The Demon Shark and the Fish Cake: Part One.
Or: They grow up so fast.
Disclaimer: I own none of the Intellectual Properties represented in this fanfiction.
AN: Okay, these are the compiled drabbles (1-5) of "The Demon Shark and the Fishcake", being put together to form the first chapter of the actual stand alone story. Number six will be chapter two, after I do some editing and have my Beta go over it (Blue Baby Blanket), it will probably turn out longer than it is right now, and in this prologue there have been some minor changes, nothing huge but I think it flows better personally. Now, for people that are unaware, Naruto is the same age as Itachi in this fic, as well as Mei being a few years younger, mostly because while thirteen may be the age of consent in Japan, I personally think its fucking creepy for someone twice someone's age to be in a romantic relationship. Everyone else from his generation is the same age; Naruto is just older than them.
Hoshigaki Kisame was, contrary to popular belief, not in fact Bat Shit Crazy (yes, people actually spoke in capitals when discussing him), he just had a very, very healthy appreciation for the concept of "Survival of the Fittest" when it came to his world view. So for him, stumbling across a very beaten and cut up Uzumaki Naruto in the back woods of Hi no Kuni was a bit of a surprise. Very beaten and cut up, yes, but more importantly, alive and healing.
Now, the unconscious and barely sustaining body wasn't the shock, nor was the middle of bum-fuck nowhere placement, after all, what better place to stash a body than in the middle of nowhere? Especially in a middle of nowhere that it would never be found, what with it being devoured by wild animals and all. "Probably the middle of the ocean", he idly thought while stroking his chin. The surprise was that it was still breathing and not yet been devoured, even though it had obviously been there for a couple days already, if the lack of fresh tracks, dried blood and wear patterns on the ground from said body's unconscious movements were any indication.
Normally Kisame would glance at a beaten and cut up body and keep moving, for people, kids especially, in the sort of condition that the child on the ground was in would normally bleed out and die in a couple of hours. But this time gave him pause, using his keen deductive skills (read: Samehada sensed something weird about the boy's chakra and informed him of such) he took a closer look:
1: Facial markings common with Jinchūriki? Check.
2: Copious amounts of dried blood surrounding his unconscious form, excess of what even an adult body can contain? Check.
3: Sinister Chakra moving through his system, concentrating on the areas with the worst damage? Check.
4: Four years of age, coinciding nicely with the four years since the Kyūbi ravaged Konoha? Check.
5: Almost as much Chakra as he himself possessed, even with his own monstrous reserves and even though the boy is only the tender age of four? Check.
6: Wounds that, while healing, showed obvious traces of being much, much bigger when they were first acquired? Check.
7: Visible sealing array on his naval that looked way more advanced than anything Kisame himself had ever done, the only thing he could recognize being some symbols for containment? Check.
Kisame got a shark-like grin, showing off his equally shark-like teeth before letting out a deep, almost sinister laugh. "Ladies and Gentleman, I believe Kisame-sama has found an apprentice." What was his reasoning? Anyone that could take this kind of punishment and not give in would make an amazing Shinobi.
Quickly picking up the still comatose boy and slinging him across a shoulder, Kisame picked up the pace. It wouldn't do to be caught in Konoha territory with the mauled and maimed form of their Jinchūriki now, would it? After all, he didn't want people to know he'd even been here, and leaving behind the dismembered bodies of Konoha ANBU or Oinin would be quite the giveaway that something was wandering the backwoods, and that that something was a bit of a monster.
Kisame was bored. Sure he'd grabbed the brat and taken him out of country, he was currently residing in a hotel room in Tetsu no Kuni, but the little bastard had yet to wake up! Thus he was bored. Idly, he wondered what he was going to teach him, he'd definitely have to get him into contact with his resident demon, if he hadn't already with how long he's been out of it. Eventually he'd have to get him a sword, preferably a Zanbatō, since that was what he was most proficient in. Find out his elemental affinity. "Oh the fun I could have if he turns out to be a water type!" he thought with sadistic glee. Upon further reflection, with a name like Uzumaki it was completely possible.
Interrupted from his thoughts of torturing his new apprentice (Kisame wasn't one to operate under false pretences if he didn't need too, after all) Kisame looked over at said apprentice as the child slapped a hand to his face, groaned and rubbed his eyes before blinking at the harsh light of the hotel room.
"Where am I now?"
"You're in Tetsu no Kuni, brat, and I hauled your ass here from the ass end of nowhere in Hi no Kuni after finding your fucked up body in the forest." While Kisame could be courteous and polite to contacts and clients, he was going to teach the kid to kill; he saw no reason to censor himself.
A whispered "fuck" was all he got in response, which prompted a happy grin to form on his face. His student was already swearing at the age of four, he'd hit the jackpot!
"Where'd you learn words like that, brat?" He figured he might as well start bonding with his new (and completely unaware of the fact) apprentice early.
"You mean beside from you just now?" Naruto asked, in a very nice sarcastic voice for a child his age, which prompted Kisame's grin to get wider "I lived in the red light district, nowhere else would let me live there, not even with Hokage-jiji paying."
"Still a bit of a foul mouth for a little brat like yourself."
"I'm almost five, you can go to hell."
Ah, so he was Kisame noticed, it was mid August. But the kid's response only caused him to start laughing.
"Alright kid, I like you. If you can, get up and we'll see about getting some food into you, you haven't eaten in three days plus however long you were lying in that forest."
As if on cue, Naruto's stomach let out a huge grumbling roar, the loudest yet since the start of their conversation.
"Think we could find us some ramen?"
Kisame wanted to say no, he really, really did, but the kid did just recover from a brutal beating that would have killed most other men. It had absolutely nothing to do with the kid being the cutest little bastard he'd ever seen. What? Kisame was more than secure with his level of badassery that he didn't mind admitting that the brat was cute.
"Sure brat, let's find us some ramen, maybe I can get some shrimp flavor."
"What's your name, anyway?"
"Hoshigaki Kisame" Kisame replied, sticking out a large hand.
"Uzumaki Naruto" the child said, slapping his hand into Kisame's and watching it get engulfed by the larger mitt. "Thanks for not letting me die."
An hour later and Kisame was just beginning to appreciate how much money he spent on food. The kid devoured ramen almost at the rate that he could eat sushi. Shinobi with giant chakra reserves generally required more sustenance than Shinobi with more regular chakra levels, the fuel to generate that much energy didn't just come from the air and happy thoughts, after all. Though the fact that the brat managed to weasel a discount out of the lady behind the counter, just on his sheer cute factor alone impressed him greatly. Upon further contemplation, he would have to put that cute factor to great use in the future. He was not above using his apprentice to get himself some tail, in fact it was right at his level, and he didn't even need to crouch down or anything.
"Alright kid, how are you feeling?" Kisame asked upon exiting the ramen bar.
"Pretty good, the fox in my stomach said he'd healed everything and that I'd be good to go as soon as I got some food in me."
Not at all surprised that he'd talked to his inner demon, what with being out for the better part of a week and all, Kisame nodded and beckoned the child to follow him. Stopping at what he thought was a safe distance from the small town Kisame turned around and, without fanfare or preamble, started Naruto's first lesson into Shinobi hood.
"Brat, you know what Shinobi are?"
Earning a nod from the blond, Kisame waved his hand for a verbal explanation. "Shinobi kill people for money."
"While a very crude and small minded explanation, it isn't surprising for someone of your age and situation to lack all that much knowledge on the topic, and before you get all huffy, that wasn't a dig at you." Naruto closed his mouth. "Now, Shinobi have for many generations been the main source of each of the major country's power base. Now to channel your Chakra, the energy that Shinobi use to power almost all of our techniques, you make this hand seal and then…"
Five years. He'd been training the little brat for five years now. He couldn't believe how fast time went by, or just how damn good the kid was. Well, the last part was a lie, he could believe that. After all, he was the one training Naruto, so he figured that his awesomeness was rubbing off on the kid. He'd lucked out though, it turns out Uzumaki wasn't just a name, but he had a strong affinity for water as well, extremely strong. In fact, the only person he'd heard of that had an affinity anywhere near as strong as the kid's was the Nidaime Hokage, Senju Tobirama, it was that strong. They'd almost missed his second affinity for wind techniques when he took the card test, the only reason they caught it was because Kisame insisted that he do it again to make sure that it wasn't a fluke.
So he'd trained him, and the kid was fan-fucking-tastic. He'd actually seen the boy draw the moisture from the skin of a Nin that they'd captured and been interrogating. Seeing your hand and wrist start to shrivel up and die right in front of your eyes is unsurprisingly good at loosening one's tongue. He'd trained him in the way of the sword, Zanbatō combat of course; it was the best kind in his humble opinion. He was, naturally, quite efficient in using the Mizu Bunshin no Jutsu and other techniques native to Kirigakure, quite proficient in Silent Killing and all that jazz, he knew what he wanted to train the kid to do. In fact, they were on their way to get him a permanent weapon at that very moment.
"So, who's this guy we're looking for again?" Naruto asked, looking up at his towering sensei. He wasn't short, dammit; the man was just freakishly tall.
Kisame grinned, showing off numerous pointy teeth. "His name is Momochi Zabuza, and we're going to kill him."
Naruto just grinned back. "Tell me about this sword I'm getting? Is it like Samehada and absorbs Chakra?"
"Hah! There's no other blade like Samehada kid, she's one of a kind! No, the sword we're getting you is called the Kubikiribōchō, it's a Zanbatō like Samehada is, and it just isn't finished yet."
Naruto was incredulous. "Who the hell uses a sword that isn't even finished? That's like eating Ramen noodles before the broth and good bits are even added!"
Kisame just laughed again, it all came back to Ramen with this kid. "The kind of idiot that tries to assassinate the Mizukage without waiting for his blade to be finished, that's who!" He didn't miss Naruto's mumbled "what a dumb ass". He didn't disagree with it either; Zabuza was a dumb ass to do something that stupid. He'd ruined it for the rest of the Kiri no Shinobigatana Shichinin Shū as well, after that idiot's premature assault on the Mizukage the rest of them were all suspected of treason. Any of them wouldn't have minded sticking a knife in between the Yondaime Mizukage's ribs. Maybe a knife or six, he was a Jinchūriki after all.
"How did such an idiot get into the Seven Swordsmen then?"
"You don't have to be smart to become a member; you just have to be good." Naruto knew Kisame's definition of good was A or S-ranked, so the guy wouldn't be a push over. "Anyway, he's not an idiot really, Zabu-chan has just always been pretty impulsive, from what I understand he saw what he thought of as the perfect moment to strike and took it, he just never really factored in that he wasn't quite up to a Kage's level yet. Probably still isn't."
"Unless you're like me, and strong enough that if a couple of Oinin squads show up you can just laugh it off while you kill them, Nukenin don't really progress in strength much."
That made sense to Naruto; they'd had some Mist hunters stumble across them over the years. In fact his first taste of actual combat was at the age of seven, when Kisame was sure he wasn't going to get his ass killed as soon as he got involved. An Oinin team, three men and a fourth as back up, had stumbled across Kisame training him in Suiton Jutsu near a lake. The unfortunate hunters hadn't even realized who they were fighting before the three contact Nin were dead and the fourth was in a choke hold. Given the choice between dying instantly or fighting Kisame's apprentice, and being let live if he won, he chose the lesser evil (or so he thought) and launched a Suiryūdan no Jutsu at the small blond child in front of him, deciding to end it quickly and not make the boy suffer. He was understandably shocked when said Water Dragon promptly about faced and broke his spine on a rock formation. Naruto didn't hold that incident against Kisame, that's just how he trained. If Naruto couldn't bring himself to kill, he wasn't worth training to do so.
"So, where is this Zabuza guy anyway?"
"Tori no Kuni at the moment, and before you ask, yes he is there. I made sure this time, hired him through an intermediary to attend a meeting between the clients, us, and the muscle, him. He won't know what hit him." Kisame's grin, if possible, became even more shark like.
"So this isn't going to be like that crap in Kaminari no Kuni, then?"
Kisame looked down at the cheeky face smiling up at him and promptly gave in to the urge to smack his apprentice. While Naruto was busy picking himself up off of the ground Kisame kept walking and said; "I told you not to bring that up again Chibi!"
Around a year and a half ago Kisame had been contracted by a politician in the Land of Lightning to take out a rival for some position or other, he'd given Kisame the man's position, but was apparently out of date on the other man's business dealings. Kisame ended up wiping out everyone in the man's country manor before finding out that the lord of the house had been called away for an urgent meeting a few days prior. Needless to say the client had died mysteriously for wasting his damn time, which was Naruto's first solo assassination run. He had to say he was proud of the little brat for that bit of subterfuge; no one even connected it to an assassination. Naruto had used a poison that mimicked the effects of a burst ulcer, completely understandable in the man's line of work.
"Come on brat, we need to get there in three days if we want to make the meeting deadline." Kisame took to the trees, setting a brutal pace that Naruto had to struggle to keep up with. He didn't complain though, it was good training.
That was another thing Kisame liked about the brat, he didn't complain about having to work hard.
Naruto looked up at his sensei/father figure; that thought momentarily caused him to pause and almost crack up laughing. No one with even half of their sanity intact would ever think of Kisame as even close to being responsible enough to raise a child. They would mostly be right, of course, if Kisame weren't raising said child to be one of the most successful killers on the planet. He paused for a second to get his thoughts in order before expressing himself, "So, this is boring" and was promptly propelled forward by Kisame's "Educational Palm Technique", as the man called it.
"Brat, Zabuza may not be on my level," here Kisame had to pause and laugh, shaking his head at the thought, "but he is a professional, he'll check out the surroundings for ambushes and hidden Shinobi before he even enters the building." A slight, very, very slight scuffing noise from outside the room made them both grin, Kisame shark-like and Naruto a foxy grin that looked much more predatory than playful.
Through the door came a man almost as tall as Kisame himself, with the lower half of his face wrapped in bandages, as soon as he saw Kisame standing there he froze. "Kisame, what the hell is the meaning of this?"
He was good at hiding his emotions, Naruto thought, but he was pretty adept at picking out when people were really terrified of what was going on around them even if they were trying to hide it, a trait he picked up from spending so long with Kisame. He tended to scare the shit out of people that knew who he was and what he was capable of.
"Zabu-chan, I thought it would be pretty obvious. Members of the Kiri no Shinobigatana Shichinin Shū don't seek each other out for many reasons, after all. Especially members that have students." Kisame finished, relishing the moment Zabuza registered Naruto's presence and realized why Kisame had sought him out.
"So, the time's finally come, has it? Very well then, I just have one request should you win our bout."
"You aren't the only one that's picked up an apprentice over the years." Zabuza said, swinging the door open fully to show a black haired child Naruto's age had been standing behind it in a ready stance, Kisame noted this fact with approval.
"Very well, I'll finish her training."
"Ano, Kisame-sama, I'm male." The child responded with little hesitance but an overly polite tone. Naruto knew this tone well; it was an indication of someone that didn't want to be struck down on a whim. This didn't stop Naruto or Kisame from looking at him in shock, however.
"Are you sure? Maybe you're half and half?" Kisame asked bluntly, making the child blush spectacularly at the insinuation.
"Yes I'm sure!" The child yelled, before clapping his hands over his mouth in shock.
"Well," Naruto started to break the following awkward silence, "let's get this death match on a roll so I can get my new sword and start training!"
Zabuza glowered at him but did an abrupt about face, marching out of the building like a man on the way to the gallows. Which thinking further on the situation was pretty damn accurate.
Naruto and Haku sat in a ramen stand in town waiting on news of which of their respective sensei would be taking over the other's training.
"So, how did you end up with Zabuza?"
"Zabuza-sama took me in when I was homeless and raised me; I am a survivor of the civil war in Kiri that's going on right now, the Blood Line purges. He found me after I had just killed my father, who was attempting to kill me for having a Kekkei Genkai."
"That's pretty fucked up." Naruto stated succinctly while motioning for another bowl of ramen, not noticing Haku's blush at his language. "So, what's your Kekkei Genkai?"
"Ano, I have the ability to combine water and wind to create Hyōton techniques."
"Really? That's awesome, my affinities are for water and wind maybe I can do that too!"
"Ah, sorry Naruto-san, but it's apparently been tried before, apparently there is something special about my family, only we are able to do this."
"Man," Naruto whined, "that sucks. I don't have any cool superpowers or anything except having a demon sealed inside of me." He dove into his next bowl of ramen, completely ignoring Haku's wide eyed disbelieving look. "So, what was Zabuza training you to do? Kisame's training me to kill people." No one ever said the boy was subtle.
"Ah, uhm, Zabuza-sama is teaching me to do whatever it he needs me to do; if he tells me to do something I'll do it."
"Well, yea I know that, but what specifically is he teaching you?"
"Besides basic taijutsu I'm really only learning more control over my bloodline at the moment."
"Oh, alright that's cool."
"So, you found a brat of your own, did you?" Kisame smirked at Zabuza, who stood across from him in the forest clearing.
"Haku is pretty much the perfect tool for me, unknown, strong and most importantly, utterly devoted."
"Hah! You haven't changed all that much, have you Zabu-chan? I gotta admit, I never expected you to stay for too long after I left anyway."
"Oh? And why do you say that, Shark boy?"
Kisame just grinned widely at the man across from him. "You never could stand being told what to do."
Zabuza grunted in acknowledgement at that fact before narrowing his eyes. "Can we just get this started? If I'm going to die today I'd rather it be sooner than later."
Kisame chuckled as he unlimbered his sword and dashed forward. "Not even a little warm up before you pass on, Zabu-chan? I guess the least I can grant you is a quick death."
Blocking Kisame's swing Zabuza didn't say a thing; he only retaliated with a sweeping and chopping combo of his own, the repeated clangs of Kubikiribōchō clashing against an unwrapped Samehada echoed through the forest that was their chosen battleground.
Zabuza cursed, for a split second he'd taken his eyes off of Kisame when Kubikiribōchō had, for a brief moment, gotten stuck in the trunk of a tree. Snapping off a set of one handed seals he summoned the signature mist of Kirigakure no Jutsu. He knew it wouldn't give him an advantage in this situation, but on the flip side it wouldn't give Kisame an advantage either.
A laugh echoed through the forest. "Really Zabu-chan, you're going to try Silent Killing on me?"
Zabuza vanished and responded in an equally empty, resonant tone. "You'll never know if something will work unless you try it, Shark boy."
"Hahaha, very well Zabu-chan, say them with me now."
"And lungs." Kisame finished from directly behind him. Zabuza tried to turn around but a spike of unreal killer intent froze him in place for a fraction of a second. The next thing he knew he was looking down at twin Kunai sprouting from the front of his chest, directly through both lungs.
Zabuza coughed, his mouth wrappings immediately staining an extremely deep red, signifying extensive internal injuries. Hacking, he weakly turned his head to Kisame. "Look after the kid, alright? He may be a tool, but he's a good kid."
"I may be a Nukenin, Zabuza-kun, but I'm a man of my word, I'll look after him."
Zabuza nodded faintly barely managing to rasp out "thanks" before he expired.
Kisame stared down at the dead man before him, he wasn't going to take the head for the bounty, and the Mizukage that Zabuza rebelled against was a sick bastard that deserved a good beheading anyway. Shrugging to himself he started forming the hand signs to the only fire technique he knew, one Karyū Endan later and the only thing that remained of Momochi Zabuza were the little bits of skeletal structure that weren't burnt away in the intense flames. Kisame may not have been a sentimental man, but some bonds of brotherhood could withstand a little bit of casual fratricide.
Pulling Kubikiribōchō out from the ground where he'd put it, he set off back towards town. He knew that if he didn't return fast enough that little cretin he called an apprentice would go bankrupt on ramen alone.
"It was a complete fiasco! We'd planned on a loud assassination to begin with, since it was supposed to be a bit of a statement anyway, y'know? So we get there, there's a man and a woman sleeping in the bed so we plant the tags an' hightail it out of there before they blow, right? So later that week we're waiting for the newspaper to run a story and confirm the death of the Lord and Lady and when the article finally comes we got the Lady but the woman had been cheating on her husband the whole time! So now we had to track the dude down just to get paid. Don't even let me get started on what a pain that was!"
Haku was just sitting off to the side wide-eyed. Zabuza hadn't had him kill anyone yet, he didn't think he was quite ready, but Naruto had apparently been "going to work" with Kisame since he was seven years old! He was barely eleven!
"Hey kids! Did you miss Kisame-Ojisan? Don't bother answering, I know you did. Hey Ji-san, could I get a sea food special? Thanks." Kisame fired off quickly, slamming Kubikiribōchō blade first into the ground next to Naruto's stool. Naruto promptly got hearts in his eyes while examining his new implement of steel edged destruction.
"Ano, Kisame-sama, does this mean that Zabuza-sama is dead?" Haku asked hesitantly, as if afraid of the answer. Given how he'd grown up so far, Kisame considered, he probably was.
"Yea he's gone kid, don't worry though, he went out fighting a strong opponent. A member of the Kiri no Shinobigatana Shichinin Shū couldn't ask for more."
"So, am I going to be traveling with you and Naruto-kun from now on?"
"Hell yea you can come with us!" Naruto yelled off to the side. "You're awesome Haku-chan!" He diplomatically ignored the eye twitch that came with the –chan on the end of Haku's name, internally smirking.
"You're lucky that Zabuza and I had already made an agreement to take care of each other's apprentices before our little fight, brat, or I'd have to give you remedial training after that." Kisame smirked as Naruto suddenly paled and quickly sat forward in his stool, eating with manners that had hereunto been unheard of for the blonde Maelstrom, in Haku's experience.
Haku watched the camaraderie between master and apprentice that the two seemed to share, and had to stifle a laugh because as soon as Kisame turned his full attention to the sea food deluxe ramen that arrived in front of him, Naruto stuck out his tongue and flipped the bird. Faster than Haku's eyes could follow Naruto's tongue was trapped between Kisame's forefinger and thumb while he glared at Naruto out of the corner of his eye.
"You want me to rip that out, Fishcake?"
Getting away after a yelp of pain, Naruto glowered back. "It would just grow back; you overgrown piece of Sushi, save yourself the effort."
"Yes, it would, but Haku-chan and I would have blessed silence in the week it took to do so."
"Please, you'd be bored out of your mind in twenty minutes with only polite little Haku-chan for company."
This continued on for a while, each of them slowly working through a few more bowls of ramen before Haku finally realized that yes, while they were verbally sparring, they were also making fun of him as much as possible during their conversation. His eye twitched again, and for some reason fervently wished that he'd died in Zabuza's place.
"Damn you brat! It's a wonder that I even keep you around!"
"Oh please, I wake up every day and wonder why you haven't been chopped apart at the local fish market yet!"
All conversation between the three stopped dead when a strong voice spoke up behind them.
"And I'm wondering what a Nukenin from Kirigakure no Sato is doing with the Jinchūriki from Konohagakure no Sato."
Samehada was immediately in Kisame's hand and he was out of his stool facing the origination of the voice faster than it took Haku to blink. A second later he registered that Kubikiribōchō had disappeared in a puff of smoke and Naruto was out of sight.
Haku finally turned around. Behind them, standing in a very subtle ready stance, was a man that Zabuza had spoken of with something almost resembling respect. Tall and well built with red markings on his cheeks and spiky white hair tied back in a pony tail with two bangs framing his face. Green Shinobi cloth and mesh armor clothing covered by a red sage coat and topped off with a large scroll tied to his back and a forehead protector with horns and the Kanji for "oil" on it.
"Jiraiya no Sannin," Kisame said in a very good imitation of nonchalance, "what brings you to these parts?"
Haku looked back and forth between the two legendary Nin facing off in the middle of the street. He was out of his depth, he had no clue what to do, and just them starting to raise their killer intent at each other was making him choke and shiver. Backing off slowly, he heard a soft sound back in the direction of the ramen stand; looking back he noticed that Naruto's latest bowl of ramen that had been abandoned after one bite when Jiraiya had showed up had disappeared. That broke the spell and he couldn't help it, he face palmed.
"So, care to answer my question? Just what are you doing with Uzumaki Naruto? He disappeared almost six years ago after a traitor; long since interrogated executed, took him out of Konoha and left him for dead."
"Heh, I found the kid in the middle of the forest, completely cut up and bleeding everywhere. I decided that anyone that could take that kind of punishment and not give up and die would make an amazing apprentice, and I was right."
"So you didn't kidnap him?"
"He's happy with you?"
"Little bastard never stops smiling, no matter what kind of training I put him through."
"He's never given any indication that he wants to leave?"
"The kid could go freelance as a B-rank Nin right now and he knows it, but he still sticks around."
"Good enough for me." Jiraiya said and relaxed his stance, walking up the ramen bar with Kisame following him, he ordered while the Monster of the Mist went back to his latest, still warm, Sea Food Special.
Naruto meanwhile reappeared with his now empty ramen bowl and called for his own next serving.
Kisame looked over at the kid and had to fight back the impulse to smack him. "You brought your ramen with you?"
Naruto looked up at him as if the answer was obvious. "Well, yea. If you two were going to have an epic showdown or something I wasn't going to watch without a snack."
Jiraiya burst out laughing at the child's audacity while Kisame just grumbled about disrespectful students.
"So, Jiraiya-sama, you're not going to take the kid back by force or anything? Cause that would really put a cramp in me teaching him everything I know and unleashing him upon the world."
Jiraiya pondered this for a moment before shrugging. "I'm extremely loyal to my home, don't get me wrong, but I'm more loyal to the kid's parents when it comes down to it. Konoha let it happen, no matter the excuse, and he seems happy with you. We'll just have to talk later about a couple of requests that I'd like to make about his training before we part ways. Though you may want to think about joining up with a hidden village soon, because I'll have to report that I'd found him, and Konoha will want to get him back."
Kisame just grunted in acknowledgement.
Naruto piped up from the side. "Yea, we've been following the progress of the civil war in Kiri, once we get enough info about it we were thinking of going and pitching in."
Jiraiya looked at Kisame for conformation, the Shark-like Nin nodded, making Jiraiya nod back in turn. "From what I've gotten out of there in the past few years, the resistance is actually starting to gain ground, something about an up-and-coming Kunoichi that's really strategy savvy and really strong for her age."
"Only a family name, Terumi."
Kisame gave a short, pleased laugh. "I knew a Terumi back when I was still there before the purges started, he was a damn good Shinobi, able to use both Yōton and Futton, damn shame he's probably dead by now. Who knows, though, this kid could be his little girl."
"Ano, Kisame-sama, would I be safe going back there?" Haku asked from his reclaimed seat.
Jiraiya gave a start and looked over at the child before turning back to Kisame. "Cute kid, what's her name?"
Haku suddenly felt the inexplicable urge to form an ice knife and stab this Jiraiya.
"I am a boy, and my name is Haku!"
Jiraiya gave a start and looked back at Haku, his eyes squinting just a little bit. "Are you half and half?"
Giving off the roar of an enraged child, Haku jumped at the Gama Sennin in a cry of fury and proceeded to try his best to kill him. He promised to do the same to Naruto and Kisame when their uproarious laughter reached his ears.
The two legends and two legends in training were sitting around inside of a recently rented hotel suite, discussing Naruto's life up until that point in time, with Kisame and Jiraiya hammering out the details of a deal that they hadn't deemed necessary to reveal to the children yet.
"So, he signs it and starts to study seals in depth, sometimes going to the mountain to train with you and in return, we go to Kiri to help out with that war and try and get the resources of a Hidden Village behind us again, and you'll get off my back about him?"
Jiraiya stared back with an unusually serious expression on his face before giving a nod. "I promised his father that I'd look after him, I've obviously failed on that front but you seem to be doing just as good of a job as I could. I personally don't see a problem with the arrangement, and Hiruzen-sensei will understand. If not the worst that he'll do is try and chop off my junk."
Kisame winced and nodded his acquiescence to the plan, before standing up and offering his hand to the Sennin sitting across from him. Jiraiya followed suit and they clasped wrists, sealing the deal.
"So, now that all of the serious shit for the night is out of the way, I've got a request, Jiraiya-sama."
Jiraiya looked back at Kisame speculatively, silently inviting him to make it.
Kisame gave a huge shark grin, this one for once not threatening, and pulled out a scroll. In a puff of smoke a whole pile of mint-condition books and paraphernalia appeared on it, Kisame standing behind it with a smile as smooth as a used-car salesman's.
"Sign my Icha-Icha first edition collector's books and memorabilia!" He asked with his most inviting smile.
Jiraiya just laughed and pulled out a pen that had "Author's Friend Autograph Pen" printed on the side. "I'd be delighted to Kisame-kun; I always love meeting a fan!"
Naruto and Haku both gave of identical sighs of long suffering, and locked eyes, wondering what they must have done in past lives to deserve something like this.
"So I just sign it?"
"And then do my finger prints?"
"Damn it brat! Just do as I told you so I can teach you this and be on my way!"
"Alright alright, yeesh don't have a heart attack grandpa." He agreed, with no small amount of suspicion in his voice. Naruto knelt down next to the scroll that Jiraiya had produced via a Toad summon. Taking out a kunai he nicked his finger with it and started signing. Given his regeneration rate he'd had to cut himself six more times just to finish it all.
Jiraiya had spent the night at the same hotel as the other three, in the morning they'd all gone out to a nearby field and, after Haku had visited the site of Zabuza's cremation and been able to say his goodbyes, started training.
Off to the side Kisame was drilling Haku in what he knew, and correcting and teaching him new tricks where applicable. He had to admit, he didn't seem the type but Zabuza had apparently been a pretty good teacher. Not as good as himself, of course, but still decent nonetheless.
Naruto had already been given a beginners guide to seals, and after he'd identified and blown through everything in that and half the second beginners book just that morning, Jiraiya had given him the rest of the series for after he finished with his current volume and started him on the basics of summoning. Kisame and Haku had been originally astounded at Naruto's fast pace with seals, Kisame more-so because he knew just how hellacious that particular ninja art was to learn. After Jiraiya had explained a bit of the history of the Uzumaki family, and that his master that he'd learned the art from in that clan had made both him and Minato Namikaze, who'd in turn outstripped Jiraiya by light years, look like toddlers scrabbling around in the dark, Kisame just let it go.
"Okay, here I go." Naruto started, he formed the hand seals and started to gather Chakra. Jiraiya was suitably impressed at the amount he was able to generate so early in his life. He was even more impressed when it kept rising. When Naruto started to reach the amount of Chakra that Jiraiya actively had running through his coils when he was completely rested up Jiraiya started to freak out. Before he could stop him, it was too late.
With a cry of "Kuchiyose no Jutsu!", Naruto slammed his blood covered palm into the ground and generated a gigantic puff of smoke.
Jiraiya looked up at what he knew was coming, and paled and whimpered at the enraged yell that came forth. All he managed to squeak out was a weak "oh balls."
"JIRAIYA! WHAT IS THE MEANING OF SUMMONING ME! I THOUGHT I MADE IT CLEAR THAT YOU HAD PENANCE TO PAY AFTER YOU USED ME TO ESCAPE THE WOMEN IN TSUCHI NO KUNI!"
'Yea,' Jiraiya thought, 'I'm boned'.
High above him, Gamabunta loomed, scarred face glowering down menacingly.
A thirteen year old Naruto stood at a table in, what appeared to be, a very well maintained cave. Surrounding him were Kisame, Haku and most of the Kiri rebel faction's leadership including Ao, a young man around Naruto and Haku's age named Chōjūrō and of course the brand new leader elect, Terumi Mei. Mei was, in Naruto's educated opinion, an absolutely gorgeous girl at the age of seventeen and the size of his crush on her had become a bit of a running gag in the two years since he, Kisame and Haku had joined up with the rebels. He didn't care for a number of reasons, one being that he was raised by Kisame, if a little teasing would be able to ruffle his feathers enough to get to him in any way Kisame would probably kill him out of embarrassment himself and two, she was smoking hot! His words. It didn't hurt that, while she was too young for him to entertain any notions about her, Kisame had agreed wholeheartedly.
Haku just blushed and looked down demurely whenever she talked directly to him. He was polite like that. Or it could be the massive amount of cleavage she regularly showed in her normal attire.
Naruto just took every opportunity to hug her that she could. Mei herself didn't do anything to deter this by calling Naruto the "cutest young man she had ever seen". Chōjūrō didn't like Naruto too much.
"So," Naruto started off, "this is it?"
Nodding her head in acknowledgement, Mei turned to Kisame. "Are you prepared for your part in the assault?"
Kisame just gave his usual shark-like smile. "Leave everything to me, Mei-chan; I've been doing this longer than you've been alive."
That was another thing Mei liked about Kisame, he never commented on her increasing age in a negative way. Giving the big man a pat on the arm she turned to the three younger boys at the table, though she guessed that they couldn't really be called boys anymore, seeing as how they'd all fought and killed their own fare share of Shinobi over the years. "And what about you three? Are you ready for this as well?"
Naruto spoke up before Chōjūrō could even get a word in; much to the young man's consternation. "You bet Mei-chan!" He said giving her a big thumbs up and receiving a glower from Chōjūrō. "You can count on us to do anything!" Haku and Chōjūrō voiced their agreement a moment later, both blushing and looking away as Mei stepped right in front of them with a soft smile on her face, she furthered their embarrassment, and made Naruto's day, as she leaned down and gave them all a kiss on the forehead, leaving behind a blue imprint of her lips from her favored shade of lipstick.
Straightening up she beamed at them. "You three are the future of the Kiri no Shinobigatana Shichinin Shū, I have high hopes for your futures."
All three seemed to glow with the praise and stood up just that much straighter.
Turning to Ao she gave him a firm nod. "We go to face our destiny tonight, Ao, are you ready for this? It may just end up with the complete destruction of the rebellion, and this is the last chance to see if Yagura really is under a Genjutsu."
"I'm sure he is, but I'm equally as sure that we won't be able to break it, can you bring yourself to kill him if we need too?" Receiving a firm nod to his question he looked around at the rest of the gathered commanders. "Well then, let's get this show on the road." With that the various Nin scattered, going about their assigned tasks. Waiting until they were alone, he couldn't stop himself from asking, "what do you think of Naruto's command potential?"
Having expected this question, Mei simply grinned at Ao for a while before responding. "I believe that Naruto may just be the most powerful Nin in Kirigakure no Sato in a few year's time. That is if we don't all die tonight, of course."
Naruto, Haku and Chōjūrō had been on their "sabotage and distraction" mission for about an hour and a half so far, their job was to slow down any reinforcements that may or may not be on their way to assist the Yondaime Mizukage in his confrontation with the two supreme leaders of the resistance. So far they'd managed to put all of the itching powder inside of the ANBU uniforms and masks, disabled the electrical alarm system and put padding on the manual bells so that they wouldn't make nearly the required amount of noise to put the rest of the village on high alert. The main reason behind such methods was to leave village infrastructure intact, and to keep as many Kiri Shinobi alive as possible. Not all of them prescribed to Yagura's ideology, but if you didn't want to get executed for dereliction of duty in a Hidden Village, you generally did what you were told.
"I can't believe we're doing something so childish to slow down Yagura's reinforcements." Apparently Chōjūrō didn't think much of Naruto's plan. Or the fact that he'd somehow been able to convince Mei-sama of it in such a short amount of time.
"Ah come on Chōjūrō-kun, you've just never tried to fight with itching powder in your uniform before, have you?" Naruto wheedled with a mischievous grin on his face. "I know for a fact that Haku-chan has, why don't you tell him about it Haku-chan."
Haku, seemingly ignoring select parts of Naruto's little speech just gripped his hands into fists before forcing himself to relax; Naruto had promised never to bring that up again. "I have had the displeasure of being on the receiving end of one of Naruto's…gags…it was one of the most unpleasant experiences of my life, trying to fight with itching powder in my battle-kimono." He didn't finish the story and tell Chōjūrō that he'd been forced to strip in the middle of the village that they'd been staying in just to get away from the powder.
Naruto had to interject here. "You know how weird it is to be best friends with a boy that, when he's wearing a kimono, is more attractive than half of the women you meet? Of course he has absolutely nothing on Mei-chan." Naruto just trailed off with a dreamy look in his eyes, receiving a growl of annoyance from Chōjūrō.
Coughing, Haku brought the conversation back on track. "Yes, well, Mei-sama's beauty aside, fighting when encumbered by itching powder is one of the hardest things I've ever had to do, you get sloppy and make so many mistakes that you might as well be standing still."
Chōjūrō looked over at Haku, he knew how skilled both boys were, they'd trained together enough for him to be well aware of their combat prowess. Haku was an extremely skilled and precise combatant; almost nothing would distract him from a fight so he'd be willing to take his word for it. And he didn't want to admit it, but he was somewhat scared of Naruto. Anyone raised and trained by the "Kirigakure no Kaijin" was someone to be treated with caution and respect. Even if he did act like a complete goofball half of the time.
"So!" Naruto chirped, "we've got the alarms and the uniforms, my Kage Bunshin just finished super gluing their Kunai and Shuriken together, did we miss anything?"
"The traps, and I still don't see why my Mizu Bunshin couldn't have done the gluing, they knew exactly where to go."
Naruto got in an instructor stance, Gods Chōjūrō hated the instructor stand, like he was any older than him! "Because Chōjūrō-kun, Mizu Bunshin leaves water behind, Kage Bunshin leaves smoke. Yours would have been noticed that much sooner by the patrols. Speaking of, we've gotta scram before said patrols find us, so let's go!"
Chōjūrō just gave another frustrated growl, accepting the sympathizing pat on the back that Haku gave him with a grateful nod.
All that would ever signify that the three had been there at all was some itching powder, some padding, some cunningly laid and annoying yet non-lethal traps, a cut wire and empty glue bottles in the trash.
Kisame would never admit it out loud, not with copious amounts of torture at least. That momentarily made him pause mid killing-stroke in amusement, before the gurgling of an unclean kill made him look down and finish the job. But he was enjoying being back in his homeland. It didn't hurt that the Mizukage-presumptive was a scrumptious looking girl, he had to completely ignore the fact that said scrumptious looking girl just might be able to kill him, but he hadn't realized just how much he missed the mist shrouded lands he'd been born to.
Looking down at his latest kill, a man called Yama, or Yamo or Yam something he nodded in satisfaction. He didn't care about the guy's name, he just cared that the guy had been supportive of the genocide going on in Mizu no Kuni. Now, Kisame was, as mentioned before, very supportive of the "survival of the fittest" mentality, that didn't mean, however, that he'd go out and kill someone just because they couldn't defend themselves against him; there was absolutely no point in killing the helpless.
Plus he liked quite a few people with Kekkei Genkai, Haku and Mei chief among them, but he honestly didn't mind the rest of the resistance that possessed them either. He got along with a fair number of them, they weren't mewling little sycophants trying to get on his good side, and they were actually standing up for what they believed in and were extremely loyal, if not to the current Mizukage, then to the people of Kiri as a whole. Kisame could appreciate loyalty; it was what got him into the Kiri no Shinobigatana Shichinin Shū in the first place. Executing traitors was a bit of specialty of his. He'd also admired Yagura for quite a while for his hard line against traitors. It was just too bad that the man had to turn out bat shit insane.
Making his way out the window and on to his next and final target of the night, his head snapped up as what could only be described as a pillar of demonic energy shot up in the distance. He knew from the maps that everyone had memorized that that was where Mei and Ao were engaging Yagura. Judging the distance he shrugged it off, if they were dead or fatally injured then there was nothing he would be able to do about it in the amount of time it would take him to get there, and Naruto, Haku and Chōjūrō were all much closer anyway. Unwrapping Samehada he decided that she'd been patient enough and he'd had enough of stealth for the night; she could feast on what little chakra the next fat civilian would possess.
The three teen's heads all snapped up in unison as shouts of alarm and clamoring came from behind them in the compound that they had just vacated. Looking at each other they all gave identical no-nonsense nods, Chōjūrō and Naruto completely ignoring their semi-rivalry before they all sped off in the same direction.
They had a future Mizukage to look after.
Landing in a clearing with, what appeared to be, a shallow smoking crater and a softly sizzling skeleton inside of it Naruto immediately rushed over to assist Mei in standing up, Haku doing the same for Ao while Chōjūrō secured the perimeter.
Naruto broke the silence. "Mei-sama, what happened here? Is that all that's left of Yagura?"
Noting the boy's use of the honorific and his ability to go from the carefree kidder to professional Shinobi in the blink of an eye, Ao nodded in satisfaction and spoke up for them. "Hai Naruto-kun, Yagura committed suicide, he released the Sanbi from its seal."
This was enough of a shock for Naruto that he almost dropped Kubikiribōchō before catching himself and steadying his grip, he glanced up at Mei who was leaning on his shoulder for support. "Is that true Mei-sama? It's not that I don't trust Ao's opinion, but bijū tend to be very tricky business."
Mei finally glanced over at Naruto; she gave a firm nod and a small "thank you" before taking her own weight again. "Hai, we were finally able to dispel the Genjutsu that had been placed on him during our encounter, when everything came rushing back to him, all of the slaughters that he'd ordered he released the Sanbi and killed himself. It looked to be one of the most painful experiences anyone had ever undertaken."
Chōjūrō spoke up from where he was watching their backs. "That doesn't surprise me Mei-sama, he was old enough that his bijū would be completely intertwined with his chakra network, that would be most excruciating for it to be removed, voluntarily or not."
Naruto was forced to agree with the intelligent young man's observation. "I'm already completely integrated with the Kyūbi in me, I'm so used to it that I don't think I'd ever be able to imagine what he went through in that moment. But we must get away from here, Mei-sama; we need to consolidate our hold on the village as soon as possible."
Nodding her agreement Mei sent the signal for their forces to move into the city on her radio headset before a sound behind them made them all turn and fall into a ready stance.
"So, we're done with this whole rebellion business then?" It was just Kisame.
Relaxing their guard now that there was yet another Kage level Shinobi in the area, that was on their side at least, they all formed a loose circle around Mei and began escorting her to the village.
"Looks like it Big and Blue, you ready to be a responsible member of a Ninja Village again?" The look of horror on Kisame's face made Naruto almost lose control of himself with laughter. He was promptly propelled forward thanks to Kisame's "Educational Palm Technique".
"Brat! Don't try and scare me into going Nukenin again, because I totally will!"
"Mei-chan! He hit me!"
Mei just looked at a recovering Naruto with a serene smile. "Sometimes you deserve to be hit, Naruto-kun."
Mei gave in to his cuteness and hugged his face into her massive cleavage.
Naruto gave a fuming Chōjūrō a thumbs-up behind Mei's back before wrapping his arms around her to return the hug.
The three new members and member presumptive (Haku) of the new generation, and in Kisame's case reinstated generation, of the Seven Swordsmen were sitting around a table in a conference room along with Ao, who was the new head of the Oinin division, and Terumi Mei, newly instated Godaime Mizukage. It had taken about a week for all of the fighting to die down in Kirigakure no Sato proper, but for a coup it went surprisingly efficient with relatively few hiccups along the way. They'd been all called here for some news that Ao apparently had.
Looking at the head of the Oinin, Mei decided to get the meeting moving. She may be solidly the new Mizukage, but she still had many projects to oversee before the village and country as a whole finally settled down. "What was it you wished to share with us, Ao?"
Ao sighed before gathering his thoughts and deciding to just go for it. "Well, after we put out the calls for displaced citizens of Mizu no Kuni to return we got some pretty surprising news. The Uchiha clan was wiped out in Konoha three days ago."
A thundering silence was all that greeted him before, like so many times previously, Naruto broke it with a well thought out, intelligent conclusion.
"Well, sucks for them. What's for lunch?"
Alright, there's the prologue. Not many changes, but the ones that were made are pretty subtle and hit on things that I'd skipped over before that didn't make sense after I went back over it, so they can be pretty important. Read, review and tell me what you think. Chapter two is already in my drabble file, but I'll be expanding it and changing some pretty important facts before I post it as the official second chapter, some things pertaining to Naruto's family and the situation in Kiri in general.
ALSO: I know that Kubikiri already has a special ability, it repairs itself with the iron in the blood of people it cuts into. I think this ability is fucking stupid, and it will not be in my fic. In fact quite a few of the Seven Swordsman swords are fucking stupid, and I either won't bother with Kiri trying to return them or they will break at some point in the fic, making it so the village has needs to procure new ones. That or I'll just change them outright like I did with Kubikiri.
Honestly, a sewing needle sword? The LAST thing any swordsman wants is something trailing behind them that can get caught and hung up on something to either slow them down or make them lose their grip on the sword, its got to be the stupidest idea Kishimoto has come up with since Sharingan God Power Number Twelve, or whatever they're on now.