Mizuki watched in shock as the enemy nin had appeared out of nowhere, ambushing him and his teammate only moments after they'd split off from the rest of the team to pursue a group of bandits. Before he could even react to the much stronger than expected opponent, the man had knocked his teammate unconscious and used said teammate as a meat shield in order to block the Fuuma shuriken that he had flung at him. There was nothing he could do, and no time to do it in. His teammate whom he'd hated, and wanted dead at times during the long ass escort mission they had been put on was going to die. While he had thought he would enjoy watching the other man die, he learned when it was far too late that he didn't.

In the final instant, the last millisecond before the massive four bladed shuriken cut through his partner, it was suddenly blocked by another man who had appeared out of nowhere, and the enemy ninja who was holding his unconscious teammate was brought down. The shock over the seemingly inevitable passing of his teammate was replaced by confusion. The only thing he could think was Yondaime? !

When the stranger turned around, he saw that it was not the Yondaime. The man strongly resembled him however, having similar shaggy sun blond hair, and bright blue eyes. The stranger's most distinctive feature though was the set of very familiar markings he had on each cheek. Markings he couldn't quite place.

When the man saw him, he gave him a look that he would have labeled hatred if it didn't also give off the feeling that hatred was too good for him.

"Mizuki." the man said, uttering his name as if it were a curse.

"Who are you?" he asked.

"Someone who gives help when it is needed." the man said as he began tending to his injured and unconscious teammate who had nearly died by his hand. "As I try to return to my home, I find myself ending up at points where a great change for the better could happen, and do what I can to make that change. Obviously, your teammate here is going to be very important in the future."

"What about me?" he asked feeling his jealousy of his teammate rise up once more and burn away his concern for his comrade.

"You?" the man said in contempt. "You're beyond saving."

Years later, Mizuki approached a small boy. He had been going nowhere in Konoha, and had never received any of the respect he deserved from the people who should be giving it to him. As he'd been contemplating his options, he'd received a rather lucrative offer from Orochimaru several weeks earlier that he had decided to take the Sannin up on. To sweeten the deal and receive his long denied rank of Jounin, as well as a great deal of favor from his future Kage, he had decided to steal the Forbidden Scroll of Seals. If he happened to open the scroll along the way to Otogakure and learn a few amazingly powerful techniques...

In order to retrieve the scroll, he would need help to get it, and a patsy to take the blame. Who better to do both than the demon fox who was hated by everyone?

As he spun the lie that would net the creature who was determined to become a ninja, probably to better be able to destroy the village, he looked down into the boy's eyes to see how well his story was being received. The demon had blue eyes that looked much like the Yondaime's had. Blue eyes that had been set in a face with markings on each cheek that he had a nagging feeling he'd seen elsewhere. Blue eyes that had been set in a face with three markings on each cheek that was below a head of shaggy sun blond hair much like the Yondaime had. Something that had annoyed him to no end, because it was a daily reminder of the loss the village had suffered as the demon had spat on the Yondaime's sacrifice.

"You?" a voice from his past whispered coldly. "You're beyond saving."

As he wracked his brain trying to remember who had uttered those words, he'd nearly fallen over in shock when he finally got it. The being before him was a child version of the man who had come and rescued him and his teammate during an escort mission years earlier. This monster clothed in a child's skin didn't look at him with disgust as if he were the lowest creature in the universe however. This child looked up at him with complete and utter trust, as if he believed that he cared for him and would never lead him astray.

As he looked into the eyes of that trusting child, he knew what had happened to cause the adult version of the boy who was seated next to him to hate him so much. The child who had really trusted him and looked up to him at this point had survived the act of betrayal he had been planning this evening, and he had not.

"So what's this other test you were telling me about?" the boy asked eagerly.

"Well, it's going to be rather difficult, since you're going to have to learn a new and incredibly difficult High-Chunin level jutsu before the final list of graduates is handed in tomorrow." Mizuki said, making up something on the spot after coming to a decision that was as much about saving his own skin as it was about the contempt that the stranger who had saved him had had for him. He hadn't actually given Orochimaru a definitive answer about joining him, so the man hadn't exactly been expecting him, though he had mentioned the possibility of bringing the Forbidden Scroll of Seals with him if he did so. Orochimaru could believe that he'd chickened out at the last second if he wanted to. Much to his own shame, that was close enough to the truth.

He had long ago figured out why the Uzumaki hadn't been able to make a standard Bunshin, but had never told the boy or Iruka who had apparently thought the boy wasn't trying hard enough because of the reputation he'd picked up for being a slacker despite the fact that he was one of the hardest working students in the class. He had watched the boy for weeks in order to prepare for what he had originally planned to do today.

The boy looked simultaneously excited and dismayed by his "test" which seemed impossible but probably wasn't, considering how much Chakra the boy had.

"Tell you what." he said in order to encourage the child who looked daunted by the task that was ahead of him, but not yet ready to give up. "If you get it in under three hours, I'll give you my hitai-ate and treat you to ramen."

The boy hopped up excitedly and vowed to learn the technique in under two.

Two and a half hours later, one of the Academy training grounds that had been located near a pond was covered in Mizu Bunshin, and a rather stunned Mizuki was handing over his hitai-ate.

Not worth saving, huh? Mizuki thought several years later as he stood besides Iruka in a place of honor in the Rokudaime Hokage's new Council of Advisors as the crowd cheered at the new Hokage's inauguration.

After he had taught Naruto the Mizu Bunshin rather than tricked the child into stealing the Forbidden Scroll of Seals, his fortunes had picked up. Rather than dying or being imprisoned that night, he had been free to return home to his girlfriend Tsubaki. When he saw Tsubaki, he realized that he'd nearly thrown away something very precious to him in his quest for power. Tsubaki was loyal to Konoha, and would have never followed him had he succeeded in defecting.

The next morning, when the Hokage had seen that Naruto was on the list of graduates, the Sandaime Hokage had thanked him after he had explained how Naruto had made the list, and gave him one of those smiles which he'd usually reserved for Naruto, Iruka, and his grandson alone.

Naruto continued to consider him and Iruka to be mentors after he became a Genin, and gave him the respect he felt he deserved from the important people in the village. That respect continued as the boy rose through the ranks, and eventually became Hokage like his father had been, growing up to look exactly like the man who had come to his aid all those years ago, save for the fact that there was no contempt in his eyes when he looked at him.

As for the teammate that Naruto's alternate self had saved, the up-and-coming Chunin with the take charge attitude that he'd both despised and been jealous of...That man had died on a mission with another team three weeks after Naruto's alternate self had saved him when he'd once again rushed headlong into danger.