The Cloak of the Yondaime

Chapter 1- Traitors and Family

Warnings: AU, Possible Swearing, Mild Violence

Disclaimer: Naruto © Kishimoto

A Challenge by EDelta88.

--o0oOOOo0o—

Naruto huddled, shivering under a small shelter made of leafy branches and moss. Cautiously curling into himself, he gingerly sat, careful not to send the fragile structure toppling to the ground.

It was going to be a cold night. The nice ANBU hadn't been there to give him food or make sure Granny didn't kick him out today, so he was stuck outside. Why him? How come Kobayashi hadn't been made to leave? He was the one who threw the rock at him….

The three-year old sniffed, burrowing his face into the moss. It would stain his face tomorrow, but he didn't care. Granny would yell at him anyways, for 'running away', when it was all her fault.

He curled into a fetal position, trying to retain body heat. The thin cotton shirt and shorts didn't help protect him from the elements, and the dampness of the moss slowly seeped into his clothing.

He scowled. It wasn't fair! Why him! He hadn't even done anything!

He hugged a small teddy bear to himself, a gift from the old man. The Hokage, Granny had called him. But he was old, he thought. Pouting, he contemplated the thought as his eyelids slowly drooped lower and lower. However, he was startled awake by a sudden glimmer of light. He scowled. Weren't people supposed to sleep at this time? Well, at least Granny would always hit him if he stayed up, so…

Naruto finally turned over, his small three-year old body refusing to allow him to stay awake. He'd almost fallen asleep when the commotion started.

Loud, shrieking, screams and bright light suddenly flooded the forest, and Naruto could glimpse the glow from in between the leaves of his makeshift refuge. What was going on?

He crawled out, blinking as his eyes adjusted to the light. Stumbling, he made his way towards the glow.

Naruto's bright blue eyes widened as he spotted the source of the commotion. He'd never seen anything like this before!

A beautiful traditional Japanese home stood before him. However, the tranquil scene was ruined by the roughly thrown aside shōji* , and the wild, quick movements of the long-haired people swiftly speeding across the rōka** that ran around the edge of the building.

He frowned, and tried to get closer to find out what was going on. The people moved too fast for him to follow, and the light glinted off some shiny thing on their heads, blinding him.

Glaring, Naruto scowled and said some word ojiisan [old man] had muttered after accidentally spilling some ink. It did make him feel better.

His mouth pressed into a grim line. He would not give up! Making his way closer, he edged his way around the home until he came to a place where none of the people were there. They might be mad at him for being in their home, so it was better if there was none of them around. Glancing around cautiously, Naruto stepped forwards.

He stumbled and looked down, almost tripping over a stray branch.

That second cost him. A person, one of the people that moved almost too fast for him to see, slammed into Naruto and roughly tossed him aside.

Ow. That had hurt! Wincing, Naruto reached up to touch his bloody nose and wiped it away with his sleeve. Dirt and mud streaked his clothing, and his blonde hair was now a dirty golden yellow.

The Kumo ninja halted and immediately turned, wary of an attack. However, he relaxed when he realized it was just a dirty boy, perhaps a street kid or an orphan. "Oi. Who's this brat?"

Naruto's eyes widened to the size of dinner plates. They'd noticed him! He turned around and quickly backed away, trying to shrink into himself and seem as harmless as possible.

He barely had the time to notice that their hitai-ate were really different, and had weird round shapes on them instead of a familiar spiraled leaf when his hair was roughly pulled up by the strange, dark-colored people. "Who cares?" A kunoichi stated. A tiny girl was carelessly thrown over her shoulder; she had long, black, beautiful hair and Naruto thought she was the prettiest thing he'd ever seen. "We have the heiress already. Kill him; we can't have any witnesses."

Kill him? He didn't want to die! He struggled, trying his hardest to wriggle his way out of the powerful grip.

The person holding him shrugged. "Fine." The man raised a kunai and swiftly slashed across Naruto's neck.

He squeezed his eyes closed, tiny tears creeping their way down his cheeks. He didn't want to die! It wasn't fair, it wasn't fair! No! He mentally protested, even as he waited for the inevitable burn of pain. Granny had always shouted that at him, but he'd never thought he'd actually die…

When the pain didn't come, Naruto tentatively opened his eyes a fraction.

Yellow. Bright yellow. What was that?

A man, all edged in bright yellow. Naruto's eyes opened fully, taking in the sight. The man wore a long white coat, edged with red flames that seemed to dance and flicker in the yellow glare. He stood with his back to Naruto, as if protecting him from an unseen force. Even though the toddler couldn't read the kanji written down the back of the cloak, the Kumo ninja could.

Not that they needed to. They recognized the bright yellow hair and piercing blue eyes instantly.

"The Yellow Fl-"

They were cut off in a brilliant burst of gold.

The man turned around slowly, and seemingly hadn't moved from his original position even as the three Kumo nin behind him spurted blood from their throats and dropped to the ground. "Naruto." He spoke. It was a whisper, but Naruto heard it as clear as day.

He wasn't scared. Well, actually, he was, a little. The man had killed them! But still, the man had saved his life, and the blue eyes were kind. "Mister," Naruto began, hesitantly, "what's your name?" He'd been about to say more, but a sharp pain in his stomach forced him to double over as a familiar spiral seal began to glow with a bright yellow light.

"My name," the man began, and a soft, sad smile formed on his lips, "is Namikaze." A pause, and it was the longest one of Naruto's short life. "Namikaze Minato."

Naruto opened his mouth to thank Namikaze-sama, but the sharp pain in his stomach increased and he toppled to the ground. The last thing he saw was blue, sad, concerned eyes.

--o0oOOOo0o--

Hinata had never been so frightened before. She had woken up, and desperately tried to force the kunoichi to break her grip by attacking the woman's neck. But that was when she'd spotted the yellow light.

She'd just activated her Byakugan today; it was her third birthday, the time when all Hyuuga children who had inherited the bloodlimit would gain the famed eye dōjutsu.

So she activated her eyes, directing her chakra towards her optical nerves. Hinata was immediately greeted by a deluge of chakra, glowing a beautiful sunny yellow, and the pearly white-blue chakra systems of the ninja who had attacked her. She stared at the man who had rescued her; he was facing her, yet looking through her as if she wasn't even there.

She couldn't see his chakra system; it was as if he was made of chakra, or as if the chakra saturating the area covered it up.

And he turned around, even as the kunoichi holding her gasped and collapsed, blood spurting from a small, deep wound in her jugular. Hinata scrambled away from the blood and the body, staring as the bright glow of the other ninjs's chakra systems faded. Her heart hammered away in her chest as she watched the man who had saved her; what would he do?

He took a few halting steps forward, to this boy; who was he, she wondered? They looked surprisingly alike.

But then the boy collapsed, the man rushed forwards and they both disappeared in a flash of gold.

"Hinata! Hinata!" A voice. Tou-san!

"Tou-san!" she sobbed, stumbling towards her father.

Hyuuga Hiashi caught his daughter up in his arms, hardly daring to believe she was still alive. But then he noticed the red on her shaking form, and saw the bodies of three Kumo ninja sprawled out in the clearing, drowning in their own blood. And he stared at his daughter. Shock, fear, and awe clashed within him, and he could not decide which he wanted to feel.

"Hinata…" Hiashi murmured. It could wait. His daughter was more important right now. It could wait. "It's alright. It will be okay now…"

But even as she sobbed into the comfort of her father's arms, Hinata could not help but wonder who the mysterious man and the boy were. They had saved her, and she would not forget them for the rest of her life.

--o0oOOOo0o—

Later, when Kumo came storming for retribution, they would be at a loss after seeing the official report.

Hyuuga Hinata, three years old, the killer of three elite shinobi sent as diplomats?

No, they said. Impossible, they cried.

But, when allowed to exhume the bodies, all they would find was the remnants of the girl's chakra in the kunoichi's system, and a brutal, unexplained slash across the throat for the others.

There was no evidence to support the fact that another ninja had killed them, and Kumo was soon found to be all bark and no bite, quickly arousing the ire of the Sandaime Hokage. Who, despite being a pacifist, would not tolerate threats to his country, to his village, and to Konoha. And, despite his age, was still a formidable shinobi and had a backbone of steel. Kumo prudently backed off.

Nevertheless, the damage was done. Kumo's reputation had been stained permanently, and it would be years before they regained their previous status. The trickery and deceit used in sending a diplomatic team to kidnap a little girl from her bed would incense the people of all the Elemental Countries, and the propaganda subtly spread by the Professor, Sarutobi Hiruzen only exacerbated the wound. Mission status in Kumo dropped to a near-trickle, and the few missions there were required dishonesty and deception. It was like a vicious circle; the more Kumo accepted those missions, the more their ill-gotten reputation grew, no matter how much they would have liked to get rid of it.

Hyuuga Hinata would later protest that all she saw was a bright yellow flash and a strange man before her father arrived, but most believed that the poor girl had blocked out the traumatic memory. Lucky, they said. Lucky that such a young girl didn't need to face the trauma as a result of what she had done.

Hiashi, the Head of the Hyuuga Clan, however, had doubts about what happened. His daughter, his sweet daughter, would not have been able to kill them so viciously. But all evidence pointed to the contrary, and he was forced to accept the official conclusion. After all, the only other way one could have disappeared so quickly from the scene was a shunshin, which could be tracked, or the technique of the Yondaime Hokage, a man long dead.

And all was well, except for the fact that a young boy named Uzumaki Naruto, the Kyuubi jinchuriki, could be seen alternately grinning or scowling at walls and inanimate objects. No one really cared to find out why, except for perhaps certain ANBU who had a theory going around that the boy had made an invisible friend.

They would not find out how close they were to the truth until years later.

--o0oOOOo0o—

Author's note:

I finally got around to writing this. It's one of the challenges I was working on in an attempt to get past my writer's block, and I finally finished it.

It's sort of like a darker counterpart to 'Sealed to Protect', similar to how 'Time's Spinning Gears' is far more serious compared to 'A Social Experiment'.

What do you guys think?

*- sliding doors that surrounded a traditional Japanese home. Before glass was invented, translucent paper was used to allow light into the home while still keeping out the elements.

**- Pathways that ran along the outside of the house.

EDelta88- Heads up for a change I will be making in the challenge. Naruto will not disappear for an undetermined amount of years after this event. He will stay in Konoha. Despite it all, there are a few people who care for him in the place, and it is still safer than going out to wander the Elemental Countries.

-Port in the Storm

May 17, 2010