The Leaf's Naruto by Morta's Priest
Chapter 1 - Kunai to the Throat
"No, wait! What are you doing? I'll pay you twice as much as whoever hired you! No-"
The panicked man's cries were cut off abruptly as a kunai severed his carotid artery; blood spatters rained across the sign behind his chair, of which only the letters 'Shi' were visible. The man had only a few moments to look in disbelief at his killer, before he slumped to the ground, a pool of blood slowly spreading outwards. Casually wiping away the blood on his blade, his killer stepped back, looking on sadly as his victim expired. He'd never even know exactly why he'd been targeted - and probably wouldn't have believed the answer anyway.
He didn't like killing. In fact, he generally avoided the practice entirely; this was different. Slipping his kunai back in its sheath, the shinobi quickly made his way up the wall, departing the house through one of the windows on the second floor - different to the one he'd entered through. It would take only minutes for guards to track down the man's screaming, and discover the body, but that was quite enough. Still, he needed to hurry: he couldn't afford to be seen anywhere nearby.
Wrapping his dark clothes closely around himself, he quickly made his way across two roofs and onto the rather unimpressive wall that surrounded the compound; it was certainly not as remarkable as Konoha's and the guard detail took minutes to make a full sweep. That was a lethal mistake when dealing with shinobi, who took advantage of even second-long periods of inattention. Drawing two kunai, he tossed himself over the wall, impaling the sharp implements into the wall and riding them down to the ground, setting down right next to the small stream that served as the compound's water supply. There was a certain irony to it: Kunai like these were first used to dig holes into walls not unlike this one, not as weapons.
There was a sudden clamour up above which meant the murder had been discovered. Quicker than he'd anticipated, but not nearly fast enough. Tossing his overcoat and hood aside, the shinobi dived headfirst into the stream, forcing his way through the current. The coursing water would wash away any traces that tracking ninja or dogs might follow. Raised voices slowly receded in the distance as he forced himself to keep going. When the lights were finally out of sight, and the night was silent once more, he got back onto land. He wrung out his clothes and inspected his kunai; they weren't made of iron, but keeping them clean was paramount for their effectiveness, he knew.
"Mission complete," The shinobi whispered to himself, smiling wryly as he gazed back, the wall he'd just descended barely visible on the horizon. For a moment, he enjoyed the slight drizzle – fitting weather, for such a dreary act. Technically, what he'd just done had been a crime – a pretty severe one, actually. Assassination of civilians was always questionable, but without even the authorization of a Kage or Daimyo, he would probably have to face the death penalty if anyone found out. Not that anyone would. He was good enough to escape attention, especially when there were no shinobi involved. Still, it was the principle of the thing.
Not that he felt terribly guilty about what he'd done. He was a shinobi; assassination and stealth were all too common in missions. Besides, he did have a little information that others didn't: his victim hadn't been innocent. Not at all. Things would take a turn for the better, around here. Nobody would know who to thank, but that was alright. Perhaps the Land of Waves would attribute the sudden boon to their lost hero, Kaiza; he could definitely live with that, if it gave Inari some much-needed closure. It didn't really matter, since Gatō's grip on them was at an end now, and far sooner than the last time.
He let out a curse as he suddenly realized he'd probably just nixed his chance a having a bridge named after him. Damn it. Uzumaki Naruto shook his head tiredly, beginning the long run back to Konoha with a muttered curse. He had a Genin exam to get to.
"Why do you think that idiot's not here?" Kiba wondered, glancing around the class. Everyone else was already present, and Iruka tapped his foot impatiently. "He's almost out of time..."
"Who cares?" Sakura piped in. "Can't we just get started, Iruka-sensei?"
Iruka frowned, rubbing his forehead tiredly. It figured that his most problematic student would be late again. "We'll just give him a few more minutes. I am still organizing things, anyway." He grumbled as he sorted through a pile of test scores.
"Where's Mizuki-sensei?" Chōji wondered, snacking on a potato chip. "You said he'd be testing us too, didn't you, sensei?"
Iruka frowned, looking away. For a few long moments he remained silent. Then he turned back, and he sighed. "Ah... I'm afraid to tell you, that Mizuki-sensei is no longer with us." He sat down on his chair, hard, and shook his head.
Shikamaru blinked and sat up. "He's dead?"
Iruka nodded darkly. "I'm afraid he was found in his bed, a few days ago – the Hokage chose to keep it largely silent until yesterday, as it might've been an assassination." He slumped a little. "The medical-nin said it was natural, though... I suppose that's sometimes what happens."
"So troublesome," Shikamaru muttered as he sat back in his chair. Quite a few of the other students looked a little pale, though he couldn't quite figure out whether or not it was fear at the thought of death, or just expiring in bed. (He was sure which one it was where Sasuke was concerned, though.)
"I'm here!" Naruto exclaimed suddenly, crashing through the door and almost toppling over his feet. The boy skidded to a halt and tried to smile. "Sorry, I had to go back home real quick, to put on some new clothes!"
"...You're not wearing orange," Shikamaru observed.
Naruto turned and smiled brightly. "Actually, I kind of ruined that one on an assassination mission, so I had to get a new set of clothes from home!" He laughed as Shikamaru shook his head in disbelief, and scratched the back of his head nervously. "Okay, you got me; I was climbing on the roofs and..."
Naruto turned, his eyes wide. "Iruka-sensei – sorry I'm late, but I'm sure you just heard why, I had a totally legit-, I mean, good reason!"
Iruka sighed wearily. "Naruto – just get in line." He turned to the others and gestured behind him. "For the graduation exam, you'll do the Bunshin no Jutsu – the Clone Technique. I'll be in the next room – when you're called, just come out, and you'll know if you pass right away." He rifled through his papers, and gave up. "I'll just go by order of your papers, here, so get ready to be called any time."
"What a drag," Shikamaru commented, as one by one different students left through the door to take he test, until only a handful were left. He turned to the blond. "So, Naruto, why did you really ditch the orange? The black's cool, but I figured you didn't like it."
Naruto smiled nervously. "I totally told the truth about that - I was going up on the roofs, and one of those masked guys almost caught me. He hooked a kunai into my suit, so when I escaped it got all torn up! Besides, this was the only other colour I had..."
"Masked guys? ANBU?" Shino muttered, drawing attention. He adjusted his glasses and nodded to Naruto. "They were after you?"
"...I sort of painted the monument," Naruto said, smiling broadly. "They'll take forever to figure out how to get it back to normal! Hah!"
"You're such an idiot," Shikamaru said. "Now... the truth, Naruto?"
"Uzumaki Naruto!" Iruka called. For a split second relief flashed across Naruto's face, before he got to his feet and smirked to Shikamaru. "Good luck at your own exam!"
"You'll have to do the Bunshin, Naruto..." Iruka said apologetically, worriedly looking at the blond. He'd failed twice before, and his chances didn't look much better, now. "I know it's not your greatest strength, but..."
"Hah! That's what you think!" Naruto stuck out his tongue, flashing through hand signs. "Bunshin no Jutsu!"
Five clones popped into existence surrounding Naruto in puffs of smoke, each of them smiling broadly. For a few moments, there was absolute silence. Then one of them crumpled to the floor. Naruto glanced at it and shook his head in disappointment. Still, the four others were intact.
"Very well done, Naruto!" Iruka commented, blinking. "I didn't think you'd mastered that jutsu – the last time I saw you try it, they all looked like the sickly one, there..."
"Ah... I can't make just one, Iruka-sensei," Naruto admitted sheepishly. "You never said how many there had to be, though... But it's good, right? I pass, right?" He leaned forward eagerly.
Iruka frowned. Jutsu being easier with more chakra wasn't really how it usually worked. The only reason that more clones would work better was if... He sighed, rubbing his forehead. It figured that Naruto of all people would have an overabundance of chakra, considering his burden. "Naruto – how many Bunshin can you make?"
"I never actually tried that..." Naruto admitted. "I could try, but I'm sure it'd be LOTS!"
"I'm sure it would be," Iruka answered, frowning. He forced a smile, picking one of the hitai-ate from a side-table and looking over it briefly, glancing up at the grinning blond. "You successfully performed the technique – that means you pass. Congratulations, third time's the charm, after all!"
Naruto accepted the forehead-protector, and immediately replaced his goggles with his new acquisition. "Iruka-sensei, will you come eat at Ichiraku's later? To celebrate?"
Iruka hesitated, and then nodded. "Of course. I'm sure that Teuchi-san will have a great big bowl for you, for becoming a ninja. Now, there are a few others that still need to be tested, so go out to the others, and see who might be on your team." He smiled. "I wonder if they'll be surprised that you passed?"
Naruto was out of the room and whooping at the top of his lungs, and Iruka shook his head in amusement at the boy's antics. It was still hard, sometimes, looking at the boy and forgetting about all the misery that he was a reminder of. Still, the blond had never been cruel or malevolent: Quite the opposite, actually. He pitied the team that would end up with that ball of energy. He turned back to his papers and groaned. Nara Shikamaru was next; how would he convince him that taking this test was worth his time?
"The Dead-Last passed?" Ino wondered, glaring at Naruto as he entered the courtyard, shiny hitai-ate on his forehead. "Who'd have guessed?"
"Well, after three tries," Sakura said, glancing the other way, to a dark-haired boy leaning against the wall. "Sasuke-kun passed as well – I'm sure I'll be on his team! It'll be amazing!" She grinned at Ino and prodded her in the side. "Can you imagine being on one team with him?"
Ino grumbled. "I still say I'll be on his team, not you. You don't even have any special skills, unless supreme bitchiness is one!"
"Ino-pig!" Sakura growled, raising her fist.
"Hey, Sakura, Ino!" Naruto interrupted their impending fight, and both turned their glares on him. He shuddered nervously, though his grin wouldn't go away. "Ah... you both passed as well, then?"
"...Naruto, go bother someone else," Sakura said, scowling. "Even if you have a forehead protector, you're still the Dead-Last. Maybe you should go hang out with Chōji, or something."
"Hey, there's no need to insult Chōji," Naruto muttered. "Sakura-chan, you know that you could get on a team with anyone, right? We could even get on one team, and then we need to get along anyway. You could also be with Chōji, for that matter." He looked towards Ino. "You too. There's no guarantee that you'll be with Sasuke."
"Since when did you get all logical?" Ino said, sighing. "I can do that too, you know. There's only a few girls here – of course one of us will be with Sasuke-kun. Do you think they'd put him with Hyūga Hinata? She can't even look you in the eye without stuttering!"
"Well, don't say I didn't warn you," Naruto noted, turning away. At the last moment, he turned back and winked. "Sakura-chan, want to go out, now that we're shinobi?"
"Naruto, you idiot!"
"I'll take that as a maybe…"
Sakura muttered in annoyance as Naruto wandered off towards Shikamaru and Shino, both of whom were attaching their own hitai-ate to their clothing. Sakura sighed. "He can be such a pain, sometimes…"
"Where were we?" Ino wondered, glancing back at her rival. "Oh, right. Forehead girl, I will be on Sasuke-kun's team!"
Naruto exhaled wearily as he made his way back to his home, skipping from roof to roof with the ease of a Chūnin. It was exhausting, getting back into his childhood role – he'd not been a Genin for such a long time, it was quite a novel experience to be one again. It was strange to see all the familiar faces of his later friends and allies at such a young age again – especially the ones he worked the most with.
Sakura – she was exactly how he remembered her, precisely how she'd been until at least the original Chūnin Exams, perhaps longer. She didn't even show a hint of the medical ninja she'd grown up to be, but that wasn't a surprise. She'd probably get back to that at some point in the future, though right now Naruto wasn't sure if she'd even end up on the same team as before. That was the trouble with changing things.
Shikamaru hadn't changed a bit. Still the lazy genius, Shikamaru was already putting question marks behind something as comparatively minor as his change of clothes: As expected from the future Jōnin-Commander. Honestly, Naruto had simply chosen the new clothes because he was used to them, and he hadn't had time to change after returning from the Land of Waves – assassination missions being what they were, the dark colours didn't show blood as much, and they served as a good camouflage. Technically it was dark blue, though in the bright light that was hard to make out, It was a horrible job, trying to clean these clothes; thankfully they'd remained unsoiled, this time.
The rest of the class was pretty much as he expected; there were hints of their future careers and specialties, but not much more. Hinata was still the recluse – he'd have to fix that – and Sasuke was the elitist Uchiha he'd always been. He didn't show much of the insanity that marked the boy's later life and death, so there was perhaps a chance to change fate, there. It depended on the teams, now that he'd upset events by taking out a number of dangers before they could really become such. Probably there wouldn't be too much of a difference, but it was a probability game.
He'd started fixing things with Mizuki. Sneaking in and using medical jutsu against him was effective enough – and the wounds of a butchered chakra scalpel technique were easy enough to hide, if you knew how. Granted, Naruto didn't have the sort of chakra control he'd really need to fix something, but that had hardly been his goal; imprecise use of medical techniques was a pretty effective way of nigh-invisible kills. He'd briefly felt bad about resorting to such a brutal method of solving his problems, but he was hardly squeamish about that kind of violence anymore, and it was a far better choice than leaving him alive to terrorize the village again.
Next, of course, had been Gatō. Successful as the mission might have been according to the Hokage, the first time he'd gone out there, the Wave mission had resulted in the deaths of both Zabuza and Haku. Those two people could make an actual difference in future events, especially where Kiri was concerned, so keeping them alive was a good idea. Solving Tazuna's problem with his bridge before it even arrived, and taking out an awful person, thereby undercutting the entire mission? Naruto hadn't thought twice about it.
These two had been the easy targets. Naruto jumped into his apartment through one of the windows, dropping onto his bed immediately, and letting out a deep sigh. He frowned as he thought about all the things he still had to do. Kabuto was still out there, somewhere. Unlike the others, the medical ninja frequently slept with numerous other shinobi close by in the same building, and Naruto didn't have the poisons at his disposal that would've made it a cinch, assuming Orochimaru hadn't given him the means to become immune to those yet. The Snake Sannin was on his list as well; he'd have to figure something out, as that particular shinobi was rather beyond his skills in this smaller body. Having superior chakra control and knowledge could help with a lot, even boosting his speed and strength beyond usual Genin limits, but he still had his weak-ass body to deal with.
"Kage Bunshin no Jutsu," Naruto murmured, and three solid clones popped into existence; two immediately used Henge to turn themselves into rather nondescript villagers, and left. The last of the clones shrugged and sprawled out on the bed.
The real Naruto smirked, snatching a hood from his closet and quickly putting it on. "I'll be back before team announcements."
"Of course you will be, Boss. Remember the dinner with Iruka-sensei, okay? Also, keep an eye out for Kakashi - If he's going to be our sensei again, he might be watching. Don't want to let him in on this whole game before it's necessary, right?"
"I'm not stupid. Well, not that stupid," Naruto answered indignantly. "I think it's time I sent a letter to an old friend. Shouldn't take too long."
The clone chuckled. "Good luck with that. I think we'll just have to smack some sense into him again, you know. It worked before."
Naruto shrugged, turning back with sharp eyes. "Maybe I'll consider fetching some new reading material, the other stuff's getting rather stale. If the old man comes by, don't be an asshole."
"I'm you, I can't be!"
"As you're well aware, I can be an asshole." Naruto paused. "I just insulted myself; fantastic." He sighed, jumping out the window and leaving a bemused clone to count sheep and act as an alibi. It didn't take long for loud snoring to break the silence of the apartment.
Author's Note: A little plot bunny running around in my head. A play on the Naruto timetraveller genre in which he has actually learned to be an assassin and silent killer (when he needs to be) and is cutting the legs out from under canon events in a most straight-forward fashion. No 'trying to keep everything the same and thus following the usual storyline' nonsense.
Title's based on the Itachi quote, yes - doing anything for the village, even the unsightly stuff. ;)
May continue this - both his means of returning and his particular skills are fairly well-defined as is a potential plot, but I just wanted to get some feedback about the concept. ^^