Meh, so it's a little chapter. It's also kind of a filler chapter so think of it more like the calm before the storm because chaos will be ensuing shortly. :D
Also, there is some Sakura bashing. I tried not to it's just...I really don't like Sakura. And she's so darn bash-able!
I'm going to start most of these chapters off with a clip from the past. If you haven't read any of my other stories then please know I'm a fan of time skips.
Naruto slammed the door shut behind him then slumped against it. His happy demeanor had melted away the second he had entered his home, now he was serious. He had a prank to do! Naruto snickered and grabbed the heavy bucket of lime green paint that he used at a doorstop and started preparations for his prank. Most of the public wouldn't see it or even hear about it and he doubted that his friends would hear about it either but none of that mattered.
This stunt was not for publicity, this prank was to prove that Naruto was not useless. Naruto would strike the pivotal attack force of Konoha and humiliate it in the process. The ANBU headquarters!
Four years later
Kakashi rubbed the back of his neck as he tried to think of what to tell the genin. 'Who is Fox and why is he here' was a hard question to answer. Danzo was an evil bastard for putting team seven into this situation.
"Did you hear her, Sensei?" Sasuke demanded. The three of them were becoming increasingly on edge each second that Kakashi was silent. He had to talk but what should he tell them? Not a lie… but not the whole truth either.
"Fox…is part of an ANBU subdivision called ROOT. I can't tell you that much because I don't know that much but I do know that ROOT members don't answer to the Hokage. The leader selects orphans and trains them to be killing machines loyal to him and him alone." Kakashi grimaced at the reactions his students had, or the reaction his female student had.
Much like Tsunami had, Sakura rebelled against the idea. Sai and Sasuke just looked surprised and a little confused but Sakura looked appalled. She was rejecting the idea that her village could ever do anything so corrupt and Kakashi knew that meant more questions for him to answer.
"How is that allowed?" Sai said and Kakashi lifted an eyebrow. Sai was asking? Interesting…Kakashi supposed it was because Sai had been an orphan for as long as he could remember. He could have easily shared Naruto's fate if Danzo had desired it or if Shin hadn't been around.
"If it were up to the Hokage it wouldn't be but ROOT has enough power to do almost anything and get away with it." Kakashi explained. Sakura looked ready to ask a question but this time Sasuke beat her to it.
"Who's the leader?"
"I don't know," Kakashi lied. The three genin seemed placated at least so Kakashi took the opportunity to leave before any other question occurred to them.
Inside the room, only Sai felt that something was amiss. "He's hiding something." He said. Sasuke grunted in agreement but Sakura disagreed.
"Why would he hide anything from us? We're his team!" She said.
"If he thought it would keep us safe I think Kakashi-sensei would hide anything." Sasuke muttered and for a long time none of them spoke.
Kakashi made his way to the part of the roof that Naruto was at. He knew that the boy would not have slept once since leaving Konoha and, given the opportunity, he would keep watch until Zabuza attacked. As elite as ROOT was, members still needed sleep.
"Fox!" Naruto dropped into a bow the second he heard Kakashi's voice and the jonin sighed. "I'm taking over watch. My room's the last door on the right of the first floor, go there and get some sleep. Bath first." Kakashi said as an afterthought.
Naruto nodded then disappeared from the roof. Kakashi settled down where Naruto had stood and resigned himself to a long night's watch. It was better than letting Naruto stay awake.
Naruto walked quietly through the house. He heard the genin talking in one of the rooms he had passed and he had seen a young boy staring at him from a cracked doorway but he paid neither any heed. He rounded a corner and sensed the presents of the woman of the house just ahead of him.
Sure enough, Tsunami rounded the opposite corner and almost dropped her laundry basket in surprise. "Fox-kun?" She asked and Naruto nodded. The poor woman looked confused and Naruto suspected that she had many questions to ask him but he doubted that he could answer any of them.
"Could you tell me where I could take a bath, please?" He asked before she had the chance to gather her wits. Tsunami gapped like a fish for a few seconds as she stared at the ominous boy in front of her before she shook herself into alertness.
"We don't have a bath but we have a shower. In there." Tsunami pointed to the door on Naruto's left and he bowed courteously to her before he went inside.
The bathroom was small with a cracked floor and mold growing behind the tiles. It had two rooms, the first room contained the toilet and the second room contained the sink and shower. The shower was in the back and there was a rack of towels next to it. It was nasty but there wasn't anything better… and Naruto sure as hell wasn't going to clean it.
There was no lock on either door so Naruto had to hope that people would know to knock before they barged in on him. He set his mask next to the sink and tossed all his clothes and his backpack in a pile on the floor. He had a clean set that he would wear the next day in his backpack and if he kept up a systematic cleaning session Naruto would never have to wear dirty clothing during his stay.
Naruto stepped inside the shower and pulled the yellow and blue duckie curtain shut before he turned the water up to a scalding heat. Within seconds, steam had blurred the mirror and Naruto was roughly the same shade of red as an overcooked lobster. As strange as it might seem, Naruto enjoyed the searing heat and he allowed himself to smile. Who would see? If Danzo found out then Naruto would have more to worry about than his punishment.
Naruto carefully examined the bar of soap before he decided that he would be cleaner without using it. There was shampoo as well and Naruto used liberal amounts to get some of the grit out of his hair. That was the most unfortunate part of having such pale hair; it was obvious when it was dirty.
The hot water tank was apparently massive because Naruto had stood under the boiling hot water for half an hour before the water ran lukewarm. Naruto switched off the faucet and pulled the curtain open. He pulled a towel off the rack and dropped it on the floor. Then he stood on it and let the water drip off him and his skin tone return to its normal shade.
There was something methodical about bathing that made Naruto take as long as possible doing it. It was his sole escape from everything; work, training, the elders, the Hokage, Danzo, and a long time ago it had taken him away from the villagers as well.
Suddenly the doorknob to the first room started to turn and Naruto realized that someone was coming in. It didn't occur to him to shout; instead he grabbed his mask and put it on a second before the door swung open.
Sakura had sat in an uncomfortable silence with her teammates. She was angry at them for even thinking that Kakashi might withhold information from them. As a team they had to trust each other completely! On top of that they seemed to be unable to comprehend why she was so irritated. Sakura settled for shooting a very confused Sai dirty looks at regular intervals. She just avoided looking at Sasuke. She hated to disagree with him but she could not, in good conscious, agree with him either.
Eventually the sound of running water stopped and Sakura waited for ten minutes before she stood up and announced her intentions to go take a shower. She got to the bathroom unopposed and she knocked on the outside door before she entered.
Sakura checked inside the hamper but there were new clothing inside. Sakura stripped and dropped all her dirty clothes inside said hamper and she stacked her fresh set on top. She ran her fingers through her hair a couple of times to work out some of the worst tangles and she poked her belly a couple times to make sure it was up to her standard.
There was too much going on for Sakura to handle. First Zabuza and his partner, but she could deal with that because they were from a different village, and now Fox! Sakura couldn't believe that her village would ever make a kid her age into a killer! Konoha was supposed to be the good guys!
Unhappily she opened the door to the shower and realized that there was another person already inside. A short boy with pale blonde hair and a fox mask on. Sakura stared at him for less than a second before she realized that he was dripping wet and naked.
Naruto was paralyzed when the pink haired girl opened the door. He kept his eyes trained on her face and he slowly reached a hand back to grab a towel. Before he could cover himself the girl did something unexpected. "Kyaa! Pervert!" She screeched.
"Wha-?" He started but he was cut off when the girl charged at him with a wild punch. Naruto jumped back and grabbed a towel off the rack. He wrapped it around his waist and held it there with one hand while he sidestepped another attack. What was this girls' problem? He the hell was supposed to put his clothes back on when she was attacking him?
Sakura slipped on a wet towel on the floor and face planted the ground. Naruto was backed against the wall with one hand on the towel and the other up against the wall. There was the sound of pounding feet and Naruto looked to the door in time to see two black haired boys appear with kunai in their hands. Naruto felt a jolt of recognition when he saw Sai but he felt no need to revel his identity. They had been friends in a past life and he didn't want to do anything that might endanger his position in ROOT.
"What's going on?" Sasuke demanded. Sakura had grabbed the wet towel and covered herself but both black haired boys had red cheeks.
"He-!" Saukra started but Naruto cut her off.
"She walked in on me then attacked me." He said.
"No! You were a pervert and-!" Naruto never found out exactly what Sakura was about to say because Sasuke cut her off.
"A-are you Fox?" Sasuke asked. All movement stopped and all eyes were boring into him.
"Yes." Naruto said, "Now if you don't mind, can I get dressed?" Sakura scrambled to her feet and ran into the other room. Sai and Sasuke stared at Naruto for a few more seconds then they left the bathroom, careful not to look at their female teammate as they passed.
Naruto sighed and rubbed the back of his neck as soon as the door clicked shut. Morons he thought as he pulled out his clean cloths and got dressed. He could barely remember why he had ever been friends with that lot of bumbling fools.
Well, it would seem that while he was on the mission he would not get a moment of peace. All the more reason he should hunt down Zabuza and kill him as soon as possible. Naruto opened the bathroom door and walked past the stuttering Sakura and into the hallway. Well it was clear from what Kakashi had said earlier that Zabuza was hurt.
What if, instead of wasting time guarding the house a.k.a. doing team seven's job, Naruto tracked down and killed Zabuza tomorrow? Make no mistake, Naruto was well aware of the risk but he was equally well aware of his own abilities. Naruto opened the door to Kakashi's room and took off his shoes before collapsing on the bed.
He a lot of sleep to catch up on, hunting Zabuza would come later.