Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
Warning: This story is AU. Most characters I will try to keep in character. But I think it's only normal for life experiences to affect a person. With major changes such as I'm implementing a couple of characters will be affected deeply.
Pairings, if present at all, will not be yaoi.
They'd done it, and it had almost been too easy. Uchiha Fugaku stood over the corpse the recently deceased Sandaime. Beside him stood his son and his fellow conspirator, Danzo.
With Danzo's help it had been a simple matter to manipulate schedules until there was a day where nearly all the guards in the Hokage's tower had been loyal to them. That had allowed them to make certain no one would raise the alarm, during or after the assassination.
Against the combined might of the three men in the room, and with the element of surprise on their side, the aged Hokage had perished mere moments into the assault.
Not that the man hadn't been extremely dangerous even at his age. The stories loved to speak of long, epic battles. But in the real world, fights between ninja were usually counted in the seconds when both sides were seriously out for blood. This actually became more accurate as the powers of the combatants increased. With the extreme potential for damage of each ability used, one small slip and that was the end. Catching the Sandaime off guard had given them just that slip.
The villagers would be sad to hear their beloved Hokage had perished so suddenly. But at his age such things were not uncommon. It was fortunate he'd survived long enough to name Fugaku his successor. Danzo had fetched him immediately on being informed of that, and the two of them had stayed to hear dying Hokage's last words. Or so they would say.
Certainly many would find that hard to believe. But this event had been planned out in detail. Root and the Uchiha Clan were already taking steps to solidify their power. Namely via the taking of hostages. Key children around the village were, at this very moment, being taken into custody.
They'd be very well taken care of and given the best training available. After all they had been chosen to participate in this highly selective program. But the message as to the real purpose for their abductions would be clear.
Soon it wouldn't matter what dissenters thought. They'd have no way to prove events didn't occur just as described and Fugaku would be firmly entrenched in his new position. An Uchiha would finally be made Hokage as should have been done long ago.
An eight-year-old Naruto was walking down the street, deep in thought. He'd skipped class at the Academy today to deal with a very important issue. But he was conflicted as to the best way to go about it.
When he pulled his latest prank, should he stick to freely available materials, such as your basic water, mud, and small animals? Or should he spend some of his monthly stipend on store-bought supplies so he could mix in some classics like paint, flour, and various foul smelling concoctions?
Taking out his wallet he rechecked its contents. It might be kind of tight this month, but he thought it was worth splurging a bit. This was important enough that he wanted to do it right. Now to go gather his supplies.
However, he didn't make it far before he was interrupted by a hand reaching out and pulling him into a small alleyway. Startled, he found himself held in place by an unknown assailant. He was restrained such that he could not even look back to see who held him, and a hand was held over his mouth preventing him from calling for help.
He was being kidnapped! Why hadn't he believed the stories at the orphanage about bad kids being taken away? It wasn't fair. All he'd done so far today was skip school. Now he was going to be made a slave and forced to do hard labor without rest until he was an old man! What could he do?
Didn't animals sometimes chew through a leg to get out of traps? That was it he'd just chew through his … No way he was going to do that! Why should he have to chew through his own arm? He'd chew of the kidnapper's arm instead show him you didn't take Uzumaki Naruto that easily.
But first he'd bite his way through the hand in front of his mouth. The man proved to be annoyingly prepared for this possibility and avoided all of his attempts to sink his teeth into the offending body part.
"Calm down. I'm not going to hurt you." the voice said soothingly. Naruto didn't recognize the voice of the man who spoke but it didn't sound threatening at least.
"There are some things you need to know, and I don't have much time." his captor continued. "The Sandaime has been assassinated."
"The old man is dead?!" Naruto yelled. Or at least he tried to. But seeing as there was still a hand firmly clasped over his mouth it didn't come out sounding much like he'd wanted it to. Naruto, however, was too distraught to worry much about whether his words were understood or not.
The old man couldn't really be dead could he? He was the only person Naruto really held close to him. Many of the villagers seemed to hate him for some reason. Not all of them, but the Sandaime had been the only person who was genuinely kind to him.
The man who brought him this news hurried on with his message despite Naruto's strong reaction to what he'd already been told. "I don't have time to explain, but the Uchiha Clan was behind his murder. They're going to come for you. They'll train you. Try to make you into a weapon."
Why would they try to train him? He was just an orphan that nobody even liked.
"I need you to go along with them." the man ordered. "Take all the training they'll give you. But never forget what they did. If you do that the time will come when you'll be able to make them pay for what they did. I'll contact you again when that time comes. I have to go now. They'll already be looking for you. Remember what I told you, and don't tell anyone about this conversation."
With that Naruto felt himself released and quickly turned around, but the man had already vanished. Dazed, Naruto left the alley and began walking listlessly down the street, trying to process everything he'd just been told.
If the man was telling the truth, he'd make the Uchiha Clan pay for what they'd done. He wouldn't forgive them for taking away the man he considered to be the only family he had. Despite not being related, he'd always thought of the Hokage as somewhat of a kindly grandfather.
But how could he make them pay? No matter how much he thought, he couldn't think of anything better than what he'd been ordered to do. He didn't like the thought of waiting to see justice done, but there was nothing he could do against a whole clan of ninja by himself. At least not yet.
But why had the man been so certain they'd want to find him? Maybe this was just a cruel joke. Some revenge for one of his pranks or something. That had to be it. He'd just make his way to the Hokage's Tower now and have a laugh with the old man over the fact that someone had claimed he was dead.
He'd hardly gone two steps when he was spotted by a group of ninja that started moving purposefully towards him. Every one of them was wearing the same symbol of a fan on their clothes that Sasuke always wore at the Academy.
"Naruto." one of them called out to him. "We have some important news for you. Come with us."
Naruto just nodded mutely and followed behind them. They'd come just like the man had said. As much as he'd like to convince himself otherwise, he could no longer believe this was just a prank. He wanted to attack the men in front of him, but knew how futile that would be. So he relegated himself to glaring angrily at their backs, uncaring of how he had no plan to explain his ill will towards them if they looked back.
But they didn't look back, and by the time they'd arrived at the Hokage's tower, which appeared to be their destination, Naruto had managed to reign in his expression somewhat. Now, at least it wasn't obvious he was considering what would be the most painful way to kill everyone around him. At this point, only someone skilled at reading emotions could tell he cared at all how they died. But he was hoping his expression could be passed off as just being nervous about being called here.
Just inside the building, he saw a small crowd gathered. The purpose of it seemed to be for the gathered men to receive instructions from the few men who were directing the group. One of the men, another Uchiha, saw them enter and approached Naruto.
"I'm glad you're here, Naruto." the middle-aged Uchiha told him. "My name is Uchiha Fugako. I'm afraid I have to be the bearer of some rather tragic news. The Sandaime died today. I know it's hard, but he was an old man and it was just his time to go."
Not needing to hide his knowledge of the death anymore, and having received this final confirmation Naruto released the tears he'd been holding back. The man was a good actor too. If Naruto hadn't been forewarned, he doubted he would have questioned what he'd been told.
"Why did you want to tell me yourself?" Naruto asked between sobs, trying to pull himself together a bit and get some information.
"I knew you were close to him." Fugaku said. "But you're right. That's not why I called you here. There is a secret the Sandaime kept from you that I feel you have a right to know."
A secret? What would the Sandaime hide from him? Naruto wondered if this might be just another lie to get him to cooperate. But then again, there had to be some reason the man was interested in him. Maybe his clan had a really cool bloodline or something.
"You have the Kyuubi sealed within you." Fugaku declared.
"What!?" Naruto yelled incredulously. "But the Yondaime killed him."
"I wish that were so." Fugaku replied. "But not even the Yondaime was capable of killing a Biju. Instead he gave his life to seal the demon inside of you. That's the reason many of the villagers fear you."
As much as Naruto didn't want to believe it, it did make sense. He'd even heard some of the villagers calling him a demon. It also explained why the Uchiha Clan was interested in him.
"But I think they're fools for treating you the way they do." Fugaku continued. "And now that I'm taking over as Hokage, I won't allow it to go on any longer. To start with, a young boy like you doesn't deserve to be forced to live on his own."
"You mean you'll find someone for me to live with?" Naruto asked hopefully, momentarily shocked into forgetting he was supposed to despise the man in front of him. He hated living alone in his apartment. Seeing all the other kids with their parents when all he had to go home to was an empty room.
Fugaku chuckled at the young boy's response. "I was thinking of taking you in myself. I have a son about your age. I believe Sasuke is even in your class. I'm sure you two would get along great. That is, of course, if you'd like live with us."
"I'll do it!" Naruto said quickly. He tried to assure himself he was merely doing this to play his part. That it wasn't because one of his greatest secret desires was being offered to him. He even came close to convincing himself of that.
Naruto stood with Fugaku at the entrance to the man's house. As excited as he'd been about this, he now found himself dreading the moment. Fugaku wanted to use him, but what about the man's family? Would they fear him and treat him like the rest of the villagers did?
Against his will, his mind flashed back to stories he'd heard about evil stepmothers abusing poor young children. Would he spend the coming years slaving away doing household chores while Sasuke and his mother gloated and insulted him?
Not giving him time to properly prepare himself, Fugaku opened the door and ushered him inside. He saw a dark haired woman inside he could only assume was Fugaku's wife and felt his tension spike waiting for her reaction as she looked his way.
"Oh, you must be Naruto-kun." she said hurrying over to him. She then knelt down and lifted his chin so she they were looking eye to eye.
"My, such a handsome young boy." she said cheerfully. Naruto finally let out a breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding. He was relieved that his fears seem to have been unfounded.
"My name is Mikoto." she continued warmly as she stood up again. "I hope you like fish. I was going to ask you what you'd like for your welcome dinner, but I'm afraid my husband kept you too late."
"Um ... fish is fine." Naruto said weakly, still somewhat overwhelmed by everything that was going on. He then kicked himself mentally for such a pitiful reaction. Here was this woman being nice to him and the best he could say was 'fish is fine?'
Putting a big smile on his face he spoke far more energetically this time. "Really, it smells great! I can't wait to eat!"
"I'm glad you think so." she said brightly, pleased with his response. "But I'm afraid it's not ready just yet. In the meantime, why don't I show you to your room?"
"Sure." Naruto replied, then followed obediently behind her as she lead him up the stairs and down the hallway until they came to an open door. Looking inside he was startled to see the room was huge. It had to be larger than his whole apartment had been.
And there was a large bed in the corner. Seeing this, Naruto immediately ran over and jumped onto the bed bouncing a few times and enjoying the experience. A laugh from the door reminded him of just where he was. He scurried quickly off the bed, able to feel his face reddening he was so embarrassed.
"I'm sorry but I never had a bed before and I just always wanted to do that and it'll never happen again." rambled Naruto as quickly as he could get out.
"That's alright Naruto." she reassured him. "Just be careful not to hurt yourself. I'm going to finish dinner so I'll let you settle in until it's ready. We already sent someone to pick up your things from your apartment. You'll find them in your closet. Let me know if you need anything."
"I will." replied Naruto. "Thanks again."
Mikoto departed and left Naruto to look over his room. He just stood there for a couple of minutes soaking in the room and trying to adjust to the fact that it was his now. Besides the bed, the room was also furnished with a dresser, a desk with a lamp on it, and a bookshelf. Naruto wasn't much of an expert, but they all looked to be very high quality to him.
This day had been the wildest of Naruto's memory. He couldn't believe everything that had happened to him already. He almost expected to wake up and discover it had all been a dream. What he didn't expect was to be interrupted from his thoughts by someone tackling him from behind.
He tried to fight back against his assailant but he quickly found himself flat on his stomach with his right arm held somewhat painfully behind his back. Looking over his shoulder, he saw that the person who held him in this position was none other than Sasuke. Naruto was growing quite angry. He didn't care how the other boy felt about him moving in here. This was just too much, and when he found a way to get loose he'd teach the other boy a lesson in manners.
"So you have the Kyuubi inside you?" Sasuke asked calmly. "I would have thought you'd be a lot stronger."
"I just found out about that today, you idiot." Naruto yelled at him. "I don't have a clue how to use his power. And I'm plenty strong. You only won because you snuck up on me."
"Well, I suppose it will still be nice to have someone to spar with when nii-san is busy." Sasuke continued as if Naruto hadn't even said anything.
"What makes you think I'd want to spar with you after you did this to me?" Naruto retorted bitterly.
"So you're willing to leave it be with me having won our only match?" Sasuke asked, finally releasing Naruto and getting up. He then offered his hand to Naruto.
Rather than use it help himself up, Naruto grabbed the offered arm and pulled Sasuke to the ground. He then twisted it around and got Sasuke into the same hold that had just been used on him.
"Now we're one and one." Naruto said smugly, glad to have put the other boy in his place.
"I guess we'll just have to have a match to break the tie sometime." Sasuke responded.
"I guess we will." Naruto answered in turn, actually looking forward to that match.
"Boys, dinner will be ready in five minutes." Mikoto called out from the stairway. "Wash up and come to the table."
And so Naruto went to prepare for the first home cooked meal he could ever recall having. Naruto didn't even have a stove or any other means to cook with in his apartment. So he'd never had a chance to try cooking anything himself. Unless you counted the one time he'd tried to cook using a campfire. But there hadn't been much left of his food after that one attempt. Or his first apartment for that matter.
"I'm glad to see you could take time away from your family for such a trivial matter as this." Danzo greeted Fugaku, voice thick with sarcasm.
"You're quite aware of the true purpose of that time." Fugaku answered levelly, not willing to be baited by the man.
"Yes I am. However, we had agreed the boy would be joining Root." Danzo replied sharply.
"Had we?" Fugaku deadpanned. "I'm afraid I'd forgotten."
"I suppose it's good we actually have a Hokage with the foresight to make a move like that." the older man responded retrospectively. "But don't expect me to just let you get away with whatever you want."
"I assure you, the thought had never crossed my mind." Fugaku was able to answer in all honesty. "But on to other matters. Does it appear the transition is going smoothly?"
"About what we'd expected." Danzo told him, dropping the banter and taking a much more businesslike tone. It showed that, despite all his faults, he was still very much the professional when it came to plotting. "A number of ninja have fled the village, but none we weren't prepared to lose. Surprisingly enough, Asuma has chosen to stick around."
"Really?" Fugaku queried, not expecting the Sandaime's son to stay. "He must have been more attached to his nephew than we'd anticipated. You don't think this will affect our predictions for the Jounin vote of confidence do you?"
"No." Danzo informed him, dismissing his concerns. "Even if he does try to sway them against you, our little hostage extraction went flawlessly. Most of them won't dare vote against you. The Hyuuga Clan is being a bit stubborn, but I intend to set an example that should bring them in line and discourage any others from creating problems."
"I've no love for the Hyuugas." he replied. "But don't take it too far. We have enough ill will without harming children."
"As you wish, Hokage-sama." Danzo answered in mock deference.
I hope this is an interesting twist on the standard "Naruto grows up with someone else as a parent" cliche. My one real regret with this plan, is that with him being trained to use the Kyuubi's power from such a young age, it'll be hard to avoid being a bit super Naruto-ish. I do promise that I won't let it get carried away in that direction.
I also promise to try my best to finish the story without disappearing for months in the middle. I'm proud of the fact that I'm two for two on that and determined to make it three for three. I will not, however, be releasing as quickly as I did those stories. They were too rushed and I'm going to force myself to take my time, keep improving them, and pace my story a little better. So you're not going to see four chapters in four days and the whole thing done in two weeks. I'm aiming for a chapter every 1-2 weeks. I really want to do this story right and see what I can do when I put more effort into it. So I'm forbidding myself from releasing less than seven days after my last chapter.
That brings me to my last note. I'm looking for a beta. I'm not looking for someone to fix spelling and grammar. I'm looking for someone who will critique my chapters, tell me what seems weak, make suggestions, discuss my future plans, and even just act as a sounding board for ideas. If you're willing to do some or all of this please let me know. I've got an outline I'll send out to anyone who's interested.
There might be a bit of a delay for chapter two depending on how long it takes to find a beta. I really want to have one for this story. But I'll keep writing regardless. So if it takes me a while to find one, I'll just give you a long chapter two to make up for it.