For the record, the harem is already thought of. If you don't approve of this, stop reading now, because I won't be changing it...again. At least, there are no PERMANENT changes to the harem, and only pairingswitching.
Permanent Harem: Hinata, Ino, Shizune, Hana Inuzuka, Nii Yugito, Fuu, Kin, Tayuya, and Anko. Absolutely will not include: Movie characters, Filler Arc characters, Temari, Hanabi, Kurenai, or Tsunade. PairingSwitching: TenTen, Sakura, and Yugito.
Chapter 1: Changing Uzumaki
This time, he was pissed. Though, somewhere in the back of his mind, he had always known it was coming. His façade of always being happy, cheerful, and the one he had acquired during the academy, which was being a dumb ass, was once again fading. It was closing in on the time where he would drop the façade anyway, though he wanted to be strong enough to back those words up.
But now, he wasn't so sure he was ever going to get the chance to show his true self.
"So…you've entered us into the chunin exams…two days before the exam?" Naruto inquired, a building cloud of ki surrounding him.
The ki was directed at none other than their so called sensei, as the cycloptic ninja scratched the back of his head sheepishly, akin to the loud blonde in front of him.
"Well, I had hoped to inform you tomorrow, but I'm going to be busy." He said with his unusual eye smile.
"That's no better." Sasuke growled, almost as pissed as Naruto. Their pink haired comrade only stared in disbelief at their sensei, mind trying to wrap around the thought of chunin exam.
"You three shouldn't worry though! I'm sure you're all ready for this!"
"Kakashi-sensei, all you've taught us is tree climbing. Unless walking up a tree is going to save us from a hail of kunai and chunin ranked jutsu, I doubt we're ready." Naruto deadpanned, gaining a raised eyebrow from the jonin.
"Honestly, Naruto! I thought you'd be excited about this!"
Naruto frowned. 'Oh yeah, I'm the dead last who rushes into everything blindly. Of course I'd be happy to go into a deadly tournament that's sure to get my less than mediocre ass killed.'
At the same time as his thoughts, Naruto plastered on his fake smile. "Of course I'm excited about it. I'm just worried too is all! We're going to dominate, believe it!"
The next second, a fist collided with the back of Naruto's head, making him wince in pain. 'Leave it to Sakura to capitalize on nothing at all.'
"Baka, don't be so arrogant! The chunin exams are no joke!"
"Well, seeing as you three have some preparing to do, I'll be on my way. See you at the academy at 7 sharp in two days." With a wave, Kakashi vanished into wind.
"I've got to learn how he does that!" Naruto exclaimed. Another fist met his head.
"Don't be stupid! That jutsu's probably too advanced for a dobe like you! Isn't that right Sasuke-kun?" Just like that, the bubble gum ninja went from yelling to fawning.
Sasuke's reply was to promptly walk away. The ever so faithful obsessor *which is not a word by the way, don't go using it*, Sakura bonded after him like a puppy on a leash. Naruto's smile fell instantly and he rubbed the knots on his head.
"The hell does she do that for. As if talking is too hard, she has to hit to get a point across."
Walking back towards his apartment, Naruto pushed the thoughts away. He still had a small crush on Sakura, if that. He knew that it was a long shot from being called love, and the only reason he made it seem that way was to keep up appearances. He wouldn't turn down a date any time soon, but he wasn't going to keep letting her hit him either. Being obsessed was something that he would like to leave to fangirls and he was far from a masochist as well.
Entering his apartment he looked at the various cups or insta-ramen strewn over the foyer. It was the only dirty place in the apartment, which was just a show to those who were at his front door.
On contraire to popular village beliefs, Naruto was not a dead last. He was far from an idiot, albeit he didn't have as much knowledge as others due to the teachers sabotaging his learning at the academy. He had taken it upon himself to learn as much as possible on his own, and because of this, knew things that others his age shouldn't have known.
He wasn't weak. He'd be damned if he said he was ready for chunin though. His skills were lacking greatly, and he had to admit that most of his accomplishments were based on dumb luck. *Note, pretty much it's canon Naruto but with the insight to know his strengths and weaknesses.*
He knew that a certain Hyuga had a crush on him. Come on, when someone stalks…follows you around damn near every day, you're liable to notice them at least once. The only problem was that Naruto didn't want to get too close to her. One, if he did, the villagers were likely to start treating her the way they treat him. Two, if he got with Sakura, the villagers would treat her the way they treated him. (Oh would he enjoy watching that until he developed actual feelings for the girl.) Three, she kind of creeped him out. Past that, he just wanted the girl to be happy. So far, she was content with just watching him train.
Walking into his room, he pulled off his horrid jacket and flopped onto his bed. He flared a hand sign, creating three clones.
"Go train or whatever the fuck you do while I'm sleep."
"Come on boss, you should actually try to train too. You're never going to get stronger this way." One of the clones said.
"Yeah boss. You want to prove everyone wrong don't you? Quite procrastinating and get off your lazy ass!" The second one responded. Naruto rolled over on his bed.
"If it weren't for the fact that you were me, I'd tell you to go fuck yourself. But I don't feel like masturbating right now, and I'm already feeling silly for arguing with myself." He waved the clones off who only looked at him sadly.
Because they were him, they knew what he was feeling. Kakashi hadn't really taught them much of anything, just like the academy. Now they were going to be put into the chunin exams. Naruto knew it was only for Sasuke. Kakashi knew perfectly Naruto and Sakura were nowhere near ready for the chunin exams, but Sasuke was probably. All their sensei had done was set them up for humiliation, and ultimately failure. A deep chuckle inside of Naruto's mind made him wince.
"Priceless. You should see the look on your face." The booming voice of the Kyubi laughed at it's container.
"Go choke on it, furball." Naruto spat back, entering his mind.
"My, pretty feisty today aren't we? What happened to having a mutual relationship?"
Naruto dug in his ear. "You're the one that keeps bugging me dammit! We agreed that you wouldn't be evil and I'd listen to your advice here or there."
"Yes, nowhere does it say I can't annoy the living shit out of you. Also, you haven't been listening to a word I've been saying recently." The foxes red eyes narrowed at the blonde, sending a shiver up his spine. Even knowing that the fox was one of his word, Naruto could never forget that it was also a dangerous killing machine. If it wasn't for the seal, he wouldn't have anything to do with the creature.
But not being able to escape his fate as a jinchuriki, Naruto opted to make peace with the beast, or as close to peace as he could get. The fox wasn't downright evil, but a hell ride from even being remotely good. When not being evil, it was just being annoying as all hell.
"The only advice you've been giving me lately is to talk to Hinata so we can mate and pop out 'little kits.' I don't even like her like that…much…" A small blush crossed his face, earning chuckles from the demon.
"Fool, I've been telling you to train with the Hyuga heiress as well. She could've been helping you get stronger, as well as you helping her overcome her insecurities. She will be in the same position as you in the chunin exams."
Naruto's head shot up. "What?"
"She has been watching you train. This means that she has been neglecting her own training. As well, her father cast her aside and has not been teaching her himself."
"How do you know that?"
"Your mind is not the only one accessible to a mighty demon, kit."
Naruto rose an eyebrow. "You could read other people's minds this whole time? You could've been helping me you stupid fox!"
"No. If I were to reveal what others are thinking to you, things would only get worse. Besides, it's fun to screw with you." Was the foxes only reply before bursting into laughter. "Seeing as you already know my little secret now, would you like to know more?"
Naruto stretched before getting comfortable on the sewer floor, indicating that he was willing to listen to more. The fox laid down as well, putting its muzzle on its front paws.
"Listen closely, because I intend to make you take life seriously. As you are now, you are but a liability to yourself, everyone around you, and especially me."
Naruto grunted at that.
"Of your former classmates, only the Nara child is ready to be a chunin. His brain more than makes up for his lack of physical strength, though with his clans stronger moves, that won't matter for long. The Inuzuka, Akimichi, Aburame, and Uchiha are ready physically. However, their mindset will hinder them from achieving that goal. Hinata would be ready physically if she was trained properly, but even so, she is far too focused on you and the problems that she deals with daily."
Naruto frowned. Just off of inquiry, it sounded like Hinata was living a shitty life as well. It made him think of the Hyuga heiress even more.
"Finally, you have the Haruno and Yamanaka. Neither of them should even consider chunin. Both are completely pathetic physically, in more ways than one. Mentally, they share brains with Sasuke seeing as their heads are so far up the pompous brats ass."
Even Naruto had to giggle at that one.
"But the Yamanaka may take less convincing to become serious, seeing as she has spent less time with the Uchiha."
"Okay, so what does this have to do with me?" Naruto asked.
"Don't you get it kit? None of these kids are ready because none of them are taking being a ninja seriously. They are either latched onto their jonin sensei's, or dealing with problems the way children would, which is relying on others. None of you, outside of the Nara, has the mindset of taking your future into your own hands seriously. Do you truly wish to become Hokage?"
"Of course!" Naruto shouted.
"Then take a page from your fathers book and get serious!" The fox boomed. As silence filled the area, it looked at Naruto. His mouth hung open and his eyes stared straight forward. The Kyubi rose an eyebrow for a split second before it realized the mistake it had just made. "Crap…"
"You knew who my father was?" Naruto asked, just above a whisper. The fox sighed and leaned up, stretching as it did.
"Of course I know who your father is kit, he was the one who sealed me inside of you."
Just like that, pieces of a puzzle fell into place. When Naruto had learned about the Kyubi, the third had said it was the Fourth that sealed it inside of him. Now looking back on it, he felt stupid for not asking why him of all people. Then even more stupid for not seeing the resemblance between him and his hero. Finally, he felt like a moron for not seeing how OBVIOUS all of the clues were. In consolation, he could at least say most of the villagers were just as stupid.
"Why…why didn't you tell me sooner?" Naruto asked, tears forming in his eyes.
"It doesn't mean as much coming from me as it would've coming from the Hokage." The fox replied. Cold hearted demon, he may be, but he still believed in honor. The honor of telling Naruto the truth should've been reserved for someone precious to him.
Naruto held his head in frustration. The Fourth Hokage was his father. Okay, it wasn't much of a shock when you did think about all the obvious clues, but it was still an overwhelming revelation. He felt so many emotions at once. Anger, joy, sadness, relief. It all washed over him like a soothing breeze, only to be yanked away by what the Kyubi had just said.
"I'm…I'm not taking being a ninja seriously…" The fox watched as Naruto began thinking, knowing that it was rare to see Naruto evaluate anything he had said. "You're right. This whole time me and my friends have been sitting here, waiting for things to fall into our laps. The little effort we do put forth is nowhere near enough, especially when we live in a world where death is as natural as breathing."
The fox nodded, actually shocked that Naruto had figured it out so quickly. "Your father would not be proud of this village as it is now." He added.
"I know…jiji is doing the best he can, but he's already old. And I know dad didn't get to be Hokage by sitting around." Naruto frowned, looking at himself. He felt ashamed now. Ashamed of the fact that he had been playing ninja for the most part of his life. Ashamed that he had purposely let himself get as weak as he was. Ashamed that he had accepted it.
"Well then, Naruto. If you know this, then what are you going to do? Are you going to keep your façade, and wait for that loathsome, pathetic excuse for a sensei to teach you something?"
"No…not at all. I'll be stuck here for the rest of my life if I waited." He paused, standing up with a confident smirk. "The Fourth Hokage is my father, and knowing that only makes me want to become Hokage even more. Not just to make him proud, but to prove that I am his son. But more than that…" Naruto closed his eyes. "To prove that I'm better than him. I want to become a ninja that even dad could only dream of being. I want to be able to destroy bijuu if need be!"
The Kyubi scoffed at Naruto's implications.
"Knowing that the Fourth is your father has spurred all of this?" The demon chuckled slightly.
"No…and yes. I was going to start getting a bit more serious regardless, but knowing that my father was the greatest shinobi to walk this planet makes me want follow after him, and eventually over take him. Plus…I want to protect those precious to me, especially Hinata. If what you said is true, then she's had a rough life just like me. I won't be able to make her happy if I'm weak."
Naruto frowned again. The weight of what the Kyubi had revealed to him was weighing completely on his shoulders. It shouldn't have taken him until now to get serious about his training. It definitely shouldn't have taken him that long to see the path they were going down. He needed to start thinking about what was truly important, even if it meant sacrificing happiness now for happiness in the future.
"From this point on, Naruto Uzumaki…Namikaze, is going to be the best damn ninja to walk the face of this earth. No one will forget that name."
Without warning, Naruto left his mind, much to the chagrin of the demon fox. He immediately jumped out of his bed and reached for his jacket. Stopping in mid motion, he frowned at the offending piece of clothing.
"No. I can't wear that crap anymore."
The reality was that Naruto had always worn bright colors so people could see him when he did his pranks. They would remember him, acknowledge him. But that was the past now. He didn't need to pull pranks anymore. (Though he wasn't saying he was going to stop completely) He was going to have people acknowledge him for his skills.
Instead, he walked over to his dresser and pulled out a pair of black cargo pants. Switching those with his orange jumpsuit pants, he left the dark blue shirt on. But he ripped the sleeves off anyway, feeling that it was a slight variation from the jumpsuit, blue shirt combo he usually wore. Plus, it was cheaper than going to buy brand new clothes anyway. Real ninja didn't have time to worry about exactly what they had to wear.
"Yo, boss, what's with the new look?" The clones filed back into his room, two holding scrolls, the last one balancing kunai on the tips of its fingers. Naruto glared at the useless act for a second before turning to the clone that asked the question.
"Just dispel and save me the trouble of explaining to myself." The clones did as ordered and Naruto was instantly filled with the knowledge of the scrolls, and how balancing kunai on the tips of his fingers was actually good concentration practice. Who knew?
Naruto grabbed several kunai and shuriken before heading out. The sun was setting so he didn't have nearly as much time as he thought. He knew one night of intense training wasn't going to make much of a difference, but if he could be at least one percent stronger by the chunin exams, then he'd take that one percent. Just before he reached the road, he paused. Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath and calmed down.
'I won't be sluggish if I go calmly.' He jumped onto a rooftop and began heading towards his team's training field, using large and smooth strides as he crossed the buildings. It didn't take him long to reach field, and he smirked. The entire time he was on alert and even caught one of the villagers throwing something at him while he passed. Normally, he would have missed the little stunt.
"Okay, so what am I going to do until the morning?"
"How about I show you a little jutsu." The Kyubi boomed in his mind. Naruto rose an eyebrow.
"You're being a lot more helpful than normal. What's gotten into you?"
"You are getting serious. That's it and that's all. I want you to be strong enough to give me a challenge by the time I escape and destroy everything." The Kyubi chuckled as Naruto grimaced.
"Hey, no evil talk! Now what's the jutsu you're gonna show me?" Naruto closed his eyes as the demon sent an image of a shadowy figure standing in a clear field. The man was surrounded by enemies and they all had weapons.
"The name of this technique is the Tatsumaki Renpatsu." (Tornado Barrage) "It's a move The Fourth…your father created."
Naruto remained silent and watched the scene. The person waited until all the enemies were close to him. Suddenly he spun, whipping up a large gale that quickly formed into a small twister. The enemies were sucked up and the person seemed to be flashing in and out of the twister, slashing the enemies with a katana.
"I can't do that." Naruto said bluntly. "For one, I didn't even know I had a wind affinity until just now. So I won't be able to use anything wind related until I get at least a week of training in. Even more, dad was known as the Golden Flash for a reason. I can't move that fast, so I wouldn't be able to attack my opponents while they're in the tornado."
The Kyubi smirked at Naruto's conclusion. It also reminded him that he was still young. "Kit, you have shadow clones. You can get one month of training in a night. As for the speed, use your clones here too."
All the blonde could do was sigh. Maybe it was going to take a little more for him to change completely. Seeing that move made him feel lazy. For a moment, he began to have second thoughts about everything. Could he really become as great a ninja as his father?
He looked up towards the sky. Thinking about wasn't going to get him anywhere. Now wasn't the time to be having doubts. He needed to get stronger, for everyone's sake.
"Alright, let's get started. But after I've mastered that move, I want to try to make one myself." Naruto said creating hundreds of shadow clones.
As the moon began to settle into the night sky, a silent wind blew over the leaf village. Many who felt it, also felt the tides of change. Not good, nor bad. The serene feeling of the blessed air chilled some and brought melancholy to others. It was the last night Uzumaki Naruto wore his mask…
The next day…
The sun shined brilliantly down onto the sleeping face of the Uzumaki, seeming to illuminate his oblivious, yet peaceful features. The silent chirp of birds echoed off of the thousands of pieces of steel that littered the training ground. With kunai, shuriken and ninja wire in heaps all over the field, it looked more like a battleground. Silently stalking the outskirts of the field, someone drew a kunai and looked at the helpless blonde.
In a blur of speed, the person dashed toward the sleeping teen. In less than a second, the person was pinned to the ground, a kunai aimed at the back of their head.
"Uh…heheh, wake up call boss!" The clone said nervously as Naruto held its arm behind its back.
"Good work." Naruto said before dispelling the clone. The clones had been trying to get the drop on him ever since training had ended the earlier that morning. He had intentionally left one alive to see what it would do. 'I wonder if this falls under suicidal tendencies.'
Naruto looked around at the field, stretching and yawning. He had only gotten about an hour of sleep, but the thought of how much he had progressed just by using shadow clones brought a smile to his face. He wasn't sure if he was ready to take on the chunin exams just yet, but he was sure that compared to the Naruto he was the day before, he was ready to give it a shot. With the flare of a hand sign, the kunai and shuriken vanished in poofs of smoke. He walked around and collected the real weapons before heading back towards the village.
Taking a deep breath of fresh air, Naruto smirked sadly. It felt like the first real breath of air he had ever taken. It saddened him that he could've changed at any time but chose not to. Shaking his head, he decided to no longer dwell on the past. He needed to look towards the future, or he'd never be able to make it better. The sound of a child crying caught his attention and he rose an eyebrow.
"Hey, leave Konohamaru alone!" Sakura's voice was heard several seconds later. Naruto groaned and walked towards the area where the sounds were coming from.
"This little brat needs to watch were he's going from now on!" A teen wearing what appeared to be a full body, black cat pajama suit and makeup held the little boy up by the scruff of his shirt. Moegi and Udon stood behind Sakura helplessly, and Sakura stood there screeching like a banshee…
"Come on, Kankurou, we don't have time for this." A sandy haired blonde with a fan on her back said in annoyance. She was looking around nervously as if expecting someone to show up at any moment. Naruto sighed again. He hadn't wanted anyone to see him until the chunin exams had actually started.
"Hey, drop the kid before I make you." Naruto said as he walked around the corner with his hands in his pockets.
"Naruto!" Sakura called, actually a bit excited to see her team mate. That excitement turned to curiosity as she noticed his new attire.
"What did you say brat?" Kankorou said glaring at Naruto.
"Come on, boss, teach this pajama wearing freak a lesson!" Konohamaru called, still struggling against the older genin's grip.
"I said drop the kid." Naruto's voice was right in Kankurou's ear. A shadow clone stood right behind Kankurou, holding a kunai to his neck. "We don't want any trouble, especially right before the chunin exams."
Kankurou gulped, eyes wide as he never noticed the clone there, nor had he felt any signs of chakra building when Naruto performed the technique. He was too distracted by Konohamaru to see if he had made any hand signs at all. Kankurou prepared to release Konohamaru, but before he could, a small rock hit his hand.
Everyone's gaze, save for Naruto, went up into the nearby tree. Naruto scoffed, whispering show-off.
"You should listen to the dobe." Sasuke said and jumped from the tree, slowly walking towards the group.
"Sasuke-kun!" Sakura cried, swooning over the raven haired Uchiha. Naruto rolled his eyes and prepared to walk away until he felt a malicious presence. His eyes widened and he turned around.
"G-Gaara!" Kankurou stammered out, taking a step back from the red head that had just showed up. "We..we were just-"
"Shut up, before I kill you." Gaara spoke monotonously, and Naruto could see the kids tremble visibly. Even Sakura seemed to be shaking. Gaara's gaze passed over everyone's faces, but lingered on Sasuke's. "Mother wants your blood. I look forward to proving my existence against you."
"Naruto, say this." The Kyubi told Naruto, getting a questionable gaze.
"Gaara. Your existence can't be proved by killing. You're only making yourself fade further into darkness as that thing gains more power. If you're willing, meet me behind the chunin exams building an hour before the test. I need to talk to you."
Temari and Kankurou looked astonished between the blonde and their brother. Did he know that he had just gotten himself killed. The weird part was that he wasn't dead already. Sakura and Sasuke also looked on in bewilderment.
"Fine. But if what you have to say doesn't interest me, I will kill you."
"Works for me." Naruto said and crossed his arms. He frowned, not knowing what the Kyubi was playing at. The sand trio walked away, Temari and Kankurou giving nervous glances back at the leaf nin.
"Hey boss, that was cool!" Konohamaru exclaimed. Naruto smiled down at him, but quickly frowned as Sakura opened her mouth.
"Not as cool as Sasuke-kun!" All present, including Sasuke, sighed.
"N-Naruto-senpai, what's with that n-new look?" Moegi asked, head cocked to the side in curiosity. Udon and Konohamaru seemed to want an answer as well. Once again, Sakura made her opinion known.
"Yeah Naruto-baka! Why does it look like you're on your way to do laundry?" She stifled her own snickers.
"To answer your question Moegi, real ninja don't have time to worry about appearances all the time. As long as what you're wearing makes it easier for you fight, then it doesn't matter what you wear." He answered in a calm tone, taking all present by surprise. "Now, I'd love to stay and get re-acquainted with my team, but I've got a little more training to do before the exams tomorrow. Ja'ne." With the wave of his hand, Naruto walked away from the stunned group.
Konohamaru and friends left without a second thought, leaving a very confused pink haired kunoichi and slightly disturbed Uchiha.
"Sasuke-kun…I think there's something different about Naruto." Sakura inquired.
"Don't be stupid." Sasuke said before turning to walk away. "It's obvious that's the same shirt he usually wears."