Somewhere outside Naruto's nice, warm, cozy, bed; there was a sound.
It was a bad sound. Something he knew from all his nearly ten years that was a bad sound.
"Kokekokkoo!" Ugh the fucking rooster! He rolled over in his bed and reached for his work clothes. It wouldn't be very long before...
[BANG BANG BANG!]
"Up and at 'em, gaki! The chores don't do themselves!" At a hundred and two years old, the man was still more active than most of the little farming village the blond and his relatives' farm resided. And now the old fool was banging on his door not ten seconds after the first rooster call of the day.
A small, almost antique clock sat ticking by his bedside read out in the very faint almost non existent morning light somewhere around five eleven in the morning. He shrugged on his work clothes, heavy overalls that would help keep him safe, and headed for the dinning room table. Uzumaki Hitori was already scraping the last of his meal from his plate with a slice of bread when he arrived. His wife, Uzumaki Matoko, smiled warmly at her grand nephew, then slide a hearty bowl of fish, rice and another smaller bowl of miso. Hitori looked at Naruto's plate with undisguised disgust.
"It's a wonder he's so thin and short, you feeding him that little bit o nothing everyday. Boy needs to eat hearty!" Hitori soon took a barely cooled frying pan to her husband's thick head.
"You know a boy his age should eat healthy! Not your greasy ham and eggs and bacon slop you force me to make for sixty years, you old fart! It's a wonder why you haven't dropped dead with your heart clogged full of pig!"
"Bah, that quack doc doesn't know shit about a farmer's needs. Good food and lots of it make the man. Boy can't work if he's just nibbling fish bait and rice." It was by now, Naruto had finished his breakfast, thanked the squabbling pair and headed out for his daily chores.
The air was brisk, given the early November air, and the fields of wheat and barely were ripe and swaying like an ocean tinted by the rising sun. Naruto paused to watch a moment before a massive clucking and feathery mass rushed past him, reminding him of his duty. With a sigh, Naruto headed for the imposing structure looming before him in the dark. The Uzumaki Homestead was one of few in the area with a rather spacious barn, the sort that held livestock and equipment alike. Unlatching the large swing doors the warm but odious air from inside burst forth like an angry excrement filled devil, enveloping the boy. However he shrugged it off like always, merely commenting to himself the smell seemed lessened today, probably due to the cold air's effect in clogging his nostrils with snot. The barn was a four story affair with only two ladders that headed up to the upper most level were for the weirdest reason Hitori would put the grain that fed most of the livestock. But first thing was first. He had to greet one of his dearest friends.
"Hey girl." Kage was an older horse, the oldest one not only at the Uzumaki residence but the entire village. A good portion of the horses found in the village of Kamenokō were her offspring and every one knew her by the coat that gave her name. She was black, with only a barest of white along her snout. Despite nearing the big 20 mark she had a spring in her step and a eager whinny when Naruto called out to her, trotting over to nibble affectionately at his hair. He laughed rubbing her neck and down her side a moment before letting her out of her pin and out into the pasture set aside for the grazing animals. Once Kage and the rest were removed from their stalls Naruto sighed as he reached for the all to familiar brown stained shovel.
"Ahh man, this is the job I hate the most." He grumbled out, before pauses as he shifted his eyes too and fro. He was alone. Looked like he could skip it today. He grinned moving to sit the shovel down when a large hand grabbed his head.
"You skippin' on chores again, gaki?" Naruto sweated realizing he had been caught.
"N-n-no SIR!" He re-gripped the shovel, trying to control his shaking. Hitori merely gave a knowing eyebrow raise, grunted, then turned to head out of the barn. Naruto's tense shoulders fell as he gave a massive sigh of relief. "S-scary." Taking another deep breath that misted in the rapidly cooling air he turned to the first stall to begin shoveling out the night's feces. After all, it was just an average day, in the average life, of a Jinchuriki farm boy.
Chapter two: An Average Day in the Average Life of a Jinchuriki Farm Boy
All rights to Naruto characters and some of the plot to Masashi Kishimoto, the rest to me.
He was hen pecked until he made the long trip all the way up to the top of the barn, opening up a bag and sending a few scoops of feed out into the yard through the crane door. He paused for the moment to watch the sun rise. From here, Naruto felt like he was at the top of the world, the flatland that made up the food belt of the Land of fire stretched out before him, with only a few trees dotting up over the forests that surrounded the many farms and ranches out, the sun had just risen above the treeline and bathed the eight year old in it's warm rays, a staunch difference to the brisk wind nipping at him from the opening. Pulling back he began shoveling the feed into many large funnels that fed into the lower levels. It was time consuming and the sun was fully over the treeline by the time the final funnel had been filled to the line listed.
"OI NARUTO!" Naruto grinned and hit the release sending the feed down the shoots to the individual stall's troughs before sticking his head out the crane door. Far below him a brown haired figure waved.
"SAYU-CHAN! Ohayou !" Tsukinaru Sayuri was his best friend, given there was only a week between their births, her being a week younger than him, she was the only one remotely near his age in the village, the closest being her older brother, Kenji, at 16. It also helped that she was virtually his next door neighbor with her farm just on the other side of the treeline and stream to the south. Dressed in her usual hand me down overalls and tomboyish ponytail she could easily pass for a boy their age, almost a carbon copy of Kenji. Grabbing the milk bucket he lunged from the door and onto the rope he let his gloves take the brunt of him sliding down the length before dropping the rest of the ten feet to land beside her.
"Naruto, careful! You don't want to end up like you did when you were five remember!" Naruto's grin faltered a little under his worried friend before he shoved his hands into his pockets.
"I remember Sayu-chan. I'll be careful. Ohayou."
"Ohayou." She was smiling again, thoroughly confusing him, like she had been a lot lately. "If you can, do you want to hang out?" Naruto's fox-like grin threatened to split his face in half. Seeing his uncle walking out of the barn he called out to the older man.
"Ne, Oji-san! Can I go hang out with Sayu-chan? I promise I'll come and take care of my chores when I get back!"
"So you haven't finished yer chores, gaki?" Hitori paused with the mule cart he was taking towards the field be begin preparing for harvest. "Just because it's nearing you two chibi-chan's birthdays doesn't mean I can let you slack off. When you finish your chores you can hang out with your girlfriend, Boya."
Naruto and Sayuri both choked and looked at each other, before turning away blushing. Hitori snorted, still waiting for Naruto to reply when a voice broke over them.
"Go have fun, I think I can handle milking the cows for a day, I'll get the other half of your chores, but just this once." Matoko called out, her apron covered dress contrasting to the old mud strewn boots that kept her feet dry as she walked over to the trio, a warm smile on her face. "Hello Sayuri-chan."
"Aunty." Sayuri smiled giving the woman who had been like a grandmother to her a hug. "I'm sorry for pushing but today's the last day before we begin harvesting so it'd be weeks before I could see Naruto again... so..." She trailed off before giving a small blush and taking Naruto's hand and running off with him. "THANKS!" Matoko chuckled.
"She's so smitten with him." Hitori grunted at the remark then watched the blonde and brunette race off.
"My old man would'a tanned my hide had I skipped out o work like that."
"Don't you touch a hair on that boy's hind end unless you want to sleep in the barn tonight." Hitori raised an eyebrow as he eyed the barn a moment, then shrugged.
"A day off is good for anybody... every now and then." Matoko merely gave him a smile that made the old fool grin in reply before she turned to pick up the bucket tossed over by her overanxious grand nephew and headed for the cows.
Sayuri had been rather quiet, just doodling aimlessly in the dirt with a twig. Naruto was just content to be around her, always glad of her company. Of course lately, she had been more reserved than she use to, in fact not that he really minded but somewhere playing together had turned into hanging out between their farms by the stream, talking a bit, usually boring things that he wouldn't like. Even in the summer she refused to go skinny dipping in the stream like they use to, and had gotten angry at him when he started doing just that earlier that year. He probably still had the bump to prove it.
"Ne, Naruto." She called out suddenly interrupting his thoughts.
"Un." He grunted, glancing over at Sayuri's calm face as she continued to poke about in the loose sand beside the stream.
"Do you think you should have let Aunty and Uncle take care of your work? I mean... I'm glad you wanted to spend time with me and all, but to blow them off like that. Aren't you worried they might croak on you? They ARE older than anyone else in the village, after all." The thought struck a nerve in Naruto and he grunted his disapproval at her suggestion.
"Bah, they're Uzumaki, like I told ya before, we have it in our blood to live a long long time. It's why I'm so short, my body ages slower than other people." That HAD to be the reason, he refused thinking he would be short forever. "I wouldn't be surprised if they lived to be two hundred!"
"So what are you going to do when you grow up, still work on the farm as a hand?" She paused and gave him her patented smirk. "That is IF you ever grow up." He stuck her tongue at her, proving her point before replying.
"I'm going to inherit the farm, and when it's mine I'll make sure we're the best one in the village, like my Aunt and Uncle before me. And I'll take care of Oji and Obasan when they get old... Well older for all they have done since they took me in."
"But other than that, is there anything you'd want to do when you grow up?" Sayuri looked away, her face red. "You know... get married or something. Be a husband."
"Huh? Husband? Me?" Naruto blinked a little then scratched at his chin. "I dunno, I've never really thought about it... I suppose I'd probably get around to it, but that's like way in the future. Haha. Besides who would I have to marry? All there is is you, and you're such a tomboy, I can't see you being wife like at all!" Naruto laughed, expecting his usual barb to bounce off her like usual.
"Naruto..." Sayuri growled, her shaking fist clenching before giving him a vicious left hook. "EAT SHIT AND DIE TWICE, YOU JERK!" Despite the blow knocking him off his feet, he wasn't hard pressed to see the tears glisten against the sunlight as she turned and ran towards her home.
"Sayu... chan." Rubbing his cheek from the already bruising hit, Naruto tried to understand the dropping feeling in his stomach as she disappeared into the line of trees.
It was a solemn Naruto who returned to the farm, his mind heavy with Sayuri's words. He pushed open the creaky swinging mesh door that kept the bugs from the house open and slipped inside. He didn't notice his Aunt until she was right behind him, his mind elsewhere.
"Oh welcome home Naruto-chan, did you and Sayuri already say goodbye? Why is your cheek bruised, did you fall down?"
"We were talking when I called her a tomboy like I always do, but instead of laughing like she use to she hit me and ran home crying."
"Naruto-chan. You have to remember that Sayuri is a young lady who is about to turn into a young woman, and that makes them want to start doing things differently, especially with young men who they like."
"Like..." It was even said differently than he was use to hearing it said, and this was his Aunty. Apparently all women were hard to understand at times. "So because we're best friends she is gonna change the most around me?" Matoko sighed at the thick head of her grand nephew.
"Well, yes in a way. It's not my place to say it, but Sayuri see's you the most as a young man, so she wants to both impress you and show you that she's not a tomboy but a young woman. So you bringing it up probably upset her a lot." Naruto looked down and Matoko's heart went out for the lad. Sitting down she pulled him close and held him, like she had all those times he had injured himself helping out on the farm. He was hurt, but for the first time since the Uzumaki's talk about his parents, it was not physical. The boy she was raising was taking his first steps into adulthood. It made her sad, her little boy was growing up, but happy despite the nature of reason he was looking past himself. "Don't be too worried, there will be times Sayuri-chan will be easier to upset, she won't feel too good so she might take it out on you, but don't ever let her walk away mad at you. She probably doesn't mean it"
"Is that what Kenji called the Monthly Bitch?" Matoko's eye twitched.
"Is that what he calls it?"
"Uh huh. One day he was at the village sleeping on a bench. I asked him what was wrong and he said both Kurumi-san and Sayu-chan were on their Monthly Bitch." Kurumi was Sayuri and Kenji's mother.
"Naruto never use the word bitch again. And it seems I will have to have a... TALK with Kenji-kun." Naruto shivered at her tone. He gave a silent apology to Kenji for getting him in trouble.
"But what should I do. I don't want Sayu-chan upset at me. I don't like her not wanting to talk or hang out with me."
"Did you mean what you said, that you think of her as a tomboy, for real?"
"Well she is a bit of of tomboy... but..." He cringed at her look. "I really call her tomboy because she called me idiot. They were nicknames."
"I see. Well you have one option."
"What is that, Obasan?" She released him, spun him around and pushed him to the door.
"You march back over there, you apologize, and tell her why you said what you said before that sweet girl get's even more hurt, Dattebikou!" Naruto sweated as his Aunt brought out her most powerful weapon, the Datte. Every Uzumaki knew that when this was said the other person meant it a hundred percent.
"Y-Yes ma'am, I'll apologize right away, Dattebayo!" He saluted then ran out the door heading towards the Tsukinaru farm. Matoko only smiling at her nephews resolution.
"Good luck, Naruto-chan."
"OH? What's this? Is the Narunarus having a fight?" Kenji remarked looking at the stricken Naruto as he waited at the door. Narunaru. It was a running joke with most of the village that Tsukinaru Sayuri had basically all but said Uzumaki Naruto was her fiance, excluding one Uzumaki Naruto. Given Naruto's usual hard headed state he took it like most things he didn't understand. He ignored it. "I was wondering why she came home like she did. You do something to my little sister?" Now let it be said, that Kenji, age sixteen and part time ranch hand of the Tsukinaru farm, was not in any way frightening given his lanky form to anyone other than one Uzumaki Naruto. Kenji had always been faster, stronger, and more liable to toe Naruto into line should he pull a fast one. So the tall and, to Naruto, imposing figure of Sayuri's older brother moving up on him made the usually fearless blonde shirk back.
"I... I said some mean things. Stuff I didn't mean. I wanted to apologize." The taller boy's half bored look didn't change as he turned and headed for the stairs.
"I'll see if she wants to see you. I'd rather not get caught in your squabbling, but it's troublesome to listen to her cry though." Naruto's guilt rose hearing that, but waited as patiently as he could. The normal clomp clomp of Kenji's feet down the stairs brought his attention. "She says, 'The bastard can eat shit and die.'. I'd take that as a no." Naruto sighed and nodded.
"Nice seeing you Kenji. Sorry about all the trouble." Kenji gave a semi literate farewell and Naruto let himself out. Slipping on his boots he headed down the small trail that he and his upset friend had made in the years they had known each other. "Man." He commented to himself. "Girls are really hard to understand." And Sayuri was getting harder to read. It saddened him, all those years of talking to each other about everything, even going as far as talking all night using those special seals he had learned. "Wait."
The Walkie Talkie Seal! Last year, when he had just unlocked his chakra his uncle had made him learn how to write out a special Uzumaki seal that allowed short range talking to one another! He had immediately taught Sayuri how to unlock her chakra and the seal so they could talk privately, even when in bed. It had happened right before she had started growing more distant. He quickly raced back to their tree and procured his seal from a special box. Sayuri had kept her in her room, something he hadn't been in since summer. Darn girls and growing up. Why did everything have to be so difficult?
"Sayu-chan?" No response. "Sayu-chan I know you still have this. You... you might hate me but I'd hope not enough to stop talking to me forever." Still nothing. "I'm sorry. I wasn't thinking when I said that." Silence. "I don't want to think about not being able to talk to you again. It's really..." For an ten almost eleven year old boy, what he said then proved how serious he was about all of it, what his Aunt's words to him had placed in him. "Scary to think of not talking to you anymore. I like Sayuri a lot. She is my best friend." He was stumbling now, hoping that she would answer. Maybe she HAD thrown away the seal. Maybe he wouldn't ever see her or talk to her again. "Frankly I think Sayuri's pretty c-cute." He sagged. He had nothing else, but she still wasn't talking to him. He wasn't going to cry, no matter what, but there was a pinch in his throat. Must have talked too much. Had to be it.
"Your such a stupid idiot." Naruto's face brightened instantly.
"SHUT UP!" He did immediately. "Just because I'm talking to you doesn't mean I forgive you. You hurt me." Naruto wasn't really certain what to say to this. He had called her a tomboy virtually since the moment they started speaking, and he could almost bet his entire allowance that it was one of his first words. Every time he had said it she had laughed, played along, or just beat him up. Not that he got beat up by a girl, mind you; no guy did. He shifted uncomfortably. But somewhere between this fall and last she stopped playing along. He was just too stupid to realize.
"I'm sorry I'm stupid. I never meant to hurt you. I was just..." He trailed off.
"Doing what you always do. Not thinking." Her voice was rough, she must have been crying. Dammit. "I am a girl, stupid. Maybe I don't want to be just some tomboy. Even I want to look pretty and be girly too. Just because I wear my stupid brother's clothes doesn't make me a stupid guy like you."
"I know." And it was true, he was definitely seeing her more and more as a girl. "I just. Miss the way things were when we were younger. I didn't have problems talking to you then. I was the 'idiot' like you called me, remember?"
"You still are." He bristled under the insult, but didn't take the bait, she would probably take it the wrong way anyway.
"And I called you 'Tomboy', for as long as I remember that is... was my name for you. You use to never want me calling you Sayu-chan until recently."
"People change when they get older, idiot." He knew that but she wasn't spelling out anything, how was he suppose to know when she didn't tell him?
"I never meant anything behind it. I only thought of you as..." He wasn't so good at this as he thought. "My 'Tomboy'. Only I could call you that so it didn't mean anything other than Sayuri. Like I was your 'Idiot' like you called me." He blanched realizing the entire village called him an idiot so it wasn't so much a pet name but a designation on his end. He shook his head of that thought and continued. "I'm sorry Sayuri."
"Idiot." She sighed. "I... I guess I could deal with you calling me that then, if that's how you really feel about it... It's not okay, but it bugs me even more to hear you call me Sayuri, it doesn't feel right."
"O-okay." He smiled finally free of her being mad at him. "Thank you Sayu-chan."
"Don't think you're out of the woods yet, Uzumaki! I want to be treated to Keirans after the harvest!" Naruto almost dropped the WTS. Keirans was a THE ice cream parlor located in Kamenokō's region. Known for their dark hot chocolate that gave the place it's name it was also known for the expensive price tag. Still, the image of his best friend crying haunted his thoughts. So much for his monthly allowance. Poor gama-chan was going to be flat for a while.
"Sure..." He paused uncertain of what he should say. Rolling his eyes about trying to think of something to say he just went with what he had heard before. "It's a date."
"A D-d-da..." You could hear her fumbling with something. "Y-YOU BAKA!" The other side cut off.
"W-what did I say now?"Silence. "SAYU-CHAN! OI TOMBOY, THIS AIN'T FUNNY, 'TTEBAYO!"
Naruto paused by the stream a moment to clear his thoughts when a small orange toad hopped in front of him. It actually had a vest on, and had this been the first time Naruto had seen one like this he would have freaked out but all he did was hold his hand out and catch a small scroll ejected from the toad's suddenly, and more to the point impossibly, cavernous mouth. The scroll's seal was an embossed fire in wax, just like the others he had captured.
"No problem, Ani-ki! Just remember to save some of those rice candies for next time, okay? Happy Birthday anyway! Anything you want me to reply to the Jiji?"
"No, it's been pretty normal around here." Talking to 'The Jiji' about his Sayuri issues didn't feel right, and besides by the next time he saw the little toad maybe he could fix things again. Gamakichi nodded then with a salute disappeared into a pall of smoke. Naruto blinked, and even though he had seen it almost a dozen times before, the effects of a summon were pretty unique for the average farmer. After a moment he broke open his bi-annual scroll he had received.
Happy early birthday from 'Jiji'. I'm sorry to say once again I cannot come visit you on your birthday due to the trouble growing in the land of fire these days. I do wish you well, and my present for you is below. Never forget a ninja's blood runs through your veins, not just a farmer's.
Now, last year I taught you how to unlock your chakra, and from what I've heard from your uncle you have been doing well in keeping it under control and easy to access. Well done. This year I will be giving you something to work on that has helped many people in the past get out of sticky situations, the Henge jutsu...'
Naruto read on in the moonlight, more eager to learn some nifty flashy ninja technique. Maybe Sayuri would be impressed.
Next Chapter: The Fire.
This was fun. If only I could keep Sayuri's 'Eat Shit and DIE TWICE' from popping out of my head when I wrote this. I barely had a start when 'EAT SHIT AND DIE TWICE' popped up and that was the end of it. I HAD to write in Sayuri's character. Suddenly she is most of the chapter. Women are like that I swear. And God if I can keep this up until I hit Shippuden I am going to have a ball then. I'm finding fault trying to write young Narutos. It's probably why I tend to make my fictions when they are usually adults.
Oh and I know Sayuri and Naruto seem a little older speech wise than ten going on eleven year old's probably should, but I actually had this very conversation with my best friend at that age. I being a guy I guess couldn't understand her feelings as she was beginning to start the hormone dance and all. I was still all 'we're all guys here.' in my thought process I suppose. Fatal weakness that is. That sort of Drama is not needed at ten years old, makes you all emo and such before your time. Sayuri though important to Naruto isn't a major driving force after chapter 4 just to let you all know. So if you like her or not let me know, it will depend on future ideas in his head and how he will react to other characters.
Hitori: Age Malcolm Reynolds 40 years, bald him up, add a twitch and you got Hitori.
Matoko: Strong Stubborn, and mean as tacks when you piss her off, but then she has that wisdom that comes from age, and a soft spot for her grand nephew.
Sayuri: A tsundere tomboy, who has a crush on Naruto, who just happens to be the only boy her age around. His best friend.
Kenji: Sayuri's older brother and a older role model for the young Uzumaki.
Walkie Talkie Seal [U~ōkītōkī Fuujin]: This unique little thing will play a larger role in the following story so I will bring up it's abilities soon, other than that deal with it.
Kamenokō: Means Young Tortoise. I always picture, if you look at farms from the sky they look like the pattern in a turtle shell. So imagine a village on a small hill surrounded by fields. And by comparison grain and other crops always seem to have only a brief span of life, meaning they are forever young in our minds.
As per usual: Read, write and tell me what you think. More reviews meaning faster updates.
Till Next time: Ja-ne!