This is a work requested by and designed with my good friend Wolfpackersson09, who also helped encourage me to write Ai Youkai. Some elements from this story are similar to that one, but the two are different stories. Also, this is a harem with Sakura, Hinata, Ino, Tenten, and maybe femHaku, Temari, and a girl from another series. Additions will not be done, and major changes will be done to the Narutoverse as a whole.
'I'll show that boy that heroes really do exist, that hope is a good thing, not a tormentor.' Naruto thought as he was all but training himself to exhaustion trying to... well, prove a point you could say.
He was in Nami no Kuni and Inari had gone off on his 'Nothing matters especially you' tirade to the Konoha nin. Needless to say the whiskered blonde was not in a good mood. Sure, after hearing Tazuna he could understand why the kid was cynical, but he hated seeing people act like everyone was in Heaven while they alone were in Hell.
'Kid acts like he thinks he's the only one who ever went to bed crying. Brat, come cry to me after you'll lived MY life, then we'll see who deserves to throw a tantrum.' He angrily told himself.
So now he was practicing what little taijutsu he knew and some treewalking for better chakra control, even if only slightly. But because of this anger at Inari and Gato and his own past in general, he was pretty much just venting out his frustrations than doing any actual productive training.
"Naruto!" Sakura called out to him, making him freeze immediately.
"Yes?" He asked seeing her walk up to him, for once not looking like she wanted to clobber him.
"How much longer do you plan to be out here?" She asked.
Naruto looked away at nothing. "Until I feel like I'm not going to yell at the kid anymore."
Sakura was surprised. "Yell?" In the entire time she had known the blonde, he had been loud like he didn't understand the concept of volume, but he never really yelled at anyone.
He nodded with closed eyes. "Yeah, he kinda struck a nerve with me, talking like that, like everyone but him is happy with their lives."
"Well he may be wrong, but it's not like he's unjustified in being unhappy. He did lose his father after all. Me, Sasuke-kun, and Kakashi-sensei all know what that feels like." Sakura defended, referencing her late father, the Uchiha Massacre, and what she had heard of Hatake Sakumo from a trusted source.
Naruto opened his eyes and they didn't look friendly. They were still blue, but angry. "And I don't? I lost my father too Sakura-chan."
"No you didn't. You never knew yours." Sakura plainly blurted out.
Now Naruto was madder. "Oh, and I suppose that's supposed to make me feel better?" He was being loud again, but now Sakura felt like for once he truly was yelling, not just trying to be heard. "I'm supposed to be happy that I never knew my father? Or my mother? Or any of my family? It's better that I've been completely alone since the day I was born? That I've got absolutely nothing to be miserable about, while you all do?"
Sakura was stunned silent, surprised that Naruto for once wasn't his usual happy-go-lucky idiot self, and for once showed signs of having something to be resentful towards. "I... I thought you liked living on your own."
"What on earth gave you that idea?" He asked.
"Because you have no parents to tell you what to do. You hate having to follow the rules so without parents you get to do whatever you want all the time." Sakura explained, not trying to upset him, just explaining what she always thought was the truth.
Naruto turned around, not wanting her to see him cry. "Sakura-chan, I'd gladly have parents who gave me a thousand rules... if it meant I had someone to call mom and dad. Believe it Sakura-chan, all the freedom in the world means nothing if you're lonelier than hell."
This sure surprised the pinkette. All this time, she thought he was just some spoiled out of control orphan and he liked it that way. To hear he didn't was unexpected. "Well I'm sure there's something about it you like."
Naruto just rolled his eyes. "Oh yeah, I just love the fact that I don't even know if my parents wanted me to be born. I'm absolutely giddy that no one was there to make me feel better when I was hurt and frightened. It's great that whenever I go home the only company I have is cockroaches. Thank you Sakura-chan for pointing out all the blessing that are raining down upon me. Wait a minute, that's not rain."
Sakura frowned at his overly sarcastic tone. "Don't get angry at me. Besides, where do you get off talking like you're the one who's suffered the most? Do you have any idea what I saw in town today? I saw a girl half my age wearing something you wouldn't give a bum begging me for food because no one else would give her any. I saw a girl our age, maybe a year or two older, actually working as a prostitute in broad daylight just to earn money. What do you have to say about that?"
Naruto looked at her so firmly Sakura actually faltered and stepped back a bit. "Sakura-chan, I never said I was the only one who suffered. You however said I wasn't suffering at all."
"Well you never once looked like you were so how the hell was I supposed to know?" She defended.
Naruto gave her a hurt look. "Sakura-chan, a smile doesn't guarantee happiness anymore than a cloud guarantees rain."
Sakura was quite surprised to hear him say something that even came close to philosophical. Heck sometimes she was amazed his language skills went beyond 'More ramen'. Apparently Naruto had more on his mind than she gave him credit for, and more on his heart than she took seriously.
"I'll leave you alone right now." Sakura said as she left. As she left she stopped for a bit. "I don't know what else to say Naruto." She said before she walked off.
"Neither do I Sakura-chan, neither do I." Naruto said to himself as he went back to training.
Days later Naruto and Sakura barely said another word to each other. Apparently they really didn't know what else to say to each other, and both seemed to be in a bit of a stand-off, wanting the other to approach them first. Sakura found it extremely weird that after all the times she demanded he leave her alone, she was uncomfortable with him actually doing so.
Later it came the day when Kakashi was fully mobile again, but unfortunately he predicted this was the day Zabuza was too, and Tazuna would be in danger. Team Seven was positioned at the bridge during construction hours to protect the old man, though Naruto was left behind because he had exhausted himself training last night.
'I guess he really is trying to prove something.' Sakura thought as she stood close to Tazuna, her mind free to wander while her eyes kept watch for anything unusual. 'I'll give him some credit, he may not have as much talent as Sasuke-kun, but his determination is second-to-none.'
Too bad he wasn't there when Zabuza and his masked aide showed up and started a fight. Kakashi kept Zabuza occupied and the two seemed quite evenly matched. And Sasuke was trapped in a dome made of ice, created by a jutsu he couldn't copy or destroy so easily either. Sakura wanted to help, but she didn't know what she could do for either. All she could do was stand guard by Tazuna in case these two were a diversion so someone or something else could kill the bridge builder.
'Naruto we need you. You're the only one who can help us now.' Sakura thought, for once truly wanting her old annoyance to be around.
Her wish was granted, and he showed up. "Sorry I couldn't be here sooner, but some thugs were after Tsunami and Inari. But I beat them up. Your family's safe Tazuna."
The old man sighed. "Thanks kid. I owe you one, but we'll have to get out of this first."
"Naruto, go help Sasuke-kun. He's trapped in that ice dome." Sakura pleaded.
Naruto looked to see the ice prison, and could see Kakashi fighting Zabuza in a blanket of mist. Knowing which one he stood a better chance against, he headed towards Sasuke. "Sasuke!" He shouted.
'Don't give yourself away like that.' Sakura mentally groaned.
Next thing she knew, Naruto disappeared and was replaced by Sasuke, who had a few senbon sticking out of him, and Naruto's scream could be here inside the dome.
'What the...? What did he just-wait a minute, did Sasuke-kun just kawarimi himself with Naruto to avoid a hit?' Sakura asked herself, shocked by the idea but not entirely sure if it was something she should support or not.
Naruto was very surprised to see that he went from outside the dome to inside in a mere second, while Sasuke went from inside to outside just as quickly. That wasn't the bad part though, the bad part was when hundreds of ice-cold needles embedded themselves in his skin from all directions, making him look like a human pincushion.
Pained, he fell to his knees then his side trying not to yell. Luckily Haku was too stunned by this to add a follow-up attack right away, not to mention she felt bad about attacking this boy would had been nice to her in the forest days ago in the first place. Unfortunately she couldn't help him without disobeying Zabuza, and her master came first in all things to her.
Naruto had a hard time moving, and an even harder time using his chakra to help heal himself here. Haku's aim had been too good at that one attack, these ice senbon hitting many nerves and even a dozen tenketsu. Naruto's chakra system couldn't even incorporate Kyuubi's chakra, at least not right away. And one needles also impacted the seal's exact center.
'Guess I better finish him off. Sorry.' Haku told herself, allowing herself to fee some grief for what she was about to do. Readying another senbon attack, this one likely to put him out of his misery, she stopped when Naruto started to glow a silver-white color. Her moment of immobility stopped as soon as it came and she attacked again. "Hyoton Thousand Needle Jutsu."
The ice needles flew right at him, but when they hit him, they broke and bounced off, sounding like they were hitting metal rather than flesh. At the same time, the ice needles already in Naruto were melting, allowing his body to heal and a touch of red chakra poured out mixing with the silver-white chakra.
"What on earth is this? Haku asked herself.
She wasn't the only one wondering this. Zabuza and Kakashi stopped their own fight when they felt this. Sakura could even see light glowing from inside the dome and Sasuke, who had been hoping to kill Haku from behind while she was distracted eliminating Naruto, stopped to see what was going on.
'This... whatever this is, it can't be the kyuubi.' Kakashi told himself. 'It feels nothing like evil.'
Naruto regained the ability to stand up and the glow around him took shape. A set of white wings were on his back and a sword was in his right hand, both which were made out of this strange silver-white chakra. His body itself was colored from head to toe in the same color and it was impossible to tell where his clothes and skin separated. Also, there were red streaks all over him, forming a spiral on his stomach and rings at his wrist, ankles, elbows, knees, and down his spine between the chakra wings.
"What the heck is this?" He asked as he looked himself over.
'Even he doesn't know? At least that means he can't use it against me or Zabuza-sama.' Haku told herself before readying another attack. Since senbon wouldn't work, she's have to try something a bit more lethal. "Hyoton Thousand Kunai Jutsu."
Multiple kunai made of ice were thrown at him from the many ice mirrors and again Naruto couldn't dodge them all. Fortunately he didn't have to, since when they impacted his chakra aura they shattered like they were made of glass.
Sakura couldn't see what was going on but she could hear fighting continuing. "Sasuke-kun, help him. Don't just stand there."
The Rookie of the Year gave her an 'Are you stupid?' look then turned back to the renewed Kakashi vs. Zabuza fight, and smirked, clearly deciding that was more worth his time and effort. He tried to sneak into the mist to kill Zabuza from behind, but he was tackled by a large bulldog.
"This is out of your league kid." The dog told him.
Sasuke was not the kind of person who appreciated others telling him what his limits were or that he even had any to begin with. "Get the hell off me you mutt! Do you have any idea who I am?"
"You're a kid who's trying to bite off more than he can chew. Let Kakashi handle this."
"Sasuke-kun Naruto needs help!" Sakura reminded her favored teammate.
Ignoring her, Sasuke pulled out a kunai and tried to stab the dog pinning him down. It saw this coming and jumped off avoiding the hit, and looking very mad. Mad enough that it jumped at him again and bit him hard on the leg.
Back with Naruto, he could see that Haku's weapons were not affecting him, and he decided to try to fight back. Rather than try to catch up with the faster fighter, he took his light sword and struck one of the ice mirrors, cleaving it with ease. "Nice." He said before doing this with the others, leaving Haku with fewer places to move around.
Seeing this, Haku stepped out of her hiding spot and canceled out the crystal ice mirror jutsu. "You are quite strong. But I cannot allow you to interfere with Zabuza-sama's work."
"Why are you working for him?" Naruto asked, staring down the false hunter nin.
"Because I am his tool. He is the reason I am still alive. I owe him my life and will do everything in my power to see his wishes fulfilled."
Naruto was immediately reminded of the boy...or girl... the person he met in the woods the day after he vented at Sakura, asking him if he had someone precious to protect, though he didn't understand why he just thought of that. "How could you follow a man like him?"
"Because he gives my life purpose. Can you imagine living yet having no reason to be alive? No one who values you or gives you something to look forward to? I lived like that for a long time, and then Zabuza-sama came along and gave me a purpose. You might deplore his methods and goals, but I'd rather be his tool then human trash."
Naruto found himself unsure what to do. "I... I understand completely. If I had been in your place I likely would have done the same. But unfortunately, I have a job of my own, and I must do it as much as you must do yours."
Haku nodded. "I'm sorry it came to this Naruto. I wish there had been another way."
Naruto's eyes widened. "Wait, how did you know my name?"
Haku didn't answer. Instead she readied a different jutsu, one of her more dangerous ones. 'I don't want to kill him, but I will not let Zabuza-sama down. Please forgive me Naruto, I wish we had been friends.' She told herself, remembering their brief encounter in the forest days ago. Then she finished her hand signs. "Hyoton River Entrapment Jutsu."
From under the bridge emerged a pillar of water like something out of a geyser, and it appeared to be quickly freezing. Before it became solid, Haku sent it silent signals to try and capture Naruto. If it succeeded, he would be frozen solid in a situation no non-ninja could survive at all and few ninja could survive for long.
Naruto jumped to dodge, and without meaning to took to the air with his chakra wings. He was surprised as anyone else and almost fell out of the air. Fortunately his desire to keep avoiding Haku's jutsu gave him the state of mind to keep aloft. It was going well, until...
"NO!" He shouted when he saw it was about to trap Sakura and Tazuna instead. Acting on pure instinct, he swung his chakra sword and the freezing water technique shattered and dissolved in mere seconds.
"Whoa." Tazuna muttered.
Sakura was more speechless. 'Naruto... thank you.'
'Just who are you Uzumaki Naruto?' Haku asked herself.
'Where did he get this?' Sasuke wondered.
Meanwhile, someone else was alerted to this use of power.
"Is this what I think this is?" An old man with one eye asked.
"It appears so. Someone has the power of a valkyrie." A woman his age told him.
"But a living mortal? And a MALE? How is this possible?" A younger maiden adorn in battle armor asked.
"Someone should go inspect this matter." A man in battle armor stated.
"But who?" The one-eyed man asked.
"I think I know who." The maiden said. "This boy is named Uzumaki. We have a valkyrie named that too. Send her. The connection should make learning from the boy easier."
"It's worth a shot." The armored man claimed.
The one-eyed man nodded. "Very well. Freya, send Kushina Uzumaki to Earth to learn about this boy. Frigg, please ask the Norns if they can tell us anything as well."
"Yes Lord Odin." The two women told him before departing, hoping to find answers to this strange development.