Disclaimer: Do not own Naruto and I'm writing this for fun not profit

Naruto: Demon's Path

Chapter 1 Path's Start

At six years old Naruto Uzumaki was sitting at his a desk in the middle of the classroom and not for the first time questioning his decision to enter the Ninja Academy.

"Man this sucks," he ranted to himself, "I mean when I decided to join the academy I thought I'd be learning awesome jutsu. Not answering stupid question like who started the First Great Ninja War," as he looked over his homework from the previous night. While continuing to rant in his head he was unaware that he was about to be approached by someone who while only knowing him for the six months they have attended the academy has come to admire him greatly.

"H-h-hello N-n-naruto," stammered Hinata, "Can I sit here?"

"…and another thing how is this going to help me to become Ho… huh?" Looking up and spotting a blushing Hinata he asked wonderingly, "Uhm, sure but don't you like to sit in the back?"

"W-w-well it's not that…err, you see…M-m-mizuki-sensei told me to sit here," stated an increasingly flustered Hinata.

"I guess if Mizuki-sensei says to," responded Naruto but thought to himself disappointingly, "Yeah, It's not like she would want to sit next to me on her own." Another thing Naruto had begun to regret about his time in the academy was the attitude of his fellow students. Considering he thought that he'd be making friends and that maybe the cold looks that he had been receiving all his life would end. However, the attitudes of the adults seems to have transferred to their children and as a result the seats next to him would always be the last taken. "Well at least she was willing to talk to me," he thought, "they usually just sit down and ignore me."

Thinking along this vein, Naruto, began to wonder why Mizuki was assigning seats today. "Maybe we are doing something super exciting," he reasoned with growing exhilaration, "wait maybe Hinata knows."

"Hey Hinata"

"Y-yes, Naruto," Hinata whispered.

"Did Mizuki-sensei say why he assigned you to sit next to me?" asked an increasingly giddy Naruto, " Like is he going to have us do some kind of awesome class assignment, or maybe a team on team spar that would be so cool." In his mind, he began to picture both him and Hinata taking on and defeating the other kids in the class and then the both of them standing on a pile of defeated students. His little fantasy then went on to the 3rd Hokage giving him his hat in acceptance that he was the most worthy shinobi to carry the title of Hokage.

While Naruto was off in his little fantasyland, Hinata was panicking due to the fact that he actually spoke to her and also due to the fact that in her happiness to be put next to him she did not bother to ask.

"I-I-I'm sorry I didn't ask, Naruto." She stated with a little apprehension expecting his disappointment, however his smile never dropped.

"That's o.k., it stills has to be better than the stuff we normally do."

"I-I-I guess, but the stuff we've been learning is important too, Naruto."

"Oh yeah, how so I mean alls we've done for the most part is listen to lectures when do we get to learn the amazing techniques that will make me Hokage," enjoying the conversation due to the fact that in six months at the academy this was the most he had interacted with anyone.

"W-w-well, what if they took us out to the woods for a trap making lesson?" Hinata asked.

"Oh, do you think that's what we're doing? ", Naruto cut in, "I'm really good at making traps, especially for my pranks."

"Y-yes but you have experience with making them, th-that's a talent not everyone shares," she explained," and these lessons are to teach us how. H-h-how did you learn to make them?"

"Well I'd go out to the woods and practice on them until they would work right. Sometimes they'd blow up in my face though." Naruto then asked, "Are you saying that if I had read about them it would have been easier?"

"I-I-I'm not sure, but you may have h-h-had a better understanding of what would of worked and what wouldn't have," Hinata responded.

"Sure wish someone would have explained it to me before I set up that one with the paint bombs in the teachers' lounge, believe it. I screwed that one so many times that me and the forest were different colors by the time I got that one right."

Hinata smiled and chuckled lightly, "I-I-I imagine it was quite the sight."

"Yeah, by the way you have a very pretty laugh Hinata, believe it."

During this conversation, Hinata had what many of the student who have observed her called a level one blush. Which was just her cheeks getting red and poking her fingers together; however upon hearing Naruto's comment she went straight to a level five which meant her entire face went crimson and she was seconds away from passing out. Also, there was just one thought repeating over and over.

"Naruto thinks my laugh is pretty."

Naruto however unaware that Hinata mind had temporarily shut down and not understanding why her face was as red as a tomato decided to get an answer to another question that was bothering him.

"Hey Hinata, maybe you can tell me, who did start the First Great Ninja War?"

While this interaction was taking place the two were being observed by one Mizuki Touji; the twenty-three year old chunin had been an academy instructor for the past three years and had recently discovered just how much he hated it. He believed that he was destined for more than just wiping the noses of these brats. As he was leaning against the entrance to the classroom telling the students who arrived who they should sit next too, he could not help but smile about how his fortunes would soon be improving. Looking up he notices that Hinata face suddenly got red and smiled thinking how thanks to her Hyuuga blood by the end of the day he would be a rich man.

"Just a few more hours and you my dear will be on your way to lighting country," he thought to himself with a smile,"while I'll be rich enough to finally quite this shitty life and spend the rest of my days lounging on the beaches of Moon country," his smile then got bigger as he added, "and to sweeten the deal I'll even be responsible for the death of the Kyuubi brat."

Just then he noticed a flash of pink pass in front of him. Once more slipping into his caring teacher persona he gets her attention.

"Good Morning, Sakura"

Turning around and looking into the smiling face of Mizuki she responded cheerfully, "Good Morning, Mizuki-sensei."

Getting right to business Mizuki told her, "Sakura, I would like you to sit next to Naruto and Hinata ok," however he noticed a look of apprehension cross her face so he adds," Is there a problem with that?"

"It's just that my mom said that I should stay away from Naruto because he is a bad kid who likes to cause trouble," she replied a little afraid of upsetting her teacher.

" I see, well it is just for today and if your mother does have a problem with it tell her she is free to discuss it with me," Mizuki said while thinking," Not that you'll be around to complain about it."

"OK Mizuki-sensei," turning around Sakura began to climb the steps while inwardly musing, " Maybe he is not as bad as mom makes him sound, besides it would be nice to have another friend besides Ino," when she reached the seats that they were at she thougth," well this is it," and aloud she said, "Good Morning, Naruto, Hinata,… Mizuki-sensei said that I should sit with you guys."

Taking her seat she becomes aware that Naruto was just steering at her so self- consciously she asked. "Is that alright?"

Naruto, for his part was thinking. "Man Mizuki-sensei is the best, not only are we doing something different and probably awesome today but he pairs me with Hinata and Sakura," Naruto had been wanting to talk to Sakura since the start of the school year due to his thinking she was the most beautiful girl in the whole school; seeing this as his chance to get his feeling out in the open he blurts," You have a nice big forehead, believe it."

Upon hearing this Sakura almost immediately looked like she is about to cry and mumbles," I-i-it's not my fault I have a big forehead."

Desperate to prevent the onslaught of tears he instinctually knows he unwittingly unleashed he tried to explain what he actually meant," I didn't mean it like that…I just mean that it's different," seeing that this was not actually helping his case he explained,"It makes you very pretty."

"Really?" she asked while wiping away the unshed tears.

Giving her a big smile he said,"believe it."

While temporarily forgotten Hinata who was a bit jealous thinks to herself, "Naruto likes big foreheads?"

Mizuki having explained the team assignment to the last student to arrive moved to the center of the classroom getting their attention he then announced, "Well class, I have good news and I have bad news."

One the students in back shouted out, "Let's have the good news first Mizuki-sensei."

"Very well," he answered happily, "the good news is this afternoon after lunch we will be heading outside the village for a map reading exercise."

This announcement was of course meet with cheers from most of the students, however a pineapple haired kid in the back who already fell asleep before the start of class, who was awakened by the excitement of the other students groggily mutters, "What a drag."

Naruto meanwhile could barely contain his glee while thinking," Yes, I knew there was a good reason to get out of bed and come to class today. Nothing can bring me down now."

"Now the bad news," Mizuki stated, "is that we will be having a surprise exam on the material covered in last night's assignment."

"Accept that," thought a suddenly dejected Naruto. While the rest class groans out its frustration.

"Now hand in your homework and pull out a pencil, we will be starting the exam shortly," Mizuki said, while thinking, "I do so love playing with their emotions like that."

One bombed test later as well as a couple hours of listening to Mizuki drone on and on about the battle of someplace or another, Naruto was wandering the halls of the academy in a sour mood due to the continuation of his streak of F's for written exams.

"Stupid test, Kami why does it matter if ancient guy A fought ancient guy B it's not like I was around to care." And like a light switch being hit his mood suddenly brightens as he said, "Who cares it's just another F, it's not like there is a written test for becoming Hokage and besides after lunch we get to head outside the gates for that map reading fieldtrip. Speaking of lunch I better get going if I'm going to make it to Ichiraku in time to eat."

With that though he makes a one eighty degree turn and takes a step slamming right into a teacher who was walking behind him getting knocked to the ground in the process.

"Hey watch it," he shouted.

The teacher's name was Iruka Umino a twenty-year old chunin who had recently joined the academy as an instructor. Looking down Iruka's eyes widen in surprise at who bumped into him. He had of course seen the container of the nine –tails around the academy but this was the first time he had actually interacted with him. Despite losing his own parents to the beast contained within Naruto, Iruka could not bring himself to hate the child in front of him, after all he would be a pretty lousy teacher if he hated one of the very children he would be trying to impart his knowledge too.

"You're Naruto right?" asked Iruka, as he helps Naruto to his feet.

Naruto looks up surprised that the teacher wasn't already reading him the riot act about looking where he was walking. Usually the only teacher who spoke to him civilly was Mizuki-sensei and that was only when necessary.

"Yeah, "he responded, "Who are you?"

"My name is Iruka, I'm training to be a new instructor here," he then added, "and I've heard quite a bit about you."

"Really you must have heard how amazing I am and how…"

"Actually," Iruka interjected, "I've heard you're the biggest troublemaker in the entire academy."

"Oh," said an unhappy Naruto.

"Hey now don't look so depressed," Iruka tells him while he ruffled Naruto's hair," When I as your age I was a little bit of a troublemaker myself.

Naruto perks up at that," Really?"

"Yep, just remember Naruto that it's important to pay attention and to learn what it is your instructors are teaching."

"You bet Iruka-sensei!"

"Now perhaps you can tell me where you were heading off to in such a hurry that you couldn't look where you were going," Iruka asked while crossing his arms.

Naruto smiled sheepishly and raised a hand to the back of his head while explaining," Well you see I was in kind of a hurry to get to Ichiraku for some lunch before Mizuki-sensei takes us out on a field trip."

"A fieldtrip you say," Iruka said with a look of confusion on his face, "I wasn't aware there was a fieldtrip planned for today."

"Oh Yeah, Mizuki-sensei surprised us with it too," Naruto carried on oblivious to the confusion in Iruka's voice, "he says it's to help us practice our map reading skills."

"Hmmm, did he tell you where this exercise would be taking place?" Iruka asked

"Yeah he said right outside the village and east of the main gate and that we have to meet him in front of the academy after lunch," Naruto stated excitedly while bouncing up and down, "I can't wait to go."

"Well I shouldn't keep you any longer than, just be careful ok Naruto."

"You bet Iruka-sensei," Naruto said while running away he adds," it was really nice meeting you; I really hope you're my sensei next year."

Watching the departing Naruto, Iruka thought merrily, "He's not as bad as the others make him out to be, honestly I see a lot of myself in him," his thoughts then turned more somber,"but what is Mizuki thinking he didn't schedule a fieldtrip with the headmaster or the Hokage; also it's too early in the year for such green students to be taken on a exam outside the walls at least without a genin assigned to each team to watch over then. Guess I'll go talk to him during the lunch break." With that though he began to head towards the teachers' lounge.

While in his classroom Mizuki was talking with the two chunin who he convinced to go along with his scheme. The two were Junzo Chuda and Zeshin Asako both were the type of ninja who realized that they had already risen to the pinnacle of their ability and were destined to spend the rest of their lives as chunin. Junzo, a tall rail thin man in his early thirties, whose only distinguishing characteristic was a moustache with the ends curled up like some old cartoon villain and Zeshin, an overweight man, due to lack of training, in his late twenties with a round face and a rather wide nose had jump at the chance to help Mizuki with his plan. After all, the three of them were being paid a fortune for the Hyuuga girl and they didn't have to get their own hands dirty in the process. They were just finishing going over their roles in the plan, which was just to make sure that the other children didn't stumble into the targeted team while the cloud ninja grabbed Hinata and then acting like concerned teachers searching for their missing students while actually covering any of the tracks that pursuers would use to follow, when a knock at the door announced a visitor. Both Junzo and Zeshin looked nervous till Mizuki sent them a look that screamed relax and then coolly called out," enter."

Iruka who having failed to find Mizuki in the teachers' lounge, where they normal meet for lunch, decided he'd look for him in his class and if that failed wait for his return. Smiling at finding him until he noticed the two chunin next to Mizuki apologetically Iruka said, "I'm sorry am I disturbing you Mizuki?"

"Not at all Iruka, we were just discussing our plans for this afternoon that's all," Mizuki replied

"Does this have to do with the map exercise you have planned?" Iruka questioned

Mizuki eyes widen a little at this but it went unnoticed by Iruka, however his two accomplishes were a little more noticeable suddenly paling a little. Iruka asked concerned, "Are you two alright?"

Mizuki trying to get the spotlight off of the two said, "Zeshin, Junzo, why don't you get the supplies for the fieldtrip."

Knowing they have been dismissed they nodded their heads to both men and leave. After watching them leave Iruka turns to Mizuki and was about to speak, but was cut off by him.

"Now what can I do for you, Iruka"

"Well I ran into one of your students…actually more like he ran into me, and he explained that he was excited about your taking his class outside the village for a fieldtrip."

Mizuki chuckled as he asked, "This student wouldn't happen to be Naruto would it?"

"Yes how did you know?" Iruka wondered aloud.

"Oh, just a hunch," Mizyki replied while inwardly fuming, "I should have known if a problem came up it would be because of that fucking brat."

"Well," Iruka began, "don't you think they are a little too new to the academy for such an exercise, and also, you should have scheduled it so that the Hokage could've assigned genin to help watch."

"Don't worry so much Iruka everything will be fine, it's true I forgot to get it scheduled with the Hokage but it is just a map reading exercise and three chunin can easily watch over a group of students."

"Yes, but your spreading them out through the woods Mizuki," Iruka stated with rising concern," you can't be everywhere , maybe I should…."

However Mizuki cut in saying," Iruka calm down, I appreciate the offer but we'll be fine besides don't you have to observe Daikoku-sensei's class this afternoon," he then continued while smirking, "you know before you can be a full instructor for next year you have to get all your observation hours."

Cowed a little bit for lecturing a full sensei three years his senior Iruka adopted a stance similar to a little blonde knucklehead putting a hand behind his head and saying," I'm sorry Mizuki; I didn't mean to lecture you."

"Of course you did, Iruka but," he continued merrily despite Iruka flinching and secretly delighting in it," that just means you care, a great quality for an instructor, you'll do fine here."

"Well I guess I will go finish lunch then, Take care Mizuki," Iruka said as he made his way for the door.

Once Iruka had left and was far enough away Mizuki looked to the back of the class calling out," You can come out now."

"Not bad," replied a shadow that disengaged from the back corner solidifying into the shape of a medium-sized man, with black slicked-back hair, he was dressed in simple civilian clothes that would not hinder him should the need to fight arise," how long have you noticed I have been here."

"Long enough," Mizuki stated his ire beginning to rise, "perhaps the better question is what the fuck do you think you are doing coming here."

The man replied while chuckling, "Perhaps you should take the advice you gave that mother-hen and calm down before you attract attention to us." Once Mizuki got a hold of himself the man continued, "Besides I though you would like to know the money has been transferred to the account."

Mizuki still somewhat upset responded testily, "I already knew that! Do you think we would be proceeding if it wasn't there? Never mind," he said before the man can respond, "just remember that once you grab the girl you will only have a hour maybe two before we have to report her as missing and then you will have the Inuzuka after you and while we'll be able cover your tracks somewhat their mutts will be able to track you via the girls scent."

"I wouldn't worry about that," the man replied calmly

"What did you do?" Mizuki asked, "If a whole bunch of people die during this the investigation will be much larger."

"Again don't worry I just laced their supplies with an odorless agent that will ensure that the fleabags and their partners will be too sick to be much of a factor."

"How did you manage that? The Inuzukas are strict with what they feed their dogs as well as what they eat themselves," Mizuki stated.

"True, however after so many years of peace and due to their trust in their suppliers they do not check what they receive as thoroughly as they used too," the man then looked Mizuki in the eye and then smiled as he saod, "and as you well know, money can bypass loyalty any day. Also, this op has been in the works for a long time ever since the last failure to be exact. Well to our success then." With nothing left to be said the man begins to disappear into the floor in order to make his exit while thinking, "And once everything is said and done Mizuki you'll be enjoying your reward just like the man who allowed me to spike the Inuzukas' food."

Naruto after enjoying a healthy lunch, at least to him, of 6 ramen bowls was rushing back towards the academy thinking, "Crap, crap, crap, I'm late why of all the days to be late coming back from lunch did I pick today." However, as the academy pulled into view he relaxed seeing the assembled student in the courtyard.

Mizuki seeing Naruto decided to comment, "Well now that Naruto has decided to join us I guess I can explain the exercise." Taking a breath he continued, "As you can see Zeshin-sensei and Junzo-sensei are currently passing out maps, your objective is to get to the X marked on your maps and retrieve the item I've hidden there, are there any questions so far." Seeing that he hadn't lost anyone he continues," Each of your maps is unique and will lead you to a different area once you have found your object backtrack on the path the map has marked and head to the main gate."

Suddenly a hand raised followed by a, "Mizuki-sensei"

"Yes Naruto."

"Is there a prize for being back first with your item?" Naruto asked hoping there was one, in love with the idea of competing against the other students.

"A prize hmm," Mizuki said while putting a hand under his chin in a thinking pose, "sure why not. Very well, the first team back will get their grade raised to an A on the test that we had this morning."

Naruto of course excitedly shouted out, "That A is ours believe it, right Hinata?"

"S-s-sure N-naruto," whispered a blushing Hinata because Naruto put his arm around her shoulder and pulled her closer while making his proclamation.

Sakura for her part smiled and thought," Well he certainly is excitable," and then asked Mizuki, "Err sensei?"

"Yes Sakura?"

"Well what if you already got an A?"

"I guess I'll just have to give you an A+ then," he responded.

"Well what if you already got an A+, Mizuki-sensei?

"Then I'll just have to give you extra credit, ok?" he replied impatiently wanting to get them moving, "Well class let get a move on."

A half hour later Iruka was on his way to Daikoku's class to watch him teach, however his mind was still troubled by Mizuki's class heading out of the village. The fact that while eating his lunch his drinking glass shattered while reaching for it was definitely a huge factor for his continued uneasiness. Pondering aloud he said, "I know I'm being irrational but my gut tells me something about this situation is wrong."

"Well Iruka, it is said that a true shinobi should trust his instincts," responded a gravelly voice that anyone from the village of Kohona would recognize as belonging to the 3rd Hokage, he continued, "for they will rarely lead you astray. Now perhaps you will tell an old man what bothers you so?"

Eyes widening he spins in place and bowed slightly, "Lord Hokage, what are you doing here?"

"Hahaha, relax Iruka I thought I'd wander around a bit and check on the students and also I will admit to being a bit worried myself," the Hokage said with a smile.

"You worried sir, why?" asked a stumped Iruka.

Again laughing lightly the Hokage replied, "Well generally by now Naruto would of caused some sort of havoc and the fact that it has been quiet all day has me slightly apprehensive that whatever mischief he is up to will be far larger than normal."

Seeing a look cross Iruka face at the mention of Naruto and hoping that unlike most of the teachers at the academy Iruka's problem did not pertain to the burden the child carried the Hokage asked, "Is Naruto the source of your discomfort?"

"Yes and no lord Hokage," seeing the Hokage waiting for an explanation he continued and told him of his earlier encounter with Naruto, as well as his confrontation with Mizuki he explained, "…and I just haven't been able to shake this feeling of something being off since talking to Naruto sir."

"Yes I can see why Iruka, this is most irregular, I will have to remind Mizuki of the proper protocols one should follow before arranging for such an activity," the Hokage then smiled at Iruka and said, "well now that you have worried an old man, why don't you go and check on them just to put my mind at ease, even though I'm sure everything is fine."

"I'm sor…,"

"Nonsense Iruka," the Hokage said warmly, "it is good to see such dedication to those you will eventually be teaching and don't worry about missing, Daikoku's lecture I will explain to him why you missed today's class. However, I was wondering what do you think of young Naruto?"

"Well sir to be honest he kind of reminds me of myself when I was younger," Iruka said smiling thinking back on his time in the academy. "I'll be leaving right away Lord Hokage," walking past he added, "I'm sure, I am worrying over nothing."

He didn't notice a suddenly pensive Sarutobi whisper, "I hope you are right, Iruka."

Meanwhile Naruto, Hinata, and Sakura were actually making good time towards their destination; that was however only because Sakura noticed that Naruto apparently had no idea how to read a map and promptly took it away from him. He was currently sulking in the rear over the fact he was no longer leading the expedition, even though technically it wasn't one considering they where only few miles from the village, still to him it was an adventure and he should be leading it damn it. Of course, when he expressed that opinion to Sakura she displayed her quick temper, which would become more prominent in a few years when she was more confident in herself.

"Hey Sakura, can I at least hold the map?" he asked.

Sakura thought about it and considering they were close to where they had to be, as well as the fact she had already memorized the route she handed it over. Sakura was having a hard time believing that this boy was as bad as her mom made him sound. If she went by what her mom said he'd be some kind of monster instead he was just a hyper idiot, but he was so nice and he complimented her forehead something her prince charming did in all her six-year old fantasies. Looking behind her at him and deciding such thoughts would best be figured out after they had returned to the village she turns back towards the trail and begins leading them on their way.

Enjoying her time in Naruto's presence Hinata would have been in heaven except for the fact that Naruto kept showering praise on Sakura. While catty would be a term that no one would of thought about Hinata her thoughts had turned towards the negative in regard to the pink haired girl especially after listening to Naruto continuously showering Sakura with such praises as, "Sakura you're so smart" or "Sakura you're so cool", or the one that still bothered her, "Sakura you have a big beautiful forehead."

"Ugh," she thought, "who ever heard of someone liking big foreheads."

Of course, she then pictured herself with a larger than average forehead and dreamily thought of Naruto telling her, "Hinata, I love your humongous forehead it makes Sakura's look so normal." He then placed a kiss right on it. While trapped in her fantasy she was unaware that her level one blush has steadily climbed to level three while her imagination was running wild. That was until she became aware of the real world again when she noticed a pair of beautiful blue eyes looking at her and the face attached to them only a couple of inches away from hers.

"Eep," she squeaked out," N-n-naruto what's wrong."

"Are you alright Hinata?" he asksed concerned, "your face keeps getting redder and redder, are you getting sick or something?"

"N-n-no Naruto," she replied while trying to fight down her blush, "I'm f-f-fine thank you for asking." All the while thinking, "He's concerned for me, he does care."

"Hey Hinata, do you think you can teach me how to read the map," he asked.

"S-Sakura w-w-would probably be able to explain it to you better than me."

"Yeah, I already asked her but she says she needs to concentrate on the trail and to ask you."

"O-ok Naruto," she replied down about the fact he didn't ask her first even if she told him to ask Sakura.

"Thanks Hinata I'll learn it in no time with you helping me, after all," he said giving her the smile that she liked so much, "you're really smart too."

After coming back to the real world again and fighting down the blush that threatened to send her into unconsciousness from the latest compliment from the blond she proceeded to help him understand the symbols and how best to get to the various places the map denoted. She also learned that while he had many qualities that she liked about him, that when it came to learning he required you to put things into simple ideas in order for him to understand them. After a frustrating twenty minutes of coming up with simple ways for him to process the ins and outs of reading a map, she decided to ask him a question that had been on her mind since first encountering the blond.

"N-n-naruto?" she asked while pointing her fingers together.

Naruto studying the map glad that he finally understood what the symbols in the legend mean and how best to utilize them for getting from point A to point B. Looked up at the glowing cheeked girl, "What is it Hinata?"

"W-w-why do you want to be H-h-hokage," she finally squeaked out.

Folding up the map, he put it in his back pocket and striked his thinking pose with his eyes closed before answering, "I want people to pay attention to me, I guess."

"P-p-pay attention to you?" she asked questioningly.

"Yep," he said while nodding his head, "People are always ignoring me and those that do look at me are always giving me these super cold stares, it's why I like to prank them so much. But you know after today those looks probably won't bother me as much as they used too."

"W-w-why's that," Hinata whispered.

He looked at her and giving his biggest, brightest smile said, "Because where friends, right Hinata."

But when Hinata didn't respond he got a worried look on his face, thinking maybe he presumed too much about how close they were. However, seeing the light fading from his eyes helped bring Hinata out of her stupor ,but since she still couldn't find her voice she just nodded her head yes. Seeing this he returned to his previous level of cheeriness. Sakura having concentrated on making sure they were heading to the right place suddenly said, "Hey guys there's the river, our item is just up ahead."

Looking back and smiling she says, "Come on guys I'll race you."

Hiruzen Sarutobi, better known as the 3rd Hokage, nodded in passing to his secretary as he made his way into his office. After letting Daikoku know that Iruka wouldn't be showing up today he decided to finish his walk and then look in on Naruto via his viewing crystal. Sitting down at his desk he began reaching into his bottom drawer for it and just as he was about to pull it out there was a knock at the the door which made him pause. Thinking he should tell the councilman, who had shown up for a budget meeting for his district, to come back later due to some instinct that something important was happening. Regrettably, he ignored it as to be courteous to the man and respect his station. Closing the drawer he told the councilor to enter. While he didn't realize it at the time he would spend the next several years wishing he had followed the very advice he gave to Iruka earlier that day.

"Come on guys I'll race you."

Hearing the sounds of the approaching children the man perched in the tree let a predatory smile appear on his face. Hajime Moy, official listed in the bingo book as an A rank criminal was a former cloud-nin. However unlike most missing-nin he did not have to live in fear of the Raikage's hunter-nin for the simple fact that he still worked for the village of Kumo. While the various crimes associated with the man were all true, ranging from rape to cold-blooded murder of innocents, the Raikage realized he could use such a man for his more sinister plots of which capturing a Hyuuga was one of the highest on the list. Running a hand through his slicked back raven colored hair he took a moment, while his target got into range, to bask in the joy of how close to success his plan was. As he thought about how he got to this point he thought, "Truly Mizuki was a god send."

Having infiltrated the village by acting as a wandering tourist the chunin on duty at the gate hadn't even given him a second glance. However, it quickly became apparent that while entering the village was easy, getting his hands on a Hyuuga and escaping the village with them would be next to impossible. After all one of the reasons the first attempt failed was because the Hyuugas at their compound were always on guard against such attempts. However, even the Hyuuga couldn't be on guard at all times and places. Also, his practiced eye had found several ways to exploit weaknesses in Konoha's security once he had a Hyuuga. Such as the company who delivered and handled the Inuzuka clans' food, the man who had allowed him access to the storehouse and then had been promptly sent to the next world as his reward, was a perfect example. So it was while sitting in a bar listening to the slightly drunk Mizuki complaining about his life that he had found the missing piece to his plan. It had been all too easy to convince him to help at one of the few times the Hyuuga's guard was down after all if you can't trust the teachers watching your kids who can you trust.

"Ah poor Mizuki," he thought as his grin got even bigger, "you think your life is about to change and it may but only if they puzzle out you helped me," finishing the thought with a chuckle at Mizuki's expense. While he did deposit the money into the secret account Mizuki set up in a bank in Tanzaku Town, due to a deal with the bank manger, who secretly helped with Kumo's operations in the Land of Fire, the money would disappear in about another hour. Leaving Mizuki and his cronies with nothing, but the potential to spend the rest of their lives in a Land of Fire's prison. Pushing thoughts of Mizuki fate from his mind he decided to focus on the matter at hand. Reaching into his pouch and pulling out a kunai he mused, "Now which one to kill first, Pinkie or Blondie?"

Sakura had just finished challenging Naruto and Hinata to a race and was about to turn and run toward the river bank when Naruto suddenly grabbed her hand.

"What is it Naruto? That's where we have to go to get our item," Sakura asked.

We should go Sakura," he replied his voice sounding small like he is afraid of something, while his eyes looked for some sign that there was something amiss. He was bothered by the fact that the forest seemed so quiet and still all of the sudden.

"Come on, don't be a chicken Naruto it is right up there all we have to do is search the bank for whatever Mizuki hid and go back," she challenged, "if it makes you feel better we can run all the way back, Ok?"

Not exactly put at ease but unwilling to look like a scaredy cat in front of the pinkette he nodded his head in acceptance and they began to head to the riverbank.

Hinata seeing Naruto looking about like he expected something to jump out at him decided to use her Kekkei Genkai to help put his mind at ease. Forming the correct hand seal she whispered while following behind the two.

"Byakugan," suddenly the world around her expanded. Still unused to just how to interpret the sudden expanded vision of her blood line she almost missed the shape of the crouched man in the tree that was until he reached back as if to throw something. Seeing the threat she shouted out to the pair in front of her, "There's someone in the tree."

Sakura looked back to Hinata when she shouted; however Naruto looked up in time to see a kunai launch from the tree canopy on instinct he tackled Sakura to the ground with the kunai just nicking his shoulder as it sailed past him.

"Well done Blondie," said the oily voice of Hajime. Suddenly he dropped down in front of the trio, with his back to the river, and slowly pulled out another kunai and gleefully announced," Time for you to come with me little Hyuuga"

Scrambling to his feet Naruto quickly grabbed the kunai that was thrown at him and holding it with two hands wrapped around the handle in front of him shouted, "What do you want with Hinata?"

"Why those magnificent eyes, of course."Hajime replied while taking a step forward. He then continued, "Unfortunately, I have no need for you or pinkie so I'll just have to kill the both of you." With that said he released a little of his killer intent not a huge amount but enough to freeze them and to enjoy the absolute dread in their eyes.

Sakura having made it back up to her feet sunk back down to her knees upon feeling the jounin KI. Tears unconsciously began falling from her eyes in rivers. The only thought running through her head was," I don't want to die, I want to go home." Hinata was also terrified knowing this monster was here for her and like three years ago the people around her were going to suffer for it. Naruto also wanted to cry he wanted to throw away the kunai and run back to Konoha as fast as his legs would carry him. The only thing that stopped him was something the 3rd Hokage had said to him one day while standing on the 4th's head on the Hokage monument. Thinking back to it even while in this situation he can still hear the words the Hokage said, "Naruto the secret of the leaf shinobi isn't the amount of jutsu he knows or the strength of his body, it is the strength that is unlocked only while he is defending those precious to him. Do you understand?" At the time Naruto hadn't understood considering the only person precious to him was the Hokage, and the idea that he would need to be defend by the likes of Naruto was laughable even to him. However, looking right behind him and seeing the silently weeping Sakura and the petrified Hinata as well as the idea of waiting so long to find two precious people only to have them yanked away from him was too much to handle.

A small smile forms on his lips and he thought, "I understand what you meant Old Man, I won't let this bastard hurt my friends."

Hajime stopped walking towards the trio when Naruto smiled the idea a six year-old smiling in the face of his killer intent being enough to give him pause. However, it did not stop him for long as he began his slow walk towards them again deciding the boy was no threat.

Naruto crouched preparing to charge and growled, "I won't let you hurt either of them you bastard, you'll have to kill me first." Upon finishing the sentence he ran and leapt at Hajime pulling the kunai back to slam it in his chest. Unfortunately, while initial surprised at how fast the kid moved Hajime was still a jounin and far quicker. Slipping easily into the airborne Naruto's guard and slamming his own kunai into Naruto's right side with enough force to break several ribs and puncture his lung. Naruto landed several feet behind Hajime near the riverbank.

Suddenly the girls came out of their paralysis, long enough to both scream, "Naruto!"

Hajime for his part content that the injury to the boy would prove to be fatal ,if a especial slow and painful death, turned to the two girls. Pulling out another kunai and giving the edge a lick he said, "Now for you pinkie."

Hinata having just witnessed the boy she so admired being stabbed joined Sakura on her knees. Sakura knowing this was the end for her and wanting some human contact threw her arms around Hinata who quickly responded. Both girls close their eyes and waited.

Watching the two girls cling to each Hajime basked in his favorite part of the kill. When the one about to die accepted there was nothing they can do to stave off their death and the terror they felt was at its highest. Finally reaching the terrified girls he stopped right in front of them, the pink haired one sensing his presence opened her eyes just as he began to raise the kunai, she then quickly closed them in anticipation of the blow. As his hand reached its highest point he closed his eyes and paused. Almost as if to hold off some sort of sexual satisfaction achieved in the act of killing. Just as he was about swing down and plant the weapon into the top of her skull he was suddenly surrounded by a Killer Intent and chakra so potently evil he felt like a bug in comparison.

"What is this chakra," he wondered as he looked behind the girls to see if someone was coming to rescue them. It was so overpowering and so close he could not get a read on from which direction it was coming from. Deciding to stop messing around, he was about to just kill the girl when his chest exploded outward covering the two shivering girls in his blood. Looking down he saw what appeared to be a massive red claw made of chakra sticking out of his chest. Unable to turn his body he just managed to look behind him and saw the boy he was so sure was incapacitated and on death's door standing surrounded in a blazing red chakra with what appeared to be a single chakra tail waving behind him. Also and perhaps more disconcerting to Hajime, the boy's right arm was outstretched with the red chakra extended outward until it apparently made contact with him. Hajime's last thought in the world was," What the fuc…" alas it was never finished because the boy suddenly pulled back yanking Hajime off his feet towards him with such force that it snapped the neck of his already broken body.

After being stabbed Naruto had a hard time breathing laying on the ground he thought," So this is it huh," he heard Hinata and Sakura scream his name and his thoughts become frantic," Hinata, Sakura I'm so sorry." Closing his eyes he began to drift off but then he began to have a vision of that time on the 4th's head. His eyes shot open while trying to will his body to respond, he thought, "No, not like this. I can't just give up, I have to protect Sakura and Hinata. Please someone give me strength not much just enough to protect my friends."

As if to answer his silent wish he suddenly felt as if molten lava was poured into his veins. Standing he saw that the bastard who stabbed him was about to slam his kunai down into Sakura. Knowing he couldn't reach them in time but wanting to try anyway he raised his hand towards them as if to say stop when his hand was pointed at the man a red claw shot away from his body. It made contact right in the middle of the bastard's back. It was only then that Naruto realized that he was covered head to toe in the red chakra; as well as the fact that the kunai in his side was pushed out due to the closing of his wound. Getting over his momentary lapse at these revelation he pulled back his arm; however he wasn't expecting that the man would fly at him with such speed and still too weak to move out of the way quickly, the corpse that used to be Hajime slammed into Naruto and both fell into the river.

When both girls felt the blood cover them they opened their eyes. Sakura was vaguely wondering if she was dead. Although this notion was quickly put to rest as she looked at her would be killer and saw that his chest had exploded outwards towards them. Her eyes widen in shock to see a feral looking Naruto who apparently was responsible for the missing part of the man's chest. Just then Naruto pulled back and she watched as the corpse flies back into Naruto knocking them both into the river.

Hinata upon opening her eyes immediately sought out Naruto expecting to still see him lying on the ground. Seeing him surrounded in chakra and looking wild she comes to the conclusion, "This oppressive chakra is Naruto's." With that thought the fear welling up inside her ever since the monstrous chakra first started faded away. She knew Naruto would never hurt her and it was just about then that she began to follow the red link of chakra from Naruto to her would be kidnapper. Gasping at the damaged inflicted she could only watch in mute horror as Naruto pulled the man towards him and both of them disappeared beneath the surface of the river.

Iruka after his talk with the 3rd Hokage was starting to feel slightly foolish for his earlier apprehension. "Guess I really was worried over nothing," he thought while tree hopping through the forest, having already spotted several of the three man teams from Mizuki's class. One of which had a black haired boy being dragged by his two teammates while trying to make it back to the gates. Stopping to ask what was wrong the boy who was being dragged said that it was too troublesome to race back to Konoha even if they would get a prize.

Laughing to himself over the kid's lethargic attitude, unaware that someday that very attitude would be driving him up a wall, he made his way deeper into the forest. Deciding to rest on a tree branch he had to admit his presence probably was not necessary; and while Iruka had not encountered any of the other chunin, he had to acknowledge he really didn't want to; otherwise he would have to come clean about his talk with the Hokage with them.

Deciding to swallow his pride and head back to the village he turned to leave when he was suddenly overwhelmed by a feeling of horror. Feeling a chakra that he had not felt since that horrible night six years ago, the day he lost his parents.

"This chakra…it can't be has the seal broken," thought a panicking Iruka. While extremely worried his ninja training began to take hold and he thought analytically, "No, while potent this chakra is still only a fraction of what I felt when the Kyuubi attacked."

Making up his mind he started to head in the direction from which the Kyuubi's chakra was emanating from. As he pushed himself to travel faster he thought, "Please be alright, Naruto!"

Mizuki was herding a team that had gotten lost back to the trail they were supposed to be on. When he had felt Hajime's Killer Intent, he also noticed one of the students shiver a little bit showing he felt it too. But, never having felt such a sensation before the child probably had no idea why he suddenly felt so uneasy. Although, Mizuki did he most certainly was not pleased about it.

"What the hell does that idiot think he's doing," he thought vehemently, "just kill the Kyuubi brat and the pink haired harlot and be done with it."

However his thoughts quickly turned to terror when he felt the second more powerful and far more sinister chakra suddenly drown out the first. The child who had shivered before suddenly emptied the contents of his stomach as the Kyuubi's power manifested.

"Fuck, what did that fool do!" Mizuki's mind screamed, as he pondered his options. Should he abandon these children and get the hell out of Kohona or head towards Naruto and the others to take stock of the situation? Deciding for the later, he screams for the children to head for the village and took off.

Halfway to his destination he began to breathe a little easier as the menacing chakra suddenly faded. Quickening his pace, he arrived a few minutes later and was shocked by the sight that greeted him. A shell-shocked Sakura and a crying Hinata who was trying to disengage herself from the other in order to run towards the riverbank. Both were covered in gore, for a moment he considered killing the pair, to silence them, but the need for information in order to try and salvage his plan won out. Also, he had no idea how far the K.I. pulse traveled, dozens of Anbu and Jounin could be arriving shortly.

Switching gears to that of the concerned teacher and with just the right levels of worry in his tone he asked, "Girls are you alright; you're not hurt are you? Quickly followed by," Where's Naruto?"

As he moved closer to the pair he could see that they were apparently both unharmed, which didn't answer why they were covered in so much blood; however before he can ask Iruka dropped down from the branches.

"Iruka, what are you doing here," he asked.

"That doesn't matter at the moment," Iruka replied quickly, "Where is Naruto?" But then he noticed the state of the two girls, "Dear Kami!"

Pushing past Mizuki he tried to comfort the girls, however having never met Iruka before they shrink away from his outstretched hand.

Reassuringly he whispered, "Its ok, you're safe. My names Iruka, I work at the academy."

Something about him put both girls at ease and made them feel like he would protect them, so they suddenly let go of each other and latched onto him. Hugging the pair tight he kept whispering to them that they were safe. Still aware that they needed information he tried to gently ask them to tell him what had happened. Both girls began to relay the events up until he and Mizuki arrived, of course the details were jumbled and colored by the perceptions of a pair of six year-olds but it still formed a relatively clear picture.

"…then both him and the b-b-bad man fell into the river, s-s-sir. W-w-we have to find Naruto, h-he saved me and because he's my friend" finished a distraught Hinata.

Sensing that Iruka was about to take charge and try to find Naruto himself, Mizuki stepped in ordering Iruka.

"Iruka, take these two back to the village and alert the Hokage. Also, try and get some trackers down here to help in the search."

For a moment Iruka looked like he wanted to argue, but considering that was what he was going to say only the one who went back was Mizuki, he agreed. Picking up both girls whom then latch onto his neck he then nodded to Mizuki and took off back to the village.

Before Mizuki could set off to try and find Naruto, the out of shape form of Zeshin dropped in front of him. Panting and out of breath he asked, "What happened, was that the Kyuubi's chakra, I felt?"

"Yeah, apparently that fool Hajime failed to kill the brat and he awakened the power of the fox somehow."

Zeshin hearing this started to panic and in his low scratchy voice whined, "Shit, I knew I shouldn't of gotten involved, we are going to spend the rest of our lives in prison or worse be exec….urgd!"

Mizuki having enough of his sniveling grabbed him by the throat and slammed him into a nearby tree, leaning in with a deadly edge in his voice he said "Calm the fuck down! As far as things go this can still work for us, the only thing that has changed is Kumo won't be getting their hands on a Hyuuga, understand."

Zeshin tried to speak but the pressure on his throat prevented it so settled for nodding his head. "Good," Mizuki continued, "Now what I want you to do is find that idiot Junzo and round up the rest of these brats and get them to village."

Letting go of the red, going on purple, faced Zeshin he turned and walked away about to begin his search when Zeshin called out, "What are you going to be doing?"

Looking back Mizuki mockingly stated with a wicked glint in his eye, "Why I'm going to make sure my poor student is safe and if he is, to ensure that he isn't for long. One way or another Naruto is not going to be setting foot in Kohona alive." And unable to resist the temptation, he added Naruto's favorite saying to the end of his sentence. "Believe it." With that he took off down the river to try and deliver on his declaration.

Having lost consciousness shortly after hitting the water, Naruto awakened to find himself on his back and all alone on the bank of the river. Trying to remember exactly what happened and wondering why it was he didn't drown, Naruto pulled himself completely out of the water. Thinking back to when he was passed out all he has was a vague recollection of floating. But it wasn't like the normal type of floating it was almost like he was on top of the water. Choosing to save puzzling out the mystery for later, he decided to follow the river back to Kohona.

He was unaware that he had been saved once more by the Kyuubi, or more accurately as a result of the fox trying to save itself. Once Naruto had begun drawing on the fox's chakra it had immediately tried to send as much of it as possible. The Kyuubi was trying to force the boy to take in too much of its chakra, thus losing control and allowing it to take over Naruto's body.

However, it quickly discovered this was not possible the seal had instead only allowed out what the boy could safely handle. Once its' container had lost consciousness it found the seal had then shut down, preventing a majority of the one tail of power that was being drained from the fox before from escaping. Beginning to panic upon realizing that it would die right along with its jailor when Naruto inevitably drowned, closing its eye to calm down the mighty kitsune began to think rationally. Realizing that there was always a small steady stream of chakra leaving the seal, to allow for Naruto chakra coils to adapt to the Kyuubi chakra in his system as well as for his accelerated healing, if the fox could manipulate that even just a little it may be able to save the boy, and thus itself.

Opening its eyes upon finding a potential solution it set about trying to use that stream in order to force chakra to Naruto's back in order to force him to the surface of the water. Finally succeeding after a tense half minute or so Naruto broke the surface of the water. However the control and concentration the fox needed in order to do even this little was unimaginable as it began to feel the strain almost immediately. After about forty-five minutes of traveling down river like this with the occasional moment when its control would slip and Naruto would dip below the surface, only to be quickly forced back up, was the fox able to get him onto a riverbank.

Exhausted the Kyuubi had to give the 4th Hokage credit. The Hokage had taken an alarming number of steps to make sure the boy would be protected from its control. Even the small amount that it had used in order to save Naruto would not have been possible had its jailor been awake. No if it was going to escape it would have to trick the fool into letting it out of his own free will. Contemplating this it got more comfortable in its jail as it began to assume a position to rest.

Sarutobi was bored out of his mind, the councilor had been droning on and on about his districts budget needs. He wondered if this was part of the man's strategy to bore him to tears in order to get him to agree to the increases he desired. The sad thing was it was about to work when one of the chunin who was on duty at the gate barged in.

"Lord Hokage," the chunin shouted, "there has been an incident out in the woods."

Dismissing the councilor with a promise to let him know his decision later he then waited until the councilman closed the door before beckoning the chunin to continue.

The chunin told him how Iruka showed up at the gate with two academy students covered in blood and that he told him to let the Hokage know something had happened, also that Iruka said he would give his report right after dropping the girls off at the Hospital.

The chunin then went further, "It had to be the Kyuubi, sir" quickly continuing, while adding his two cents," I knew nothing good was going to happen when I saw him leading those two off into the woods, why he must of waited until he got them far enough away before he…."

"SILENCE," roared an enraged Hokage, bearing down on the man with the aura that at one time had made him one of the most feared shinobi in the world.

"Since neither of us knows what has happened out there I suggest you keep such idle speculation to yourself understand."

The chunin unable to respond merely nodded his head however this was not good enough for the usually kind hearted old man. So with the steel of a man who has seen countless battles and been in charge most of his life he asked, "Understood?"

"Y-y-yes sir," replied the chunin, while snapping to attention.

"Good," responded Sarutobi, he then ordered, "return to the gate and help round up any of the other missing children."

Acknowledging the order the chunin then shunshined away, The Hokage then reached into the drawer that his viewing crystal was in and pulled it out. He then tried to locate Naruto with it, however it remained cloudy.

"Damn," he thought, "he must be out of range."

Putting it away he had just closed the drawer when a knock alerted him to the arrival of Iruka. Biding him enter Iruka quickly did so and came to stand directly in front of the wise leader. Sarutobi's practiced eye quickly spots the patches of blood that was transferred to him from the girls.

"Report," he commanded.

Iruka then relayed everything that he knew of the situation, including Naruto apparent tapping into the Kyuubi's power, and the attempted abduction of Hinata.

Lacing his fingers in front of him and resting his elbows on the desk. "This is most troubling," he said gravely, calling for his secretary, he told her to send a messenger over to the Inuzukas' compound to send out some trackers to aid Mizuki in his search for Naruto.

"By the way Iruka, how serious were Hinata and Sakura injured," Sarutobi asked, motioning to the blood on his jacket with his hand.

Looking down as if noticing it for the first time he responds," They weren't sir; the blood belongs to their attacker. I only brought them to the hospital because they had both gone into shock."

Nodding at that, just then the Hokage's secretary peeked in and said there was an Inuzuka here to see him. Telling her to let him in she opened the door and in stepped a middle age man with the traditional features of the Inuzuka clan. Looking at the secretary the man told her to leave the door open; a look of confusion appeared on her face but she complied. A closer inspection of the man showed his features were quite pale and he was sweating quite profusely.

Getting right to business the Hokage asked, "Ah, good how many trackers have you dispatched?"

"None Lord Hokage," the man answered shakily.

"What?" the Hokage replied stunned, "Where's Tsume?"

"She is away on a mission. I'm sorry sir, but every present shinobi in the whole clan has been disabled by some kind of virus. Its infected our canine partners as well, I'm one of the least sick but even I would be useless in helping track down the boy."

As if to prove his point the man's stomach loudly gurgled and he suddenly grabbed his mouth, he then quickly about faced and ran from the office.

The Hokage seemed to deflate as the Inuzuka left the room. Iruka stepped back in front of the Hokage and asked "Sir, permission to form a search and rescue squad."

Looking up at Iruka he smiled at the chunin's desire to help Naruto, "Granted, pull members from all ranks even use available Anbu, leave with your team in fifteen minutes."

"Don't worry sir we'll find him," with that said Iruka shunshins away to assemble his search and rescue team.

"…..But will you find him alive?" whispered a tired old man.

Naruto was being cautious as he made his way back to the village afraid that the man he killed may have had friends in the area. Having been forced away from the river due to the foliage he was currently sitting in a small clearing with his back against a tree while taking a breather.

"I wonder how far I'm from the village," he thought, "it's almost time for some of old man Teuchi's ramen that's for sure." He then spent a few minutes deciding on which of all the different flavors of ramen he was going to eat when he got back.

He stopped his musings upon looking at his right hand, the one that he had used to throw that red chakra at his and the girls attacker. "What was with that red chakra?" he pondered, and then feels where he was stabbed earlier feeling through the cut cloth as all he feels is smooth skin.

"How did I heal so fast, was it that weird chakra," he wondered, knowing that even an incredible ninja in training like him should be dead from the wound he suffered. Also, he recognized that red chakra wasn't exactly normal. He then came to the conclusion that maybe that was the reason why people didn't like him, not to mention the fact that whatever this power was it allowed him to kill an opponent he had no business being able to even touch.

"I guess that means not only do people hate me, they probably are afraid of me," Naruto thought crestfallen as he pulled his knees up to his chest. He then pictured Hinata and Sakura and a smile formed on his face.

"That's right I'm not alone anymore, Hinata said she would be my friend," he thought as his good cheer returns," and also Sakura was talking to me. I'm sure if I asked her she would be my friend too."

Getting up to continue his journey home, he suddenly felts the same warning bell sensation that he felt right before the bastard who attacked them showed up. Settling on listening to his gut this time fearing that the bastard did have friends he hid in some nearby bushes and made himself as small as possible.

Mizuki who had appeared in the clearing was not in one of his better moods. Trying to find Naruto was proving to be rather difficult, he supposed he shouldn't have been surprised considering that even though he was only six years old when trying to escape pursuit after a prank he was almost a genius.

He had luckily found where Naruto had come to rest on the riverbank; he had been hoping that the cloud ninja had wounded him too severely and that his killing of Hajime had been the Kyuubi's last gasp. Although that proved to not be the case as the tracks in the dirt led back to Kohona, covering all the tracks so no one else would find them he began to hunt Naruto down in earnest.

What was most troubling to the chunin was the lack of blood, based on the details of the girls Naruto should be on his last legs not making decent time back to the village. It had only been luck that he had spotted this clearing wear Naruto apparently had rested and by the signs of things very recently. After all, as Naruto had gotten away from the river he had left virtually no clues of his route back to the village.

Mizuki had only gambled that Naruto was trying to stay as close to the river as the terrain would allow using it as a marker. Presently, he was debating on whether or not he should just give up this hunt and go back to the village. It wasn't like Naruto knew anything and soon it would be dark which meant tracking the brat would be near impossible for him. He should just head home accept whatever reprimand the old fossil handed him wait for the heat to die down and retire to the good life. He definitely shouldn't let his aspirations to see the demon child dead cause him to make any more mistakes. It was that desire which had resulted in this mess in the first place.

Coming to the conclusion to let fate deal with Naruto he began to crouch to jump up into the branches when he heard a rustling from some bushes roughly twenty feet in front of him with a smile about how fate apparently wanted him to kill the nine-tail brat after all he reached behind him into his pouch to pull out a kunai, when he hears.


Naruto, having disappeared into bushes kept his eyes closed. He was so afraid right now. His heart was hammering in his chest so loud he was sure that it would give him away. Hearing whoever it was that had appeared in the clearing moving as if searching for something. He figured he should look to see how close the person was, opening one eye to take a peak he saw a man dressed in normal chunin garb with a bandana on his head. Remembering that's what Mizuki-sensei was wearing for the fieldtrip he began to leave the bushes, guessing that the sensation of dread he was feeling was just paranoia.

Naruto came out of the bushes jogging toward the teacher waving and ready to give him the biggest hug he could. Mizuki upon seeing him quickly pulled his hand out of his pouch and sent the kunai sailing towards Naruto.

Many would say that Naruto had no luck especially considering his life up until that point, sealed with a Bijuu at birth, never knowing his parents, and being isolated from everyone due to being a jinchuriki with only an overworked old man and two people who work at a ramen stand for company. Yet, the truth was his luck just manifested itself in other ways such as sometimes he'd find hundred dollar bills of ryo lying around. But his luck definitely came into play such as when he saw the kunai coming at him and realized he couldn't change his direction in time to avoid it his foot caught on a exposed root, thus causing him to stumble enough to his right so that the kunai that would of implanted itself in his left eye merely cut his cheek instead and sails into the bushes.

Coming to a stop and putting his hand up to his cut cheek in shock he looked up to see the usual caring and nice Mizuki replaced by a man that stared at him with hatred and disgust. Understanding it was no accident Naruto immediately turned around and darted back into the bushes with Mizuki hot on his heels.

Mizuki as he took off after Naruto into the bushes, could not believe his luck how had the boy dodged his attack. Angered he suddenly stopped when he realized there was no sign of him. How had he given him the slip so quickly? Realizing that after Naruto had hit the bushes he had just assumed he had kept on running. Backtracking to the clearing as fast as he could to find some signs of where he had gone.

After five minutes of frantic searching Mizuki thinks enraged, "Goddamn it! How can he be hiding so well?" Noticing that it was now dark and sure that the boy was nearby he yelled out, "Naruto, I know you can hear me. Don't even think about returning to Kohona if you want to live." Pressing on he stated, "If I catch you, I will kill you and it's not just me that wants to either. You know it's true how everyone hates and despises you. Also, you should think about Hinata."

Mizuki face got even more sinister as he continued, "Oh, you should have heard her when I found her she was so frantic about finding her dear friend. Well guess what you little bastard if you go back to Kohona and I can't get you I'll kill her and Sakura. Do you understand? Run away Naruto, as far as you possible can because Kohona never wanted you."

Taking off into the branches Mizuki made his way toward Konoha figuring that if Naruto did try to get to village he would not be able to get past him. Naruto came out from under the log he was hiding under after making sure Mizuki had left.

"What am I going to do?" he weeped as the full effect of what just happened as well as the taking of his first life and almost dying twice came crashing down on him. Knowing that right now the only person he could trust was the Hokage, but having no sure way of getting to him before Mizuki reached to him or worse Hinata and Sakura he truly began to despair.

However, a dark though entered his mind. What if the Hokage hated him too?

"No, that's stupid," he thought shaking his head as if to dislodge the idea from it. After all the old man had only ever been kind to him, but then again Mizuki was one of the only teachers whom he considered friendly as well and look how he really felt about him.

Choosing, to believe that the Hokage was every bit the kindly grandfather type he seemed to be, Naruto pushed the dark thoughts from his mind. Naruto then tried to decide what he should do. Figuring that if he did go to Konoha he could probably make it, even with Mizuki looking for him especially considering how poorly the teacher fared when trying to catch him when he ditched class for pranks.

On the other hand, what if other people wanted him dead as well, while no one in the village had ever tried to physically harm him before Naruto was hard pressed to ignore all that hateful looks sent his way. What if it was only the doing of the Hokage that he had never been attacked before? That meant that even should he make it back to the village he could still run into someone who wouldn't mind seeing him dead. After all there was always a pair of chunin watching the gates during the day and they where closed at night.

Not to mention Mizuki's threat against Hinata and Sakura. It wasn't like Naruto could just go up to a random shinobi and ask for help. They may be working with Mizuki or they would just ignore him like they always did unless he was being chased by them when he caused trouble and if word got back to Mizuki that he was in the village before he could get to the old man, the girls could get hurt. Unwilling to risk his new friends he chose to do as Mizuki said and run away.

In any case, with him being able to count the people who cared about him on one hand and two of them only added today he doubted his leaving would cause too much of a fuss. Turning to the east to follow the river to a road that Hinata had pointed out while teaching him how to use a map earlier in the day he began his journey.