DISCLAIMER: Original series belong to someone else.
NOTE: The following are just ideas that are not currently being pursued. Anyone wanting to use or continue them are welcome to, just credit me for the initial twist OK?
Twelve years previously:
"I AM THE POWER!" said the gigantic figure of Madara Uchiha. "ALL WHO LIVE SHALL BOW AND WORSHIP ME!"
"Are you ready, human?" asked the golden fox, her nine tails lashing behind her.
"Ready," said the Fourth Hokage, drawing his chakra up to a visible glow.
"Ready," said an unexpected voice.
"Kushina? You just gave birth!" said Minato, who might have been the Hokage responsible for everyone's lives, but was also a husband and father.
"Women in Rice Country do it and go back to planting an hour later," said Kushina Uzumaki, drawing her twin sabers. "You'll need me in this!"
"But -" began Minato.
"He comes!" warned the Ninetails, expanding to huge size in order to fight the oncoming giant.
The fight, as it occurred, was in full sight of the assembled Konohagakure ninja. Even the civilians saw the battle occur, though without the details of being up-close to the fighting.
The Hokage, his wife, and the fox-kami known as Inari fought the thirty-foot high being known as Madara.
At first, the battle was in the favor of the defending forces trying to keep the giant away from their village.
Madara apparently realized that and did something. When he spoke, his voice echoed across the city. "Fools! I have achieved immortality. I will BE a god and rule over all, it is my destiny. Uchiha Clan! I call upon you, and the power of your eyes. By the ties of blood and your loyalty to me, by the hatred burning in your hearts, I CLAIM YOU!"
Minato, Inari, and Kushina were not alone in pausing and glancing backwards towards the village on hearing what seemed like a thousand voices raised in screaming.
Streamers of light shot forth, mostly from the Uchiha sector, swarming into Madara's outstretched arms as he doubled in size.
Kakashi went to one knee, clutching at his Sharingan eye.
Itachi screamed in pain as he covered his baby brother.
"Now," thundered the voice of Madara Uchiha, "it is time for the Senju Clan and its philosophies to perish from this land."
"Foolish mortal," said Inari, increasing her size with Minato and his wife standing atop her head. "The powers of the gods are not so easily wielded, nor their position usurped. I am Inari, and you shall not pass!"
"You saw the events of yesterday, many of you have questions," said the Third Hokage. "I will answer as best I can."
"The Fourth and that woman?" asked Nara.
"The Fourth and his wife," said the Third. "They are, unfortunately, dead. They managed to stop Madara alongside Inari."
"Inari? Was that truly -" the jonin named Kakashi made a vague gesture.
"You saw her," said Hiashi. "I used the Byakugan as well. That was no genjutsu."
"I hit my limit early on in the battle," admitted Kakashi.
"The god Inari, the fox-deity, was badly injured in the battle," said the Third. "In order to have the time to heal, she was sealed inside the child of the Fourth."
THAT went off like a bomb, startling everyone to stillness.
"The child of the Fourth Hokage?" asked Tsume Inuzuka.
"This should all be kept as secret as possible," said the Third Hokage. "If it gets out, then there may be so many assassins sent after the child that even all our ANBU will not be sufficient to protect him."
"I see," said Hiashi. "Not only because we have the goddess on our side. Some will see the child only as a weapon. Some will only see the child of the Fourth, who has made many enemies during the War and even before that. Some will try to kidnap the child to make their own weapon."
"There are many problems currently that must gain our attention," said the Third. "My own reassumption of the Hokage post will be contested by some on the Council. The Uchiha Clan is down to those few able to resist Madara's claim - Itachi Uchiha, Sasuke Uchiha, and Mikoto Uchiha. Even though Madara never got past the outer walls, rebuilding from the damage done just by his approach will take time. As will training new ninja to rebuild our numbers from the losses of the attack."
The Third Hokage frowned. "Before she was sealed, there was one suggestion that Inari gave while I witnessed. When things are slightly more settled, she desired that we open a program for those ninja who had lost their villages or gone missing-nin due to persecution within their own lands. A program whereby they could find a home here."
"Inari being the protector of warriors, that is understandable, but could such people be trusted?" pointed out Hiashi. "Having gone missing-nin once, what is to keep them from doing so again? Or even simply having donned missing-nin status as a ploy to infiltrate our village?"
"I simply ask each of you to think on the matter, and to prepare your ideas," said the Third. "Getting such a thing through the Council would be a major battle in itself, and will take some time to accomplish."
Six years before 'today':
Akuru held up his hand, making the quick series of hand signals to the rest of the 'ambassadors' from Cloud.
They moved out from the Hyuuga compound, their prize struggling in the blanket wrapped around her.
"You guys not going nowhere," said a young boy's voice as an alarm gong began ringing behind them.
Akuru used his spare hand to throw a handful of kunai towards the child's voice. They didn't have time for interruptions.
"Kawarimi no jutsu, step two!" called out the boy's voice.
"Eh?" asked Akuru out loud as the weight under one arm abruptly changed. When he glanced and discovered a takeout box from some restaurant named "Ichiraku" - he simply dropped it and looked around for the target.
A glimpse of yellow and he was off, chasing a boy about the same age as their target through the village. The boy was unexpectedly fast and agile for that age though, and also made use of small gaps in fences and hedges to good use.
Akuru made another set of hand signs, indicating his allies should attempt to flank as he readied more kunai, this set with wires.
Another flash of blonde and the boy was heading for a particular house Akuru could see an open window and immediately used his kunai to block the boy off of it. Despite himself, he felt a little impressed. At apparently four years of age, the boy should be clumsy and not nearly so fast. There were adult genin Akuru knew of who wouldn't have led him on such a chase.
The boy changed direction abruptly, but made his first big mistake in not allowing for the mass of his burden - especially as the blanket came away to reveal the tied-up and gagged little girl.
Akuru threw more kunai, this time with chakra threads trailing them. He'd capture the boy AND the girl. Any child with this much promise should either enrich his own village or be simply killed to deny Konohagakure that skill.
The boy put the girl down after the first kunai cut into his arm. That was expected. What Akuru did NOT expect was for the boy to shimmer and change. It looked different from a henge jutsu though.
The woman that stood up was wearing odd clothes that looked like something a priestess would wear to a ceremony. Blonde hair in two long pigtails, framing a face with startlingly blue eyes. The woman also had four ears, two triangular ones above her temples, and two human-looking ones in the usual spots. Behind her, a golden fox's tail waved.
The woman drew two curved shortswords in a swift motion that bespoke considerable amounts of training.
Eyes twinkling with amusement, the woman smiled. "Shall we dance?"
Akuru made a quick gesture and the flankers leapt forward, against the four of them this woman/child would quickly be cut down and their mission could continue.
The twin swords moved so swiftly that they were briefly only visible as silver tracery in the moonlight.
His men went down with sprays of blood trailing them, indicating that if this was an illusion - that there was certainly something underneath it.
The image of the fox-woman staggered suddenly despite no blow being struck against her, faded, and became the boy again.
Well, if he couldn't capture the girl easily, there really was only one out. Akuru was quite aware of the bay of hounds nearby from one direction, the rustling of leaves and flashes of cloak from another, and the noise of the Hyuga compound settling down from alarm to more quiet yet frantic activity. The next spray of kunai he sent had explosive tags and was followed quickly by a poison gas grenade.
The boy was gathering up the girl again and running off. He bore injuries this time as he exited the cloud, and was slowing, so he should be an easy target.
Akuru moved forward, only to realize a moment later that Konoha's ANBU had indeed arrived.
When the Hyuuga clan found the scene, they found the ambassador on the ground. Two of his men were dead, two more had serious injuries.
They later received a messenger from the Inuzuka compound that their missing girl was there along with her rescuer.
Four years before 'today':
Hiashi wasn't too sure about this. Not that he would ever let uncertainty show. As clan head of a prestigious clan, he had to be stoic and implacable.
His little girl wearing a miko costume, except for the little headband with the foxears and a clip-on fox tail, was the part challenging his 'stoic and implacable' manner.
His was not the only home with a little Inari shrine. When the fox-deity's involvement had begun circulating, there were many who put up a little shrine to honor the deity and her involvement. Some had tiny effigies of the Fourth and his wife as well, though those were uncommon and generally thought of as being in poor taste.
Nor was his home the only one where people tended to just nod at the boy showing up, instead of eyeing the boy and keeping him at a distance. As if not sure what the boy was and whether they should chase him off or not. Where the boy was welcome, he tended to show up more often. Where he showed up frequently and there was an Inari shrine, things happened.
The boy showed up when one of the Inuzuka dogs was expecting a litter, and visited to just sit there and watch. That dog tolerated the odd boy through her pregnancy, and when she delivered - everyone agreed that the litter was exceptionally strong and healthy seeming. Or when the Nara had one of their deer get sick and the boy just somehow wandered in, and the deer got better quickly. Or when the boy had turned up napping atop one of the wooden barrels used for the preparation of a local beer, and when that barrel was tapped - it proved to have a special kick to it.
Some looked at events like that and muttered darkly about black sorcery. Some looked at events like those and claimed the boy was a lucky mascot. Some knew the truth and came to their own conclusion.
A flash of orange-red and Hiashi looked out of the corner of his eye to see the 'Foxkeh' form of Naruto, that uber-kawaii not-quite-a-fox form with the big blue eyes, watching Hinata from a roof.
Which brought him back to what was making him uncomfortable. Hinata quite obviously liked the little boy who contained the fox-deity. Though perhaps 'liked' was the wrong word.
What to do?
The various other Hidden Villages knew what was going on. They each had a Tailed Beast or Demon sealed away within one of their members.
Konohagakure had Inari.
There was much resentment of this, covered with disdain publically. After all, THEY had proper weapons of destruction who could wreak havoc upon their enemies! Not like Konoha with its damn tree-huggers and nicey-nice ninja and such. Konoha had some weak little fox deity, how lame and un-ninja was THAT?
Which led to the occasional "Let's show those namby-pamby weak play-ninja what REAL ninja can do" raids.
Some of the raids ended up side-tracked into one of the taverns nearby where the Tokubetsu Junmai-shu sake was cheaper than almost anywhere outside the Fire Country. Those tended to end up with the ninja involved having many drinks, even trying some of the Junmai Daiginjo-shu and ended up going back home with tales of how they'd kicked butt - and man those Leaf ninja-brewmasters knew their stuff.
A few of the ninja who'd attack Konohagakure or try to steal the secrets would have something truly worrisome occur to them. They went down to kill the Abomination or sow destruction, and ended up abandoning their old village. Well, it was really worrisome to those who'd sent those ninja down there at least.
Some actually DID attack the village. Which caused occasional problems which COULD be attributed to the presence of a certain fox sealed inside a certain boy.
Sometimes, things could get a little weird.
The door to the shrine banged open.
"HEY! ANYONE HERE?" yelled a woman who was carrying another woman.
"Yes," said a nine-year-old girl with pale eyes in miko robes. "Are you here for prayer?"
"NO!" said the woman in trenchcoat and ninja-mesh. "My friend here's been badly wounded. Poisoned."
"Then wouldn't the Hospital have been a better choice?" asked the shrine maiden.
"They said they can't do anything for her," said the woman. "So what is your god going to do about it?"
"I'm sorry for your friend," said the girl, "but I can't..."
"I'll pay any price, you have the word of Anko Mitarashi!" said the kunoichi. "Kurenai. You promise too."
"Whatever you say," mumbled the woman. "Just stop yelling."
"Anything?" came a voice that didn't belong to the shrine priestess.
"Sure," said Anko, looking around. "Anything. Short of betraying the village or something..."
"DONE," said the voice.
Kurenai Yuhi cried out as something seemed to burn through her then died down.
"That took quite a lot out of me," said the voice, now sounding inordinately tired. "Welcome to Clan Uzumaki."
"What?" asked Anko.
"What did you get me into, Anko?" asked Kurenai as she more fully came to.
"Uhm," said Anko.
Kurenai sniffed. "How much were you drinking before you made this deal?"
"Errr," said Anko.
The little girl with the white eyes smiled brightly at the two chunin. "Naruto-kun has some big sisters now? That's so neat."
"Uhm, well, at least it worked," pointed out Anko.
Sarutobi Hiruzen looked very serious. Actually he was quite amused, but he'd gotten pretty good at looking fairly serious while all this was going on.
"-and so you see, this is completely wrong and you should have the kid just drop the matter," said Anko.
A chunin came in with a pile of paperwork, took a look at the two women in maid outfits (Kurenai's looking fairly functional and Anko's - not so much) and promptly tripped over his feet and crashed to the floor.
"No, I don't think so," said the Third Hokage. For one thing this was way too amusing.
"Uhm, excuse me?" asked Anko, hoping she hadn't heard that.
"Did you know that gods have rules, laws that they must obey?" asked the Third Hokage.
"Uhm, no," said Anko, thinking this didn't sound good.
"Equivelant Exchange," said the Hokage. "That's where the whole thing about making offerings to the gods came from. In order for them to be able to grant you anything, there has to be a price."
Kurenai's head drooped just a bit. "So, we're stuck with this?"
"I found the paperwork this morning," said the Hokage. "You two are accepted as chunin within the village, free to go on to ninja missions and the like, but you are also retainers of Clan Uzumaki."
"But... he's EIGHT," said Anko.
"So?" asked Hiruzen.
"Well, he can't have much room," tried Anko.
"A mansion," said Hiruzen.
"Right so he can't... excuse me?" asked Anko.
"He won it in a night of poker," said Hiruzen, shaking his head. "Now THAT was a night I remember well."
"Naruto Uzumaki has a mansion?" asked Anko.
"Yes," said Hiruzen Sarutobi.
"Well, that's not so bad," said Anko, "living in a mansion."
"CLEANING a mansion," said Kurenai, considerably less thrilled with the idea.
"Well, he's EIGHT, so he can't require anything of you, so you shouldn't be that upset," said Anko.
"Oh?" asked the Hokage, having an idea what Anko was referring to and what Kurenai Yuhi was clearly worried about. Just the maid uniform Anko was wearing was suggestion for THAT. "You might have to deal with the others if it came to that."
Kurenai and Anko both stiffened at that.
"Others?" finally asked Kurenai.
"You think you're the only ones who went drunk into Inari's shrine and tried asking for something?" asked the Hokage. "I understand that little incidental things like praying for painless childbirth is only a matter of a few sticks of incense. Some people want more and promise more."
"So I gather," said Kurenai drily.
"So, there are other maids?" asked Anko.
Hiruzen Sarutobi glanced at the two worried ninja-maids, at the chunin on the floor gathering paperwork that had just passed out with a nosebleed when he'd glanced up at Anko, and remembered other incidents like that poker game that a few clan heads and business people had gotten together with the idea of inviting a little kid into. That said child could make all sorts of promises and bets that could have been advantageous to them later. That on that now infamous night the sake had seemed especially potent and bets had been made and Naruto had lost a few times but had ended up with a winning streak that had made grown men cry. Literally.
On the other hand, many orphans often wanted to have families of their very own and Clan Uzumaki had caused a couple members of the Council to go seeking ulcer medication on a regular basis.
The Third Hokage blinked, returning to Anko's question to properly answer it.
There was game night, something that many families had as an internal tradition. Many ninja and civilians even had a Poker Night, it being a game that had less popularity in the Land Of Fire than elsewhere but still had a fair number of players.
There was, however, only one night that was becoming famous as The Insane Poker Night.
It had been a time when several people had decided that a little child was an easy mark, who would then owe a few people favors they could cash in later. It had been a time when the sake had flowed, though the child had drank milk, and for some reason that had only been obvious in retrospect to the participants - that sake had seemed to have a more potent kick than usual.
It was a time when bets had been made, when people who really should have known better had completely failed to consider who and what they were betting against. A night where the usual restraints had fallen away and... things had occurred.
Yugito Nii, for example, had once been a ninja of a different land entirely. She had come to Konohagakure to assassinate a child. She'd ended up not only becoming a ninja of the Leaf Village but a retainer of Clan Uzumaki that night, though she hadn't intended to even take part in that poker game.
Clan Uzumaki had a mansion. It was a nice place, most visitors would freely admit. There were workshops and a foundry, there was artwork and tapestries, there was a nice garden and other amenities. There was even one of those little bamboo things in the backyard that went 'tonk' every so often. (Naruto could never remember that it was called a shishi-odoshi.)
There was a shrine, but that was closer to the Hyuga compound. There was a training ground, but that was on the Uchiha property.
There were kunai and shuriken, swords and polearms, bows and daggers, exotic weapons of various types. None of that was why young men of the Academy seemed to find excuses to wander past the mansion.
No - that would be the maids.
Some idea that Naruto's Uncle Jiraiya had once come up with, and had been embraced by many people including the Sandaime, was the idea of a special academy for warrior-maids. Not for ninja, per se. Ninja were loyal to a particular village and elite special operatives. A warrior-maid on the other hand, worked for an employer and was an elite employee. Since Naruto already had a mansion, a training ground, and a supply of maids...
This was only the second year of the Konoha Maid Academy, but it was showing signs of becoming incredibly successful. Many aristocrats of various countries had expressed great interest in the idea of an attractive maid who could tend to the gardens and household duties - and then grab a naginata or improvised weapon and delay assassins long enough for said employer to escape.
Not that a warrior-maid would be a match for a ninja or ninja team. Common bandits or the like? Another story altogether.
All of which contributed to the traffic outside the Uzumaki Mansion, as young men craned their necks around to catch a glimpse of maids in their uniforms doing various things such as trimming bonsai or practicing with their naginata or polishing the brass.
Not all was well within Konoha though.
Danzo looked very unhappy. This was perfectly normal, as there were a vast number of things that would produce that condition. He was a patriot who believed in a strong village able to defend itself. Unfortunately his attitude was that he WAS the village and that anything that benefitted him personally benefitted the village.
The Hokage had disbanded ROOT, because quite frankly ROOT was a bunch of ninja who were loyal to a single individual in the village who was NOT part of the official Chain of Command. That they had a history of causing more harm than good was beside the point. Mostly. So ROOT had gone underground, even more so than they had been.
Danzo Shimura WAS unhappy, and even if he kept his emotions from showing on the surface - they ran hot and fiery through his veins. He sought to make Konohagakure the ruling force of the shinobi world, usually by weakening the other lands through assassination and causing numerous problems to strike those nations.
The reason for Danzo's unhappiness was simple. Konoha had become complacent. With the fox-god in place, and NOT under his control, Konoha had become prosperous. The ninja village was doing quite well, and there were now five OTHER towns and villages (10 years ago there had been ONE) within a day's walk of the ninja village.
"SIR!" said a ROOT member who wore a mask resembling a badger. "An assault team from Mist has just gotten sidetracked into the Village Of Brewmasters!"
"And?" prompted Danzo.
"We've gone through their things and copied all their paperwork while they're inebriated past the point of voluntary motion," said Badger. "Here they are."
Danzo took the papers and frowned slightly more as he scanned through them. Typical rubbish. Except this. "They have guard schedules for the West Wall?"
"Yes, Danzo-sama," said Badger. "Your orders?"
"What was the impression of the squad leader?" asked Danzo.
"They are going to attempt to strike at the fox's shrine. Chance of their success, none."
"Danzo-sama!" said another arriving ROOT member, this one wearing a Doreamon mask.
Danzo shuddered. There was one in every group, wasn't there?
"A team of kunoichi from Rock and another team of kunoichi from Cloud were trying to infiltrate our village, met each other, and are now engaged in a major battle in the mud pits near Brewmaster Village!"
Many members of ROOT appeared out of the shadows.
Danzo blinked a couple of times, ran his tongue over dry lips as he considered that. "You have pictures?"
Danzo took the stack of photographs. "Terrible. How unbecoming of trained shinobi. How... uhm, yes. Moving on. What is it about mud pits and young kunoichi that when they get into fights one of the first things they do is try to rip each other's clothing off? Disgraceful, that's what it is. Hmmm."
"Do you have copies?" asked Badger of Doreamon.
Doreamon handed off a second set of prints from within his robes, which quickly started circulating through the ROOT.
Danzo shook his head as he examined one photograph, frowning ever so slightly. This was indeed disgraceful. What WAS the ninja world coming to?
AUTHOR'S NOTES: The idea of a poker night and a won mansion comes from .net/s/3480341/1/The_Night_The_House_of_Cards_Was_Built. It just fit into the story entirely too well.