Disclaimer: Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Prelude: Part One
A Hard Decision
The ninja of Konohagakure no Sato were rumoured to be the strongest of all the Hidden Villages. They had been the first to establish a Hidden Village, and had continually emerged as the victors in all the wars they had participated in. However, the strength of all the mightiest mortals in the world were nothing compared to a demon, especially the strongest of the Bijuu, the infamous Tailed Beasts; the Kyuubi no Yoko.
However, the brave ninja of Konoha raged against the demon fox with all their might. The surrounding area had been levelled of any sign of natural life, aside from those ninja who still stood. Lifeless bodies littered the once great forest's floor, a majority not even whole, having been clawed, stomped on or crushed by the giant fox. The most gruesome sights were the mangled bodies of those the Kyuubi decided to dine upon.
"Hold it back! We need to hold it, until Yondaime-sama arrives!" The frantic cry of an ANBU called, clearly wounded, as he prepared to release a spray of flames at the beast.
A Konoha Jounin panted as he let the chakra in his attack dissipate, "We cannot let it reach Konoha! If that happens, we are all doomed!"
Several more minutes passed, as the Kyuubi took to ravaging on more of the shinobi. The injured ANBU was swept up in one of its massive nine tails, before being thrown into the beast's open mouth. A resounding boom filled the area as a dark shadow flew over head, before landing directly across from the Kyuubi. The moonlight passed over the shadow, revealing a toad of giant proportions and a blond haired shinobi standing atop it.
The ninja wasted no time, his hands moving into the necessary handseals for his final technique. A low rumbling came from the Kyuubi, somewhat reminiscent of a chuckle, before it raised its paw and slashed at the toad, cutting across its left eye. The ninja finished his handseals, and looked down as tears slid down his face. "Sumimasen, Naruto-kun."
A bright, bluish-white light encompassed the area, leaving the surviving ninja temporarily blinded. It resonated once, before it fell away, revealing a barren field, lacking the giant toad from before, and more importantly, lacking the Kyuubi no Yoko. A white haired figure darted across the field, appearing in time to catch the falling form of the blond shinobi.
"You did well, kid. Rest now, Yondaime Hokage of Konoha."
Three Weeks Later
A tiny, blond haired baby lay in his crib, unaware of the danger he was about to face. On each of his cheeks, three long whisker-like birthmarks stretched out, and a dark black seal was visible on his exposed belly in the moonlight that managed to break through the blinds covering the window.
A ninja appeared from the shadows, his chest covered by nothing but the green flak jacket awarded to Chunnin of Konoha, and a hitai-ate tied around his left bicep, bearing the leaf insignia of Konoha. A malicious smirk was stretched across his face as he walked toward the crib, a piece of paper dangling from between his fingers.
"This is for my brother, you demon scum." The ninja slapped the piece of paper onto the baby's forehead, his smirk growing wider as the kanji that covered the strip of paper began to glow. He began to turn away when he noticed something that shouldn't be happening. The paper was beginning to fold in on itself, and the glow of the kanji was rapidly diminishing. The once explosive seal glowed a deep red before it finally imploded, leaving the baby unharmed.
The ninja swore and immediately began his attempt at escape, a cloud of white smoke covering his disappearance. Not a second later, the robe clad figure of Sarutobi Hiruzen burst through the door, a pair of ANBU at his side.
"Do a sweep of the vicinity, and find whoever was in this room! When they are apprehended, they are to be given to Ibiki's young protégé, Anko."
The two ANBU nodded and seemed to melt into the floor, leaving the Hokage alone in the room with Naruto. He walked over to the crib and glanced down into it, watching as Naruto slept on, ignorant of what could have just happened.
"What am I going to do with you, Naruto-kun?"
Three Years Later
Naruto, now three years of age, skipped across the hardwood floors of the Hokage's office as he looked for his favourite old man. His tummy rumbled as he finally got around to the other side of the large desk and he took a handful of the Hokage's white robes, yanking as hard as he good with a toothy grin plastered over his face.
"Jii-chan! Can we go get ramen?"
Sarutobi smiled warmly down at the lad, his eyes crinkling as they almost closed. Bending down, he hefted Naruto up onto his lap with a grunt. "Yare, yare, Naruto. You are getting big. Maybe you've been eating too much ramen, hmmm?" He poked the boy's stomach, eliciting a giggle from the blond.
The young child shook his head in earnest as his giggles died down, his former grin settling into a cute pout, "Ramen is the best! No other food can beat it!"
Sarutobi let out an amused sigh and shook his head. He was just like his mother with his stubborn attitude and obsession with ramen. Hopefully he could break the addiction, just as he had with Kushina. Standing, he moved Naruto over his head and onto his shoulders, chuckling as Naruto grabbed the Hokage hat and threw it on his head. The hat slid down until it covered his eyes completely, and the little boy was forced to tilt it up, a sheepish grin across his features.
With a minor amount of concentration, Sarutobi shunshin'ed out of the office, Naruto letting out a cry of joy at the incredible speed. The duo appeared in the street just outside of the famous Ichiraku Ramen Bar, and Sarutobi smiled to Teuchi as he entered.
"Okay Naruto, miso again?"
The little boy bopped his head up and down, causing the hat to flop around wildly before covering his eyes again. Teuchi laughed loudly, before turning to his pots and preparing the ramen. Sarutobi sat down, and moved Naruto onto a stool of his own, before he started to contemplate if he received his missive.
In the dank, half lit room, two shadowy figures could be made out in the flickering light produced by the torches. Water could be heard dripping somewhere nearby, and if one were to breathe through their nose, they would be hit with the foul scent of a sewer.
"You have your orders. Kill the demon bearer the first chance you have. Now go."
With that, the second of the two figures disappeared in naught but a flicker of light, leaving the first alone. The fires raged for a moment, revealed the disfigured form of Danzo, the leader of Root and the Hokage's number one nemesis. Soon, Sarutobi would be too busy grieving to be the Hokage. Danzo would call a vote of no confidence, and then, he would be the Hokage.
Naruto sat atop his bed, a scroll on chakra unravelled across his lap. It had been a surprise to everyone when Naruto, a three year old child, began to read and even understand the scrolls in the manor's library. He was without a doubt a genius.
Sarutobi had left Naruto in the manor, going back to finish off his last stack of paperwork for the day. Unknown to him, he had left Naruto in a most dangerous situation. A figured warped out of the shadows of the corner of Naruto's room before dashing forward, kunai glistening in the fading rays of sunlight.
Just as the black clad shinobi reached his target, he frowned as he lunged forward, not realizing where the feeling of unease was coming from until his kunai pass through the boy in front of him. 'Genjutsu!?'
The shinobi turned slightly, only to see a pissed of Hokage standing in the doorway, his left hand held in a half ram seal while his right was resting on Naruto's shoulder. The smirk that crossed the old man's face made the shinobi shiver, and in seconds he was bound and shipped off to Ibiki. The screams would only be remembered in the ANBU Torture and Interrogation Department for many nights to come. Got to love silencing seals.
Sarutobi pinched the bridge of his nose, taking a long draw on his pipe before letting loose a billow of smoke. Smoking always helped him to relax. "Naruto, Naruto, Naruto... What am I going to do with you?"
"Well... there is always the option of sending him with me."
Sarutobi grinned as he recognized the voice. "I see you got my message. It's been a while, Takezo Kenji." He turned slowly to see the visage of a tall, middle aged brunette with a lopsided grin splayed across his tanned face, sitting in the windowsill.
"Indeed it has old man." Kenji dropped from the windowsill, landing in a half crouch before standing to his full 6'2". "So, where is he?"
Sarutobi nodded and turned in his chair once more. "Naruto-kun, there is someone here I would like you to meet. He is an old friend of mine."
Naruto nodded before he hopped off his chair, leaving his scroll on chakra behind, and shuffled his way over to the two men. He glanced towards the first one, who was leaning against the windowsill, and frowned when he didn't recognize the man. Naruto knew most of the ANBU that came into the Hokage's office regularly, so this guy wasn't part of ANBU. Craning his neck, he looked across towards the Hokage.
Hiruzen chuckled at the look on his ward's face. "This, Naruto, is Takezo Kenji, one of the finest ninja to come out of Konoha. He used to be teammates with the Yondaime. He will be your new sensei for a while."
Naruto turned around again, and Kenji grinned down at the little blond. "Don't worry, brat. I won't rough you up... too much at least."
Naruto pouted and folded his arms over his chest. "I am no brat. For your information, I am three and a half."
Kenji laughed and waved his hand in front of his face, "My apologies. Three and a half. That certainly isn't brat material at all." Sarutobi laughed as Naruto's pout got even deeper. "Oi, old man, I want to take him to my farm. I can teach him far easier out there, and he will be away from the less... desirable parts of Konoha."
The Hokage's grin quickly morphed into a frown. He had been hoping on Kenji moving back to Konoha for a while to look after Naruto. Letting out a sigh, he realized that he shouldn't have hoped for so much. With a simple nod, the Hokage gave his assent to the shinobi turned farmer's request.
Naruto jumped up onto the Hokage's lap with a surprising nimbleness, at least to Kenji, and looked straight into the old eyes of Sarutobi. "Am I leaving?" The Hokage nodded once again, and felt Naruto's little arms wrap around his neck. "Okay, Jii-chan. I'll miss you."
The Hokage could hear the unshed tears in the boy's voice, and hugged him tightly. "I'll miss you too, Naruto-kun." Kenji cleared his throat, and the Hokage couldn't help but sigh for what he felt was the hundredth time that night. "It's time to go, Naruto."