Warning for AU:

I Had a look at a timeline, the AU is the following: Minato was 20 as was Kushina when Naruto was born, this is the only AU that happened...thus let's see what *this* changes…considering also…another Au.

Chapter one

It was July the twenty-three. The sky was clear, the sun was high, the clouds were white and dwindling around lazily, without a worry in the world, letting the wind carry them over the Hokage's monument, that sported three faces, the one of the first Hokage, the one of the second Hokage, the one of the Jiji, as an overactive blond called him, and the one of the current Hokage.

On that day, a blond-spiked boy stood next to a raven haired one, and, with a small, but adorable pout, made his best puppy-eyes.

The other boy stared with a slightly nervous tick mark on the forehead, before sighing, and splitting in half the popsicle he had, those types of popsicles that had two wooden sticks, and that usually were meant to be shared. The first boy, the blond one, smiled with a happy grin, grabbing it and starting to suck on it, while waiting, together with his friend, for one of their parents to come and get the two.

"The next year, we're going to be six, and at the academy," Naruto pointed out, as the Uchiha rolled his black eyes, with a sigh, "and maybe you'll find yourself a fan club, so you'll stop being this downbeat," he added, as Itachi shook his head.

"Otou-san told me that Uncle Moto committed suicide last night, he was drowning in despair," a sorrowful look appeared on the face of the five years old, he *was* born on the nine of June, a fact that made him the elder among the two, something that Naruto had more than once used for his own teasing, but that actually seemed to mark a great deal the differences between the two boys.

Firstly, one was dressed in bright orange clothes, with a pair of goggles strapped around his neck. He had orange trousers and, had he actually been a ninja, without a doubt he'd have been the first casualty in the recently ended Third Shinobi war. His clear blue eyes and blond spiked hair clearly resembled those of his father, and his cheeks sported three whisker-like marks that, coupled with his father being the fourth Hokage, had meant he had his very own fan-club, since the age of one.

He was pretty sure his mother was to blame, to claim Kushina Uzumaki was a fawning mother would be to claim the arctic wind was mildly breezy…and by fawning, it actually meant that Naruto had more strange, animal-like pajamas than any other normal boy would actually have, and there were pictures that, he could swear on Kami, had been taken with a brief distance of a second one from another, in such a way that he could actually flip them all and have a film ready, displaying things like his first day in the pool, his first walk, his first word, why take a picture for his first word? He actually had no idea about that, but he didn't want to point that out, for fear of having his own cheeks pinched repeatedly, with claims of how cute he was when pouting.

The other boy, on the other hand, Itachi Uchiha, had a serious look, a calm and collected attitude, and seemed mostly at ease *not* acting like a child. Having the Uchiha deployed on mass for the war, and having many died in the protection of Konohagakure, it was to be expected that he'd grow up mentally, seeing clansmen, cousins, or family friends die made that effect on one's mind, especially when some died after the war, the grief, the guilt, the atrocity of the war still seemingly fresh in their mind. It hadn't been a pretty war. Destructions, villages having to be completely razed, children and women killed without a minimum of piety. He hadn't obviously seen it, but he had felt the change in some of the survivors, it was subtle, at first, just a saddened glance now and then to some children, or maybe an awry smile to a pregnant woman, or things like that. Either they turned back to near normality, with the help of others or through the use of the drink of forgetting, Sake that was, or they didn't, and usually they either degenerated, or they more than likely fell prey to their darkness, and committed suicide. Sometime they brought their sons and daughters with them, other times they simply left the village and were found in the forest, their eyes crushed by their own Kunais, maybe in an attempt to erase the memories or the things they had seen.

Itachi had felt all that, and seen all that pain, and for that, he had no longer an ounce of respect for warmongers, and, hadn't he an actual need to train and learn the art of warfare, for clan's duty, he would have outright stopped going into any weapon shops, refusing to even speak with the weapon dealers.

He had yet to awaken his sharingan, a feat that some of the clan never managed to, as it was something of a fickle thing, the so called most powerful Doujutsu of Konoha, that however had a random chance of actually appearing, and sometime it never did.

He wore a plain green shirt and plain brown trousers, and, just as Naruto had pointed out, had a serious face on, something that no five year old boy should actually have.

"How do you drown on despair?" Naruto queried, perplexed, wasn't despair an emotion? Could someone actually drown in those things?

"It's a saying," Itachi replied with a sigh, for all the good their mothers had for one another, the fact that both Naruto and him were waiting just outside a clinic was reason enough to warrant a sort of twin-brother bonding between the two.

Considering both their mothers had ended up pregnant nearly at the same time, one actually in the process of giving birth on said day, and the other, the red-haired woman, at her seventh month of pregnancy, meant only one thing: both knew perfectly well how it sucked to be in their houses, or near them, especially for Itachi, in the next hours. Firstly, it would be loud yells, coming from hell itself and then it was going to be baby-talk. Hours of baby-talk. Not only to the actual baby, but also claims of how being a big-brother was going to be an extremely important and serious business. Still, Itachi *did* have it in him to be a reliable big-brother…he did make practice with an unpredictable knucklehead of a blond-boy who seemed more than able of throwing himself in utterly dangerous and insane situations.

First time they had met, Naruto had nonchalantly walked into the Uchiha's armory, and had set off an explosive tag. Only Itachi's reflexed had warranted the sole destruction of his mother's favorite potted plant, instead of the entire complex. Something about the boy being able to walk inside a most high-security level area, while wearing obviously bright orange clothing, had made him more than interested in keeping an eye out for him, that, and the fact that he was fun to hang out with, especially with the war and all.

Once more, the sounds of the hospital doors opening took both of the boys' attentions, as it had been for the past two to three hours, and there, standing with a bright smile, letting her blue eyes settle on both kids, stood the red hot habanero of Konoha, the *Tomato*, if one wanted to die a painful death by calling her with that nickname, the one and only Kushina Namikaze. The woman grinned for a minute or two, before exclaiming out loud.

"We've got an Oniisan and his Otouto now 'ttebane!" Itachi's eyes widened in shock, from the good news, as he and Naruto got up from the bench they were sitting on, moving closer to Kushina, while the blond boy, with a grin, gave a friendly punch to Itachi's shoulder, before saying in a loud and cheery voice.

"That's awesome 'ttebayo!" the next moment, a knuckle hit on Naruto's head made the boy whimper, as Kushina, with a fake frown and a nervous tick mark, gritted her teeth while muttering.

"I've got to fix this way of speech right now 'ttebane!"

"Ouch! Kaa-san! That hurt 'ttebayo!" another hit on the head, before it actually became an affectionate ruffling, as the red haired woman didn't actually put any strength behind her knuckle hits.

"Well, Itachi-kun, stop gaping like a fish and get inside, your mother's resting, but she wanted you to see your baby-brother," as Kushina smiled at the now elder brother, Itachi nodded, dashing off in the most polite way he could come up with, which meant swiftly walking until the doors of the hospital closed behind him, before going on a mad dash through the corridors, avoiding as many medics and nurses as possible, while heading to his mother's room.

Meanwhile, mother and son stared at one another with a sort of knowledgeable grin.

Five minutes later, Itachi came out with a sort of embarrassed face, and, as both Namikaze laughed, Kushina told the poor boy the number of the room his mother was in, making the Uchiha depart once more, as the two, the blond-spiked boy and the red-haired woman, chuckled for a long, long, moment.

"You've been eating a popsicle? Even though I told you not to spoil your stomach for lunch?" Kushina suddenly asked, her eyes slightly narrowing as the air around the two turned tense for a moment.

"Me? Kaa-san, you know I'd never, ever…" as Naruto said that, he had already begun taking a single step backwards, only to be swiftly bundled by chakra chains and, being held like a sack by his mother, carried all the way to Ichiraku's Ramen, recently opened, which had a really vast assortment of ramen types.

As Kushina smiled, having already become a usual customer of the stall, Naruto kind of hoped his mother would now drop him.

"Namikaze-san, Salt ramen as usual?" Teuchi queried, as his daughter, Ayame, turned a puzzled look out from behind the counter, to stare at the sort of chain-cocoon that was a pouting Naruto.

"Otou-san! Naruto-kun is turning blue!" Ayame exclaimed, with a worried face, her light brown hair already tied in a pony-tail, as her dark eyes stared with a mixture of worry and perplexity at the boy, as Kushina sighed, letting her son free, and sitting next to her.

"If you spoil lunch again, I'm having you try on that new Pajama I bought, you know, the tiger one?" at that, Naruto paled, he would rather die in shame than ever wear something that had an actual tail, though it did make Ayame giggle, as the girl already had a, clearly devious, mind for imagining certain things.

"Ayame, get back here, you need to start learning how to chop vegetables correctly for the soup," as Teuchi said that, the girl nodded, as the man took Naruto's order of Pork ramen, and, just as the blond boy was about to go *Itadakimasu* on the food, a hand ruffled the boy's hair, as another blond, wearing white robes with a flame motif at the base of the mantle, and a sort of wide trimmed hat with the kanji for fire on it.

"I knew I'd find you two here, my wallet was crying tears of pain after all," as the fourth Hokage, Namikaze Minato, spoke with a grin, Kushina stuck out her tongue in a childish manner, before actually showing from one of her inner pockets a toad-like wallet.

"I didn't think he could cry, you know," as the woman chuckled, Minato's face paled in shock.

"Now then, Kushina-hime, please don't go overboard, you know that the Hokage's stipend isn't as high as what many people think," the man replied, trying to catch the toad-shaped wallet back, only to find it always out of reach, seeing how Naruto's full-out didn't care, as he stood there eating ramen.

"Otou-san," Naruto said, after a while, having finished his own bowl, "do you think I'll have an Otouto or an Imouto?" he queried, looking with a hopeful gaze at his father, as the man in question coughed nervously, before replying.

"Well, we won't know until the cabbage patch has grown enough to…"

"Otou-san!" Ayame exclaimed, "Wasn't it the stork that brought kids?"

"Ehm…" Teuchi silently turned his gaze to the cooking broth, starting to whistle, seemingly trying not to take notice of the Hokage and his daughter entering a verbal fight on who, what, or how actually brought kids to be.

Such a nice memory it would be, in the years to come.

*Two Years Later*

Naruto woke up, slowly letting his hand move under his pillow, to grab his kunai, hidden in there. Then, without a second thought, he flung it straight ahead of him, at the person that had entered his apartment, his small one-room apartment that he had been relegated into after the events that had led him to become the most horribly hated individual in all of Konoha.

After all he harbored the Kyuubi in him, now. A silent prisoner, as he never heard him speak, not even once, but the seal on his right arm, the Kanji for Iron, as that was the seal on his shoulder now, showed off as the proof of who he was…no, of what he was.

The person in question deflected the flying kunai with one of his own, and in a moment, Naruto was flung out of bed and onto the floor, groaning.

"Naruto-kun, you know you should be in the academy, right now?" the boy's voice was that of Itachi, who shook his head slowly, as the blond-spiked boy got on his feet, slowly massaging his sore right arm, that had taken the blunt of him being brought on the ground, to the side of the bed.

"I hate those stares," Naruto replied, biting his lip, "and I hate knowing they are right in staring at me like that," he added, turning to look out of the window.

"Hatake-san's still out there, isn't he?" he asked, as Itachi nodded in reply.

"He's going to come in in five minutes, if you end up late for your exam," usually, to graduate from the academy one would need at the very least six years. Entering at six and coming out at twelve was the cue.

"One would think he'd be more than happy not to have two people smashing his own record of graduation from the academy," Naruto bitterly replied, as he got to dress in one of his third-hand clothes, a stint brown jacket, with a dark shirt underneath, and dark green trousers, with pale brown ninja sandals.

"Hatake-san graduated at five years old, after entering the academy at four," Itachi replied, "and he does take pride in having his private student graduating in one year too," the raven-haired Uchiha pointed that out, as the blond-spiked boy finished grabbing his pair of dirty goggles, letting for a brief second the fingers tap on the plastic borders, the plastic protection long gone from it.

They crashed against the wall heavily: after all, the anger wasn't something that was going to disappear by magic, only by not thinking about it. Not only had he been deprived of his family, but he had also been kindly suggested to move to one of the apartment for orphan kids. He had nodded, how could he *not* nod at the Hokage's suggestion? How could he not accept the fact that *it was for his own good*? It still hurt, knowing that, after all, he had been forced into that very same position without even giving him a chance to decide! He was barely five years old, and suddenly he had to act like an adult. No father, or mother, to turn to. No sister either, for what it mattered to him. So the goggles crashed against the wall of the one room apartment, repeatedly, with strength, until they finally cracked and broke, but that didn't stop him from keeping it up, until a small bump on the wall told him he was spent, he had no more energies, he had nothing more than the tears and the sweat from the effort running down his face. He wasn't a boy any longer and he wasn't Naruto Namikaze any longer: for all effort and purposes he was the Hero that jailed the Kyuubi within himself.

"Well, when it's either sink or swim, one doesn't have much of a choice," Naruto muttered back, his eyes moving towards his ninja equipment, that he carefully checked, not really wanting to go to school, but seeing no other way to move forward. He knew it would turn badly, he had a hunch, and his hunches were the sole thing that had made his first year as a Jinchuuriki bearable.

When he had gone out the first time, his hunch, a nagging pull to the stomach, had been the sole thing that had made him actually *run* from the lady that usually smiled at him, and that always stopped him and his mother to speak about how he was such a pretty boy. That had saved him from getting a knife in the chest, a sure one-way kill, as the woman was a butcher, and knew perfectly well where hearts were. He had taken it in the back, however, but except for a sharp fit of pain, and the lady getting handled by some Uchiha guard, it hadn't even left a scar, and since no-one in the hospital actually took his time to look at the wound, he simply sat there for a while, before finally deciding it had already dried off and he could go back home, pain not mattering to him, he was a big boy then…he had to be, he was the Hero that jailed the Kyuubi.

"Anyway, I'm ready," Naruto muttered, as he moved to leave, followed by Itachi.

"Not having breakfast?" The Uchiha queried, closing the door of Naruto's apartment behind him, just as the blond boy scratched the back of his head, and, sighing, grabbed a chocolate bar from one of his trousers pockets.

"That's unhealthy, Naruto-kun…you know you could come over to the Uchiha's compound, mother said…"

"Itachi-kun," Naruto spoke, letting his gaze divert towards the boy, "It would only bring more ill-will around, your clan has already been forced basically outside the village, I'm not going to let it get any worse if I can avoid it," as he took a bite out of the bar, he groaned, spitting it to the side.

"Should have suspected it was laced with poison," he muttered, "Seemed too good to be true, laying on the ground like that in the park," as he slowly took the stairs to descend towards the road level, he trashed the chocolate bar in the bin, before letting his blue eyes dart towards the nearest fruit stall available.

Itachi moved next to him, nearly reading in his mind.

"Naruto-kun…you shouldn't create troubles, you know?" Naruto nodded, as he kept on walking, but he did subtly distance himself from the stalls, and actually moved towards the middle of the road, which actually emptied itself when they realized who was trudging in the middle of it.

"Itachi…" Naruto sighed, looking to his left side, and, just as the Uchiha did the same, curious as to what would make the boy sigh and turn in that direction, he realized too late the one on his left side was a mere Henge, and the one on the right, biting onto an apple, was the real one, "We better move before the stall vendor comes over," and with that, he dashed off towards the academy.

"He's unpredictable, that much is sure," the Uchiha sighed, for how much they called him a prodigy, a genius, a dashing man, Naruto was something else, and sometimes, better: he was unpredictable. Where Itachi passed his test because he knew he could, after simply studying one hour, Naruto didn't need *that*, but he passed them never the less. Itachi knew the secret all too well, and it wasn't anything grand, at all. The boy knew how to *move* around the academy, especially at night: he'd be the best infiltration specialist around, once grown up, probably even Anbu material. Itachi should have suspected that much since they were young, after all, entering highly restricted grounds in bright orange clothing only meant that, once ditched those clothes for dull ones, he'd literally become a sort of unseen shadow.

The academy furthermore couldn't compare to being homeschooled. Sure, Itachi had the clansmen, but he didn't rely on them too much, his father was too prideful to allow his first-born to show any weakness, and thus his skills were actually honed through practice, but mostly through self-improvement.

Naruto didn't mind asking. The first times, he got shot down repeatedly by people who viewed him as the Kyuubi. Some of those people actually had firstly declared they had no problem in private-teaching some things to Itachi himself, but wouldn't budge a finger, claiming a really tight schedule, for what concerned Naruto. The few people who actually did help the blond-spiked boy, however, were worthy of all the hundreds of Uchiha clansmen around and the senseis of the academy. Only five minutes with people like Hatake Kakashi, the famous or notorious, depending on the nation, copy-cat ninja, were worthy more than any sensei at the academy. Even a single minute of the third Hokage's time was more worthy than any days of training non-stop with the Uchiha clansmen, and, even better, his favorite pupil, Orochimaru, had taken a sort of interest in the boy, much to the dislike of his actual pupils, who however, never voiced a complaint.

Itachi was a prodigy, a genius, an Uchiha hailing from the number one clan of Konoha, the very same clan that, together with the Senju clan, founded the village in the first place.

Naruto wasn't a prodigy, or a genius, but he knew humility, and only with that, and a good dose of head-strong determination, he had managed to be on par with Itachi himself.

The difference didn't stop there, however. The Raven-Haired Uchiha wanted to become a strong ninja because he wished to protect the village of Konoha from harm, as he believed, strongly, that it was the duty of any Shinobi worth his salt to protect the weak.

Naruto's reason…was because he had been asked to become a civilian.

The Hokage had the guts to say he should take on the road of being a civilian: that was the condition to return to the previous living agreement: he could go back to his home if he stopped being a shinobi-to-be. An untrained Jinchuuriki wouldn't be much of a use as a weapon, but it would make him safer for the village. He could always be trained later on. The later on part was what had made the boy feel the Hunch once more. There would be no later on. It would either be then and on the spot or it wouldn't be ever again. He wanted to know why, he wanted the truth. A truth that, the man's word had been those very same, "Was only for the Hokage's ears." That became his purpose.

To become Hokage for the truth.

Still, he didn't like going to class, the stares of the children, of the orphans especially, had carved deeply into his skull since the first day. He only had Itachi to watch his back, and the Uchiha knew all too well the caring nature of the boy, so much like his friend Shishui, both cared for others more than themselves, though the latter had unluckily chosen to keep with his friends in the academy, not that he blamed him, even taking to Naruto was a social stigma, something that Itachi had to fight through since the first moment they had set foot in the class.

The class had been cheery, a lot noisy, and many were already seated. The rolling call begun with earnest, at his name, Itachi Uchiha, the boy had winced, raising his hand. He had winced because he hadn't heard Namikaze coming as the surname, yet he was pretty sure that N came before U, unless the alphabet had suddenly decided to take a turn for the worst. Maybe they had skipped the name because the boy wasn't there? Still, he couldn't believe they hadn't called his name. Maybe they had swapped his class? Maybe they had sent him on a sort of special training, instead of the academy? That's when the name actually came from the teacher, the name that wasn't Naruto Namikaze, but Naruto Uzumaki. The sensei took a brief moment to look around in the class, and, in that precise instant, the door opened up, and Naruto, wielding an orange-covered book, one that the sensei knew but that he, and the rest of the class didn't, walked in, raising his arm to signify he was there. Then he sat in the furthest away corner of the classroom, leaving a dumbstruck class, and an utterly puzzled Itachi. Even the sensei had no idea *what* to say or do, and thus, did nothing.

Naruto didn't come with books, or paper to take notes, he didn't even come with pens. Always with the orange-covered book, and as he walked in only when his name was called in the roll call register and that he dashed out first things first at the sound of the bell, he was an elusive target, at best.

Recess was the weak point of his plan, as the boy silently retreated to a corner of the school's area, and stayed there until the bell rang again. Nobody dared to get closer, nicknaming it the Demon's Den, nobody except, obviously, an Inuzuka hell-bent on getting a piece of him for killing her cousin.

The girl had stood no chance. Itachi winced, recalling how Naruto had shown the girl just how nasty his tricks could get. He was a prankster by nature, but an actually cornered Naruto? Itachi shuddered at the thought of how the girl, the Inuzuka, had gone crying the next moment. No Inuzuka had ever cried that hard. No Inuzuka was ever thought to be able to actually cry. Yell, rant, and scream? Yes, yes, and yes, but cry? That was what quality over quantity meant. Naruto had a lot of qualities, and with good enough purpose, brought forward by good, if not extraordinary teachers in the nick of time they could spare him, he had been on par with him.

Itachi finally reached into the academy, watching as his fan-club was waiting for him, and narrowing, just so slightly, his gaze, when he realized there were a bit more people than normal, around the school.

Many walked like ninjas in their own accord, too, so they either were the parents of the graduating class of the year, a bit strange, since there were no particular clans showing up in the crowd of faces, or because something else was actually going on. Itachi inwardly sighed that his sharingan hadn't awakened, or he would have certainly peered through whatever machinations were going on, as he would have placed his hand on the fire to swear on it, but he was sure that it involved Naruto.

The Uchiha reached the hallway, where, reading the orange book, Naruto stood in silence, as both he and Itachi knew full well how it would be going on. Itachi would enter the classroom, and be probably greeted by the fan girls who he had in his own class, Naruto would wait outside until the teacher began the roll call, and then the boy would enter at the right time for his name to be called.

Once more, Itachi was forced to bath under the attention of foaming girls, one worse than the next, until he finally got to his seat, thanking Kami that the Inuzuka girl, Hana, wasn't the slightest interested in him, and had three dogs nearby who growled savagely at the rest of the fan club.

"You should pay up the protection fee, one day," the girl pointed out, with a neutral tone.

"It will be over by tomorrow," Itachi replied, letting a small smirk appear on his face, as on cue, the surname Uzumaki was called, and the door opened. The smirk slowly turned to a frown, and the frown to worry, when the man entering the room was not Naruto, but another sensei: Mizuki.

"Itachi Uchiha and Naruto Uzumaki are to follow me towards the examination room," he reported, in a clear tone. Well, the exam to immediately be promoted from the academy seemed to have been settled for the early morning. Itachi got up in silence, letting the fan girls wail tears while actually cheering him good luck. The worry on his face turned to perplexity, upon following Mizuki, as Naruto wasn't, at all, outside the hallway. Nor was he in the exam room, where Iruka, on the other hand, was.

"I haven't seen Naruto Uzumaki today yet, is he sick?" Mizuki queried, feigning clearly, something that Itachi had no trouble picking up, interest in the boy. Few people actually took the boy's health by heart. One was his mother, Mikoto, who even though she usually fussed over Sasuke, now two years old, had no trouble fussing also over her friend's son. He had been sick once, for a single day, but that too hadn't stopped him from going to school. There was just something about him that made him incredibly resistant to sicknesses, Jinchuuriki or not, but he had been sick, once. Result of poisoning, as it had been discovered later on.

"He'll come when you'll roll call his name," as Itachi replied that, both Iruka and Mizuki nodded, and then the first coughed a moment, to clear his throat.

"Well, to graduate academy you need a Bunshin, a Henge and a Kawarimi, that's more than enough, usually, because we have written tests marks over the course of the years and Taijutsu practices to look and grade. Since we do not have those, in this occasion, I'm going to require you to do the above Jutsus, spar with either me or Mizuki, and finally hand in a small written test. Afterwards the same will apply with Uzumaki-kun, if he'll grace us of his presence before you finish. Otherwise, he'll be marked as a failure and, unluckily, be dropped out of the shinobi program altogether," Itachi's eyes narrowed at the implication, there *was* something off in Naruto's disappearance, if that was the case. The boy was dead-set on being a shinobi after all, and for him to be actually late, or not there, was something bizarre.

He'd take time for his friend that much was sure, but he did have to voice his opinion.

"Senseis, Naruto had been in the academy even before me," Itachi muttered, "There's no way he wouldn't be here now…I think something might have happened to him," he added.

"Well, he's probably gone to the bathroom," Iruka replied, the teacher didn't outright love the blond boy, or like him, but he had been the one to testify Naruto's ability for taking the test earlier. Probably to remove the fox demon from his class, at least, that was what everyone thought. A pity Naruto's skills were the real deal.

"I see. Would you mind if I took the written test first, Iruka-sensei, Mizuki-sensei?" Itachi politely asked, letting his gaze move from one teacher to the other, and, as both senseis nodded, he was made to sit down at an empty desk, and, given the paper, he was told the time limit: two hours.

This was the start of it. He could simply scribble some notes in pencil, wait the last five minutes, and write on pen, he knew all the answers: it was an easy thing, so, for that reason, he waited. Hoping the boy would come in.

Naruto didn't come, at all, after an hour. He didn't come even after the second hour was just about to end, and Itachi found out begrudgingly that he was forced to write by pen the answers, neatly arranging them on the paper. Then it was the Taijutsu spar, in which he did his best to hold out against his opponent, Mizuki, for as long as he could. Obviously the Chuunin was stronger than him, and more apt than him, but still, he did his best, bringing the fight on for at least a quarter of hour.

As the two opponents made the sign for peace, after the spar, Itachi was a nervous wreckage of a boy. He knew something was wrong, and he was pretty sure it was something big, yet the two teachers seemingly hadn't even cared to look for the problem. Just where did the boy end up? Just where had Naruto gone! Did the chocolate bar actually poison him? But he had seemed fine, and he had spit it out swiftly. Did something else happen? Was it the people outside the academy? Were they responsible in some way?

As the Ninjutsu spar was about to begin, someone knocked at the door of the class.

"It's open," Iruka said, having Itachi wait, as the raven-haired Uchiha's eyes were already lit with hope that Naruto was going to explain what was going on.

The door slowly opened, to reveal a pale man with long black hair, and golden eyes, with a Jounin vest on. Next to him, slightly pale, stood Naruto, he seemed to have had his clothes shredded on the side, and on the back, but mostly, it did seem that he had received a set of bruises on the face, as one of his eyes was seemingly half closed, already swelling up for the purplish bump.

"What happened to the boy, Orochimaru-san?" Iruka queried, puzzled, and showing, if for a brief second, a moment of worry, soon replaced by simple curiosity, as, after all, it was the Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi that they were talking about: he was tougher than that.

"Kukuku…It seems this young shinobi had been taken by a group of rebels within Konoha, but as luck wanted it to be, I happened to find him and his torturers…he insisted in coming to take the test to become a Genin, albeit, *I*," the *I* being stressed, with a happy grin, "Can assure you that he should indeed be made a Genin, even without taking the test."

"That would be unorthodox, Orochimaru-san," Mizuki replied, the sensei *did* hate the guts out of the boy, for some reason…well, the reason was obvious, but he hated the boy even more than normal.

"Anyway, I'm sure you won't mind him being late…it wasn't his fault, after all…kukuku…" and, with a final chuckle, Orochimaru turned to leave, leaving Naruto to slowly limp towards a seat, his right leg seemingly had taken a bad twist somewhere.

"Seeing your condition, maybe you would prefer to take the test tomorrow? I'm sure we could explain to the Hokage, and he'd understand…" Mizuki proposed, feigning worry, as Naruto instead shook his head. Firstly, he was sure he'd simply be thrown out of the shinobi program without a second thought, *exceptions* didn't work for him, only against him, and secondly…

"I'll take the test today, tomorrow you'll have already decided the team assignments, if I'm not there, then who's going to take care of the worrywart Uchiha here?" as Naruto grinned, sending a wink to Itachi, the Uchiha in question sighed, speeding through all the hand signs required for the jutsus, and muttering.

"You know, next life, I'm having you drop out of the shinobi program," Itachi said, as he waited for Iruka to grade his performance. Naruto did the written test without wincing, but small droplets of sweat, and some not yet dried blood did stain the white paper sheet, then, the boy asked.

"Can I do the jutsus first, please?" Both teachers sighed, nodding. They *had* changed the order for Itachi, while neither liked doing the same for the boy: it still wouldn't be fair, especially with Itachi still in the room.

The next moment, the Kawarimi, the Henge, and the Bunshins were made. The last one created the bare amount to pass, three, while the Henge *was* a perfect replica of Mizuki, and the Kawarimi did however produce a small whine from the boy, not because it failed, but because he badly position his right leg when he touched the ground after the substitution. The last part was sparring.

Iruka was about to stand up, after all, Mizuki had already fought against Itachi, but the silver-haired chuunin dismissed his friend.

"I'll handle him too, it won't be anything more than some light sparring, after all," as Mizuki spoke, he stood in front of the brat, with a small smirk on his face. Itachi looked at the scene with interest, his leaf forehead protector already in his hands, but that fight was going to be far more interesting to watch, and he was sure Naruto was being an idiot. It had to be one of the constant of the universe: Naruto had to be a knuckleheaded idiot.

Mizuki's right fist aimed straight ahead, with enough speed to actually be considered a nearly killing fist, instead of a friendly spar one. The result was a broken nose for Naruto, who, however, wasn't knocked out, his head having at the very least moved backwards a bit before the fist had connected, to lessen the blow. Trying to keep a standing position, with a clearly sprained leg, or maybe even broken, wasn't a small feat, especially when Mizuki adopted a more versatile and mobile approach to fighting the boy, who did all he could to avoid being, doing his best to duck or parry the blows, albeit his arms had clearly started to turn sore, especially after the couple of hits to his shoulders.

Naruto gritted his teeth, pain flaring through his broken leg, as he knew this was what waited him in the test, he was pretty sure He had asked them to be merciless, to be extremely cruel, to be thorough in their actions just to make him fail...well, he wouldn't fail, he would become the greatest ninja ever, and he would become the Hokage…for truth.

He should have known that there was no way the Hokage wanted to speak to him outside school, in the backyard. He had thought it was improbable, but he had hoped it wouldn't be a false hope that something was going to change for the better...he had refused his previous Hunch, that never ended well… That hope had been shattered by the ninja mob that had forced him to run for his life towards the other side of the village. It had been a perfect ambush, two coming out from the school's door, two to the side of the backyard, and a couple along the roads that would have possibly led him back into the school, for the exam. He had tried to avoid capture for as long as possible, but in the end, they *did* have ninjas on their midst, and no matter of training would have made him able to be on par with some of them. He was captured like a rabbit, ninja wire set at the end of an alleyway he had been running through, and then, said alley had begun his bloody trap. He was already holding his hands around his head, to protect it: "the first thing to protect is the head, the rest of the body is secondary, if you curl yourself up in a ball," had been told to him by Kakashi, once.

He had done that: he had stood there screaming for help, until his voice had gone sore. Obviously, the blood in his mouth and the kicks hadn't helped him, or the fact that nobody would have actually moved a hand to help the demon brat. The Uchiha would have, but they weren't there at the moment. The sharp cries of "Die Demon! Die!" echoed through the alleyway, until finally, the noise of an unsheathed sword, the simple murmur of the sword's name, "Kusanagi," the flashing increase in length of the sword, that cut down his assailers, and, finally, silence, only the throbbing pain of his bruises, as he slowly managed to get back up on his feet, or foot, as it was, since the other was broken. Broken to try and have him open up from his curled position, to try and make him stop defending his frail head, maybe to smash his skull too.

"kukuku, why didn't you fight back, Naruto-kun?" Orochimaru had queried then, knowing full well he did give pointers to the boy, more than once.

"I should be doing an exam… I'm sure he," the boy had spat out the pronoun like it was the name in question, "surely would have me detained if I did anything, and make me drop out the shinobi program…" Naruto's eyes had then settled on the snake sannin, and, with a sort of pleading gaze, had realized the man's face hadn't been one of frowning, for having been used, but more of…satisfaction?

"Kukuku…that was good thinking, come along, I'll bring you back to school, you have an exam to take, last I checked," and with those words, one of the three legendary Sannins had brought the boy back to school.

A shinobi needs to see underneath the underneath: that was the most valuable lesson of them all. To actually resort to Taijutsu, was a practice that few deemed worthy of notice. Why was Taijutsu learned, then? Because you never knew when the kunai you held in your hand would drop, break, or you'd have no time to grab it. Taijutsu for the academy was basic movements of fists and kicks, Taijutsu, real battle Taijutsu, was about feints, specific hits, and quick submission holds, but it all followed only one, real, rule: if it was flashy, it wasn't worthy of being learned and it wouldn't save your life in battle.

That was a lesson the Jiji had told him, so, even if he was getting the short end of the stick from Mizuki, Naruto was still pretty much capable of holding off the attacks of the chuunin, not because he could actually defeat the man, but because the man had preferred to believe in the boy's weakness. Underneath the underneath, after all, was the first law.

So, when, even though Naruto had been battered and bruised, the time kept on going, and he was still up, Mizuki gritted his teeth, resorting to a roundhouse kick on the boy's broken leg, to swipe that smug grin the blond boy had on him the entire time the spar had gone on for.

In that precise moment, the seemingly broken leg had done a side movement, avoiding the kick and becoming, itself, a kick, straight between the Chuunin's legs.

Itachi winced, averting his gaze, as he knew all too well the strength that was behind Naruto's kicks. Iruka paled slightly, going as far as verbally muttering an *ouch*. Mizuki, on the other hand, saw white, and fell backwards, seemingly passed out from the pain.

"I thought it was broken," Iruka muttered, pointing at the leg.

"I do have a broken leg," Naruto replied, gritting his teeth, as he got both his hands to support on a nearby desk, "It just wasn't the right one," he added, "and I knew he'd resort to play dirty."

"Ninjas should always use the weakness of the opponent, Naruto-kun," Itachi replied.

"Yeah, that stuff…" the blond boy said, sweating heavily, as he clearly had to be in pain, but did his best not to let it show.

"Well…I say you passed," Iruka replied, handing the boy a Konoha leaf protector, "You did defeat a Chuunin, even though it was a friendly spar, and you did perform all henges…and while your test is largely unreadable due to blood loss, it's mostly correct…and you did all this while in your state…it's more than enough," Naruto meekly nodded, making a grin to Itachi, before muttering back.

"Itachi…I think I'm not going to be able to come eat at Ichiraku's, tonight…warn Hatake-san for me…" as he finished saying that, the blond boy's eyes closed, as he fainted, not sprawling on the ground because Itachi was already there, grabbing him by the side.

"Should I call a medic-nin?" Iruka queried, worried, he should have been worried in the beginning, but if the boy was able to last till then, then he probably should have been fine, shouldn't he? He was a Jinchuuriki, tough demon jailor, and he wasn't all that bad...was he?

"No…they'd probably try and mercy kill," Itachi spoke slowly, letting the words loom the air for a moment, before adding, "him, he'll be safer in the Uchiha compound…where I'll be carrying him, now," and with those final words, the boy slowly began walking towards the door of the class, and outside, carrying his fellow Konoha Ninja together with him, for their first day as Genin of the leaf…it wasn't that good of a start.

He always had the same dream, about the same night, the same events: at first he was happy, his baby brother, or sister, on the way, and then he was no longer in the house, having been smashed by a giant red-furred fox, that had made him really, really, scared, and crying, while his mother held onto him with one arm, and on the other was seemed like a crying baby, his father was in front of them, his blue eyes setting themselves on the three.

"I'm sorry…there's no other way," then Naruto had seen him take the bundle of clothes, and he had even taken him too. Why didn't his Kaa-san stop him? Maybe she was too tired? Maybe she actually wanted that to happen? He only knew he had fainted afterwards, that was all he knew.

When he had woken up, the stares had started. He recalled the stares in the council, he recalled them all, and, even though he did recall them all, he couldn't help but whimper, slightly shaking at the sheer amount of pressure being in the same room as clan's head met and spoke, about him, about his future…about who he was supposed to be, or better yet…what he was supposed to be from that moment onwards.

He woke up with a startled expression, carefully eying the room he was in, pain washing all over his body, as he could feel, distinctively, a cast on his left leg, and bandages covering most of his body. His vision was impaired, on the swelled eye, by a cold compress, as his only visible eye made him inwardly mull a thought…was that how Kakashi-san saw the world?

He groaned, recognizing the motif of the Uchiha clan on the side of the paper walls, Itachi had brought him to his family compound. He didn't hate the Uchiha clan, it was the exact opposite: when he had started getting beaten up in public, it was usually an Uchiha guard who broke the mob apart, his friendship with Itachi, who was the heir of the clan, was enough to at least warrant some help, even from those who still loathed him. Naruto, however, also knew of the consequences for helping him. It had been something clear in his mind, and no matter of telling him otherwise had convinced him of the opposite: the Uchiha clan's compound had been forced to be moved nearly outside of the village's wall, a social stigma that clearly still burned into the soul of the Uchiha's clan leader, Fugaku.

He tried to leverage on his sane foot, holding back the pain, he was good at that. To keep the pain inside, never to show any weakness that you don't want the enemy to exploit, that was another sound teaching. He kind of wondered, as he managed to get on his feet, if Kakashi was fine, maybe he had simply been distracted, since having started to read those orange-covered books, there were times he'd let his guard go off, as any sixteen years old would, but he just did that while giggling in a sort of perverted way…he had given Naruto an orange book too, but the boy hadn't actually read it, he just had taken the cover, placed it to protect his hard-obtained school book, and had then walked to class with it every day. He knew that was Kakashi's trick to be undisturbed, and thus he had thought about it in the same way: if he was reading that, nobody told him anything, even the adults avoided him, at least, the majority, and the few who didn't were distracted by his seemingly innocent appearance to let him Bunshin his way out of there.

It was survival, everything was meant for survival. Being a shinobi wasn't being nice, playing fair, yelling out loud and charging head on. It was about slicing throats from the back and punching people in the balls, where it hurt hard, to survive. Grime, blood and filth were the Ninja's companions. The rest meant nothing.

Naruto's hand slowly moved to the panel door, try as he did to make it as silent as possible, he knew all too well it would be futile. The next moment, as the door he used swished to the side, the door in front opened, to reveal Itachi, staring at him with his own dark eyes.

"Naruto, congratulation on passing the Genin exam," "In the most foolish and possibly idiotical way I had never even dreamed about," was the clear thought pattern behind the Uchiha, something only Naruto, having known the boy for quite a long time, could understand,"though do notice that tomorrow we have team assignments…please, do take some rest time, and do not try and engage in nightly activities," "If you even so much as try and get out of the room, know that I can pretty much stay awake all night you stupid and reckless idiot, and force you back to sleep by knocking you out," was the clear message.

"But…" Naruto tried to reply, only to be cut up short when a woman, in her *Early* years, walked towards the two boys, a frown on her face, as she stared at the two recently appointed Genin.

"I just heard someone saying they wouldn't mind sleeping here the night, right?" Mikoto stressed, as Itachi, on his own accord nodded.

"So it seems, Kaa-san, Naruto would like to sleep here, to recover from his wounds," "that he even refuses to admit, just look at how much pain his face shows!" as Itachi spoke softly, his mother nodded.

"Hey I…" as Naruto tried to butt in on the conversation, Mikoto shushed him in a split second, replying.

"Well, you know he can stay as much as he likes, here, but I must ask if he's hungry, since he slept through lunch and dinner times," as she replied that, Naruto tried, being the key word, to claim his moment of speaking light, just so he could say he didn't need anything and would be on his way *home*.

"He's hungry alright," Itachi replied, "I'm sure he wouldn't mind eating something solid, instead of ramen, as always."

"…Itachi…" Naruto's muttered growl went unheard, as Mikoto smiled, nodding before leaving the two boys there.

"Due to your physical situation, Naruto, I'd suggest you refrain from any attempt of getting even with me," Itachi replied, "for the moment, obviously…Now, do go back to sleep," and with that, Naruto rolled his eyes, no use in arguing against one who could actually swipe the floor with him, and that when Naruto *was* in perfect conditions.

At least he'd get some solid, and warm, food that night. He couldn't shop for food, without being kicked out, but that was in his normal aspect.

The reason his Henge was top notch was that he actually needed that skill for survival. He had never had a problem in walking up front and asking someone if they needed any help, moving crates, lifting stuff, things that any five years old could do, even mowing the grass of elderly ladies. Obviously, Naruto was shunned, even if the lady in question would later give the job to either a Genin team, for a higher fee, or to another kid who'd do it for spare change. That's when he had asked Kakashi for a solution, the man had been more than willing to hire him out for odd jobs himself, but Naruto had refused. He didn't want mercy, he wanted survival skills. So, strangely enough, while he did love ramen, and that warm feeling that the hot broth had when reaching his stomach, he rarely ate it, and when he did, it was a special occasion.

The Henge had been what Kakashi had taught him, and Naruto had been able to do it, at first only a sort of mish-mash of colors, then it had become a person, and finally it had become a different person. Henges required chakra in proportion to the differences from the base form…thus the more complex and different the image required, the better it would be. Chakra control was needed both for the finer details and to make the Henge more difficult to trace. It had been the basic Henge of the academy, but when you need that to survive…it became extremely important to know how to do it well.

So, Naruto survived on Henge use to make odd jobs, go shopping without being thrown out, and actually to just have a bit of respite in the park, unknowingly training his own chakra control in the meantime. Still, spare change wasn't enough, and that usually meant that, being too stubborn to ask for help from anyone, even Itachi, he had, more than once, resorted to scavenging and foraging. There wasn't a single fruit plant that, left outside at night, survived his passage. Obviously even the farmlands on the nearby outskirts of the village, or the forests, weren't left unscathed. Forests were the best place to hunt, rabbits, birds, things like that.

It was practical, and it worked. Sure, usually most stuff was cold, or had to be thoroughly cooked and cleaned, before being eaten…but the satisfaction of eating a morsel of self-caught rabbit? The teeth gnawing upon a freshly…*taken* cabbage? His classmates had Bentos, he eyed the birds' eggs in their nests, his classmates had apple juice and he had the tap water from the school's bath: all in all, he survived.

So, he wasn't one to spoil food, even when he would have preferred being home, the empty one room apartment that waited him, with no-one in there. He simply felt better knowing that there was one door and one window as entry and exit points, instead of the paper-made doors of the Uchiha compound, heck, he was sure that, in case of a fire, it would all burn up really fast!

Mikoto came back with a tray, on which a vast assortment of food was, food that Naruto took no moment to dig in, after the usual Itadakimasu, and that gave the woman the time to give a slightly sad look to the boy's face.

She didn't know what made her sadder: the fact that the boy harbored a demon, or how he had been treated after becoming the container of the demon in question. Sure, the Kyuubi might have nearly destroyed Konoha, killing a lot of good people in the process…but how was the boy responsible for that? The sweet boy had obviously changed, but certainly not because he had become the nine-tailed demon! Itachi had the pressure of being the next clan heir, and she couldn't fawn too much over him, but still, she had been really glad when Naruto and him had struck a strong friendship, it had also helped her son immensely, especially when Sasuke had begun walking…it was Itachi who seemingly knew where the younger one was, or what he was doing…and when queried on his sixth sense, he had always replied, that it was something he had already witnessed.

"Uchiha-san…" Naruto said, after the food, "I really should be going…" he whispered in a barely audible murmur.

"Now Naruto-kun, we went over this already: just call me Mikoto-san," the woman replied, "and don't you even think, for a moment, of escaping through the window, you have a broken leg, you need rest, and the cast won't be of any help if you keep on moving around," she added.

"I'll be fine by tomorrow," Naruto muttered back, "team assignments are tomorrow," he added, slowly drifting to sleep, did he actually feel that sleepy? He didn't bother much about it, and as his eyes closed, he couldn't help but shrug off the feeling that he shouldn't be sleeping that heavily, moments after finishing his dinner.

Mikoto stood up, with a sigh. Really, if she hadn't known the knucklehead by heart, she wouldn't have resorted to giving him a good dose of sleeping medicine. The boy would have probably left at night, worsening his leg condition minimum, and clearly that wouldn't have helped him at all. She bit her lip, as she moved out of the room, giving a wink to Itachi, who had opened the door of his room once more, only to be *updated* on the situation, before nodding and turning back to enter his room, to get some sleep. Mikoto's walk didn't stop until she reached her husband's study, where she entered after politely knocking on the door, and closing it after having walked through the doorway.

"Mikoto?" Fugaku queried, perplexed at the late hour visit of his wife.

"I'd like to ask why no Uchiha Guard realized that Naruto-kun was being severely beaten in an alleyway, today," the woman spoke quietly, her dark eyes not daring to accuse, but still showing off worry.

"I can't tell you," Fugaku barely replied in a whisper, his eyes moving sideways. This was the signal that he actually couldn't, meaning the Hokage had a hand in it. Mikoto nodded, her husband wouldn't actually do something like that for petty reasons, and having his guards not do their jobs only to have a mob hit a boy would have been stupid, and her husband wasn't, at all, stupid. If he wanted to kill someone, Fugaku knew he could count on highly trained Uchiha's clansmen, so there would have been no need to bother with something like that, meaning he had been ordered to have his own men stand down, while the beating took place. Knowing he couldn't speak meant something else entirely too: it meant he had been ordered not to speak, and to respect said order…one had to be the Hokage.

Mikoto's face turned for a moment sorrowful, before shaking her head gently.

"The boy can stay for the night," Fugaku added, "Itachi was smart enough to use a Henge to transform him into a sack of potatoes, to have him enter…but he has to leave first thing in the morning…understood?"

"Yes, husband dear," Mikoto replied, a small smile on her face, her husband was one of the toughest shinobis that Konoha could ever birth, but he did have a weak spot, one that she wasn't afraid of using: he never liked seeing her sad face.

The next day, Naruto's eyes opened slowly, as he felt the uncomfortable weight on his left leg, he recalled the events of the previous day. A bloody way to become a Genin that much was sure. Still, he was a Genin now. It was the first step. Wherever through blood, tears, or words he'd strike true to his purpose: to become Hokage.

Only then, would the Truth come to him.

As he begrudgingly stood in a sitting position, he took the weight of his body on the right leg, sighing as his left still seemed to pain him a great deal. Not as much as the day before, but he wouldn't be pushing any weight on it that soon. He saw breakfast on a tray, next to him, and sighing, he ate it as fast as possible: he wouldn't renounce food, no matter what it would be or where he would be.

One thing he was sure of was that he still had today free: tomorrow would be the Genin test time, and by then, he simply had to have his leg fixed. He valued his options. He needed a medic-nin and the medical jutsus to have it at least bearable for whatever the test was, and he did have the money for it…at least, he hoped it would suffice what little he had managed to put aside. The problem was with the fact he needed to find someone willing to heal him, without overpricing. That would be difficult, but not impossible. His Henge would probably work, had he broken something on his face it would have been worst.

He slid his door open, sighing as Itachi did the same, with his leaf protector already on his forehead, and another one in his hand, handing it over to the blond boy.

"This is yours, Iruka-sensei gave it to me after you fainted," the Uchiha spoke quietly, making Naruto nod as he took it and tightly tied it on his forehead.

"Can I ask you a favor?" Naruto muttered, his voice serious, albeit a bit trembling, as Itachi simply raised an eyebrow, it was a first, to actually be asked a favor from Naruto, which meant it had to be something fairly important.

"Whatever happens," Naruto said, "I'll always have your back… just…don't leave me behind, okay?"

Itachi made a small smile, nodding.

"If I did leave you behind I'd probably be more worried than satisfied, we go through this together, as friends," as Itachi raised his right hand, Naruto caught it with his own, and as both boys squeezed each other's hands, a serious look settled on their faces.

"Let's get going then," Naruto said, a smile on his face, as he slightly winced, when he inadvertently placed some weight on his still broken leg.

"We did wake up early…we have time," Itachi replied with a sigh, as, at a snail's pace, they both made their way outside, they had to be early for the team assignments, and as such, they had woken up early too.

By the time the two reached the academy, they both sat, without showing a trace of nervousness, together with the upperclassmen, those who had actually graduated on time.

"Ohi!" a female Kunoichi spoke, moving closer to the two, "What are two gakis like you doing here!" the girl had purple hair, tied at pineapple, and her pupil-less brown eyes settled for a brief moment on the two, before wincing, at the sight of the blond boy's whisker marks, a fact that only one other person possessed, actually.

"Well, huh, never mind asking," the girl said once more, slowly moving out of the way, without even waiting for a reply from the two.

"You're a party killer, Naruto," Itachi pointed that out, barely repressing a grin, as the blond boy simply took on a seriously saddened face, albeit it was fake.

"Aw…you know I'm the soul of every party," he replied, letting his gaze wander towards the rest of the class, who knows who he'd end up partner with?

Itachi would probably have all the luck, as usual, pretty Kunoichi, obedient second Shinobi, with Naruto's luck, instead, he'd end up with an arrogant ugly hag of a girl and an utterly arrogant bastard who would claim *Alpha status* like an Inuzuka.

The teacher, Iruka-sensei, walked in alone, earning Naruto a puzzled expression, where was Mizuki?

"Mizuki-sensei is currently undisposed, after yesterday's exams…" Naruto couldn't repress a chuckle.

A chuckle that was heard both by Iruka, by Itachi who was next to him, and by the purple haired Kunoichi.

"Ohi! What's there to laugh about Mizuki-sensei being sick you brat!"

"He's not sick," Naruto replied, between a chuckle and another one, "He's probably holding a cold pack…over it, ahah…ahahaha!" as Naruto began laughing, Iruka sported a nervous tick mark on his forehead, while Itachi sighed.

"He will stay in the hospital for the next days, to…repair all damage he has suffered from," as Iruka kept talking, a boy raised his hand, to ask.

"Did he break a bone?"

"AHAHAHA! I doubt he'd ever break that bone! Uhuhuh! He might have a broken muscle though!" Naruto couldn't help but exclaim that, with a wide laughter following, as Itachi sighed once more.

"Uzumaki!" Iruka snapped, "You are now a Genin of Konoha, please, control your outbursts…"

"Fine…" another chuckle, and then Naruto calmed down, while the eldest Uchiha slightly shook his head, he knew all too well the boy did that when he was stressed. He'd probably end up with unknown teammates and teachers, so it was only obvious that he'd probably flip out in some way…and Naruto's way to vent off stress was to yell something out loud.

Iruka, once silence reigned in the classroom, began announcing teams and their members.

"and Kakashi Hatake will be the Jounin sensei of team 7, Team 8 made of Naruto Uzumaki, Mitarashi Anko," the purple haired Kunoichi from before had her face fall down on the hard wooden surface of the desk, whining about Kami hating her, "and Itachi Uchiha," Naruto literally hugged Itachi, nearly breaking the boy's spine by doing said motion, and dropping it after a few seconds, coughing to slightly recompose himself, not before the entire class had outright began laughing at the scene, "SILENCE!" Iruka snapped, "And their sensei will be…Orochimaru of the Sannin," at that point, whines and yells and exclamations raised themselves through the class: Itachi Uchiha, being taught by a Sannin? Fine for everyone, even the older fan girls of his fan club, but the Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi? That monster? And Mitarashi Anko? Some words were set even on her, a war orphan who had just gotten lucky, and with that, spite came too in her direction, making her actually look uncomfortable, as she had never believed someone could come up with reasons to give her faults on being a war orphan.

"Hey Itachi," Naruto said out loud, "You think you can show me that Genjutsu you mastered, that one to send a bunch of whining kids crying back to their mothers? You know: the ultra-secret one that only those of the Uchiha clan know how to make?"

"But Naruto-kun…that makes the whining kids die after I use it," as Itachi seriously replied to the boy, even Iruka slightly paled, did said jutsu really exist? The serious way Itachi had replied to the blond boy…

"Well, anyway! Wait for your Jounin-sensei to come along, and then off you will go," as Iruka left the now silent as death room, after his words, the first Jounin to actually enter was Orochimaru himself, the pale skinned man had an amused grin on his face, as he watched with delight the looks of envy from the other students, but he silently noted how there wasn't a hint of pride on either the Uchiha or the Mitarashi…Naruto showed relief, but of that, the man was sure. He had taken an interest in the boy since seeing him actually be taught things by his teacher, Hiruzen, not much, actually, just pointers, but the boy had absorbed them like a sponge, where others kids in the park played, the blond boy of barely six years old was absorbing knowledge like it was air that needed to be breathe by the old man.

It had been more than enough to warrant the pursue of his interest, and the boy *was* the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki, and he just kept being interesting, just like the events that had brought him there…

*Somewhere else*

"Don't you have a Genin group to teach to, Kakashi?" the Hokage queried.

"Hokage-sama…with respect…why wasn't he put on my team?" Kakashi had been Jounin for quite a while now, and he *was* taking students since a while, so why not assign him one of the few boys he actually could try and teach something?

"He who?" The Hokage replied raising an eyebrow.

"Naruto," Kakashi said the name, his only visible eye showing a brief glint of sorrow, as the Hokage's tone turned snappish.

"Orochimaru of the legendary three wished to teach him…and for that reason, he was chosen," as the man spoke, turning his gaze towards the village, he muttered, barely containing his anger, "the boy refused any attempt at conciliation, he insisted on this path, so now he will carry it on till the end, and I made sure that Orochimaru himself shows no leniency towards him, or the rest of the team…if he does actually pass the Genin test, while facing off a legendary sannin, then maybe, maybe he'll be worth enough of my time to sort out some D-level missions for him."

"But…" the silver-haired Jounin tried to come up with a reason, for such a messed up judgment call, but couldn't, as the Hokage interrupted him, letting his voice carry over the thoughts of the copy-cat ninja.

"Kakashi! He is extremely important to the village…did we understand each other?" at those words, Kakashi nodded.

"Yes, Hokage-sama," as he turned to leave, the door of the office opened, and a woman, carrying a two-years old in her arms, entered with a smile.

"Kakashi-kun," Kushina spoke, with a smile, "How are you doing?" The two year old girl, with red hair, tied in a pony-tail, stared with her clear blue eyes at the silver-haired Jounin, who took on his smile-eye, before replying.

"Everything is fine, Kushina-san, I'm a bit in a hurry though, I'm sorry I can't stay any longer, see you too, Katsumi-chan," and with those words, said towards the shy two-year old girl, Kakashi left in a hurry, leaving behind the red-haired woman, who, cooing over her two-year old, moved towards her husband, the fourth Hokage, Minato Namikaze.

The man who had disowned their very own son, claiming he was too disrespectful to be a Namikaze.

The man who had thrown him in an orphan's apartment, because he had considered his very own son to be too dangerous to stay around, after sealing the Kyuubi within him, but had never the less offered the boy to come back to a loving family only if he refused being a shinobi, the man who seemed to consider Naruto more like a tool, an object, a furniture piece, than a real breathing boy.

He didn't know which of the two he hated the most.

His sensei for what he had done, claiming the boy should be considered a hero, but never the less throwing him out in the streets, or his sensei's wife, for having not lifted a finger to protect her firstborn.

He truly, actually, didn't know, but he, like a couple of other close friends of the family, had pried for the truth, and hadn't found it, too tightly kept within the mind of the Fourth Hokage himself, just what was it, the truth?

Author's notes

Did I just start another Narutoverse fic? That I did.

Did I just give off a familiar vibe from the previous one? That I did.

Did I just make it extremely different by using a different timeline? That I did.

Did I just push the accelerator on something even more angsty? …*Whistles innocently*.

General Questions:

NO. This is NOT. Will not be, EVER, a Yaoi fic. NOPE. Not a chance in frigging hell, no ItachiXNaruto, never, ever, not even if you send me a million dollar cheque. Nein, nada, non, no, *no (Italian pronunciation)*

Yeah, I do tend to keep some names from the previous fic, making an actual Au with the previous verse…*But* and here is the *but*, this Naruto will be on a completely different *mentality* than the previous one. Grimmer, darker, survivalist, but not because of enemy territory, or things like that, but for the sole purpose: Truth.

That said, as always, until he hits the 18 years mark, there will be no fixed pairings, but obviously, considering his age, it will be with one of the older kunoichis.

And no, no godlike Naruto, no talking snakes, not even one! (Well, maybe I'll have Kuro make an appearance, but you know, Kuro is just Kuro, awesome)