticing the oddly peaceful smile on his face.
"You spacing out a bit, Haku?" The ice user shook his head.
"No, it's just…Zabuza-sama?"
"Everyone, no matter who they are, has their own demons they have to deal with…I think the reason we don't know this is because sometimes the demons each person has aren't always as obvious as others…or quite as literal."
Zabuza watched the effeminant boy step up his pace to walk with the rest of the group. He looked up at the sky, the image of a young woman with blonde hair with a strange green chakra surrounding her passing through his mind.