Another story that had been floating in my head for quite some time now and just decided to put it down into writing. Some friends of mine told me that I've been publishing new stories while the others aren't updated with new ones. I told them that my other stories would still be updated with new chapters in the future and I post new stories to make sure that the idea is kept and not forgotten. Besides, it's a waste to forget good plot and not put them into writing to preserve them.

Enjoy!


Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or the skills and abilities he might be using on this story that belonged to other anime or manga. Give credit to where credit is due.


Prologue

A blonde 12-year old boy was currently sitting down on top of the Fourth Hokage's head protruding from the large mountain – which the locals named as the Hokage Mountain - overlooking Konohagakure no Sato below. He had a small smile on his face as he enjoyed the tranquility of being high up in the mountains, the wind messing around with his hair and caressing his face whose cheeks were sporting three whisker marks each similar to those of a cat or a fox.

The blonde was wearing a traditional royal blue kimono, white hakama pants, and a pair geta sandal with black straps. Despite being in a shinobi village, the boy likened to wear the same outfit as those in the Daimyo's Court. It made him stand out in the crowd but he didn't care. In fact, there were a lot of things that he didn't care about, and one of them being the village's treatment of him.

The boy knew why the village hated him but he didn't care. He had already discarded such emotions a long time ago, leaving him with a laid-back personality with a carefree attitude that made the weights on his shoulders disappear like the morning tide.

The boy was brought out of his musings when he sensed someone appear behind him. He spoke without taking his eyes away from the sight of the village.

"What can I do for you ANBU-san?" asked the blonde boy in a calm voice, eyeing the Konoha Shinobi Academy where the some of the classes were training their weapon skills. It didn't bother him that the place he was eyeing was farther than any normal eye could see. Meh, his eyesight was pretty far from normal anyway.

"Uzumaki Naruto, the Hokage requires your presence in his office as soon as possible." said the ANBU in a no-nonsense voice.

Naruto nodded and stood up. He brushed the dirt that clung to the back of his hakama and turned to the waiting ANBU who was wearing a bear mask.

"I am ready Bear-san." said the blonde with a nod.

Bear nodded and grasped Naruto's shoulder before disappearing in a cloud of smoke and leaves.

-x-x-x-x-x-

Sarutobi Hiruzen, the Sandaime Hokage of Konohagakure no Sato, was currently sitting on his favorite chair inside his office on the top floor of the Hokage Tower when a bear-masked ANBU appeared in a cloud of smoke and leaves with one of his hands on the shoulder of the boy he was expecting.

"Welcome, Naruto-kun." greeted Sarutobi while giving the blonde boy a smile which the boy returned.

"Hi jiji."Naruto returned the greeting. "What can I do for you, old man?"

Sarutobi turned to the shadows and spoke in a commanding voice. "ANBU, leave this room and make sure that no one disturbs my conversation with Naruto."

Two more ANBUs, these ones were wearing a cat and boar masks, stepped out of the shadows and disappeared in smoke and leaves quickly followed by the bear-masked ANBU. The Sandaime saw his order being carried out immediately flew through a series of seals causing the walls, ceiling, and floor to glow blue for a bit before disappearing.

Naruto saw the precaution that the aged leader went through and could only wonder what the problem was.

"What's so serious that you have to order your ANBU guards to leave and activate the office's privacy barrier?" Naruto asked, confused.

Sandaime's face grew grim before addressing the blonde in front of him. "We have a serious situation on our hands, Naruto-kun." said the aged leader in a grim tone which made Naruto frown.

"You know I'm already retired, old man." The blonde said while giving the Hokage a serious look.

Sarutobi nodded. "I know but I regret to have to reactivate your position, Naruto-kun. We have a serious situation on our hands and I don't know anyone who can take care of it better than you do."

"What's the situation?" Naruto said dryly since he really didn't want to go back to his old life. "And why is it so serious that you have to activate my old position as your hidden assassin?"

"Three days ago, I dispatched two of my elite Jounins and a squad of Chuunin to investigate a report concerning some Iwa shinobis trespassing on our borders. It was supposed to be a simple fact-finding mission but I just got a word today from a wounded Chuunin that the rest of his squad was ambushed and the two Jounins were overpowered and kidnapped." reported Sarutobi in a grim tone.

This immediately made Naruto alert. Kidnapped Jounins weren't really that serious since ANBU could easily retrieve them if necessary. However, the grim tone in the Sandaime's voice spoke of a whole new reason why his position as Kage's Hand was being reactivated.

"Again, what does it have to do with me?" Naruto pressed, wanting to get as much info as possible since he really didn't want to get back into his old job, especially with the experience he went through.

"The two Jounins who were ambushed and kidnapped was my son, Sarutobi Asuma, and his partner, Yuuhi Kurenai." said the Hokage who observed Naruto stiffen upon hearing the name.

"What!" exclaimed Naruto. "Asuma-nii was kidnapped?"

Sarutobi nodded. "Yes. We were short-handed that time so I had to dispatch Asuma since there wasn't anyone around who I trust to handle the situation. Kakashi is in an S-Rank mission with Gai so we don't have anyone powerful enough to take care of the situation. If the Iwa shinobis were strong enough to overpower my son and Konoha's Genjutsu Mistress easily then the other Jounins I would be sending wouldn't be able to handle the mission."

"I see." said Naruto with a grim look on his face. No matter how much he wanted to be free from his previous lifestyle, he would sacrifice anything for the people he loved. "Do we have any other information other than the ones you told me?"

"Yes." said Sarutobi with a nod. "According to the Chuunin who brought the report, they were ambushed in Patrol Route 27 by eight Jounin-level shinobis wearing Iwa headbands so we are sure that the Tsuchikage is behind this. However, I don't want to spark a war with Iwa since we are still not fully recovered from the Kyuubi attack 12 years ago. Your mission is to find Asuma and Kurenai, retrieve them, and make an example that Konoha is not to be trifled with."

"You know of my promise to no longer kill, right?" Naruto pressed, reminding the aged leader of his promise when he retired from his position.

Sarutobi nodded, telling Naruto that he remembered that specific promise. "I know. I didn't say you have to kill them. All I said was to make an example of them."

Naruto nodded in understanding, a grim look on his face. "Understood, Hokage-sama." said Naruto, lapsing to his formal bearings considering his newly reactivated title, Kage's Hand. "Will this 'reactivation' of my title a permanent order?"

Sarutobi shook his head. "No, Naruto-kun. The reactivation only concerns this mission and nothing else. However, I have a proposition for you after you return that I know you would find interesting."

"Hai, Hokage-sama." said Naruto with a nod while totally curious of what the old leader had in store for him in the future. "If you'll excuse, I will be going home to prepare for the mission."

"Good luck, Naruto-kun, and stay safe." said the Hokage with a smile which was returned by Naruto despite the seriousness of the situation.

"I always am, old man. No need to worry. I'll have Asuma-nii and his love interest safely returned to Konoha within the day." promised Naruto before disappearing silently from the office.

Sarutobi smiled as he continued to look at the place where his surrogate grandson was standing before releasing a tired sigh. He didn't want to do it to the boy who he loved like his own but his power and expertise was needed. He only hoped that his future plan for the boy was accepted without having to debate with his reasons. He returned to his work while silently praying for the safety of the Kage's Hand.

-x-x-x-x-x-

Naruto appeared in his simple apartment located in the entertainment district of Konoha. He immediately went to a wall and activated the security seal hidden, revealing a niche where his shinobi gears were placed.

"You're really going through with this?" said a voice in his mind.

"Yes." Naruto mentally replied. "I have to. I don't like it but I know that my power is needed to save Asuma-nii."

"I knew that this day would come." the voice mentally crowed in delight.

"I know, Kyuubi, and you're right. It was only time before something serious happened that the old man would call on my skills again." Naruto berated the bijuu sealed in his gut.

"Anyway, I'm curious as to what the old Hokage wanted after you complete this mission." Kyuubi asked his container. "Any ideas?"

"Nope. Whatever it is then the crafty old man is up to his old tricks again." was all Naruto said before retrieving a black katana on a similarly colored sheath with a broken chain attached to the end of the hilt and tucking behind his sash on his left hip. He also pulled out a black sash and tied it around his neck while making sure that his face and birthmarks were properly covered. He re-sealed the hidden closet and turned towards the full-body mirror in one corner of the room. There was a bitter taste to his mouth when he saw his reflection staring back at him. His old persona was back and there was nothing he could do about it.

"I guess this is it." said Naruto with a sigh.

"Welcome back, Hitokiri Battousai." said Kyuubi as he relished in the thought of having this persona of his container come back from the grave.

"Thanks, I think." replied Naruto bitterly, not really happy with what he was about to do, before taking single step forward before silently disappearing from the room using the same technique he used to exit the Hokage's office, Shunpo.


End of Prologue

Date Uploaded: July 01, 2012

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