Belief

Naruto could do the seemingly impossible, because he wasn't aware that he should not be able to do so. He didn't know better than to try. So he believed he could. Belief leads to persistence, leads to almost superhuman effort, leads to victory. One-shot.

That fateful night, Naruto did not know that it was impossible for mere genin to learn anything of worth from the Forbidden Scroll. It was written for jounin and better, in terms more technical than even most chuunin knew. There was hardly an illustration or diagram in sight.

But of course, Naruto didn't know that. And he wanted so badly to learn from the scroll, that he refused to believe that he would learn nothing. He was going to teach himself a kick-ass technique and show everyone just how awesome he was! Maybe this next one, the ninth technique he looked at.

Kage bunshin? The scroll indicated that he should make this seal and... what? And do what with the what? In what way?

Naruto frowned, but decided to try it anyway. Had the Hokage known what Naruto was attempting, the village leader would have known that Naruto would fail. Jounin would have known Naruto would fail. Not even the most wildly optimistic instructor could have guessed Naruto would do anything more than waste chakra.

But Naruto believed he could do it. He was going to do it. It was going to work. It was going to be awesome! He made the seal, pictured success in his mind, and pushed chakra into the technique.

And it worked.

Was it luck? Was it fate? Was it random chance? Regardless of how it happened, it never would have happened if Naruto hadn't believed it possible.

On his first C-rank mission, Naruto didn't know about A-rank missing-nin Momochi Zabuza. He didn't know that anyone short of jounin stood no chance of getting out alive, let alone defeating the infamous traitor to Mist.

Kakashi-sensei was trapped, and Naruto knew what he had to do. He couldn't leave Kakashi behind. He couldn't let the old bridge-builder die. He had to get Kakashi free, or defeat Zabuza. The need was so strong in his mind that he never stopped to consider if it was possible. He just believed it was, and worked from there.

Sasuke was stopped, stunned, watching Kakashi struggle in vain from within the bubble of water. They were doomed. They were dead. They were... wait, was Naruto doing something? The idiot had a plan! And so, perhaps out of desperation, perhaps out of fear, perhaps because he simply wanted it to be true, he believed that they could do it.

Naruto's clones distracted Zabuza as the real one henged into a Windmill Shuriken. Sasuke waited for the right moment, and struck out with the oversized throwing weapon.

Zabuza saw no reason to waste effort deflecting the simple attack, and hopped over it. His sixth sense alerted him to the appearance of Naruto, and he quickly sprung out of the way of a kunai strike that would otherwise have severed all the tendons in his left shoulder. In the process, he was forced to release Kakashi.

No one could have known that a genin would be able to defeat the legendary Devil of the Hidden Mist. But because Naruto believed it possible, he managed to succeed where others would have given up hope even of survival.

Naruto had no chance of passing the written portion of the Chuunin Exam. He know nothing, not even that he was expected to cheat. Not even his teammate Sakura held out hope for his success, and hoped that he would resign, so that Team 7 would not be disqualified from future exams.

But Naruto refused to believe he could fail, even though he knew none of the answers and had no way of getting the answers.

And when Ibiki revealed that they had all passed the test, Naruto was not surprised. Merely relieved, and eager to see the Forest of Death that the crazy lady had mentioned.

Five seconds. That is how long chuunin and lesser jounin were expected to last against one of the Sannin in a real fight. The Sannin were the elite, the best of the best, the epitome of power and skill.

Naruto knew none of that, nor would he have cared if he had known that he was fighting Orochimaru of the Legendary Three. This enemy was trying to kill his team, and Naruto was doing his damnedest to kill the other first.

He believed he could win. He had to win. Fighting harder and harder, faster and faster, deadlier and deadlier, until he and Orochimaru were practically blurs of color and light intersecting in mid-air.

Of course, he was truly no match for the older, more powerful, more skilled, more experienced ninja. But the Snake Sannin was so impressed that he decided to leave him alive for the time being, to see what might become of him.

Naruto lived because he had believed, and fought to such an extent that even Orochimaru took note.

Neji was a year older, more knowledgeable, more experienced, and had more techniques than Naruto. To top it off, he was a master of the Jyuuken, a style of fighting that directly countered Naruto chakra-dependent overuse of clones.

Naruto knew, or was at least vaguely aware, of this. He knew that he was not expected to win. He know that he was not expected to last more than a few minutes against the prodigy of the previous year's genin class.

That was why he was so excited to be fighting Neji. He would win, and prove to everyone that Naruto was not a person you could just write off, that you could just dismiss out of hand.

He knew he would win. He believed it with such intensity that no other possibility even entered his mind. Every move, every strike, laced with a whisper of victory, with the tint of triumph almost at hand.

Even Neji could sense this incredible confidence, and began to take Naruto more seriously, sealing off the boy's chakra. When that proved ineffective, he moved to a more brutal beatdown, involving a combination of Jyuuken and old-fashioned punches and kicks.

But yet, he still felt vaguely tense, even as Naruto laid still in a crater a few yards away. That sense of inevitability lingered still, fostering a vague sort of unease. In some way, Neji almost believed that Naruto was going to win.

Neji was caught off guard, but somehow not really surprised, when Naruto erupted from the ground to deliver the finishing blow.

Naruto chased Gaara all the way to the border. He had to defeat the sand demon. He had to. There was no room left for fear, or doubt, or anything other than his sure belief in victory.

Gaara fought wildly, furiously, manically. He swatted Naruto like a fly, sending him sailing out of sight. Then he waited for the boy to return. Because the boy would return. He would return, because the other boy was going to... No, he wouldn't win. No, he...

But even hoping against his feeling of inevitable defeat, Gaara knew that it was over. It had been over the moment Gaara had stopped to fight this small blonde boy. The vessel of Shukaku could feel it in his bones, even from dozens of yards away: The complete surety Naruto had in his ability to do whatever it took to win.

Gaara fought more and more frantically, trying to stave off defeat to this persistent enemy, even going so far as to release his demon, damn the risk of harm to his soul in the process!

All for naught.

Naruto's belief in his ability allowed him to continue where others would have given up, to fight on when others would have fled, to throw another punch when others would have collapsed in exhaustion. When Gaara gained a large arm made of sand, Naruto did not falter; it was merely a setback. When a large beast made of sand appeared, it merely meant that Naruto would have to take the fight more seriously. There was no possibility of defeat, no thought for fleeing the battle. There was only the next blow, the following dodge, the continuing fight and his unstoppable victory.

And he was right.

When Naruto and Sasuke fought at the Valley of the End, Naruto was unfocused. Confused. He didn't want to hurt Sasuke, but he couldn't let him leave, could he? He had promised Sakura to bring him back.

In their back and forth banter before the fight, Sasuke offhandedly remarked that Naruto would never be able to scratch his forehead, and Naruto's mind snapped into laser precision. He had a goal, he had the end in sight, the conditions for victory.

He was going to scratch Sasuke's forehead protector and there was nothing in heaven or on earth that was going to stop him. Regardless of Sasuke's newfound power, or his liberal use of deadly force, Naruto never deviated.

He was going to win. He was going to slice a line across that thin sheet of metal strapped to Sasuke's forehead.

Much, much later, as Sasuke departed for Sound, he had no idea that he had lost. A bit of metal and cloth lay near the blonde's unconscious form, a testament to his ability, and his belief.

And when Naruto met Kakazu, the immortal ninja did not understand, until too late, what caused the odd feeling of dread when he beheld the oddly dressed blonde ninja.

It was not until the final second or two, as he was torn cell from cell, molecule from molecule, atom from atom, that he saw the power of belief. The power of confidence so strong that it bred persistence beyond understanding, and effort beyond all expectations.

Kakazu was not defeated by Naruto's power, or his chakra, or his demon, or even his fancy technique, though it was coincidentally the last thing Naruto had used on him.

Kakazu had lost to Naruto's belief.

Now no one doubts Naruto when he says what he will do. They nod their heads in understanding, whenever Naruto grins, cocking his head such that the broad hat, emblazoned with the Kanji for 'fire', slides forward, casting a sly-looking shadow across his face. And they smile, all doubt erased, whenever he tells them, "Believe it!"

The end. Liked it? Hated it? Confused by it? Clicked on this by accident? Let me know in a review!

-demonicnargles