Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.

Bright. It was too bright. Those were the thoughts running through the blond's head as he sat up, rubbing his eyes and opening his mouth to yawn.

Overall, the five year old boy looked to be quite the runt. His shirtless state revealed his ribs to be lightly bound tight by his lightly tanned skin, and bruises and scars that were disappearing one after another. His face was that of a bright rambunctious youth who simply had to experience too many things at too young an age. Besides his cerulean blue eyes and unruly bush-like blond hair, the only true distinguishing mark that anyone would even notice would be his birthmark. On both of his cheeks, there lied three lines, reminiscent of whiskers.

Once the boy wiped the crust from his eyes, he blinked them rapidly as he looked around the room. Most children his age would hyperventilate and empty their bladders of the mere mention of hospitals. Then again, Naruto Uzumaki wasn't like most children.

And if one wants to dispute that statement, please find proof of ordinary five year children who have subsisted on a diet of ramen for two years, endured ongoing discrimination, burglary, beatings and general hell, and able to have a smile and matching attitude that could power a city for two weeks.

Taking stock of the room around him, he noted that the whole room was painted white, smelled sterile, and was just boring to look at. The only thing to break the monotony of the room was himself and a chair with his clothes on. Blinking at this, Naruto lifted the covers to look at himself. Shrugging, he then slid his feet to the side of the bed and slowly set his feet on the ground. Gritting his teeth, he slowly eased onto the ground until he was upright. With a sigh and several brief stretches that gave very satisfying cracks, he then got his clothes.

He was now dressed in a faded dark blue t-shirt with a red-orange spiral in the middle, shorts that reached up to the upper part of his knees, and ninja sandals that were barely holding themselves together.

Nodding to himself, he reached for the knob of the door, when the knob began to turn. Panic arose within his breast, and in haste, he leaped for the window, tore it open, and prepared to take a dive into the nearby dumpster.

"NARUTO UZUMAKI! What are you doing?"

Naruto froze, and slowly turned his head towards the door, mouth easing into a sheepish smile. There, standing in the doorway, stood a stern looking old man. He was dressed in white robes with a conical hat with a red stripe in the middle with the kanji for fire shadow. His wrinkled and rough face was currently set in a frown; seeing the position he had caught Naruto in. His name was Hiruzen Sarutobi.

Sheepishly rubbing the back of his head, Naruto opened his mouth to greet the old man…only for a moment later to slap his mouth shut. Hiruzen blinked, and crouched next to Naruto. Putting an hand to his ear, he ventured closer.

"C-could you repeat that, Naruto?"

Naruto slowly moved his hands to his sides, and slowly spoke…only for nothing to come out. Naruto tried harder to get a word out, still nothing. He tried harder and harder, until he went red in the face. Now panting, with tears forming in his eyes, he looked up to Hiruzen for answers.

Seeing Naruto try and try to get something out, Hiruzen Sarutobi practically felt a tang of guilt in his heart as he placed a hand on Naruto's shoulder.

"Naruto, please bear with me. During that…incident last night…"

Hiruzen trailed off seeing the flash of understanding in his brilliant blue eyes and rapid nodding.

"One of the villagers was an ex shinobi, retired 20 years ago. However, it seems that he hadn't been slacking. He was able to lodge a kunai into your throat. We were able to get you to the hospital in time, but unfortunately, your vocal cords were damaged to the extent that you couldn't talk. Naruto, I'm sorry I couldn't do more than this…You deserve better."

With that, Hiruzen closed his eyes as a tear slowly slid down his cheek. Naruto paused, and then hugged the old man around his neck. The blond stayed there as the old man began to cry out all the tears he had been saving up for five years.

Konohakagure, or the village hidden in the leaves, seemed to have been named improperly. The first reason is that it wasn't exactly a village. A village, by definition, had a population of a few hundred to several thousand and mostly specialized in one certain area, such as fishing or mining. Konohakagure had a population of several million and was mostly a hodgepodge of different trades.

The second reason why it was named improperly was the fact that it was barely hidden. The surrounding forest did little to hide the towering walls that loomed over. Even if one were to overlook the walls, the faces carved into the mountainside surely would give a sign of civilization.

But on the bright side, all least it was a pretty view, especially when observed from the fourth face from the left, on the top of the head. However, this little tidbit of information was known by the only occupant that was sitting there. Naruto silently stood there, dull eyes watching over the village, partaking of the peace he found there.

He currently wore a bandanna over his blond hair, sunglasses over his eyes, bandages over the lower half of his face, and a brand new shirt and pants. If he looked on the bright side of things, he currently lived with his surrogate grandfather, he was able to walk in the streets and get only curious glances and double takes.

But on the other hand, if he just took off the disguise, the jeers, glares, and beatings would begin anew. As much as Hiruzen wanted him to believe otherwise, he knew that the celebration was for his death. That all the clicking of glasses, the dances, and all the people eating each other's faces was all due to his supposed death. And wasn't that his whole dream, that no matter what the cost, that he could feel the warmth of adoration. That he could partake in the glow of smiles. Yes, he appreciated Hiruzen, but deep down, he wanted more.

Sighing, he walked through the playground. Then he saw something that made him pause. There on the swing, there sat a dark haired girl with her head bowed, surrounded by three bigger boys who looked to be teasing her. Naruto began to took a step towards the group, only for hesiatation to seep into his heart.

His adoptive grandfather did say to keep out of trouble, didn't he? What could happen could put him under scrutiny again, and he was outnumbered and outgunned. Also, who's to say that the girl would even give him back.

However, at that point, as he began to back away, he heard something. Turning back, what he saw immediately turned burned away any hesitation and replaced with full blown indignation. The girl still had her head bowed, but on her dress, he could see dark spots that seemed to be drying tears. And those…jerks actually had the balls to laugh at someone's misery?

One of the boys felt a sharp pain between his legs, and he let out a shrill yell as he fell to his side. The two remaining boys and girl looked up to see a small boy whose face was completely covered, fists held out in a sloppy fighting stance. The girl sniffed as the two boys snarled and charged the strange boy.

The first of the two reared back his fist and threw a punch at the face. Naruto ducked under and gave a hard left straight into the boy's gut. He collapsed showing the other boy with his foot extended towards Naruto. The blonde rolled away and found himself on the other side of an empty swing.

The boy grinned and placed himself on the other side. Naruto growled as where he moved so did the boy. Finally, deciding to take a chance, Naruto grabbed both chains and pulled on them, bringing both his feet to slam into the boy's sternum. The boy flew back, and landed on his back.

The girl watched and sweat dropped when her "rescuer" dropped onto the ground with his feet now on the swing. She saw the bullies beginning to regain their wits and move towards the mysterious figure. Inspiration suddenly struck her as she gathered up enough oxygen in her lungs. Once they were filled to their maximum capacity, she did the only thing she knew to buy her protector time.

She screamed.

Everyone in the vicinity immediately clutched their ears in pain as Naruto quickly untangled his legs from out of the swing. Looking to the girl, he saw her gesture for him to go. Quickly glancing at the recovering bullies, Naruto got up and quickly bowed before running off in another direction. A moment later, the trio ran, or in some cases, limped, after the boy.

The girl silently stared at the direction of her rescuer, quietly running through the moment over and over.

Naruto growled. Whoever these guys' parents were, live for revenge was apparently their motto. Since leaving the park, they have been tailing him since. They were now in the shopping district, and from what Naruto had seen, he was sure that those same parents would have a hernia. While Naruto weaved in and out of the traffic, the trio drove straight through, knocking over carts and backhanding people into said carts.

Finally, Naruto had enough. Leaping over a cart, he then ducked into a nearby stall. Teuchi and Ayame Ichiraku looked down at the strange individual who had just hidden himself behind the counter. Naruto pulled down enough bandages to reveal one of his cheeks, then put a finger to his lips and lied in a fetal position. Looking the trio that were twisting their heads every which way, they nodded to each other and resumed working nonchalantly.

The trio then looked around, angrily willing for the boy to come out and start kissing fist when suddenly they heard, "You hooligans!"

The three looked over their shoulders to see a crowd of angry villagers. The bullies then began to run, the predators becoming the prey, as the villagers gave chase. Naruto sighed in relief only to see both Ichirakus looking at him strangely.

"Naruto, where were you? And aren't you talking?"

Naruto sighed, this had 'long and awkward talk' written all over it.

In this world, there exists "villages" that specialize not in any specialty that a normal village would have. In each country, there is a village which trains the main force of the military: the ninjas. However, above these ninja villages, there exist five that stand above the rest. They are Sunagakure (village hidden in the sand), Kirigakure (village hidden in the mist), Iwagakure (village hidden in the rock), Kumogakure (village hidden in the clouds), and Konohagakure.

Of these five villages exist the five kages, ninjas reportedly so powerful the mere sight of them on the battlefield sent countless numbers awkwardly running away and changing their pants at the same time. These kage were also declared the leader of the ninja village and were responsible for every last facet.

However, even the most powerful had fallen to an age old enemy that had buried countless men and women in its wake, the terror that was known as … old age. Well, actually it was paperwork. Perhaps intermediate age old enemy would have been more appropriate.

However, Hiruzen Sarutobi, the Sandaime Hokage of Konohagakure, was more than focused on this particular paperwork. This practically had a life hanging in the balance. Setting down his pen, he leafed through the papers, and nodding to himself, leaned back in his chair. Whipping out his pipe, he began to smoke on it as he pondered his current problem.

As much as he wanted to deny it, this incident had opened his eyes to the fact that Naruto was not safe in Konoha. That as soon as someone caught wind of the "demon's" condition, the attempts on his life would increase tenfold. Hiruzen sighed as he looked at one of the stone faces.

"Sorry, Minato-kun, it's seems I have failed you and Naruto." Hiruzen thought as he reached for the intercom.

"But I believe it's time I try to correct it."

However, before Hiruzen could touch the button, the intercom blinked.

"Hokage, there is a person here to see you."

Hiruzen sighed. If it wasn't one thing, it was another.

"Send them in."

When the door opened, Hiruzen sat up straight, adjusted his hat, and folded his hands in a professional manner.

There, in the doorway, stood a rather tall man, nonchalantly walking in. He wore a tight black undershirt, and black pants that was sealed by black duct tape. Over the black undershirt, he wore a white vest with straps covering the places his neck meets shoulder. His gloves reached mid bicep, and had a piece of metal covering part of the back of his fist. White gauntlets covered his forearm and extended past his elbow. A mask covered the lower half of his face, while his wild silver hair was swept to the side. Finally, a headband with a metal plate adorned with what looked to be a spiral with a beak on it was placed over his left eye.

"Ah, Kakashi, what do I owe the honor of your visit?"

Immediately, the detached demeanor of the ANBU captain slumped into shame and despair.

"Hokage… I'm… I'm sorry."

Hiruzen could only raise an eyebrow as Kakashi continued.

"Though I … know that Naruto isn't the demon, there was still a part of me that still hated him for taking away Minato. That night, when that ex-shinobi threw that kunai, I-I could have stopped it. But for a moment, the part that hated stopped me. That split second which I hesitated…" Kakashi trailed off.

With that, he produced some papers from his pockets and got up from the seat. Placing them on the desk, the silver haired ANBU began to walk to the door. Hiruzen picked up the stack of papers and looked up at Kakashi.

"What is this?"

Without even turning to acknowledge the Hokage, Kakashi sighed forlornly.

"That is my resignation, effective immediately. I failed too many times for me to keep going. I'm… just done."

Hiruzen set aside the resignation forms and stood up.

"Would you would take a walk with me? I feel like I could use the exercise. Just hold on a minute."

Hiruzen made a few hand signs and shouted, "KAGE BUSHIN NO JUTSU!"

With that, a poof of smoke appeared and with that, three copies of Hiruzen appeared. The Hokage gestured to them.

"You know what to do."

The three clones nodded as they began to hand out the paperwork between themselves. Joining Kakashi, who looked at him with a raised eyebrow, Hiruzen shrugged.

"I have to be called the Professor for something."

The glint of amusement in Kakashi's visible eye brought a small upward curve to Hiruzen's lips.

Naruto pursed his lips as he eased his pencil into a comfortable position. Once tip met paper, he slowly moved the pencil, creating curves and lines. Eyebrows suddenly scrunching in confusion, he looked at the book again to see how the letter was drawn. Sighing, he began to start anew.

Hearing the door open, he bounded towards the door to see his adopted grandfather there with a rather familiar looking man. Naruto pursed his lips in thought, until realization struck him. He smiled at the man and lipped his name. It was fortunate that both the Hokage and Kakashi could read lips.


Kakashi stared at him then at the Hokage.

"My hair is that obvious, huh?"

The Hokage stared at him and said, "Yes, yes it is. Now come, we have much to discuss."

Pouring tea into Kakashi's cup, Hiruzen set the teapot down. Picking up his own cup of tea, the two began to watch Naruto intently study the picture book. Hiruzen sighed as he set down his cup.

"Tell me Kakashi, do you think Naruto should stay in Konoha?"

The silver haired man looked at the older man like he had just sprouted another head.

"Hokage, not to sound blunt, but Naruto can't. As much as we would like to delude ourselves into thinking otherwise, Naruto cannot keep his identity secret in Konoha. Eventually people will get off the ecstasy and will start asking questions. Even if he manages to survive, there isn't anything much for him. He needs to get away from Konoha, and even if he wants to return, he needs a new identity."

The Hokage smiled sadly.

"That's what you think, huh, Kakashi?"

Kakashi sadly nodded.

"I'll stand by it."

Hiruzen smiled.

"Good, that was what I was thinking. However, Naruto will need a caretaker for this journey, until he is older…"

Hiruzen trailed off, letting the cogs in Kakashi's mind work.

"Me? Hokage, are you sure?"

The Hokage smiled.

"Who else can be qualified as much as you? Besides, even after all that, you still are his favorite ANBU."

Kakashi set down his tea cup.

"Is that so?"

Kakashi shifted his weight.

"So where should I take Naruto?"

Hiruzen took out his pipe, lit it, and then took a puff.

"Anywhere other than Earth Country."

Kakashi nodded and looked at Naruto, who had now looking at them strangely. The ex-ANBU stood up and stretched. He looked at Hiruzen.

"I'll…leave it to you to explain to him. I'll go get ready."

With that, Kakashi disappeared in a swirl of leaves. Hiruzen looked at Naruto, who had stars in his eyes at what Kakashi just did. The Hokage smiled at the child-like awe of Naruto. Then he sighed and gestured for Naruto to sit on his knee. Naruto tilted his head in confusion, but still complied. The Hokage looked into the boy's eyes.

"Naruto, I was glad to have known you for what little time I have. Your… determination, your tenacity, your compassion were all comfort to this old heart. Nevertheless, it is with…great sadness that I must say that Konoha is no longer safe for you. So as soon as possible, you must take anything of value and go."

Seeing horror in the boy's eyes, Hiruzen shook his head.

"No, Naruto, I am not banishing you or exiling you. If you wish, you could come back, only under a new identity. However, don't think that I won't be leaving you alone. You saw that man, right?"

Seeing Naruto nod, Hiruzen continued.

"Well, you just saw the public face of Dog, a man named Kakashi Hatake. He will take care of you, and if you wish, he can teach some techniques."

Seeing Naruto turn to where Kakashi was and then pointing to there, Hiruzen nodded.

"Yes, with practice, even the Shunshin."

Naruto smiled sadly, as he began to think of the road ahead of him.

That night, the moon loomed full as two figures left the village. Three people watched as the duo soon disappeared underneath the trees. Then as the two disappeared into the night, the three left with tears in their eyes.

Please read and review. The pairing might take a while to come. Okay? BYE!