A Family of Lies
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Naruto x Harem
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Author's note
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Has been adopted from, He Who Fights Monsters.
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Story Start
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It had all started with a plan. A plan formed in the imagination of a young boy who had dreamed of world peace. This plan was to be reformulated over the years as the boy grew older and cynicism took its hold on him.

Over the years of being a ninja he had realized that to survive in this world, there was no other option than the complete destruction of one's enemies to ensure complete safety. To be gentle was to be vulnerable, a lesson hammered into him when he became a Jounin-Sensei, or more precisely, when he stood at the memorial stone with his students, Hatake Kakashi and Rin, and they silently mourned Uchiha Obito, the innocent lost on the field of war.

He came to realize that if his village was to remain peaceful, it would eventually be destroyed by envious villages. The semi-recent war with Iwa, the past war with Kiri, the ongoing tensions with Kumo and Konoha's various untrustworthy or otherwise dubious allies proved the eventual likelihood of Konoha's destruction. And he'd be damned if he would let that happen. Pacifism invited attacks – Shinobi were tools of war, after all, and on the battlefield, there was no room for mercy, for gentleness. Namikaze Minato, the "Yellow Flash", of Konoha, decided whilst a sobbing Rin knelt before the memorial stone that the only way to prevent this from happening was through battle, through using his strength, and his village's strength, to remove those that would harm it.

Two weeks after the death of Obito, he, along with his sensei, Jiraiya, and his student, Kakashi, returned to the battlefield, and visited the same mercy upon Iwagakure that they granted to Obito. Hundreds of Iwa shinobi fell before them, and they surrendered days afterwards, only for Sarutobi, Sandaime Hokage, to forgive them, to not press the advantage. His students railed at him afterwards, the Densetsu no Sannin openly calling their teacher a fool. Minato had felt like joining them, but remained silent. Though Jiraiya seemed disheartened at his student's lack of support, Minato did not fail to notice the decision in the eyes of the Sandaime Hokage, as he looked to the future, and chose the heir to his power. Mercy became weakness, but patience became power.

Mercy became weakness – he remembered saying as much to Rin, when she confronted him and Kakashi, and asked how they could do this, and in Obito's name, no less. When the call came, for Konoha shinobi to go to Ame no Kuni, the Land of Rain, to dispatch those Iwa-nin that had forsaken their village, in order to continue warring against Konoha, Rin had come to him, begged him not to go, sobbing that Obito would not have wanted this.

Mercy became weakness, but remorse festered, became endless, sorrowful depression. Minato took his student to the memorial stone once more, and spoke to her of sacrifice, and Obito's sacrifice, for her. Afterwards, he gave her a pained smile, expertly acted out, and said that this was his sacrifice, for failing to protect Obito. Rin had fled, face in hands, tears trickling down. The next day, Minato left for Ame.

There, he found two things, in the same person. He found a ninja like him, with the same beliefs, the same outlook on life, and a reputation that came close to matching his; and he found a stunningly beautiful woman, a feisty, red-haired refugee, from the former Uzumaki no Kuni, before its destruction.

When he returned to Konoha, it was with Uzumaki Kushina, the love of his life, already carrying his child. A few months later, Sarutobi publicly announced that he was stepping down, and named as his successor, as the Yondaime Hokage, Namikaze Minato.

Things had seemed to be perfect – he had control of the strongest of the Shinobi Nations, he had a powerful, devoted wife, and influence throughout three generations of Konoha's shinobi. And he had a child on the way…

And that's when disaster struck: Somehow, impossibly, the Kyuubi no Youkai emerged from its slumber, and the most powerful of the Bijuu, reputed to have no equal, fixed its murderous intention upon a single target – the only village in the Shinobi Nations capable of seriously testing its might – Konohagakure no Sato.

It was never a question of how to defeat it. The history of the Shinobi Nations held several such encounters with Bijuu – all agreed on one thing, that the colossal chakra constructs were invulnerable to normal means. The only way to defeat a tailed demon would be to seal it, deny it a physical form, or control its form. But into what could he seal it, and how? Long hours of research yielded an answer for him – the only form capable of harbouring something as powerful as the Kyuubi no Kitsune was a child, chakra coils undeveloped. Considering reports on the devastating wake of the Kyuubi, it would take it about three months to reach Konoha. His child was expected in three months. It did not take much thought to connect the two, and find a way to yoke even the Kyuubi to his plans, and create, with his son, a shinobi capable of surpassing even him.

He spent the next three nights researching seals – it would take an immensely large variety, working together, in order to control the Kyuubi once it was sealed, and an incredibly powerful seal to actually defeat the beast. There was only one being that could physically drag the soul of the Kyuubi out, and place it into his child. That being had a price, though – the cost of its labours was the soul of the one that summoned it.

Mercy leads to weakness. The sacrifice of the weak, in order to protect the strong – that is only natural.

The denizens of Konoha had a belief, in what they called the "Will of Fire", where the strength of one generation was passed on to the next. It had taken on almost religious properties amongst the shinobi of Konoha. Thus it came as no surprise to the Yondaime Hokage when Sarutobi entered his office one day, bearing the extensive notes he had made on the Shiki Fuujin, and left within plain sight. He knew Sarutobi, and knew that he would volunteer himself, so long as he believed he was being given a choice.

"Minato… what is this?" Sarutobi was wearing his "stern old man" face, as he set down the scroll on Minato's desk.

"The Shiki Fuujin. I created it myself. It's the way that we'll defeat the Kyuubi." Minato kept his face downcast as he said this, so that Sarutobi would not see his smirk.

"I cannot allow it. You… you have too much to live for, Minato!" he slammed a gnarled palm down on the desk, rattling equipment. "Konoha needs you, the Yondaime Hokage."

"I am the only one who can form the seals!" Minato shouted, and stood, vaguely recalling that whilst in his youth, Sarutobi had towered over him, now he stood taller than the "God of Shinobi". Perhaps the Will of Fire was true, after all.

"Then teach me! They do not call me "The Professor" for nothing – I will be able to perform this Jutsu." He held up a hand when Minato opened his mouth. "I have lived a good life. I have children, and they will have children of their own. I kept Konoha safe. Now, as the new Hokage, this is your task. I pass on to you my Will of Fire, and humbly ask, Hokage-Sama, that you allow this old man to perform one last duty to his village."

"But… you…" Minato scowled, all put on, of course. "Fine. But the vessel…" he fixed determined eyes onto the former Sandaime Hokage. "It will be my son. I will not let… won't allow anyone else to bear this burden." It was easy to fake tears, for a trained shinobi. It was harder to tell when they were faked, and Sarutobi, mind on other things, could not tell. His face crumpled into a small smile.

"You are truly selfless, Minato. I knew… I knew I'd made the right choice, when I chose you over Orochimaru." Then the screams started, and Sarutobi nodded. "Minato… the village will prosper under you…" another smile. "Goodbye, Hokage-Sama," and then he was gone, leaping over the rooftops to meet the fury of the Kyuubi, and defeat it, sacrificing himself in the process.

"Goodbye… old fool," Minato said, and looked up, face composed completely.

The village would prosper, that was for certain, and with a Jinchuuriki, no, the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki, being trained by none other than himself, his child would play an important part in Minato's plans for the future.

"Who would have thought, that being attacked, by the Kyuubi, no less, would benefit my plans?" As Konoha fought for its life, its Hokage sat in his office, and laughed quietly.

(14 years later)

Namikaze Minato, Yondaime Hokage of Konohagakure no Sato, sat at his desk, awaiting the arrival of the single most important factor in his plans. He had spent fourteen years readying the way, postponing his schemes in order to have a catalyst, capable of producing far greater results with his direct involvement.

Still, he was not idle; he was never idle. He had improved Konoha's position, in a hundred small ways, to make it better suited to the role he would guide it to – overlord of the Shinobi Nations.

He had spent the first years of his rule creating an image of himself, as the true successor to Sarutobi: humble and proud by turns, but never vain; quick to defend, but willing to strike pre-emptively, should the situation need it; wise, but still learning, and eager to be advised. Simultaneously fulfilling and surpassing the expectations of the shinobi of his generation, he had ensured loyalty, not to Konoha, but to its Hokage. Hatake Kakashi would die for him, as would Shiranui Genma, Gekkō Hayate, Yūhi Kurenai… the list went on, and as they became devoted to him, he, ever-so-subtly, directed their devotion onwards, to his son. The noble clans, from the Nara and Inuzuka to the ever-fighting Uchiha and Hyūga, swore loyalty, to him, and by proxy, to Naruto.

The second six years, he spent focusing on the new generation of Konoha's shinobi, in order to truly cement their loyalty to Namikaze Naruto. The younger Uchiha, Sasuke, had been strangely resistant, holding to the familiarity of a system no longer in place – no doubt Fugaku was still trying to convince him that the Uchiha were the true masters of Konoha. However, for the vast majority of Konoha's youth, the son of the Yondaime Hokage became a figure of awe and mystery, almost all of which was cultivated by Minato himself. To hear the children converse in excited whispers, you'd think that Naruto had been the one to defeat the Kyuubi, which, in a funny sort of way, he was. Any hatred that may have been harboured towards him as the container of the Kyuubi no Kitsune was softened by the nature of its defeat – who could hate a child, who did not have control over the circumstances of its fate, but bore them anyway? A surprisingly high number, it turned out, including several senior members of the Konoha council. When the ANBU corps ambushed a meeting between those in favour of Naruto's death, they were able to uncover the corpses of Homura and Koharu, the team-mates of the Sandaime Hokage.

Of course, the old fools had played right into Minato's hand with their final, stupid act. Over the next few weeks, he reduced the power of the council, again and again, citing the corruption of two of its key members. By the time he was finished, they were merely an advisory body, with no actual power at all – the clan heads could express their grievances, but it was entirely within the rights of the Hokage to dismiss them, ignore them, or act against them. Those seats normally filled by civilians were removed, leaving only aged shinobi and clan heads to have seats on the council, and there was only one shinobi senior enough, and influential enough, to pose a threat to Minato.

Danzou, former Captain-Commander of the ANBU Corps, and rival of Sarutobi, was endlessly resistant, and for the moment, too important to simply disappear. Were Minato to do as he wished, and simply remove that irritating itch, then there would be uproar. However, he could not simply allow Danzou to spread his revolutionary message across Konoha, and incite unrest. He would have to be dealt with, and soon, Minato decided.

Aside from Danzou, there were the usual murmurs across the Shinobi Nations, but there were none that yet wished to suffer the attention of Konoha, not after Iwa's decimation at the hands of a single shinobi. Kumo had come close to declaring war, after the death of a high-ranking shinobi, Gashira, a close friend of the Raikage, had died at the hands of Hyuuga Hiashi. They had demanded the head of Hiashi, but swiftly withdrawn their threat once they had realised that the Yondaime Hokage would rather go to war – a war that Kumo could not possibly win – than surrender even a single of his shinobi to them. The way that Minato had presented it, he had once again been cast as the hero, and Konoha loved him for it – even as they realised that a war could come, at any point, if a country did not back down from the wrath of Namikaze Minato.

There were, of course, complications, drawbacks to his plan. His once faithful student, Rin, had retired from active duty almost a year ago, on 'moral grounds'. Now, that had been a painful event – the godmother of his child and student of the Yondaime Hokage, leaving the village.

"It's not right, Minato-Sensei!" Rin glared at him as hard as she could, but she had never been much good at glaring, they both knew that. She had always been too kind, too gentle. Minato smiled at her from his seated position, legs crossed, as he knew would annoy her – Rin had always been a stickler for formalities.

"You always were too soft, Rin. Naruto has to be strong, to survive here."

"I know that! I offered to train him; Kakashi offered to train him, but… not like this! He's a child, Minato-Sensei!" Her eyes were already beginning to water, and Minato scowled at that; more than her words, he hated her weaknesses.

"He's my child, Rin. He's more than other children. Besides which, he enjoys his training sessions." He knew what was coming next, of course.

"You never trained us like this – and we turned out fine! Kakashi's one of the strongest Jounin in the village, and I'm one of the top medic-nin! But this… Minato-Sensei, you never even let Naruto outside! You don't let him make friends, or play with other children, you don't let him live his life!"

He slammed his hands on the table, and despite herself, Rin flinched. Minato stood, and glared down at his still defiant student, who was beginning to cry.

"Rin! He does not wish to make friends, or play with other children! Naruto wants to train, and become stronger! What don't you understand?" She recoiled as if struck, and struggled to form words. "He decides his own regimen – I have nothing to do with that, but my son wishes to train, and so I let him. Is that so wrong?"

"H-he…" she choked back a sob. "Wh-what about… friends, Minato? Wh-what about teamwork? Were your lessons n-nothing! W-was Obito's deathnothing!" Minato mentally hit himself. Of course… Obito would come into this, wouldn't he? He got into everything, now – Kakashi complained about nightmares, hallucinations from Obito's eye – Rin used him at every turn to try to blackmail him… He could almost hate his dead student – almost.

"Rin," he said slowly, finally, almost regretfully. "Obito is dead. Leave him be. Naruto will continue his training, and you will continue your duties towards the village, and Obito will no longer be mentioned. Are we understood?" Rin's eyes widened, and she tried to form words again, but Minato held up a hand. "I have no wish to speak of this further." He turned his chair, looked out of a window to where Naruto was sparring against his own Kage Bunshin, and did not react to the slamming sound, until the Bunshin disappeared in a puff of smoke. Only then did he turn around, to see the Hitai-ate formerly on Rin's head laying on his desk, while his student mustered up another glare, sharper this time, and all the more hateful through her veil of tears. She'd almost got it right, this time.

"What is this?" he said, almost bemusedly. "You are joking, right?"

"I quit," she spat at him. "I resign as a medic-nin in Konoha general hospital, I resign as a member of your ANBU, and I resign as a shinobi of Konohagakure no Sato."

"Oh? Do you 'resign' from being Naruto's Godmother, as well?" She slapped him then, the only person who he would allow to do such a thing, and only this once.

"You… are not Minato-Sensei! You are a monster, and I won't carry on with your plans any longer!" Then she stood, and walked away.

"Rin," he called, and she paused, for just a moment. "If you leave the village, I will have you put in the Bingo Books, as a B-Ranked missing-nin." She had the nerve to smile at him, through her rage and her tears.

"B-Ranked? That's an insult Hokage. I'm A-Ranked, at least." Then she was gone, and Minato rubbed his jaw thoughtfully, before opening Konoha's Bingo Book to a new page, and beginning to fill in a new section.

Low-A Ranked shinobi, he finished, and added as an afterthought – bring back alive if possible – if she dies, there will be no reward. Then he waited for Kakashi to show up. He had ordered him to arrive exactly one hour ago, and as he expected, Kakashi arrived a couple of minutes later.

"Yo, Minato-Sensei!" he greeted the Hokage warmly. "I had to go… Where's Rin?" his single visible eye looked over the entire room.

"That's what I have to speak to you about," Minato said, with a trace of sadness. Whether he'd meant to do that, or it had simply slipped out, he would never know.

"Oh Kami… oh no… Please, Minato-Sensei, I'd die for you, but… please!" It was such a strange sight, to see Sharingan no Kakashi begging, and Minato did not like it one bit.

"No, Kakashi, you are to do it – you are to bring Rin back, by force if necessary."

"But Minato-Sensei! It's Rin! I… I can't hurt her! I promised Obi-"

"Obito? I don't care about Obito!" Kami above, he really was beginning to hate that name – it was causing far too many problems. "You are Hatake Kakashi, Captain-Commander of the ANBU Corps, student of the Yondaime Hokage, and I need your help." Kakashi's eye widened then.

"You…" he trailed off, in disbelief – Minato had never needed the help of another, not since his days as a Genin.

"I need your help. Rin is too headstrong, too hot-blooded… I didn't think she'd actually leave the village, but she cannot be allowed to remain outside… she has too many of our secrets – if another village were to take her, Iwa for example…" he left the sentence hanging in the air, conjuring memories of their last encounter with Iwa.

"But… I… and we…" Kakashi floundered, and then hung his head. "I'll leave in the morning, but please, Minato-Sensei, please, remove her from the Bingo Book."

"Consider it done, Kakashi," he said, and smiled. "Thank you." As the Jounin left, Minato sighed, and rubbed his head in frustration. If it were solely up to him, Rin would not have been granted this mercy, but Naruto was fond of his Godmother.

He was dragged from his thoughts as the door to his office creaked open, and a familiar face poked around – unruly mop of blonde hair first, followed by a pair of crystal-blue eyes. So like Kushina, Minato decided, and smiled.

"You wanted to see me, Tou-San?" Namikaze Naruto said, decidedly bored. Slowly, the rest of him sidled into the room, clothed in the black full-body suit he preferred to wear – through his father's suggestions, of course. The only thing that wasn't black was his kunai holster , which was orange – Naruto's favourite colour. He had agreed, eventually, that bright colours were not the best things to wear to a battle situation, considering the amount of people in the world that wanted him dead, but, as Minato had insisted against wearing orange, so Naruto did, rebelling naturally – just like his mother had been.

"Ah, Naruto." Minato smiled, and rested his chin on a fist. "I have decided that for the final portion of the Academy term, you will attend the Academy, and get acquainted with the potential Genin." Due to his isolation, Naruto did not know of the awe he was held in by the majority of Konoha's youngest generation. It was debatable whether he knew of them at all.

"Why? There's no need for that – I'm at a level far beyond any of them. I thought that was the point of our training sessions, Tou-San." Naruto scowled, most likely annoyed with the fact that he still, after nearly ten years of training, was unable to land a single hit on his father during their sparring sessions.

Though, that said… Naruto was indeed above the students of the Academy in skill – he had been taught and trained from the age he could walk, not only by his father, but also by two of his most loyal shinobi – Hatake Kakashi and Uchiha Itachi. After all, he was to become the strongest weapon of Konoha, and its future Hokage – and to do that required a very… extracurricular education. After all, there was no class in the Academy dedicated to the practical applications of using Genjutsu to make yourself appear defeated. Even though Naruto's Genjutsu was still his least favorite and weakest point, it was formidable, especially for a Genin.

Truth be told, Naruto was closer to a High Chuunin, and the only thing that prevented Minato from considering him as a Jounin was his lack of maturity – Naruto was prone to rush into situations, with all the enthusiasm, all the fight and fire of his mother, and if he rushed into something he could not handle, then he would die. He needed to learn tactics, and theory bored him – he would need practical lessons of it. Of course, admitting to him that he was going to receive training in this area would not have the same effect – if informed in advance about what was going to happen, Naruto would only contribute a fraction of his energy to learning – surprises were better received by the young Namikaze, a fact proved by trial and error on the part of his three teachers.

"The Chuunin exams are coming up, Naruto – and I plan for you to take part. You need a team in order to do so." There was silence for a moment, then Naruto shrugged. He was hardly being given a choice here – stay as a Genin for another six months, or join the Academy temporarily.

"Fine, I'll do it, but you're going to buy me Ramen for dinner," he decided, and Minato smiled. As he'd expected.

"Sure, why not? I've been looking for a reason to get out of all this paperwork anyway… just try not to clean me out too much – we both know how much you love Ramen." He just received silence from Naruto, and a smile turned into a frown. He was lucky he was the Hokage, or with a son with the extravagant eating habits of Naruto, he'd be in debt already, although… he did really like Ramen himself, as well.

"Well class…" Iruka started, "As you know, the year is coming to an end and with it your time in the Academy." At this there was some cheering from the students, and Iruka gave a sad smile – they had no idea what the end of the year meant, not truly. Besides, he had just gotten used to teaching these guys, and pretty soon, they'd all be gone, and he'd have another class shunted onto him by Ebisu-san. He continued by saying, "But even still, I would like to introduce to you a new student who will be with us for the last month." Iruka turned to the door and said, "Come on in and introduce yourself…" though his smile was faked. He didn't have many selfish pleasures, but amongst the ones he did keep was a love of order, and established order at that. Having a student thrown into the mix this late, and a student such as him, as well…

Naruto walked in, drawing all eyes to him. His walk was slow and almost hypnotizing and no one could seem to take their eyes off of him for one reason or another. Naruto noticed this, gave a foxy grin and said, "Hello everyone, my name is Namikaze Naruto."

One boy, most likely an Inuzuka, judging by his nin-dog, spoke up, "N-Namikaze Naruto? Like, the Hokage's son?"

It was not Naruto who responded but a boy with his hair in a spiky ponytail, as he said in an annoyed tone of voice, "Of course he is, who else has the name 'Namikaze'?"

Naruto just smirked and took a seat by the one who had spoken in the back, and the day commenced.

"What's your name?" Naruto whispered to the pony-tailed boy, who grunted something unintelligible, as his mouth was buried deep in the crook of an arm. "You're a Nara, right? You look an awful lot like Shikaku-San."

"That's because I'm his son," the boy yawned, as he rolled his head to the side, fixing a single half-open eye on Naruto. "Nara Shikamaru."

"Nice to meet you – I think we'll be friends," Naruto smiled, but Shikamaru just shrugged.

"Sure, whatever…" then he turned over, and took a nap, leaving Naruto to blink incredulously – were all the students this strange?

The Academy had ended for the day and Naruto's mind was on the spars that were held – ostensibly in preparation for the final exams that were due to happen soon. Naruto had been interested at first, before realizing two things – one, that boys were not allowed to fight girls, and two, that everyone here sucked.

After the spars had started, Naruto realized that he had not underestimated anyone here; in fact, he found that he overestimated his fellow Academy students as each and every one of them had sub-par skills – far more of the kunoichi than male shinobi, to be honest. Even Shikamaru, who he'd thought seemed pretty strong, did not do anything – he gave up within seconds to the sunglasses-wearing kid, who replaced him in Naruto's mind as potential team-mate potential.

Even the so-called prodigy of the class paled in comparison to what he had hoped to see – from the way that Itachi-San spoke of his little brother, Sasuke was almost as strong as Naruto was, but in reality… Naruto was certain he could take him, without too much trouble. It was a shame – he'd have enjoyed having a rival on par with him – it would have been a much more interesting experience – like having a brother.

Unfortunately, there was nobody that fit his expectations within the Academy. It was starting to piss him off. The boys didn't train enough, or at all in some cases, and the girls were all do-nothing fan girls, except maybe the Hyuuga, who did not seem to be fawning over anyone – but instead kept to her own quiet corner, and seemed to lack the will to even go up to speak to a boy. He decided that he was going to change some of this attitude, whether they liked it or not – after all, he was going to be Hokage one day – he couldn't have his peers all be spineless weaklings, now, could he?

He was interrupted from his thoughts when he noticed someone staring at him, in fact he noticed that many eyes were on him, but he only addressed the one filled with anger.

"What do you want Uchiha?" The black haired boy's glare was beginning to piss him off. It was like he constantly had something to prove, and the only way he knew how was by comparing himself to others.

"I want to fight you," he stated simply, and Naruto scowled. Was he that arrogant? Did he truly think he could beat him?

"So I can kick your ass?" the blond shook his head, "No. It would only waste my time – it could be better used on training, for real enemies."

Sasuke narrowed his eyes and exclaimed, "You will fight me!" He took a stance, and Naruto sighed. Looks like he'd have to do this after all.

"Fine, but don't say I didn't warn you..." 'Idiot' Naruto silently added.

With that, the Uchiha charged… only to realize that Naruto was no longer there, and he made a choking noise as he realized just how quick Naruto must be. Left, right, behind, forwards, upwards… he was nowhere to be found.

There! Behind him, "I'm faster," Sasuke turned around only to see nothing, "I'm stronger," this time coming from behind a nearby tree, "I know more jutsu than you do" this time from the sky, "I have more potential" this time from the right, "and…" now right in front, "I have beaten you" and with that Naruto punched Sasuke in the stomach, sending him skidding back.

"Pathetic," Naruto spat. "Basic chakra control – focus it to your hands, and punches hurt more. Focus it to where you're about to be hit, and the attack won't hurt so much. You'd think a 'genius' would know that."

"Shut up!" Sasuke's eyes narrowed, and he lunged, spinning his waist and bringing up his right leg for a kick. Now… this would hit him, now he knew where he was.

Naruto caught it, with a single hand, and looked into the furious black eyes of Sasuke with his own, infuriatingly calm blue ones.

"I told you… I'm stronger," he said, and pulled on Sasuke's leg, unbalancing him, as he delivered another chakra-layered punch to the face of the Uchiha, knocking him skidding across the floor.

He struggled to his feet, and glared furiously at Naruto, who sighed. "Do you not know when you're beaten?" he asked, then vanished. Sasuke's eyes widened with fear, and he felt his presence behind him. "Eh, Sasuke?" Naruto said, and Sasuke turned around, in time to see Naruto put his hands together for a single seal.

"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu." Five copies of Naruto appeared, and cracked their knuckles. Sasuke half-scrambled to his feet before two of them grabbed either of his arms, and then jumped, rotating as they did so, until all three were upside down.

"Sasuke-kun!" screeched someone in the crowd, and Naruto scowled, before the three remaining Bunshins placed their hands together. Naruto leapt onto that platform, and used it as a springboard to leap into the air after Sasuke.

In midair, the Uchiha looked at him, shock plain on his features, and Naruto waved cheerily, before locking his legs around Sasuke's throat, and then linking his arms over his chest. The two Bunshins holding on to Sasuke's arms began to spin, causing the entire group to spin, like a drill.

"Itachi-Sensei taught me this move," Naruto said calmly. "He said it was based on one of your clan's techniques, but I've just Namikaze'd it." Sasuke's eyes widened in horror as the ground loomed ever closer.

"That's enough!" Naruto recognized the stern face of Iruka, as he and another Chuunin caught the wildly spinning attack and paused it in midair, before they all landed lightly on the ground. Sasuke, head spinning, tried to stand, then fell down inelegantly on his backside.

"You'll get used to it soon enough, Sasuke!" Naruto said, a brief smile breaking out on his face, though his eyes were slightly unfocused.

"Naruto! That was irresponsible – you could have killed one of your classmates!" Iruka shouted at the boy, before realizing exactly who he was lecturing – the son of the Hokage, and going very quiet.

"How could you do this to Sasuke-kun!" screamed a pink-haired student – Naruto recognised her as Haruno Sakura, and glanced at her dimly.

"I warned him…" the blond said nonchalantly "he could've quit anytime he wanted to, or could have heeded my warning. He chose defeat, not me." With that Naruto left with a few new fan girls of his own.

"Bastard!" yelled Sakura, as she crouched over Sasuke protectively, ignoring the Uchiha's annoyed glare.

Ino was the one to respond by saying, "Get over it Sakura, it wasn't really his fault… Sasuke did challenge him. He may have gone a little overboard in his demonstration, but maybe it's for the best…" She had the same look in her eye that she'd had when she first declared her crush on Sasuke, and with a small smile on her face, Yamanaka Ino went to follow Naruto like some of the others. Sakura gave her a hurt look as she left, but Ino didn't seem to be paying attention, her gaze focused squarely on the young Namikaze.

"Don't worry, Sasuke-kun, I'm still with you," she said, giving the object of her affections a small smile.

"Oh, really?" sneered Sasuke. "Glad to see you've been of such help, Haruno." His wounded pride took the better of him, as he shoved aside her proffered hand and stood on his own, leaving shortly after.

Sakura stared after him, shocked for a moment, and then she bunched her hands into fists as she grabbed her dress. Sasuke-kun wasn't really angry with her, not really, he was just angry because he'd been defeated – she could understand that… Nobody liked being defeated, especially not after being the best for so long. She sent a glare in the direction of Naruto and his rapidly accumulating group of followers.

"It's all your fault, Naruto," she muttered under her breath. "Sasuke-kun will beat you." The Chuunin instructors glanced from Naruto's group, to the retreating Uchiha, and the defiant pink-haired kunoichi, before Iruka decided that perhaps he would like to get a new class soon, after all…

Naruto noticed his followers after a few moments, and began to concoct a plan as they walked to a favourite training spot of his. When they arrived, he stopped and turned around to face them.

"If you have followed me, I expect that you will train, or there is no real point to you being here." A few girls winced, and he noted them down before he continued. "This is, after all, a training ground. If I find you to be too weak or not developing properly, I'll expect you to leave." more wincing and he noted those down as well. "Also, if I ask you to leave, for whatever reason, I expect you to do so… I have no patience for those that waste my time – as you saw with Uchiha. If I find you to be interrupting my training time, then I will make you leave, one way or another. Any questions?"

One girl whined, "But I don't like training…" she twirled hands in pigtails, and smiled petulantly – perhaps the handsome Namikaze would let her stay once he acknowledged how beautif-

"Then you will leave…" Naruto stated harshly, and as her eyes widened in horror, his narrowed. "Now." She fled the field in tears, and was soon followed by others who knew that they would not be able to last.

By the end of the session, only four students remained apart from Naruto; two kunoichi, and two guys who were impressed by Naruto's one-sided fight with Sasuke. Naruto was actually surprised that this many were continuing. He was by no means an easy training partner, considering that his normal training sessions were with shinobi of elite Jounin rank or higher. He reassessed the students still here – perhaps he had been wrong about them – they certainly showed a will to improve, at the very least.

"Well, I think that should do it for now." He smiled, and this time, it wasn't fake. "I believe I have kept you all long enough, and judging by the state of you, you guys need a rest." Naruto said while slowly walking away. But then, he suddenly stopped and turned around to say, "Maybe one day we can all try something higher than a light work-out…" He smiled foxily and left the four sitting, exhausted, and surprised.

"He calls that a light work-out!" Ino shouted more than she asked.

"No wonder he kicked Uchiha's ass so badly… I'm beat," said Kiba, tongue lolling out in an imitation of Akamaru, who gave a tired yip.

"A-ano… w-what does he do in his regular work-outs?" asked Hinata meekly, as she watched the Namikaze leave.

"I do not know, but I have a feeling that I would rather not find out… until we have managed to increase our stamina sufficiently." stated Shino quietly, eyebrows furrowing in thought.

Naruto scowled. He definitely had a bone to pick with the Academy system – their students were weak. It would take plenty of work for even the four that had stayed with him to improve significantly, and that would come at the cost of his own training. The worst part was that, even though they were weak, they had potential – masses of untapped potential. They could become strong, far, far stronger than they were currently, and if they had followed training regimens of the style he had, then they would most likely be of a strength comparable to him.

As it was, their lack of skill, combined with the obvious flaws in mental conditioning made him unsure if they could become effective shinobi before the Chuunin exams arrived… they had better – he was not going to waste this opportunity due to weak team-mates, and considering some of those on display, from the arrogant Uchiha to the damn-near thoughtlessInuzuka, to the completely spineless Hyuuga, the Academy was lacking severely not only in physical, but mental conditioning.

Whatever Tou-san had planned, it was not simply to know his peers, that much was for certain. Had he wanted him simply to do that, he would have put him in a team after graduation, and let him "bond" then. No, he had done this precisely so that Naruto could have this reaction – see the weakness of those compared to him. There was something else here, something bigger, and Naruto would be damned if he didn't get to the bottom of this, one way or another.