All That's Old Is New Again
When Naruto woke up, it was to the face of a six year old Orochimaru.
That well and truly scared the fuck out of him.
He responded immediately, unleashing a battle cry and attacking. Biased observers might have called it a girlish shriek, but said observes would have had a critical lack of faith in Uzumaki Naruto. It was most definitely a battle cry; there was just something wrong with his voice.
He didn't have time to worry about it, though, because a more pressing issue. He'd swung his right fist at the miniature Snake Sannin's face…and he'd missed completely. Somehow, it had fallen short, as if he'd misjudged the distance between them.
Orochimaru looked at him with disdain.
"Dobe, this is your fault." He said.
Naruto immediately wanted to punch him in the face.
He blinked. He'd know that sudden desire to inflict bodily harm anywhere.
"Teme? Is that you?" He asked.
Orochimaru – no; Sasuke simply sneered.
"Holy Shit, it is you. You look…like Orochimaru." He said. "Only tiny. And…"
Naruto trailed off when Sasuke lifted a hand-mirror, showing him his reflection.
"And I look like Jiraiya! What the hell!" Naruto exclaimed, swiping the mirror from Sasuke.
"You did something wrong." Sasuke stated matter-of-factly. "We've been sent back in time, but we went too far back. We're both six years old and we've just passed our genin exams. And no, it's not just our bodies that changed; the faces of the Fourth and Fifth aren't on the mountains anymore and the Third's looks new."
Naruto was in the process of panicking, but he did his best to suppress the feeling. Now wasn't the time.
"We're genin? Already?" He asked.
Sasuke frowned at him.
"While you were asleep, I've been busy. It's the day after the Genin Exam and we were both on the list under Sarutobi Hiruzen. The third member of our team is, naturally, Tsunade."
"How do you know that?" He wondered.
"I snuck into the Academy."
Naruto blinked again.
"In case you didn't notice, we're in the bodies of Orochimaru and Jiraiya when they were children. I don't know about you, but I have no idea how Orochimaru acted as a kid. Did Jiraiya tell you all the details of his childhood while you were training with him? About when he was six years old or younger?"
Naruto was silent at that.
"I didn't think so. I couldn't really go around and ask people how I was supposed to act, either, so I snuck into the Academy to get my records. Here." Sasuke handed him a small stack of paper. "That's your file. I copied everything important. I couldn't take the actual file, so it's not perfect, but it'll have to do."
Naruto took the papers and quickly began to flip through them.
"You make it sound like we'll be going under cover." He said distractedly.
"Do you know how to get back to the future?" Sasuke asked bluntly.
He froze at that.
"Yeah, I didn't think so."
The former Sharingan User turned and began walking away.
"Where are you going?"
"To see what I can do with this body. We've been stuck into little children and have been reduced to genin-level ability at best, and in, oh, two hours we're going to go fight the Third Hokage at his prime."
Naruto sat silently for a moment before leaping out of bed and scrambling after his friend.
Naruto and Sasuke stood in one of the training grounds of the Academy. It was one of the few that were open to anyone at any time. The equipment was poor, the area wasn't well tended, and it wasn't very large, but since they couldn't get into any of the good training grounds since they weren't even genin it would have to do.
"So…" Naruto began. "What do we got?"
Sasuke frowned down at his hands.
"I'm…close to average for a genin, with is pretty impressive for a six year old, I guess. According to my records, I have Henge, Kawarimi, and Bunshin, but I could probably use a few other E Rank jutsu without drawing suspicion. Nawanuke is the only other jutsu of that Rank that I know, though. Using anything higher could be suspicious, so I'll stick with those for now." He suddenly scowled. "Of course, I don't have my Sharingan. I don't think my affinity is Lightning anymore, either."
Naruto winced at that.
"Look, Sasuke…I don't have a way back yet but-"
"I figure I should be the bearer of bad news." Sasuke interrupted. "You don't have the Kyuubi or your massive chakra supply anymore. So even if you did have a technique that could warp the fabric of space and time and cast us back into the future, we probably couldn't pull it off."
Naruto fell silent at that.
"We'll just have to manage. We went back to far, but we can still change things, I suppose. At least until we figure something out."
"So…Henge, Kawarimi, and Bunshin, huh? Against the Third Hokage? Man, this is gonna suck." Naruto said. "Well, on the bright side, Ero-sennin said that his team had the Bell Test, too. So all we need to do is show teamwork, right?"
"Passing shouldn't be a problem." He said. "I'm more worried about what comes after that. Orochimaru wasn't really big about telling me about his life as a genin, so I have no idea what to do. We'll just have to do what we think is right, which is fine, since that was the idea of coming back…but I'm worried how far spread the changes could become."
Naruto shuffled for a bit, realizing Sasuke was right; he had no idea what he was supposed to do as a miniature Jiraiya.
"I'm sure it'll all work out somehow." He said after a moment. "We'll make it work out."
Later, Naruto and Sasuke stood beside a confident looking Tsunade. The watched as Sarutobi set a clock as Kakashi had done years before. Or decades in the future. Whatever.
"Ok, it's set for noon." The cheerful looking Third said. It seems even now he was fond of children. Your task is to take these from me before noon. The one who doesn't get a bell gets no lunch either. I'll tie you to a stump and eat your in front of you."
Suddenly, his cheerfulness was somewhat off-putting. Still Naruto and Sasuke knew this song and dance, so they were just surprised that the 'eat your lunch in front of you' hadn't been something Kakashi had made up.
Apparently, dickishness was traditional.
"You only need to get one bell." He said. "But since there are only two, one of you will definitely be tied to a stump. And that person fails and will be sent back to the Academy. You can use whatever you have; you won't win unless you come at me with intent to kill."
Last time around, Naruto and Sakura had commented on that, since none of them had really known what a Jounin could really do.
This time, no one said anything. Sasuke and Naruto were well aware this guy could backhand Jounin into orbit if he felt like it and Tsunade was related to the previous Hokages so she probably knew what that title meant as well.
Sarutobi smiled at their silence.
Sasuke reacted first, throwing a smoke bomb to the ground, grabbing Tsunade, and leaping away, Naruto following a step after. He landed when they were out of sight, covering Tsunade's mouth.
If this was a real fight, he probably would have tried to go further into the forest, but Sarutobi wasn't trying to kill them and it's not like they could actually escape from him anyway, so it didn't matter.
Without moving his hand, he quickly began to speak, mostly because Tsunade was beginning to look angry.
"Let's get the obvious out of the way; he's the Hokage, we're genin, and we have no chance." He said before releasing her. She immediately moved away, turning to keep her eyes on him, but she thankfully remained silent. "In one-on-one fights, we have no chance. In a three-on-one fight, we still have no chance. If he doesn't want use to get the bells, we won't get them, and that's that."
She frowned but didn't refute the point.
"There has to be more to this test. He'll pass us if we do a good enough job, or if we do something right, or something."
"What do you purpose?" Tsunade asked.
"Work with us." Naruto asked. "If nothing else, it might be a bit less humiliating when he beats us."
Here frown deepened, but after a moment, she sighed.
"Okay. But what do we do about the bells? There are only two of them."
"You think we'll actually get the bells? Against the Hokage?" He asked, smirking.
She sighed again and shook her head.
"I hope your right about him passing us if we do a good job." She said.
Their plan was simple, simply because they didn't have that much to work with and they knew they couldn't actually beat their opponent. Also, Naruto and Sasuke were aware that they had already passed.
Now they just had to endure until Sarutobi said enough was enough.
Naruto created two Bunshin and sent them towards Sarutobi. The Third took a single glance at them before dropping his eyes to their feet. Seeing no shadows, he ignored them in favor of looking towards the trees the clones had come from.
And there he saw Jiraiya swing a windmill shuriken at him. He absently leaned to the side, letting it sweep past him. There was something wrong with this picture, he felt.
Did Jiraiya even bring a windmill suriken?
Sarutobi was pretty sure he hadn't, and so he wasn't that surprised when he heard the shuriken transform back into Jiraiya behind him. He stepped to the side, dodging the thrown kunai, still pondering the situation.
There were two Jiraiya with physical presence, plus two clones that were probably here to confuse things. He reached out with his senses and found the explination.
The Jiraiya in the tree was Orochimaru and the Jiraiya behind him was the real Jiraiya.
Sarutobi was a bit happy they'd decided to work together, but where was Tsunade.
The kunai Jiraiya had throw landed in the ground-
And in a flicker of motion native to the Kawarimi, it was replaced with another Jiraiya, who he identified as Tsunade. The third genin immediately brought her hands together into the seals of Ram, Snake, and Tiger, creating two Bunshin of her own.
Sarutobi felt a smile tugging at his lips as two genin and four clones surrounded him. The one in the middle in front of him was Tsunade, the one behind him and to the left was Jiraiya.
The only question was…
Would Orochimaru be joining the fun?
There was a sudden whistle and all the Jiraiya's immediately backed off. As soon as they were out of range, a rain of shuriken descended on Sarutobi.
Who promptly turned into a log.
He reappeared behind Orochimaru, who was already on the Ox Seal of Kawarimi. He allowed him to finish before attacking, just to see what he would do.
He ended up striking one of the shuriken that had just been tossed at him.
"Hm…" Sarutobi hummed in amusement.
Now there were seven perfect copies of Jiraiya in the middle of the training area and with three seals, two more appeared.
Sarutobi was proud of his team, for he was already thinking of them that way. They were already working well together. He wasn't sure if they'd understood the purpose of this test or just banded together out of necessity, but the results spoke for themselves.
He was satisfied that this test was over, so he put his hands together in a Ram seal and used Shunshin.
Jiraiya found himself flying through the air a moment later, but he didn't realize his sensei had thrown him until he crashed into Tsunade, dispelling her Henge. Orochimaru had just enough time to widen his eyes before Sarutobi appeared in front of him, grabbed him by the face, and tossed him into his teammates, where they fell in a buddle of sprawled limbs. The immediately tried to recover, but their actions merely hindered each other.
"You pass." He said, looking down at the defeated genin. "Starting tomorrow, Team Seven will begin its duties!"
Tsunade looked up at him from the bottom of the pile.
"Yay." She said, drily.
"That went as well as could be expected." Sasuke said later. Now that they were officially genin, they could use one of the better training areas, though those limited to higher ranking ninja were, naturally, still restricted.
Naruto nodded at that as he finished his stretches. Now that they didn't need to worry about exhausting themselves before their Genin Exam, they could actually train. Earlier, they had just tested how good their bodies were.
First things first; tree climbing.
"I'll go first." Naruto said, slowly walking towards the tree. Normally he'd just run up it, sure that he'd be fine, but that was with his own body. As a six year old, if something went wrong and he fell, he'd prefer not to fall too far.
It turned out to be a good move, as the surface of the tree's truck exploded and he was thrown away.
"Too much chakra." Sasuke stated the obvious. "Well, these bodies do weigh a lot less then our own. Let me try."
Sasuke tried, carefully controlling his chakra, but he ended up not using enough. He took a step onto the tree and had to catch himself as he began to slide down it.
"Differnet bodies, different affinities, and different amounts of chakra…this is going to take some getting used to."
In the end, they managed to do it in one night, thanks to their experience with the technique. It had taken them awhile to adjust to their new weights, but they'd managed.
They showed up at the training ground exhausted, though. Having the chakra capacity of a six year old was something they were going to have to do something about.
Until then, they'd have to make do with using what they had precisely.
But they had shown up, ready for the first mission of the team they knew would become famous across the continent. Mainly because they knew from experience that it would be anticlimactic.
Sasuke held the watering can casually as Naruto weeded the garden nearby and Tsunade planted seeds. They were taking turns with the jobs and Sasuke had already weeded and planted.
They were ninja, if very young ninja, so this wasn't hard by any stretch. But it was boring and it was taking a long time.
Still, Naruto had experience with gardens and didn't mind the work. And both Naruto and Sasuke had been through so much worse than boring gardening that they just didn't care. Tsunade didn't seem to mind, but then, she was the granddaughter of the First.
Their sensei was off to the side chatting happily with their employer.
Two hours later, they were collecting their pay.
All in all, the first mission of the Sannin passed without incident.
"Good job, Team Seven." Sarutobi-sensei said after they followed him back to their training ground. "Now that you've completed your first mission as Genin, I think you deserve a reward."
He held up his hands in the Ram Seal before flickering out of existence and reappearing a ways to the side.
"This is the Shunshin. It's a D-Rank technique and it's expected for most genin to learn it soon after graduating and, since it's such a useful technique, I'll teach it to you today. As you saw, the Ram seal is the only one needed to perform it, so it's actually simpler than most of the jutsu you learnt at the Academy. To use it, you simply need to vitalize your body with chakra to allow yourself to move quickly. You should all be able to learn it pretty easily, but I'll be here just in case something goes wrong."
With their recent chakra control training and Tsunade's natural skill, they all managed to perform it properly after just one or two tries.
But Sarutobi had made them perform it more than that. Indeed. He made them Shunshin from one side of the training field to the other and back again. Then he made them do it again. And again. For the better part of an hour, he made them practice that one technique.
He probably would have kept them at it, but Naruto and Sasuke, who'd trained late yesterday, gardened today, and then trained more with their sensei, had looked ready to drop in exhaustion.
As the two boys dragged themselves home, Naruto spoke up.
"We should work more on our chakra control. I'm pretty sure I started using too much after the first forty Shunshins."
Sasuke honestly wasn't sure if he was joking or not, but he groaned either way.
"I'm not going to try walking on water in this state; I can barely walk on the ground and drowning to death because I was too tired to swim would be the most humiliating death ever."
"What am I, an idiot? Don't answer that." He said when Sasuke opened his mouth. "I know we're in no shape to walk on water, but we should still practice. There are ways that take less energy, anyway; remember the Leaf Concentration Exercise?"
Sasuke stared at him blankly for a minute before remembering something.
"That thing from the Academy?" He asked. That seemed so long ago…
"Yeah! You just put a leaf on your forehead and concentrate your chakra onto it."
"…Isn't that kind of rendered obsolete by Tree Climbing and Water Walking?"
"You'd be surprised; that thing helped me master the Rasengan."
Sasuke wanted to further question the usefulness of that old technique, but he honestly didn't have the energy.
It's not like he was against training, anyway; he was just exhausted. And if it really did help…
"Fine; if it means I can go home, I'll walk around with a leaf on my forehead." Sasuke conceded with a sigh.