Sort of an idea that came to me, and it's been bothering me so much that I can't focus on my other stories or other work. So, I'm going to pound out some of it, throw it up, and see what everyone thinks. Here goes! As always, I own nothing but the original stuff.
"You've got to start thinking about contingency plans, Minato." Hiruzen Sarutobi sat in his former office, enjoying the view from the opposite side of the chair for once. Sitting in a non-descript black shirt and pants, carrying no weapons pouch, the tan and wrinkled old man took a pull on his pipe.
"We don't know if there will be an attack or not, and if there is, you might need to make the ultimate sacrifice to reseal the fox." Hiruzen's voice was grave as he faced the newly minted Fourth Hokage, leader of Konoha. A large white trench coat covered the man's form, flames dancing at the sleeves edges and bottom lines. A blonde head of hair was partially hidden by the pyramid hat marking his station. Blue eyes, uncharacteristically filled with worry, gazed through the blonde hair, piercing Sarutobi where he sat.
"You're right, but I'm not quite sure what I should plan for…" Sarutobi sighed at Minato's response. While the boy was indeed gifted, and a powerful shinobi, he could sometimes be a bit of a flake.
"Plan for the worst, as always…If you and Kushina were to die in an attack, how would the demon fox be sealed? And if your son was born, and you had to make him the jinchuuriki for the nine tailed fox, with your and Kushina's likely passing, how would you safeguard his proper raising?" Minato seemed to stiffen a bit at Sarutobi's questions. 'I guess he really hasn't planned that much out…not surprising though, the armistice with Iwa is being discussed at the moment…'
Sighing, the Fourth Hokage turned in his chair and looked out over his village. 'I have a few months to get something ready, and Sarutobi is right…I think I'll need to meet with some of the clan heads. They will not like my plan, but they should go through with it if I suggest it ahead of time.' Minato turned, and gave a slight smile to his long-time friend. "I think I have an answer to that, but I'm going to have to keep it under wraps…I'll let you know if the worst is to happen."
"That is as it should be. I look forward to a long retirement, and I hope that my advice, in matters such as this, can help make it a permanent one." Sarutobi nodded as he stood and left the office. 'With any luck, I can get home to my painting now…Ah the joys of retirement, nothing but painting and long morning naps…'
Several Months Later, October 11th
"It came to this after all, Minato. You just couldn't keep me out of retirement longer than a few short years, eh?" Sarutobi sat in his office, once more on the paperwork side of the desk, and looked at the small child that was left with him. There was a great grief in his voice, and weariness to his form, showing the truth to his sixty odd years of age. Alongside the small child, a seal prominent on his stomach, were four other youths, around the same age. Too young to remember what was about to happen, and each destined to become a member of one of the minor clans of the village.
"Now it just remains to be seen which one will watch over you…I wonder if it will be Shikaku or Choza who take you in, they both have surprisingly large hearts…" The door opened behind him, and Sarutobi smiled at the appearance of a woman with spiky brown hair and slit eyes. Red markings appeared on her cheeks, and a slight frown etched across her lips.
"So, Tsume, the Inuzuka will bear this burden in secret then?" Tsume nodded. She held out her hand, and the Hokage pricked her finger gently enough to gather the necessary amount of blood. The tiniest of pricks was applied to one of the sleeping children, and the boy amazingly grunted and did not cry out. Turning to the last child, the blonde one with whiskered markings and blue eyes staring at the old man, Sarutobi sighed. "You will have to keep his name you know? To keep his identity hidden though he will have to be raised without the moniker of Namikaze…"
Tsume eyed the Hokage carefully and nodded. "I understand. His name will be Naruto Inuzuka, an adopted orphan." Sarutobi nodded at this. "It is a name that has been given in the past of the Inuzuka, to represent the maelstrom of claws in our Gatsuuga, and will not stand out greatly. As he is to be raised in my clan, I will raise him as part of my family personally." Sarutobi smiled at this, turning to the young blonde child. With a prick of the boy's finger, the blood ran into him as well. The blonde seemed to tear slightly at this, but did not cry out. 'Your son is astounding Minato…but it will be many years before he is known as the next Namikaze.'
Sarutobi and Tsume watched in interest as the boy's hair color and eyes changed slightly. He became closer in appearance to that of the Inuzuka. Tsume smiled, marveling at the wonders of their Hokage. His cheeks took on three red markings, similar to the normal clan markings but slightly different. His hair became a lighter blonde, closer to a dusty brown color. "Yes, I believe he and Kiba will get along quite nicely as siblings. Though, Kiba may be a bit put out when he's older and realizes he has a younger brother…" Sarutobi chuckled as well, looking at the now changed youth.
"As with anything in the leaf village though, it is the older generation that watches over the newer. Thank you for your help Tsume and I hope the child is raised well in your care." Crossing his hands, several images resembling the child appeared. "Please take Naruto with you, and your son. The others will be called in to pick up one of the doppelgangers. When you all leave, there will be likelihood of investigations by the villagers. Remind them that this is a topic that warrants death if discussed." Tsume nodded and bowed low to the Hokage.
"I will do as you ask Lord Hokage. Naruto will be raised as part of the Inuzuka, and will become a great ninja under my watch."
Two boys with spiky brown hair ran around an outside park. One had slitted brown irises, and the other blue. Both of them though were laughing as they joined the other children playing together on an afternoon day. The other distinguishing difference was the three red marks on each cheek of the blue-eyed boy and the one solid red triangle on the cheeks of the brown-eyed boy. Other than that though, the two shared an uncanny similarity in looks.
"Come on bro, you expect speed like that to be able to keep up with me!" The boys were running through the park, playing a game of tag with some of the other kids.
"Kiba, stop running so fast! It's not my fault you're a year older than me, dang it!" The blue eyed boy put on a burst of speed to catch up to his older brother.
"Jeez Naruto, you still have energy left? You've been chasing me for almost an hour now!" Naruto apparently did not hear his brother as he picked up his speed again and gave a flying tackle, dragging the older boy to the ground. Rolling and tumbling, the two began to wrestle on the ground, fighting with each other. "Did you have to tackle me, you little pipsqueak?" Naruto for his part gave his older brother a smug look as he placed him in a choke hold.
"I may be a pipsqueak, but I'm still stronger and can run faster than you, Kiba!" The older boy struggled for a bit, and finally sighed in defeat.
"Fine, you win this round. Now come on, the others are waiting." Naruto nodded and let his brother rise to his feet.
"Kiba! Naruto! Come on, we have to go home. Mom's got dinner waiting for you!" Both boys flinched at the call of an older girl from the other side of the park.
"Man, why does Hana always have to ruin our fun, huh?" Kiba shook his head at his younger brother and ruffled his hair a bit. "Sorry guys, we'll catch up with you later, okay?" A group of kids called farewells to the two as they left the park. Hana looked down at the two of them smiling and pulled them both into a hard hug.
"Aw, sis, get off! You always do stuff like this!" Kiba complained and tried to pull away, as did Naruto.
"What, I'm not allowed to show a little affection to my little brothers? Besides, looks like you two are becoming quite the schoolyard favorites!" Kiba rolled his eyes, while Naruto looked to just smile up at the girl. "But, it's a good thing you came when you did, as mom says the next litter of nin-dogs is about to come in. You both get to meet your partner's tonight."
Both boys turned and stared at each other wide eyed and smiling. "Wicked…" Hana smiled at the chorus and quickly spun around so she was behind the two of them.
"Come on you two, I already told you mom has dinner waiting…" As she led the boys off they both exploded into questions about the nin-dogs, and partners, and what it was like to work with a nin-dog. Both of them knew the answers to these questions already, but they were both to energetic to really remember much.
Naruto sat on a rock ledge, overlooking a small pond. It was at the back of a small house, with a fence running around a compound. There was no one around, and there seemed to be loud noises coming from inside the house. He sadly skipped rocks across the surface of the pond, trying to block out the sounds of revelry.
'Stupid pups…why didn't any of them choose me? Akamaru came right up to Kiba, no problem. But all the others just stayed away or growled at me…Mom says it has happened before, but…but what if I never get a partner?' Naruto shook off his thoughts to skip another stone across the pond, deliberately trying to keep his eyes thoughts from wandering. He threw the stone a bit too hard, and watched it sail past the edge of the pond, hitting something in the bush. The creature cried out, similar to a dog, and Naruto was instantly on his feet. 'Oh crap, what if I hit one of the house dogs on accident! Mom's gonna be so mad!' Naruto was on his feet and instantly across the pond, running around the edge as fast as he could.
When he got there, he saw a fox mother, who was heavy with kits. 'Oh man, this is bad, I really clipped her good…I'll take her inside, see if mom can do anything about this…' Naruto reached out and was surprised when the fox did not lash out at him. Carefully, he picked the fox up and carried her quickly to the house. "Mom! Come quick!" Tsume opened the door as Naruto approached, and saw the fox carried in his arms. Not asking anything, she took the boy inside and led him past the party area to the veterinary ward. The older Inuzuka gave him a stern look as she opened the door to the clinic.
"I'm not going to ask what happened, but you will explain later. I'm going to help this mother, and then I want to hear your side of the story." Naruto looked down at his feet, but nodded solemnly to his mother. For several hours, Naruto sat outside, and when his mother finally emerged, she shook her head, and gave the boy a long stare.
"I…I was just skipping stones outside. I guess I lost track of how hard I was throwing, because one of my shots went across the pond and into some bushes…I really didn't mean to hit her mom! Is she going to be alright?" Tsume could see the contrition in the boy's face, and hear it in his voice. His smell gave off fear and worry, as well as guilt.
"I'm sorry Naruto, but she's not going to make it. Unfortunately, the birthing was a bit premature, and her head injury was rather harsh. However, one pup did survive, and I'm going to be working with it to make sure it reaches adulthood." Naruto's head sank down, and she heard the boy sniffle once or twice. His mumblings though made her prick up her ears.
"What was that?" Tsume looked down with slight concern in her eyes at her adopted son.
"I want to help raise it. I…I feel really guilty, and I know you have other stuff to do…so please, let me help raise it! I promise I'll do whatever you ask to take care of the pup." Tsume felt her eyes widen a bit, but nodded her head. She watched as the boy's smile widened, and she gave the kid a grin of her own.
"I'll help you out, but you're going to have to do exactly as I say. Would you like to meet him?" Naruto nodded, and the woman smiled at the boy. As they walked in, they saw a small carrier on a table, just high enough for Naruto to see into. Inside, there was a small baby fox, brown fur covering his body. He had a large head, and looked up at Naruto with big eyes.
Naruto reached his hand forward, and Tsume almost pulled the boy back. Before she could though, the fox pupped had leaned forward and started licking the boys hand. 'I've never seen a fox act like that before…' She was even more startled when she saw the markings on his cheek's begin to glow faintly. 'This is his partner…a fox? Well, there goes our great secrecy, Sarutobi. Still, there are records of it happening in the olden days, so I might be able to play this off.' Tsume turned to the boy and gave him a warm smile. "Well Naruto, if your cheek markings are any indication, I'd say you found your partner. Do you want to name him?" Naruto blinked, and nodded at his mom.
"I think Kurama would be a good name for a fox. I think…I think I'm supposed to work with a fox named Kurama." Tsume smiled at the boy, and watched as the light on his cheeks seemed to fade a bit. She was surprised though when instead of going out, they took on a deep red color. The color from the markings raced down his face and arms, red leading a trail of blue that sank into the fox pup. In an instant, the chakra had transferred from Naruto to Kurama. The only problem was, all of Tsume's hackles were fighting to stand on end in fear. When nothing more happened and the feeling passed, she turned to look at the boy. Fighting down her emotions, she put a smile on her face and looked at Naruto.
"That's a great name. I'm sure Kurama and Akamaru will also get along well. Since Kurama is a bit younger though, you'll have to wait awhile before training with him like Kiba and Akamaru." Naruto nodded, a smile on his face.
"I did get a partner after all…" Tsume smiled and ruffled the boy's hair. She pulled a bottle from the rack next to her, and handed it down to him. "We're going to be the best partners, huh Kurama?"
"Alright, last day of the academy! Come on Kiba, Akamaru, get up and let's go! We're gonna learn so much cool stuff once we graduate, and be so impressive!" A dusty blonde haired boy with a fox draped around his neck charged around his brother's room. Kiba for his part hit his head on the ceiling and turned to give his brother a murderous glare. The boy was wearing his now standard shinobi garb, a brown overcoat with brown fur at his collar and wrists, as well as around the base. It blended in nicely with Kurama's color. Black shinobi pants and steel-toed boots completed the get up. Though Kiba could not see the armor directly, he knew his little brother was wearing the clan armor and mesh shirts underneath the clothing. 'He always dresses to the nines, even when we don't have too…'
"Get out of my room pipsqueak, I need to get dressed!" Akamaru yipped from the top bunk of the bunk bed.
"It's not your room, it's our room lazy mutt! I mean, come on, just because you're a whole year older, you're going to hold that over my head?" The fox draped around his shoulders leaned up and nipped him in the ear. "Ow! Damn it Kurama, not you too!" The fox snickered slightly and yawned again.
"Listen to your partner and get out for a second. Go get breakfast ready if you are so excited and everything." Kiba shifted and rolled out of bed, watching as his brother left the room. He pulled out a matching grey version of his brother's coat, as well as some black shinobi pants and sandals. After he was dressed, he came out to the dining room to find his sister, mom, and Naruto all gathered around the table.
"Nervous Kiba? I mean, you do have to live up to your younger brother's reputation and all, right?" Kiba shot his sister a murderous glare as he poured himself a bowl of cereal.
"Just because spaz here has more energy than anyone else doesn't mean I have to worry about keeping up." Naruto snickered across the table and smirked at his brother.
"Don't be mad that I did better than you on the sensory test…" Kiba gave the boy a harsh glare.
"You only did better on the hearing portion, I still have you beat on the smelling bit." Naruto shrugged and dug into his meal. Tsume shook her head and finished a bite of bacon as she looked at the two brothers.
"The both of you will be just fine. You have the basics down, and have your beast clones to cover for you. On top of that, you have some of the best marks in the academy overall." Naruto hmphed angrily and bit into some more of his food.
"Yeah, except for the stupid emo-teme and the big pink brainiac." Kiba smirked at his brother out of the corner of his eyes.
"You sure you're not crushing on that girl? You do sure like to complain a lot about how she always does better than you on the homework…" Naruto blushed slightly and growled at his older brother, getting a laugh out of the boy. "Just messing with you, I know you don't really care for any of the girls in the class." Naruto shook his head in dismissal, and then glanced at the clock.
"Aw crap, if we don't hurry we're going to miss the upfront seats! Stupid emo-teme and his fan club always take the best seats if you're not fifteen minutes early!" Kiba rolled his eyes at his brother and dug into his meal a bit more. "I'll see you there bro, make sure you're not late or I'll graduate without you!" Kiba growled and ran to the window to shout after his brother.
"Even if you graduate before me, I'm still gonna be Hokage a hundred years before you will!" Tsume and Hana sighed and shook their heads. Their boys were just always like this it seemed.
Later that afternoon, Jounin Lounge
"Looks like we have a bunch of strong graduates this year huh?" A man with long, stand up silver hair stood by one of the corners, next to a burly man with black hair and a slight beard. Both of them were wearing a standard shinobi set of pants and shirt, with flak-jackets covering their chests, and weapon pouches on both of their hips. The silver haired man had a mask covering his face, whereas his compatriot had a cigarette hanging from his lips.
"Yeah, though I really wanted to build up another Ino-Shika-Cho trio…too bad you get Shikamaru and I get stuck with Naruto." The black haired man took a drag on his cigarette as his partner glanced up in thought. One of his eyes was covered with a leaf village headband, and he seemed to have just paused from reading an orange colored book.
"You know, I would be willing to trade you Shikamaru for Naruto…I'm used to running black-ops missions, and not really good at this whole teaching thing…If you want to, we can trade, and I'll petition the Hokage to have me train them as a hunter squad." The man next to him stiffened slightly at the unusual idea.
"Are you sure Kakashi? Most hunter squads are made up of Chunin that undergo special training to take on those sorts of missions…" Kakashi just shrugged and seemed to go back to his book for a moment.
"Well, Sasuke will undoubtedly be a good in close combatant with his Sharingan, and I can be his second. Naruto is an Inuzuka, and his tracking skills are apparently only second to the next clan heir. And Sakura supposedly could become strong at genjutsu, and possibly medical ninjutsu. That would make a perfect hunter squad if I could get them up to speed." Kakashi put his book away and turned to look at the man with a steady and friendly gaze. "What do you say, Asuma? Up for a little trade?" Asuma chuckled and put out his cigarette.
"Sure, sounds good to me. Let's go see if the old man is up for a little switch up from the plan…"
Naruto sat in the front row, Sasuke Uchiha on his right and the window on his left. A grin was plastered across his face, waiting for his turn to take the exam. "Naruto Inuzuka, come to the testing room now." Naruto turned to give Sasuke a friendly and challenging smirk.
"Heh, well Sasuke, let's see which one of us is Rookie of the Year! Best of luck to you!" Sasuke just turned to give him an apathetic glare.
"Hn. Like a loudmouth like you could best an Uchiha." Naruto felt his glare tighten a bit, and Kurama raised his head off of Naruto's shoulder to look the man in the eyes with a harsh glare.
"Naruto, you need to go now!" A yell from Iruka-sensei had Naruto moving at a fast pace.
"Coming Iruka-sensei." Naruto let a low growl escape his throat as he walked past the Uchiha. As he did, he heard the whispers from Sasuke's assembled fan club.
'Who does Naruto think he is?' 'Getting Sasuke riled up as always…why do those two have to fight?' 'Oh well, at least they both are cute when they are angry…'
Shaking his head at the last one, Naruto rounded the corner and came into the testing room.
"Alright, in order to pass, you need to demonstrate two academy techniques, and some form of the clone technique. Any additional techniques will go towards raising your overall score." The proctor barely looked up from his exam, not giving the boy a second glance.
"Alright. I'm going to demonstrate the rope escape jutsu, and the substitution jutsu. For the clone technique, I'm going to use the man beast clone, as well as several Inuzuka jutsu" That got the bored instructor, Mizuki-sensei, to look up from his clipboard.
"Ah, another Inuzuka. Alright kid, get on with it. Your clan has never had a failed ninja, so I know you have this stuff down." Mizuki watched with mild interest as the fox jumped from the boys shoulder before being fed a military pill. In an instant the red fox had its color deepen and its eyes became red and slitted. The aura of chakra coming from the two was palpable, and ominous, surprising for one his age. When the two transformed, there were two identical Naruto's standing there, their faces having deeper than usual tribal markings, and their eyes both blood shot red with black slits. They had sizeable claws now, and the fangs from his face were terrifyingly long.
The chakra radiating from the boy was also slightly visible, though the former ominous feeling was missing. Mizuki nodded, and wiped some sweat from his brow. 'This kid has got a lot of power for his age…no wonder he's second ranked to the Uchiha.' Motioning for the boy to continue, Mizuki watched as they performed flawless examples of the All Four's jutsu, as well as the legendary Gatsuuga. After that, the two academy techniques were flawlessly demonstrated. "All right, you pass. Now come and grab a headband and then call for Uchiha Sasuke, he's next." Naruto nodded and gave a quick 'yes, sensei' before disappearing out the door. Mizuki shook his head as he watched him go. 'If we could give points for amount of chakra, that kid would definitely have the Uchiha beat…'
"Alright, that concludes the tests for the day. To those who have passed, there is a week off before you must return here for team assignments. I will post the individual rankings on the board at that time as well." The class gave some various responses and Iruka shook his head. Another bland year, though this one had several stand out ninja. He was surprised when a dirty blonde head of hair came up to his desk.
"Sensei, thank you for everything. You have been a very good teacher, and I've enjoyed working with you." Iruka was surprised at the bow he got from Naruto, but returned a slight one back as well.
"It's no problem Naruto. I enjoy teaching. Actually, since you had the best scores on the listening portion of the surveillance exam, would you like to learn a scouting jutsu with me over the next week or so?" Naruto blinked but then a grin came over his face.
"Would I ever! That'd be awesome, I can't wait to tell Kiba about this!" Noticing a questioning look from Iruka, Naruto pulled himself back into a respectful pose. "That is, uh, once I get it down of course…" Iruka shook his head but smiled and ruffled the kid's hair.
"Come on out back, I'll show it to you. It's an echolocation technique, so your acute hearing should come in really handy for this." Naruto nodded, moving away from the academy with Iruka in tow.
One week later
"Welcome back everyone. This is the last time I'm going to serve as your academy instructor, so I want you all to listen to my last words. From today, all of you are the adult ninja of this village. Please remember everything you have learned here, and continue to build upon your shinobi career. When you look back, these will be some of the calmer and better times of your adult life." Naruto sort of phased out of the rest of Iruka's speech, practicing his chakra pulse technique while he had the chance. He managed to get it down in a week with Iruka, who thought the boy's work ethic was astounding. Currently, he could only just pulse his chakra in a sphere, and make out objects and shapes from a couple hundred feet away. Solid walls still got in his way, but he was getting better at making out basic faces and body outlines at least.
"Alright, the class rankings are as such…" Naruto stopped using the chakra pulse and looked up hesitantly towards the board. "Rookie of the year, Uchiha Sasuke…" A large chorus of cheers went around the room at this news, and Naruto cursed vehemently under his breath. 'Oh well, at least that means that I'm not on the same team as him…the Rookie always gets placed with the dead-last, so I'm out of that problem.' "Runner up…Inuzuka Naruto…" Naruto smirked and gave a thumbs up to his seat mate, who smirked and shook his head.
"You made it close though, Inuzuka. You were only trailing me by ten points." Naruto smiled at that. 'The bastard is not so bad sometimes I guess. Still, glad I won't have to work with him, probably end up with that lazy Shikamaru.' Naruto again phased out of listening as he worked on his technique. He went back to putting his head down on his desk, waiting for the team announcements to come.
"Alright, the team announcements are as follows…Team Seven will be Uchiha Sasuke, Haruno Sakura," a loud cry of victory rang out from the fan club section, "…and Inuzuka Naruto." Dead silence rang throughout the class.
"Wait a second Iruka-sensei, I thought the dead last and the Rookie of the Year were supposed to be paired up? Why am I on the team and Shikamaru isn't?" Naruto gave Iruka a questioning look and the Chuunin just shrugged in response.
"I'm not sure why we're not following the normal pattern, but that isn't happening this year. Sorry Naruto, but you're stuck with Sasuke and Sakura." Naruto shrugged and gave Sasuke a cocky look.
"Guess we just get a couple more years to compete, eh Sasuke?" The boy smirked back and nodded.
"It'll be good to have someone as strong as you to test myself against." Sakura happened to be sitting next to Sasuke, and she smiled a bit.
"We're really lucky, we have the top three kids in our class on the same team. No way we don't all blow everyone out of the water!" Sakura smiled to her new teammates. 'Cha! We totally have the two class hunks for teammates! Take that Ino-pig!'
"Now that that's over with, Team Eight will be Hyuuga Hinata, Inuzuka Kiba, and Aburame Shino." Kiba smirked down to his younger brother.
"Don't get a big head Naruto, I bet your teacher won't be near as awesome as mine will!" Naruto stuck his tongue out at his brother who returned the rude gesture by pulling down his eyelid in response.
"WILL YOU ALL QUIT ACTING LIKE CHILDREN ALREADY!" Iruka's big head transformation scared all the kids back into order. "Now then, Team 10 will be Yamanaka Ino, Akimichi Choji, and Nara Shikamaru. All of you are to wait here for your Jonin instructor, who will meet with you after lunch. Team Eleven will be..." Iruka's voice continued to drone on, and Naruto pushed his voice out of his head...
Naruto pulled out his bento box as he sat on one of the benches in the park. Looking up, he saw Sasuke approach and raise a single eyebrow in question. Naruto nodded and gave him a seat on the bench. Sakura quickly rounded the corner, and blushed heavily upon seeing the Uchiha. Naruto rolled his eyes, but again moved over so the girl could have a seat. "So, teammates, huh? What exactly do you think they put the three best in class on a team for?" Sakura looked up at Naruto's question, tearing her eyes off of Sasuke. 'Jeez she's obsessed…' She was wearing a pink dress with black shorts underneath, concealing her weapons pouch. Sasuke for his part had on a pair of khaki shorts and blue top with the Uchiha fan on the back of his shirt. Arm guards covered in white padding covered his wrist to his elbows.
"Well, we have a tracker in you, Naruto, and a fighter in Sasuke. Since I have perfect chakra control, I'll probably be encouraged to take up genjutsu and medical techniques. Probably some interrogation too… Squads like that I think work as hunter-nin squads…" Naruto blinked in surprise at her answer. Hunter-nin squads usually had an Inuzuka in the ranks, so it wasn't that surprising once he thought about the team makeup.
"I have no problem with being on a hunter-nin squad, so long as you both put in your all. I want to not only be the best this year, but become one of the best that Konoha has to offer." Sasuke kept his gaze on his food as he dug into his lunch. 'Especially since if I want to defeat Itachi, even with the help of you two, we're going to need to be some of the best.'
"I've got no problem with that myself. Me and Kurama here are determined to become the Hokage, right boy?" The fox opened one eye with a smile, and gave a short nod.
"You really think an Inuzuka could become Hokage, Naruto?" Naruto turned to her and gave a sharp nod.
"Inuzuka have always stuck close to the Hokages. As such, we are known for being advisors and relatives to the Senju. It's not too much of stretch to see us getting there if we work hard." Sakura smiled at him. The guy, for all of his rough edges at times, was full of confidence at least.
"Well, I can see you making it, but cute little Kurama here seems like he just wants to sleep all the time." Sakura reached out and scratched behind the foxes ears, who merely smiled in response and leaned into it a bit.
"Oh, seems he likes you! So far, he's only let you and that weird Hyuuga girl touch him." Sakura gave Naruto a frown at that, and lightly flicked him in the forehead above his metal protector.
"Ow! What was that for Sakura?" Sasuke sighed as he looked straight at Naruto.
"You know, you may be able to sense people's movements, but you apparently are bad at reading people's emotions…" Naruto blinked owlishly at that once or twice, before letting out a low growl.
"Say's the guy who has no emotions! You calling me stupid, you bastard?" Naruto was cut off by Kurama turning and nipping him on the ear. "Oh, sorry Kurama, I keep forgetting that my yelling hurts your ears." Kurama closed his eyes and leaned in more for Sakura to pet him.
Sasuke finished his bento and stood up suddenly. "I'm finished, so I'm going to go wait in the room. I'll see you both there." Sasuke left, not turning back to see the nods of acknowledgement from Naruto and Sakura.
"That guy can really be a stick in the mud when he wants to, huh?" Naruto turned to Sakura who only nodded slightly.
"Yeah, but he's had a pretty harsh childhood. I'm just worried about being on this hunter squad Naruto…you don't think they assembled us to help Sasuke with his…family issues, do you?" Naruto shrugged in response.
"I don't know Sakura, but that doesn't seem like the Hokage's style. Maybe, but I'm not sure." He shrugged again, and scratched Kurama underneath the chin. "No matter what though, we're definitely going to need to get stronger to work as a hunter-nin squad." He smiled at the girl for a second. "If you want, I can ask my mom about having you come over and learn some medic-nin stuff…she's no Tsunade, but she can at least teach you the basics." Sakura smiled at him. It had been really rough for her, as she did not come from a ninja family. Becoming the third best student in the class had taken her entire effort.
"Thanks Naruto. You really are a sweet guy underneath your loudmouth act. And you are rather respectful when you want to be." Naruto grinned sheepishly and rubbed the back of his head with his hand.
"No problem, let's go meet up with emo-prince and wait for our sensei." Sakura shook her head at the boy, but nodded and followed after him.
'Hm…the team dynamic doesn't seem as bad as I feared…the Inuzuka kid is interesting to say the least. Especially with a fox for a partner. On top of that, with what the Hokage informed me of when I took the team, that boy may very well be a dangerous ninja already.' Kakashi sighed as he jumped through the trees. 'Guess I have to show up on time for this team, they actually seem to know what they are doing. Sorry Obito, but I'll pay you a visit later.'
Asuma stood in the academy class, leaning back against a blackboard as he watched the students filter into the classroom. 'Still can't believe the old man agreed to Kakashi's request. That team should be scary good by the time that they get done with his training.' He turned as a black haired beauty walked into the class room. Wavy black hair, piercing red eyes, and an outfit of a red dress with white wraps to hug all the right curves drew Asuma's approving glance. "Looking good Kurenai. New outfit for the Jonin promotion?" Yuuhi Kurenai rolled her eyes at her longtime friend and acquaintance Sarutobi Asuma.
"Can't have all of you male Jonin setting the fashion standard for us ninja. If we did, then Gai would probably lead the charge on wearing jumpsuits." Asuma shuddered appreciatively at that, and looked over the group.
"Doesn't look like we have too many trendsetters in this group, so that's a plus for once." As he said that, the door opened behind them and the two turned to see Hatake Kakashi walk in, looking rather sheepish. "Surprised to see you here so early Kakashi…" Kakashi rubbed the back of his head, continuing to give an eye smile of embarrassment.
"Well, you see, I was thinking that we were supposed to be here when the academy started, so I thought I was already late." Asuma blinked in surprise. 'That's an actually decent lie Kakashi. Guess you must have seen something in your team that you liked…maybe I shouldn't have traded Naruto…' Kurenai though did not catch the lie from the older Jonin and shook her head in embarrassment for the man.
"You really do need to work on that tardiness issue you know?" Kurenai sighed as she looked over the class. "Oh well, at least I got the reconnaissance squad I wanted, what about you two?" Asuma shrugged and looked over the class makeup.
"So long as they all pass, which I'm sure they will, we should have a second coming of the Ino-Shika-Cho trio…" Asuma pulled a cigarette out of his pocket, but when he got a disapproving glare from his female compatriot sighed and returned it to the pack.
"From what I managed to see, I think I'm going to get a nice hunter-nin group…I really hope they pass, I actually want to teach this team." Kakashi turned at that moment to look at Kurenai. "Say, I was wondering…would you be interested in helping my female student with Genjutsu techniques when the time comes? I only know the basic D-A rank ones of Hell Viewing. Nothing more than that." Kurenai gave the man a small smile before nodding.
"But I'm expecting help in kind Kakashi. You are one of the better infiltration experts, so if my team can pick you up, I'll know that they have some of the basic skill sets down that they need." Kakashi eye-smiled in return.
"Sounds like a deal." At that moment, Naruto and Sakura walked into the classroom and joined Sasuke at the front. "Well, if you'll excuse me, I have a genin team to test." Asuma blinked in surprise.
"Not going to wear them down like usual Kakashi?" Kakashi shook his head and gave a thumbs up as he walked forward.
"I like this one Asuma, I want them to pass." Asuma shrugged and smiled. Kakashi seemed to actually be interested for once, so who was he to judge.
"Alright, Team Seven, right?" His presence got a nod from Sasuke, Naruto, and Sakura." Kakashi looked them over carefully, and nodded to himself. "My first impression of you…is that you are not all entirely worthless." Smiling inwardly at the various looks of shock and outrage playing across their face, Kakashi held up a hand before they could get too riled. "Meet me on the roof in two minutes. I want to get to know all of you." With that, Kakashi disappeared from the room in a shunshin, leaving a startled group of kids behind.
"Come on, we got to hurry! I'm not letting that bastard get away from me!" Naruto was up and out of his seat, with Sakura and Sasuke rushing behind them.
"Wait up Naruto…Jeez, that guy is full of energy…" Sasuke raced to catch up to the disappearing blonde, Sakura pulling close behind. Two minutes later found the three of them panting on the roof top, looking at a calmly seated Kakashi. The man did not even look the slightest bit winded and was happily reading and giggling to a little orange book.
"Oh, you all made it. Good! Now we can get some team introductions done." Naruto had already sat down, and Kurama leapt off his shoulders, stretched, and then growled lightly at Kakashi before curling up on Naruto's lap. "Since fido there doesn't seem to like me, why don't you go first?"
"Sure. My name is Inuzuka Naruto. My partner's name is Kurama. Unlike most Inuzuka, Kurama is a fox, which means his hearing is superb, but his sense of smell is not quite as good as some of the nin-dogs." Kurama bit at his hand, but Naruto pulled it away quickly. "He doesn't agree with that, but it is true. I am also skilled in the Inuzuka techniques, and have mastered the basic academy techniques. My chakra control is sub-par, though that's due to my larger than normal reserves. I like going for walks with Kurama, and I dislike cats of any kind. My hobbies are gardening and cooking. My dream for the future is to beat my brother to the title of Hokage." Kakashi nodded at all this, surprised by the amount of detail.
"I didn't know you liked to cook Naruto! I thought Kiba said that he hates cooking because the smells make his nose feel weird." Naruto chuckled at Sakura's question.
"That's because Kiba has an overly sensitive nose…I once put some chili powder on Akamaru, and whenever Kiba got near him he would sneeze for over a week straight!" Kurama seemed to snicker at that and snuggle closer to Naruto's lap. Kakashi smiled at the display and nodded to Sasuke.
"My name is Uchiha Sasuke. I am skilled at the academy basics, as well as fire ninjutsu, wire and kunai techniques, and my clans interceptor style. I don't particularly like anything, but I have a feeling that I might enjoy working with this team. By the same token, I do not dislike anything except incompetent people. I have no hobbies. Though I may not have a dream, I have two goals. The resurrection of my clan, and avenging my clan's murder." All of the other's sweat dropped at the final statement, and Kakashi shook his head.
'Getting him to come around and not be a flight risk is going to be a lot of work.' He turned to see the dreamy, far eyed look that Sakura gave him. 'Especially while turning her into a decent kunoichi…oh well, at least Naruto seems well balanced. Though I wonder how meeting the fox and learning about his hidden past will affect him…'
"So, it's the fire ninjutsu's that probably put you as rookie of the year huh? I kept asking mom to let me start on elemental training, but she said that getting my teamwork down with Kurama came first." Sasuke shrugged, and gave a non-committal smile.
"Probably. If you want, I'll teach them to you if you come by and spar with me a couple of times." Naruto grinned back as well.
"Definitely. That would totally be wicked to get some fire techniques down." Kakashi felt this was the right moment to cut in.
"Let's worry about training later, we have one introduction left to go." The slight side notes had seemed to give Sakura a second to compose herself.
"Right. My name is Haruno Sakura. I am skilled in the academy basics, as well as setting advanced traps. I also have very high chakra control, and got the best academic grades in the academy. I also have slight proficiency in genjutsu, but only for recognizing and breaking them for now. I'd like to work on improving that and medical ninjutsu skills, as well as some interrogation skills." The girl paused for a moment to glance over to Sasuke. "My likes are…um…well…I like boys that are quiet and respectful, but that are also very strong. I dislike overly loud idiot guys that try to get me to go on dates with them. My hobbies are needlework, and singing karaoke. My dream for the future is to lead a strong kunoichi career, then retire and settle down to raise a family." Kakashi smiled a bit at the last one, surprised that she seemed to also have some idea about where she wanted to go. 'Between the three of them, that's the most reasonable introduction I've heard yet.'
"Right then. Guess I'll go last. My name is Hatake Kakashi. I am a highly skilled jonin with a large number of techniques. I have many likes…but I'm not sharing that with you yet. As for my dislikes…those are rather personal. Same for my hobbies and dreams." Kakashi felt his grin grow behind his mask, but he kept it from his eyes. The looks of shock on their face were just too perfect. "However, if you can pass my little test today, I am going to make it my goal to turn you three into a powerful hunter-nin team."
"Huh? Test?" The triple chorus, even from the stoic Uchiha had Kakashi practically ready to bust a gut.
"That's right, a test. If the three of you can pass it, I'll make you my genin squad, and train you to be hunter-nin. If you fail, then you have to come back here for a year of remedial lessons." Kakashi felt the eyes of all three narrow on him. 'Oh man, they are really fired up. This is going to be interesting.'
Pulling out some sheets of paper, Kakashi handed them to the three of them. "Sign those, then meet me at Training Ground Seven. Bring everything you might need for a survival mission. I'm looking forward to this, so try to make it within the next hour or so." Expecting them to all leap up and go at once, Kakashi was surprised when they stopped and signed the papers then and there.
"I brought enough stuff for a team survival mission, as my mom always has Kiba and I travel prepared. It's in my sealing scroll. We can take your test now Kakashi-sensei." Kakashi stiffened, and smiled at Tsume's level of doggedness. 'Makes sense though…' Kakashi chuckled at his silent pun, though he did notice the two of them hand in their forms as well.
"You both really want to trust Naruto on this? You're staking your career on his preparedness…" Sasuke shook his head and smirked at Kakashi.
"Fox boy here may have come in second to me, but he's always been on his game. Tsume-san made sure of that. If Naruto says he is ready, he is." Sakura nodded in agreement to Sasuke.
"See you at Training Ground Seven then…" Kakashi disappeared into a puff of smoke, leaving the three of them surprised when they saw a map in front of them. On it was a chibi drawing of Konoha with big black letters pointing to the marked training ground. There was also an electronic timer, showing they had five minutes to get there.
Kakashi fought, but failed to keep the chuckle from his voice when the three of them arrived at the training ground. "Glad to see you all could make it. Now then, the test is very simple." Kakashi held up two small bells.
"Your job is to get these from me. Whosoever gets a bell, will get dinner. Whosoever fails, will not, and be tied to a stump." He stood by a row of three stumps and started an alarm clock on the top. "If you fail to get a bell, or give up before the four hours is up…you get sent back to the academy for a year of remedial training." That got the reaction he was hoping for.
"What the hell! You said that we could all pass this test!" Naruto had a grim look set on his face, and Kurama had jumped down from his shoulders growling.
"I said you could all pass…I never said you would pass as a team. Now, before we go any further, there are some ground rules. You must come at me with the intent to kill. Don't hold back." Naruto growled even further.
"I've got intent to kill alright you goddamn prick!" Naruto was almost shaking with anger at the moment. Sasuke, though controlled much better, was also visibly peeved.
"Shut up Naruto! You know I hate it when you yell!" Sakura herself was looking rather worried about the whole idea. 'Cha! One second he's so cool, then the next a total idiot! But, he's still not gonna get a bell before me!'
'Well, that worked rather easily.' "Other than that, you may start when I say go." Kakashi looked at them all as they tensed to move. "Go." In a blur the three ninja disappeared, Kurama stashed safely around Naruto's neck once more. "Well, at least they all know how to hide adequately…"
"Psst…Sakura…I have a plan." Sakura turned to see Naruto approaching her.
"What do you want Naruto?" Naruto rolled his eyes at her fearful tone. 'She really thinks I'm coming here to knock her out of the competition, doesn't she?'
"Look, I did some thinking, and I figured something out. You and Sasuke have more to lose than I do by failing." Sakura blinked in surprise at him. "I mean, Kiba's already in this year, so the teams will probably have an Inuzuka anyways. I can join next year and be just fine. On top of that, you like Sasuke. I'd be a prick to pull you away from him." Sakura found a kind smile come to her face and tears well at the corners of her eyes. She bit her lip but nodded, not trusting her voice for a second.
"Let's find Sasuke then. If we work together, I'm sure the two of you can get a bell no problem."
Sasuke felt the arrival of Kakashi's chakra signature nearby. 'Shit, he knows where I am…' Three more signatures landed close by as well. 'And there here too…this is bad.'
"Sasuke, we've decided to work together to fight Kakashi. Come out and join us." Sasuke heard Sakura's voice come from the direction of Naruto's signature. 'Alright, maybe with their help we can do this…let's hope they don't get in my way…'
"Teaming up is valiant and all, but who's going to be left behind I wonder?" Sasuke moved as quickly as he could to dodge a drop kick that smashed the branch he'd been hiding on. In a second he was racing across the forest to meet up with the others. They stood in an open clearing, facing towards Kakashi's last location. "I'll be generous and give you ten minutes to strategize." His voice carried over the clearing, and he saw the three animatedly begin talking.
'Well, their ten minutes are up...let's see how they do..' "Deciding to face me openly in the field is honorable and all…but remember, we're ninja. Honor isn't really supposed to be a strong suit for us…" The voice came from the forest, and Naruto and Kurama tensed.
"Alright Kurama, let's show him what we're made of…" Naruto passed a military ration pill to the fox, who swallowed it. The foxes fur grew thicker and then seemed to grow in size. Before long, he came up to Naruto's waist at the shoulder. The change also saw the chakra of the two of them swell to an almost oppressive level. "Let's go wild. Man Beast Clone Jutsu." A puff of smoke later, two Naruto's stood there, claws of two inches or more extending from his hands. His face markings had darkened and his fangs extended. "All Fours Jutsu." The feral appearance only increased, and suddenly there was an orange chakra swirling around the two of them. Its feel was oppressive, and laden with bloodlust. Sasuke and Sakura both took a step back, wanting to give the boy some room.
'That chakra is really similar to the demon fox…but much less potent. It must be part of the bonding process that the boy went through with his fox familiar. This fight is going to be serious.' Kakashi stashed his book, then made a shadow clone to move underground towards his opponent. "Looks like someone is a little bit antsy…still, this should be fun." Kakashi burst into the clearing, charging towards the feral looking Naruto. 'I'll have to end this fast. He's got a lot of power there, and not a lot of control. One stray shot, and I'm in big trouble. Plus, I have to fight to subdue, no injuries allowed. Minato sensei really was good to beat us with no injuries.'
"Gatsuuga!" Kakashi dodged as the twin roving missiles came towards him, just managing to dip under hastily thrown kunai and shuriken from Sakura. "Fire Style: Phoenix Flower" Kakashi dodged again as more of them came in, and was really surprised by the smirk on Sasuke's face, as well as the wire…
"Oh shit." Kakashi managed to bring a kunai up and cut through the wire on his left, dipping out just in time to see a flaming dragon crash where he would have been. Kakashi raised his forehead protector and brought his Sharingan to bear. 'To think they made me do this…I'm going to like teaching this team…' Kakashi watched Sasuke's movements, and waded easily through the hail of incoming projectiles of Sakura. He smiled as his clone managed to capture Sasuke and subdue the girl, only to be destroyed by a roving Gatsuuga. 'Still, looks like I can handle this…wait, where's the other Naruto…'
"Gatsuuga!" Kakashi felt the attack rip by his belt, pull off two bells, and then throw them to his teammates. "Haha! Take that Kakashi-sensei, we passed! Now who's the big bad Jonin, huh?" Kakashi spiked his killing intent ominously. He watched in satisfaction as the three cowered and he approached on them.
"Naruto…are you telling me that you sacrificed yourself for the betterment of your team? Are you throwing away your ninja career, when you claimed to want to be Hokage? And you two are fine with that?" Sasuke and Sakura both shrunk back from the terrifying man. Kurama had turned back to a fox again, and was cowering near Naruto. "ANSWER ME!"
"They…they needed to pass more than I did. There is already a probable Inuzuka in the graduating class, so my need was less than theirs. As such, I volunteered for this position." Kakashi's iron gaze swept over to the other two team members.
"And you approved of this why?" His tone was less deafening, but the chill calm of it almost unnerved them further.
"We both agreed that if we did pass, to come and help him with what we learned while training with you, no matter what you said. His dream is to be Hokage and will take time, and he accepted as much." Sasuke struggled to speak under the pressing killing intent but carried onward. "However, we both argued against that, and said that if he was going to take the fall, that we would make sure he still got some benefit from it." Kakashi's gaze grew even harder if possible.
"And if I told you doing so would be a violation of the rules of the village…are you willing to break with such to respect an oath given to a comrade?" Sasuke and Sakura both nodded, and Kakashi pushed to draw his killing intent to its fever pitch. "Then all I have to say to you, as a dispenser of justice for the village, is that you all…" his voice faded off into silence as he pulled a kunai from his pouch. The three genin were trembling in fear, and pulling back and away from him. "…PASS!" The kunai popped into an extra bento, and the three of them gave him the most confused look ever.
Moving quickly to the nearby training posts, Kakashi patted the alarm clock on the head, and saw it transform back into a bento box. "Come on, let's eat and celebrate. It's been teen years since anyone has passed this test, and I feel like eating heartily." Kakashi turned to see the burnt out expressions of disbelief on all three of his students.
"You're telling us you haven't passed a single team in ten years with this exercise?" Kakashi nodded to Naruto. "Sensei, don't take this wrong way, but do you suffer from insanity?" Kakashi turned and gave him a smirk. 'This is too much fun…' He took a piece of sushi and slowly brought it towards his masked face. In a seeming defiance of the laws of reality, the sushi passed straight through his mask, where he ate it rather pleasantly.
"Suffer from it…I enjoy every minute of it."
Alright, there's the first chapter. Yes, I did not have Naruto learn the Shadow Clone Jutsu. No, he will not go forever without learning it, he will learn it eventually. As for Mizuki, he has no chance to do much for Orochimaru at the moment, but serve as an information gather on their training methods. Yes, this will be more than a one-shot, and I plan on continuing it. No I'm not abandoning my other stories. This will most likely follow cannon fairly closely, though I can think of a few changes. I think that's about it, so let me know what you think in the reviews! Catch you all next time!