Author: Hi everyone. I added a note about some of the oddities in this story compared to the manga at the bottom of the chapter.
I hope you are able to enjoy the story regardless of any changes to the original story, it is fan fiction after all, and I just wanted to say thanks!
Update: 03/24/12 I changed a continuity issue regarding Sasuke between the 1st and 3rd chapters, although it's no big deal really.
A boy stood behind an iron balustrade on the fourth floor of the apartment complex, gazing at the stylized faces on the mountain of great men from the past. His eyes settled on the visage of the fourth man, wondering if somehow that more than just the image of the greats was carved into the mountain; his train of thought continued on to ask, even if no one was listening, was it possible that somehow their souls were anchored in as well, holding steadfast, watching over everyone as an ultimate resolution and duty to their people?
Below him, through the spaces in the barrier on the high terrace he could spy the buzzing movements of people in the distance. His arms, which were covered by the sleeves of his orange flavored jacket, came to rest on the railing in front of him. He leaned forward, looking straight down to the pedestrians below. He looked around carelessly, aimlessly as he searched through the crowd as if he would see something of interest; perhaps a familiar face would smile and wave?
Seeing nothing of the sort, his eyes veer back up to meet the blank stares of the faces on the mountain. They were the Hokages, each of them a leader who shouldered the responsibility of an entire village's safety, concerns, and dreams. Each carried the torch for such a short time, except the third. The third was the only one of the four still living, meaning that the fourth Hokage, whose surname was Namikaze and who had succeeded the third at one point, was now deceased.
Naruto, the boy with the orange jacket leaning over the railing and deep cobalt eyes, knew the old man well. He was nice, caring and always looked out for him. Deep down, other than the stories of the fourth, or Yondaime, Hokage, he knew that the reason why he dreamed of being the leader of the village one day was because of old Sarutobi.
He absent-mindedly let his eyes fall back to the ground below when striking blue eyes caught and ensnared him. They were cornflower blue with a lime tint in their center. What struck him the most was that she didn't seem to have any pupils. Instead, she had only two large irises with no black hole in the epicenter, with only the slightest discoloration.
Now, normally it was hard for someone to make out a person's eye color from four floors up; however, in Naruto's case, he was actually no longer standing on the fourth floor. After catching her bright gaze for a brief moment in which afterward she merely continued walking, he took hold of the rail and grasped at the iron bars as he let his lower body hang off of the edge of the balcony to drop down to the third floor. He quickly did the same to land on the second and immediately afterward he climbed up onto the molding of the side of the building at the base of the windows for that floor so that he could walk alongside her on the second floor.
His attention didn't go unnoticed. Walking alongside her father, she caught his wild blond hair in the corner of her eye as they neared a small ramen stand. Before stepping underneath the bright red words on white banner, her father turned to look at her as he noticed that she stopped to take a look at something up above their heads. "Ino, is there something the matter, pumpkin?"
Ino frowned and glared at her father, who smiled nervously at the look that she must have inherited from her mother.
"Daddy! I'm too big for you to call me pumpkin anymore, will you please stop! My name is Ino! I-no!" Her squeals didn't go unnoticed by the blond crouched up on the second floor, looking down.
Ino pushed her father in, forgetting the young boy on the rooftop for the time being. Or trying to. She couldn't believe that he would just hop down like that to follow her.
He must be a ninja, she thought, smiling as she was reminded that she had been accepted into the academy recently. He's so cool! I can't wait for my first day at the academy!
And with that, she ordered her ramen and enjoyed a warm bowl together with her father.
Naruto, who was still standing on the roof, was trying to decide if he should go in there after her and introduce himself or just walk along. He frowned, and squinted with his eyes as he tried to think, making the action seem more painful than it actually was.
Taking a deep breath to muster his courage, he dropped down from the side of the building and walked up to the stand with barstool seats and a big man in a white hat and apron with strong arms who cooked the noodles.
Naruto flinched. He turned to look in the direction of the violent-sounding scream of his academy teacher. Apparently, the scar-faced chunin Iruka came looking for him after he skipped class.
Turning back to the ramen stand, he saw that both the girl, Ino, and her father, were staring at him, together with the ramen stand owner.
Seeing each other so close, the two smiled at one another and shared a slightly awkward greeting of 'hi' until Naruto looked back toward Iruka and then quickly caught a glance of the blonde girl again before he bolted in the opposite direction.
"Uzumaki Naruto!" Yelled Iruka again as he passed by the stand. He looked like he had some rope in his hands, or so Teuchi thought. Ino's father smirked and shook his head as he leaned in close to breathe in the tasty smell of the bowl in front of him. The kid never changes, he thought in amusement.
Ino smiled, filing that name away for later. She turned back silently to her ramen and ate it enthusiastically to the stand owner's delight as he exclaimed that he was so glad to have found someone who could enjoy his food the only way it was supposed to be enjoyed. Loudly.
An aging man leaned calmly in his chair wearing a white robe and holding a pipe that had as much wear on it as he had on him. His eyes were kind, but in them a sense of ferocity beyond easy understanding lay. His confidence that radiated from him did not seem to have a hint of arrogance. On his large wooden table lay some paperwork, a quill and ink jar, some scrolls, and of course, the Hokage's large brimmed hat. "How was your trip.
The man standing before him wore a vest, this one in particular indicating that he was of jounin status, a mask covering the lower portion of his face and a headband with a metal plate hanging over his left eye, giving him a lazy, slightly off appearance. "Honestly? Lousy, a pretty young lady walked by and gave me that type of look, so, you know, I went along and followed her and ended up in a whole mess of trouble."
The Hokage smirked and with a rasping voice encouraged the silver haired man to continue with a knowing, "O-oh?"
"Ah, so you want more to that story… Well, I finished reading Icha Icha for the seventeenth time."
The Hokage shook his head and clasped his hand down over his face. "Right, that book... don't remind me."
"Anyways," he continued, not giving the Hokage a chance to recoup. "I do have an interesting message from Jiraiya."
The Hokage suddenly looked up, smiling fondly at the mention of his old student. "Hah! Jiraiya… that marvelous fool. I truly wish he had never left the village, though I must admit that he remains invaluable to the village... on a different note, is he still writing those novels?" The old man whose tan face already showed red from a blush, inquired.
"Yes, he is. In fact, he's writing a second book that should be coming out within the next few months."
"Ah, wonderful… I suppose," said the Hokage, who made a mental note to watch out for that new book soon. "So, continue, continue! Just what did Jiraiya have to say that was so interesting?"
"He gave me this to give to you as the message." Kakashi said as he reached into his vest to procure a scroll that had a yellow frog hanging from the small intricately woven plum string.
The Hokage stared on expectantly as he watched for what was going to come out of the jounin's vest. But when it was offered to him, he immediately knew what the scroll meant by looking at the small bull frog hanging off the end of the string with its gaping mouth.
"Kakashi, I want you to go to the academy and pick up the young orphan boy, Uzumaki Naruto."
Kakashi, who was keen on reading people could see that the demeanor of the Hokage intensified, as slight as the indications were. Whatever the scroll was, it meant that something drastic was about to happen. Or maybe it's happening already. He thought, clenching his jaw tight.
"My lord." Kakashi said briefly, solemnly, for once, before laying the scroll down on the table, backing up and leaving through the large double doors in the Hokage's office to head towards the academy.
The Hokage groaned as he rubbed his temples. "How dire this situation has become… where will he go now that the entire shinobi world has become his enemy?"
The pipe lay on the table, alongside the scroll, forgotten as the Hokage reached into one of the drawers and pulled out a mysterious glass orb that was sitting on top of a lavender cushion that kept it from rolling around. He brought his hands up in front of the orb and closed his eyes. When he reopened them, he could see an image of the blond boy appearing within it.
After a good twenty minutes of dodging his teacher, Naruto took a seat next to a wooden training post by a small stream that lead to a pond a few steps away from where he was.
As he sat alone against the training post, he noticed a grouping of fire ants floating on the surface of a puddle that had formed on the floor beside him perhaps some time ago. They had gathered into one spot to make a makeshift bridge across the water to transport the goods that the worker ants had collected. He noticed a gap at the end and took a few blades of grass and laid them down where the ants were trying to get to. Once they grabbed a hold of the grass, he let go and watched as they completed the bridge and slowly brought themselves across.
"So staring at ants is more interesting than my lectures, huh?" The voice of his annoying academy teacher came from behind him.
Naruto's head shot up and he was about to jump to his feet, but as he jerked upwards he let out a yelp when he realized he was tied down to the post by a rope that had somehow snaked itself around him and knotted itself firmly without his knowing. Iruka was such a sneaky bastard!
"Iruka-sensei! Ahh-what's up, huh?" The rope around his body kept him from moving, and Naruto had to figure it was some kind of jutsu.
"Oh, nothing's up, Naruto. No... But I've got plenty of downers for you once we get back to the classroom. I suggest you make sure to have at least three pencils, you'll be doing homework until you start bleeding from your nails."
"Listen, can I at least grab something to eat, real quick, before we head back? I'm starving!"
Iruka looked at the blond and the serious look that was on his face earlier unscrewed into a loose, amused grin before exploding into full out laughter.
Naruto frowned and whined, "Hey, hey! That's not funny! I'm really hungry!"
Iruka laughed even harder.
"Fine, I guess we can go ahead and…"
When Iruka saw Kakashi drop down in front of them, staring directly at Naruto, he immediately turned to look at the young boy and glared, "Naruto! What the hell did you do!"
Several key differences in the story compared to the manga, including Naruto, the origin of the clans, chakra, the Kyubi, and a few other choice things have been made and may bother you.
Try to enjoy the ride either way.