Summary: We all know the story of Naruto on Team 7, but what if he was trained under a different Sensei? With different teammates? How would Naruto have developed under Rin, Kakashi's forgotten teammate? For better or for worse, different experiences will lead to a different Naruto.

A/N: AU based off the idea that two specific things are changed before canon events begins. One: Kakashi's teammate, Rin, is not dead. Two: Iruka has a heart to heart with Naruto a month before the graduation exams. These changes will butterfly into a (hopefully) worthwhile story!

Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, nor do I profit from this work. I'm merely using it as an exercise to improve my writing and for my own and others enjoyment.

Team Rin

Chapter 01

The S-Class Secret

Naruto held his breath in anticipation as his sensei walked into the classroom. Iruka gave the class his usual greeting and took his seat. Naruto smothered a snicker while Iruka shuffled with some papers.

"Alright everyone, your graduation exam is only a month away." He began to stand and Naruto grinned in anticipation. "I thought it would be best to—" Iruka yelped as he crashed to the ground with his chair stuck to him. The class erupted into laughter as Iruka struggled to detach himself from his seat.

That was great! Operation glue Iruka to his chair successful, Naruto thought with a snicker. Iruka disentangled himself from the chair with a quick hand seal and glared around the classroom with a faint blush. Everyone quieted down under his gaze, and he searched each face in turn. He made it to Naruto, who adapted his best innocent look, but felt a bit of sweat form on his head. The Chūnin's eye twitched and Naruto knew he had been made.

"Naruto, stay after class." The rest of the class laughed at his expense and Naruto slumped in defeat. "Now, as I was saying…"

The rest of the day went by in a typical manner, Iruka thought. It was an added bonus that Naruto was much more subdued after being called out on his prank. The blonde boy was now sitting in front of him, grinning and rubbing the back of his neck.

"What'll it be this time Iruka-sensei? Mopping the floors or cleaning the blackboards?" Iruka sighed at Naruto's nonchalant tone. He was familiar with all the usual punishments, but Naruto still acted out, and was almost never serious. Iruka recalled another academy student that always used trouble and jokes to get people to pay attention to him. The difference was that Iruka grew out of it, and he doubted that Naruto would. "Sensei?" Iruka snapped away from his musings.

"Naruto…" His time as Naruto's sensei was coming to an end, and if the usual punishments never worked, then perhaps it was time to try a different approach. "Why do you want to be a ninja?" Naruto looked taken aback by the question.

"Because I'm going to be Hokage someday!" He said as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. Iruka nodded, having heard his student shout his dream many times before.

"How?" Naruto gave him a blank look at the simple question. "How are you going to become Hokage?"

"I'm going to be the strongest ninja Konoha has ever seen, dattebayo!" Naruto declared with a grin. "Then everyone will have to acknowledge me as Hokage." His reasoning was flawed, but Iruka latched onto his opening.

"Naruto." He made sure his tone was serious and he had the boy's complete attention. "How can you be the strongest ninja if you never pay attention in class?"Naruto scoffed at the accusation and Iruka felt himself twitch in annoyance.

"Come on Sensei. Who needs to know all the stuff you talk about in class to be a ninja?" Naruto whined, holding his arms behind his head and leaning back in his chair. Iruka forced himself to remain calm.

"What is a ninja's best weapon, Naruto?" Naruto scratched his cheek in thought.

"Er, strong jutsu?" Iruka pinched the bridge of his scarred nose and counted to ten. This was the biggest lesson he tried to drive home to his students.

"Their best weapon is their mind, Naruto." His student's brow furrowed, and Iruka had the fleeting hope that he had gotten through to him.

"I don't get it." Iruka's head met his desk with a dull thump.

"Let me put it this way then," Iruka said after a moment to recover. "What is the Sandaime Hokage's nickname?"

"The Professor?" Iruka smiled and nodded. So maybe Naruto did pay attention sometimes.

"Right, and why is he called that?

"Because he knows a bunch of really strong jutsu!" Naruto declared with a grin. "I was right, Sensei. You need strong jutsu to be a strong ninja."

"That's not the point," Iruka said with a sigh. "How do you think Sandaime-sama learned all of those jutsu then?"
"Er…by training?"

"You're half right. Hokage-sama became so powerful because he trained and studied his ass off." Naruto looked thoughtful and Iruka plowed on. "At one point, though, Hokage-sama was exactly where you are now." Naruto started to grin and give thumbs up, but Iruka was not finished. "The difference is, though, that the Hokage actually applied himself into mastering the basics and not pulling useless pranks so people would pay attention to him." Naruto's face fell, and Iruka felt a spark of guilt. He ignored it and drove his point home.

"Without mastering the basics, the Sandaime would never have become as powerful as he is. The same goes for every other Hokage as well." Iruka braced himself for the finishing blow. "As of right now, it's unlikely you will even graduate, let alone have a chance to ever get close to their level." Naruto's head snapped back up, betrayal, anger, defiance, and unshed tears alight in his blue eyes. That look hurt Iruka deeply, but years of training kept his face neutral.

"I'm telling you this," he said before Naruto could start ranting at him. "Because I believe you have it in you to be great, Naruto." The dark emotions that were playing on Naruto's face disappeared and were replaced by a look of utter shock.

"You…believe in me?" Iruka was taken aback by how fragile Naruto's voice sounded. Maybe he went a bit too far in his rant…

"Of course I do!" Iruka said with a wide grin. "You just have to apply yourself and master the basics in time to graduate, and then the sky's the limit!" Naruto stood with great vigor.

"You got it Iruka-sensei! I'll get the basics down better than anyone else, dattebayo!" His student's attitude was infectious and Iruka felt himself wear a wide smile of his own. Naruto gave a cheerful wave and shot out the door. Iruka could only hope that his lecture had actually sunken in, but only time would tell.

Sarutobi Hiruzen puffed on his pipe as he sifted through the day's pile of papers. It was one of the busiest times of year as far as the damned paperwork was concerned. The newest class of genin would graduate from the academy later this week, and it fell to him to recruit Jōnin to instruct them. This particular class had the heirs to seven of Konoha's most prominent clans, and had far more potential than the average batch of rookies. It did an old man's heart well when the next generations showed such promise.

"Hokage-sama, your appointment is here," his assistant called from the other room. Speaking of… Hiruzen thought.

"Send her in!" He settled back into his comfortable leather chair as his guest entered the office.

"You wanted to see me Hokage-sama?" Hiruzen frowned. She sounded as exhausted as she looked. He gestured for her to sit, and settled himself in for a long conversation.

"How are things, Rin?" His chief med-nin gave him a curious glance.

"As I said in my report last week, Hokage-sama," she said after a pregnant pause. "Everything at the hospital is running at peak efficiency. Our med-nin ranks haven't been this full since the days of Tsunade-sama, and it's only looking up." Hiruzen sighed and placed his pipe down. In her time as Chief Medical Ninja, Rin had indeed gotten the hospital system running at pre-war efficiency, but that was not why she was here.

"You are doing a remarkable job, Rin." She put on a small, genuine smile at that. There was no doubt that she took pride in her work. "But I should be more specific. I meant to ask how things are with you." Her smile dropped and she turned her eyes away.

"Everything is just fine, Hokage-sama." Hiruzen studied her for a long moment. Her long brunette hair was pulled back in a messy ponytail, and bags were forming under her exhausted brown eyes. If he did not know any better, he would say that the rectangular markings that curved across the bottom of her cheekbones were a darker shade of purple than normal as well.

Under normal circumstances, he would be inclined to let his jōnin deal with their inner demons on their own terms, but there was always an exception or two. Especially when others reported their own concerns.

"Rin, you have not been out of the village in the three years since you earned your new position. I have been told that, in that time, you have not integrated yourself back among your peers."

"I've been busy running a hospital," she retorted with a heated gaze.

"That may be, but some of your colleagues have come to me in concern for you." Rin palmed her forehead.

"Kakashi," was her simple response. Hiruzen sighed. Years without speaking strained their relationship, but Kakashi was always aware of his former teammate.

"I will not name names, but it has been more than one person." She grumbled something unintelligible. "So I have come to a decision." She gave him an apprehensive look. "You will take the lead on one of the rookie genin teams as their jōnin commander."

"What?" He winced at her sudden, high pitched tone. "Am I being fired? I'm not qualified to teach anyone, Hokage-sama! I don't think—." He cut off her tirade with a raised hand. He held back a smirk at that. Being Hokage did have its advantages.

"I'm afraid this is an order, Rin. Iyasu-san will take over as interim-Chief Medical Ninja in the meantime. The position will be there for you should you want to return after your genin team has run its course." She sagged back into her seat, defeated. "I have the utmost faith that you'll make a wonderful Sensei, Rin," he said with a calming smile. It seemed less than effective on Rin.

"Can I at least see a list of students?" Hiruzen handed over the sheet he had been studying when she arrived. She scanned the list and he waited for her to come across a specific name. Her quiet gasp put a smirk on his face.

"If I'm going to do this," she said after a moment. "I want Sensei's son." Hiruzen nodded his ascent. There was already one pre-arranged placement with Uchiha Sasuke and Kakashi. He saw no harm in adding another.

"Should he pass the graduation exam, Uzumaki Naruto will be a member of your genin team." He was pleased to see her smile; albeit a small one. "Now, I'm sure you have a good deal of preparations to make for this transition." Rin nodded in agreement and took her leave with a bow. "And Rin," Hiruzen called to her just as she reached the door. "My office is always open to my ninja, for whatever reason." She did not acknowledge she had heard, but paused for a long moment before leaving.

Hiruzen lit a freshly packed pipe moments later and sighed in contentment. In his experience, there was nothing more rewarding than teaching. He could only hope that the experience brought Rin back from the brink her life had taken her to.

"Damn it!" Naruto cursed as another leaf exploded in his hand. He had been at this exercise for weeks, and he still could not get it down. He knew for a fact that the rest of the class could easily do the chakra control exercise, so why could he not get it down. With a growl he picked up another leaf and breathed deep. Focus on your chakra, guide it to your hand and into the leaf so it stuck, and… gah!

"Stupid leaves!" He shouted, shaking his singed hand. The last few weeks had been a flurry of books, scrolls, and burned leaves for him. The day after his talk with Iruka-sensei, Naruto had sheepishly returned to the teacher for advice on how exactly was he supposed to get better. The Chūnin had provided him a lesson plan given that there was only a month's time to improve.

With his taijutsu already passable, the Kawarimi and Henge mastered, Naruto only had to work on his general knowledge and the Bunshin. Needless to say, he spent most of his days buried in books until he was ready to snap, or attempting the basic chakra control exercise with little success. Iruka always told him he used too much chakra, and that was why he could not do the Bunshin, but he still had not figured out how to use less chakra. With graduation tomorrow, he was actually starting to think he couldn't do it.

"Hey! Naruto! Surprised to see you here at this hour." The blonde turned and found his white haired sensei approaching him with a comforting grin on his face.

"Eh? Mizuki-sensei?" Naruto used the Academy's training grounds, but there was almost never anyone around after hours. "What are you doing here?"

"Oh, just checking on a few things," he said, eyes crinkled in his smile. "Are you ready for the exam tomorrow?" Naruto hung his head, downcast.

"I'm trying to get this chakra control stuff down, but I don't think I'll do it in time."

"Hm…" Mizuki-sensei tapped his chin in thought. He looked Naruto up and down, giving the boy the creeps. "I probably shouldn't tell you this…"

"Tell me what, Mizuki-sensei?" He asked, unable to help his curiosity.

"Well, if you are going to be Hokage someday, I suppose it would be great if you owed me one. Alright I'll tell you about the secret test!" He declared with a wide grin.

"Secret test?"

"Yup. We only ever offer it to the very best students, since it's so dangerous." Naruto was practically drooling at the prospect. "If you pass, you become a Genin straight away without having to take the Academy exam!" Naruto perked up in excitement. If he could pass the test without having to do a Bunshin he would never have to worry about chakra control again! "Interested?" Naruto nodded fervently.

"There's a special scroll in the Hokage tower reserved for this test," he explained. Mizuki produced the plans for the tower and rolled it out on the ground. He pointed to a location marked with a red "X" nearby the old man Hokage's office. "You get into this room, and it'll be on a pedestal. You can't miss it."

"What's on the scroll, Mizuki-sensei?" He asked, heart racing in excitement. He was going to be the first one in the class to go on an actual mission! Take that, Sasuke-teme.

"That's the best part," he replied with a grin. "It's full of special jutsu available to only those strong enough to pass the test." Naruto's eyes lit up at the possibilities.

"All you have to do is get the scroll, and meet me at training ground twenty-nine by ten o'clock. Think you can handle that?" Naruto gave an emphatic nod. "Good. I'm sort of doing this behind Iruka-sensei's back since he didn't think you could do it. So let's both prove him wrong, eh?" Naruto felt a quick burst of betrayal followed by fierce determination. Had Iruka-sensei been lying when he said he believed in him? If he was, Naruto would prove him wrong so he would have to acknowledge the blonde's skill.

They all would.

"I won't let you down, Mizuki-sensei! Dattebayo!" He yelled and took off in the direction of Hokage Tower. He knew exactly how to get past the old man.

Rin strolled through the streets of Konoha, thoughts locked on her conversation with the Hokage days before. It had come as a shock when the man confronted her with his unfounded concerns. She had worked her ass off to get Konoha's medical system in tip top shape, and was quite proud of that fact. She put in her all at work, and wanted nothing more than to keep to herself in her downtime.

It was apparently too much to ask for.

She shook her head with a sigh. It had to have been Kakashi that went to the Hokage. The man just could not figure out when someone wanted absolutely nothing to do with him. She had told him such, and yet he kept coming back. And now he was responsible for taking away the one thing in the damn village she enjoyed.

She let out an irritated sigh when she recalled the conversation she had with Iyasu earlier that week. The panicky man was an absolute nervous wreck when he found out that he would be taking over her position for what could be years. Spending the entire week getting him up to speed with how she ran things had been a miserable and trying experience.

She turned her gaze to the distant Hokage Mountain as her thoughts turned to the first new assignment she had in years. Ever since she had been placed at the hospital almost the moment she became a jōnin, she had taken no other missions. It would be weird to not be going there to work every day.

Not to mention the petrifying thought that she would be responsible for the training of three young, impressionable genin. Her eyes locked on the visage of her own late sensei, and her stomach dropped. Far from the first time, she wished she could show up on his doorstep and seek the man's advice. If I had been there...

The old thought crossed her mind, and she felt the familiar ping of empty regret in her chest. Rin clenched her jawand forced herself to not look back. No good ever came of it.

A commotion of three chūnin racing along the rooftops drew her attention away from her thoughts. She blinked at their unusual urgency, but passed it off. Ninjas running at top speed along Konoha's roofs were not an uncommon sight. As more heavy footsteps sounded on the roof above her, her curiosity peaked. At least three more teams of chūnin were racing toward Hokage Tower. With practiced ease, she leaped to the roof and gave them chase. Her superior speed had her on level with one group of chūnin within a minute.

"What's going on Chūnin-san?" She asked when she caught up with them. Their leader, a twenty-something-year-old that she vaguely recognized, answered her.

"Iryō-san?" Ah, so she must have treated him at the hospital at some point. "Hokage-sama has called an emergency gathering of all available Chūnin," he told her as they ran. "I don't know all the details, but it has to be something big." Rin absently nodded, and decided to tag along. If nothing else, it would serve as a distraction.

Within minutes they were at the base of the Hokage Tower, where dozens of other ninja were already gathered. Hokage-sama was gazing at the gathered group with a stern gaze and pipe held firm in a clenched draw. Whatever was happening, the Hokage looked truly upset.

"What has happened, Hokage-sama?" A man with the pale eyes of the Hyūga asked at length. The general murmuring died down as the Sandaime held himself straighter to address them.

"About one hour ago, Konoha's scroll of forbidden jutsu was stolen." Panicked murmurs broke out from the group and Rin felt her own eyes go wide. Some of the techniques that scroll had could spell disaster for Konoha if they fell into the wrong hands.

"Who could have done this?" The same Hyūga called out in despair. The Sandaime closed his eyes and slumped slightly.

"Uzumaki Naruto." Rin felt her heart skip a beat at the mention of Sensei's son even as many of her fellow shinobi cried out in rage. Hokage-sama stared at the ground, looking utterly dejected.

"What!" A Chūnin with a high, brown ponytail and a scarred nose shouted over the din. "Naruto would never do that, not even for a prank!"

"Nevertheless, he has, Iruka." Hokage-sama took a deep inhale on his pipe. "It is of the utmost importance that someone finds Naruto and brings him to me alive." The fact that he had to stress the last part irked Rin. "This will be considered a B-rank mission, and whomever brings Naruto back will be compensated accordingly."

That still left one question on Rin's mind. "How the hell did and Academy student get his hands on the scroll in the first place?" She called out from the back before he could dismiss them. The slight blush that appeared on the Sandaime's face did nothing to end her confusion.

"What's done is done," he said. "You have your orders. Dismissed!" Rin frowned at the non-explanation. Nearly all of the Chūnin immediately took off in separate directions, but the lone defender of Naruto had a quick, hushed conversation with Hokage-sama before racing off. Rin narrowed her eyes and followed the scarred Chūnin. He clearly knew something the rest of their colleagues did not.

Mizuki could not help but wear a wide grin as he jumped through the forest. His plan had gone on without a hitch thus far. He had noticed the Kyūbi brat training outside the academy every day for the past month, and his plan had come to him in a moment of brilliance. If the kid had started training so hard to pass, then he would do anything to make sure he graduated.

Including breaking into the Hokage Tower.

Mizuki chuckled at his own genius. Uzumaki would take everyone's attention, so nobody would notice him gone until after the Genin exams were over. It would be more than enough time to get far, far away from Hi no Kuni. All he had to do was get to the training ground, kill the brat, and hightail it out of there.

"Yatta! I did it! I'll pass the test for sure, dattebayo!" Mizuki rolled eyes and picked up his pace. The boy's voice could probably be heard for miles all around. He would have to do this quickly.

"Naruto! What the hell were you thinking!" Mizuki stopped short, hiding among the leaves.

"Shit," he muttered. That dumbass Iruka had beaten him to the training grounds, and was standing between Mizuki and the blonde. Between him and the scroll.

"Iruka-sensei, I passed the secret test! I even mastered a super strong jutsu, dattebayo!" Naruto declared with a laugh. Mizuki grimaced, knowing his cover was about to be blown.

"Secret test? What are you talking about, Naruto? Do you have any idea how much trouble you're in? You stole the Forbidden Jutsu Scroll!" Uzumaki's face fell in confusion.

"Eh? Trouble? Forbidden Jutsu Scroll?" He looked to the scroll he had stolen. "Mizuki-sensei said this was a secret graduation scroll." Mizuki could practically hear the gears turning in Iruka's head. Mizuki sighed, knowing he would have to kill his former friend as well.

"You're just mad that the kid pulled one over on you," he declared, stepping out from his cover. Both Iruka and the boy snapped their heads in his direction. He allowed himself a smirk.

"Hand over that scroll, Naruto, and you will pass." Naruto took a step forward, but Iruka shot out a hand to block him.

"There is no test! Naruto, Mizuki's tricked you. That scroll contains all of Konoha's secrets. Run back to the village and find the Hokage!"

"He's lying to you Naruto; he wants you to fail! Hand it over!" Mizuki snarled even as Naruto looked between the two, face shifting through emotions. After a moment of tense silence, he settled on determination.

"Iruka-sensei wouldn't lie to me!" He shouted at the top of his lungs. "He's been trying to help me get stronger all month." Iruka grinned his insufferable grin and Mizuki let out a growl. Time for plan B.

"I wouldn't be so sure about that, brat," he said, unsheathing his overlarge shuriken. "Haven't you ever wondered why everyone in this village treats you like crap?"

"Mizuki, don't—" Iruka tried to interrupt, but Mizuki spoke over him.

"It's an S-rank secret that the Hokage swore everyone to keep, but I think it's only fair you learned the truth." Naruto dropped his guard and Mizuki could see the desperate desire in his eyes. Iruka looked to Naruto in concern, and Mizuki saw his moment to strike. With a grunt, he launched the shuriken at the student, content in the knowledge that he had no time to dodge.

Just as Mizuki was expecting the satisfying sound of metal digging into flesh, a series of kunai came out of nowhere to knock his clear of Iruka, who had moved to shield Naruto. He looked around in a growing panic as yet another unforeseen problem interrupted his plan.

"Targeting a child is something only a coward would do," An angry, feminine voice declared. Mizuki snapped his attention in the direction of the voice, sweat blooming on his brow. The woman who had just saved Iruka's life was at the edge of the clearing. She stood firm, kunai in hand, and a look of distaste etched on her features. Shit, he thought, recognizing her as a Jōnin. Iruka stood as well, withdrawing a kunai of his own.

"Turn yourself over Mizuki. The Hokage will go easier on you if you do." Mizuki knew his chance at a clean getaway had gone up in smoke. He could take Iruka, but a Jōnin was way out of his league. He only had one chance. In a flash he pulled out and threw a smoke bomb to get some cover, and followed it up with a volley of shuriken at the Jōnin and Iruka.

"Naruto, protect the scroll!" Mizuki dropped down behind the student and reached for the scroll while the shinobi were distracted. A flash of orange beat him to it.

"Give me the scroll, brat!" He snarled as the smoke was starting to dissipate

"Come and get it, Mizuki-teme," Naruto said while flipping him off. Mizuki's eye twitched. He was going to enjoy killing the brat. He reared back for a punch, but was bodily tackled before he could deliver the blow.

"Keep away from him!" If he was not being drilled into the ground, Mizuki would have rolled his eyes. Of course Iruka would resort to brawling tactics to keep him away from one his precious students. Mizuki leaned back into the blow, letting the momentum roll them over. As soon as he was beneath his fellow Chūnin, he kicked him away and into a nearby tree.

"Heh, weak," Mizuki muttered, rubbing his side where Iruka had hit him. With a frown, he noticed that Iruka was climbing to his feet already.

"Chakura no Mesu (Chakra Scalpel)." Mizuki turned and saw the jōnin, whose hands were now glowing blue with chakra. "Leave him to me, Chūnin-san." He could hear Iruka take up a stance behind him. The blonde idiot jumped to his side, a one of the discarded kunai clutched in his hand. Surrounded, and with no options open, Mizuki did the only thing he could think of and launched his remaining weapons at the Genin only feet away.

He did not wait to see if anything struck, but turned and took off in the only open direction left. Iruka's cry of anguish echoed through forest, and Mizuki smirked. At least he did some damage before he had to run.

"Argh!" He shouted in pain as his legs gave out from under him. He fell from the canopy, hitting branches all the way down He screamed in agony when his arms met the ground and snapped under the force of his fall. Through tears of pain, Mizuki saw hands of blue.

"I've torn the muscles in your legs. You won't be going anywhere." Mizuki's last thought before the blackness took him was only the hope that he took the Kyūbi brat with him.

"And the status of the traitor?" The old man asked. Naruto, Iruka-sensei, and Rin, the Jōnin that had captured Mizuki, were in the Hokage's office for a debriefing. Normally being part of such an official shinobi activity would have left Naruto excited, but now he was only subdued.

"Unconscious, but alive Hokage-sama. I made sure the bastard would survive until Ibiki got his hands on him," Rin said with a grim tone.

"What will be done with him, Hokage-sama?" Iruka-sensei asked. Naruto wondered how Iruka managed to look so composed with his entire right upper body covered in fresh bandages. He had shielded Naruto from Mizuki's desperate attack. If Rin was not a medical ninja…

Naruto shivered at the thought.

"Ibiki will question him, and, depending on his answers, he will be dealt with according to his crimes." Naruto glanced between the three older faces, and guessed that the punishment did not bode well for Mizuki. Good. "Now, if that is all, you all should get some rest. Two of you have exams in the morning," the old man said with a kind smile. Naruto hesitated as the other three stood.

"Actually, Ojīsan, I have a question." The three of them glanced at each for a second before sitting. The old man gestured for Naruto to talk. "Right before Iruka-sensei stopped him; Mizuki-teme said he knew an S-class secret about me." He locked eyes with the old man, who looked decidedly uncomfortable as he chewed on his pipe. "He said he knew why everyone…" He trailed off.

"I had planned on telling this once you made genin." The old man sighed. "But from what I can tell, you won't have a problem graduating tomorrow." Naruto grinned at that. The three older shinobi had all been shocked when he showed them the jutsu he managed to learn from the scroll was a cloning technique. "Naruto, do you know what happened twelve years ago on your birthday?"

How could he forget? "The Kyūbi attacked the village." It was one of the most repeated lessons at the Academy. "The Yondaime sacrificed his life to kill it and save the village."

"That's not entirely true." Naruto's eyes widened even as Rin muttered "understatement."

"Huh? That's how Iruka-sensei always said it happened?" He shot Iruka-sensei an accusing glance, but the Chūnin studied the ceiling like it was the most interesting thing in the world.

"Like Mizuki said, it is an S-class secret." The old man puffed on his pipe with a sigh. "The Yondaime did sacrifice himself to stop the Kyūbi, but not even he could kill a bijū. You see, Naruto, tailed beasts are made up of pure chakra. If they are slain, they will eventually form again." Naruto scratched the back of his head. That made sense. Sort of…

"So what did he do?"

"The only think he could. He sealed the Kyūbi away inside a newborn boy, turning him into a jinchūriki." Naruto's heart sank, guessing at the conclusion. "That boy was you, Naruto."

Naruto could hear his heart pounding as the room fell silent. So it was true then? He was actually a demon. It explained everything. Why the villagers always whispered, why the kids always picked on him. Why nobody ever acknowledged him.

"Naruto, I want you to listen to me." Depressed, blue eyes met stern black as the Sandaime became serious. "Despite what many may think; the jinchūriki are not the beasts they hold within. The seal the Yondaime put on you makes sure it is impossible for the Kyūbi to influence you in anyway."

"I-I'm not a demon?" Naruto hated how his voice cracked.

"Absolutely not!" It was Iruka-sensei that made the declaration, and Naruto felt his chest get lighter.

"You are you and only you, Naruto. I guarantee it," the old man said with a half smile.

"Minato-sensei's seals were legendary, kid. There's no way he screwed up his last one." The support of the almost stranger sealed the return of Naruto's good mood.

"Give it enough time, and the villagers will come around." Naruto nodded at that.

"I'll just have to become strong so they know I'm not the Kyūbi, dattebayo!" He pumped a fist in the air and grinned wide. The three adults smiled at the statement, and Naruto chose to take that as encouragement.

"First you have to pass the genin exam, Naruto." Naruto's fist and grin dropped, as he hung his head. Leave it to Iruka-sensei to bring him down from a moment.

"It's late. You should all go and get some rest." The three nodded and made for their respective homes. Naruto took the long path home, hands clenched behind his head as he gazed up to the moon. He quirked his lips in a half-smile. He never would have guessed that knowing why everyone treated him like they did would make him feel this much better. Now he only had to show them all that they were wrong about him. Jinchūriki or not, he was still going to become Hokage.

Believe it.

A/N: Hope you all enjoyed the first chapter! I know it's not much different than canon, but it serves as a good starting point to introduce Rin, and show where the changes start for Naruto. One conversation with Iruka a month before the graduation exam and a new Sensei will have fare reaching effects that I look forward to exploring. So, tell me how I did! Love it or hate it, please review!

Jutsu List:

Name: Chakura no Mesu (Chakra Scalpel)

Type: B rank, medical, short range

User concentrates chakra into the form of scalpels along their hands. Used during surgery to make precise internal incisions. Can be used offensively to cut opponent's muscles or ligaments, rendering them useless and immobilizing the opponent.

EDIT 7/23/2014: Updated the chapter to fall in line with future plans. Not much has changed, plot wise, but it will now match future chapters. (Namely, chapter 8 and beyond)